Now that the Eagles have had their parade through Philadelphia to celebrate the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl title, it’s officially time to turn the page on the 2017 season. And it’s going to be one exciting offseason around the league. For the first time in what seems like forever, a franchise-type quarterback will hit free agency. How is that going to map the path for teams around the NFL? Meanwhile, we’re looking at one heck of a draft class at quarterback. Will some of the teams mentioned here look to find that future signal caller of their own?
On the other hand, there’s a handful of squads out there with some major money to spend in free agency. Will Cleveland and San Francisco be active on that market? If not, who will fill the vacuum? There’s also a ton of of veteran quarterbacks who are in line for huge paydays after Jimmy Garoppolo became the highest-paid player in the NFL. How might that market look like? These are among the top stories for each NFL team heading into the offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes chance to shine
Now that the Chiefs have moved Alex Smith, it’s the start of a new era for a squad that just hasn’t been able to get over the playoff hump. Smith’s final game in Kansas City included the team blowing a huge halftime lead at home against Tennessee in the AFC Wildcard Playoffs. Though, most of the blame there sits with head coach Andy Reid who will now resume play-calling duties with Mahomes under center and former offensive coordinator Matt Nagy in Chicago.
Rarely, do we pay a ton of attention to organized team activities. Throwing the ball against air or practicing at half-speed doesn’t give us a great understanding of how well unproven players will perform. But in this case, all eyes will be on Mahomes. Kansas City yielded its first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to move up for him last year. It’s now important that the youngster impresses out of the gate, even if that is initially during the offseason.
Los Angeles Chargers: Taking that next step
We’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of areas the Chargers need to improve after closing the 2017 season incredibly strong. Following an 0-4 start, Los Angeles won nine of its final 13 games and barely missed out on the playoffs. Led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, its defense yielded the third-fewest points in the NFL and racked up the most sacks in the league. Philip Rivers played at a near-MVP level under center and Keenan Allen continued to prove himself to be among the game’s most underrated receivers.
But the Chargers enter this offseason needing to make a few moves in order to take that next step to legitimate conference title contention. That includes upgrading along the offensive line and finding a long-term solution at middle linebacker. Should this come to fruition, Los Angeles will give Kansas City all it can handle in the AFC West next season.
Oakland Raiders: Jon Gruden’s roster philosophy
It goes without saying that Gruden will have some input over the Raiders’ 53-man roster. Though, it’s not entirely known how that dynamic will play out with holdover Reggie McKenzie still manning the team’s front office. What we do know is that Oakland needs to find a bevy of upgrades on both sides of the ball in order to rebound after a disastrous six-win 2017 campaign.
Is Marshawn Lynch going to return for a second season in his native Oakland? Will the Raiders move on from veteran receiver Michael Crabtree? The answers to these two questions will dictate what Oakland does on offense during the offseason. That could include finding a long-term option at running back during the draft. Defensively, it’s pretty much the same story. The Raiders need upgrades on all three levels of that unit, primarily in the secondary. Fans in Oakland might be excited about Gruden returning. That’s great. But there’s a whole heck of a lot of work that needs to be done.
Denver Broncos: Finding a quarterback
It’s the quarterback, stupid. That political tagline has to be running through the minds of the Broncos’ front office and a general manager in John Elway who has failed his team in a big way at quarterback in recent seasons. There’s no way on God’s green earth that Denver heads into the 2018 season with Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian competing for the starting job. It’s in this that the Broncos need to find and secure a long-term solution under center.
The team apparently showed interest in Alex Smith before he was moved to Washington. That was never really an option given that Kansas City wasn’t going to move the Pro Bowler to within the division. But Kirk Cousins becomes a real possibility here. Boasting the fifth overall pick, Denver might also decide on a potential franchise quarterback in the draft. Then again, that would require Elway admitting he made a disastrous mistake in trading up for Lynch during the 2016 draft. Will he bite the bullet in that regard? Only time will tell.
Los Angeles Rams: Taking care of their own
Aaron Donald didn’t earn NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors for no reason. Legitimately one of the best all-around players in the game, Donald is one of the primary reasons Los Angeles surprised the masses by putting up 11 wins and a division title this past season. The same can be said for Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who played under the franchise tag in 2017.
As to where Donald still has one year remaining on his deal, general manager Les Snead and Co. need to lock him up on a long-term deal. Remember, he held out throughout the preseason this past summer. Fresh off earning such high honors, Donald knows full well he has leverage. Los Angeles is firmly in the mix as a top conference title contender. But the team needs to start taking care of its own. More so than overpaying for receiver Sammy Watkins, that means retaining Johnson in free agency and doling out the largest contract for a defensive player in the league to Donald. Anything short of this, and the Rams’ offseason will be seen as a failure.
Seattle Seahawks: Blowing things up?
Pete Carroll has already blown up his coaching staff, moving on from both coordinators and a close assistant in Tom Cable. With the offseason set to get going, the focus now turns to an aging and increasingly volatile roster. Former Pro Bowlers Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor are unlikely to play again after suffering neck injuries this past season. Earl Thomas has made it known he’d like to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Fellow defenders Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman could also be headed out of town.
Whether all of this happens remains to be seen. We do, however, know that full-scale changes are on the horizon in Seattle. Who the Seahawks add in free agency, via trades and in the draft will tell us where this team is headed after a disappointing 2017 season that saw them miss the playoffs altogether.
Arizona Cardinals: Moving on to a new era
Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer are gone. We have absolutely no idea whether future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald will join them in retirement. Meanwhile, former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks takes over as head coach, much to the approval of the team’s best player. But the Cards themselves are pretty much stuck between contention and irrelevance in the NFC West. The team has been surpassed by Los Angeles in the division, and the trajectory is upward for the San Francisco 49ers (more on them below).
Some solid pieces are in place here with David Johnson at running back and a whole plethora of elite young defenders. With that said, the Cardinals’ quarterback situation will dictate whether they are legit contenders next season. Do they continue with the MO of adding veteran stopgap options, much like we’ve seen with Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer over the years? If so, is Kirk Cousins the answer? If not, will Arizona decide a longer-term rebuild is in the cards with a rookie signal caller? That’s the biggest story in the desert right now.
San Francisco 49ers: Free agent strategy
Things are surely pointing upward for this previously downtrodden squad. It started with a rookie class that might be the best in the NFL years from now. In reality, first-year general manager John Lynch absolutely killed his initial draft. But San Francisco’s turnaround can be attributed to the blockbuster acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo from New England in October. Taking over 1-10 squad, Garoppolo proceeded to win each of his first five starts as a member for the 49ers to close the season. It led to him signing the richest contract in NFL history.
Now, heading into free agency, the 49ers have a clear opportunity to place themselves in the playoff conversation. With what will likely be north of $90 million in cap room and a newfound spring in their step, free agency itself will tell us a lot about the team moving forward. Instead of going with short-term options like we saw last March, San Francisco has an opportunity to add multiple core players to their budding roster. How Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan utilize this aspect of the offseason will tell us a lot about the 49ers’ trajectory in 2018.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Is the team really sold on Bortles?
It’s looking more and more like the Jaguars are going to retain Bortles to be their starting quarterback next season. The team reportedly isn’t interested in Kirk Cousins and missed out on the Alex Smith sweepstakes. This means Bortles will be paid $19 million a year after leading his Jaguars to a near Super Bowl appearance.
In no way does this mean the offseason is going to come and go without Jacksonville adding a quarterback. More likely than not, that will come in the 2018 NFL Draft. Picking 29th overall, it would not be a shock if Jacksonville went out there and added a quarterback with that selection. Not only would this light a fire under Bortles, it would give the Jags an option should he depart in free agency following the 2018 season. With one of the most-talented rosters in the NFL, this team can definitely afford to exhaust said pick on a player that won’t contribute in 2018 and could potentially be used as trade bait should Bortles prove himself to be a franchise guy.
Tennessee Titans: New coaching staff
This one scribe was not exactly smittened with the Mike Vrabel hire. The idea of bringing in a head coach with one year of coordinator experience didn’t make much sense. Add in the fact that he’s a defensive-minded head coach, and that didn’t sit well. Tennessee needed to bring in someone to help Marcus Mariota progress after a disastrous 2017 campaign for the quarterback.
That take is why it’s important to wait for an entire coaching staff to be filled out. Vrabel did a brilliant job bringing in respected and veteran assistants to help him build the ship in Nashville. He brought in former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to run the Titans’ offense after he helped Jared Goff do his thing last season. That came after LaFleur oversaw Matt Ryan’s 2016 MVP season as the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach. Vrabel was also able to bring former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees out of retirement to work him him on that side of the ball. Pees led six top-10 defenses during his time with New England and Baltimore.
For the Titans, it’s going to be all about the players executing on the field. But this new coaching staff should inspire more confidence than the past one. We’ll see just how the culture has changed in Nashville during organized team activities.
Houston Texans: Rehab of the two stars
Without a pick in each of the first two rounds, the offseason focus of these Texans will be two-fold. First off, the biggest key is getting both Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt back after they suffered season-ending lower-body injuries. As of right now, Watson is ahead of schedule and expected to take part in OTAs. For his part, Watt has been very active on social media showing how his rehab is going. With those two fully healthy next season, Houston will be a force.
Though, it is important to note that Houston will have nearly $58 million in cap room to work with in free agency. This will give the squad a real opportunity to upgrade in areas they desperately need to.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck’s situation
We’ve read these reports before. We’ve heard the stories of optimism coming from Indianapolis’ front office. Andrew Luck is expected to resume throwing some time soon after missing the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury. But until we see him actually take to the practice field without a setback, there’s every reason to be skeptical. After all, the Colts have not given us much confidence in their ability to handle this devasting and career-altering shoulder injury.
Indy has the third pick in the draft. It will likely find an elite-level talent with that selection. The team will also have north of $84 million in cap space for free agency. None of this matters if the Colts are unable to return a healthy Luck to the mix next season. Jacoby Brissett was a decent replacement. He’s not a franchise quarterback. And the longer this Luck thing draws on, the more questions will continue to come up regarding his long-term status.
New Orleans Saints: Grooming a Drew Brees replacement
The Saints likely don’t have to make one significant free agent signing to be considered top-tier Super Bowl contenders next season. No one really knows how everything would have turned it out if weren’t for the miracle in Minnesota in the playoffs. New Orleans could very well be Super Bowl champs right now and planning its own parade. This team is stacked with young talent on both sides of the ball, as evidenced by Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore earning Rookie of the Year honors.
There’s one move the Saints could make this offseason that would help the team remain in contention once Drew Brees ultimately decides to retire. That includes finding a long-term replacement for him in the draft. With the 27th pick in the draft, we’re not looking at New Orleans being able to add one of the top-end signal callers. Instead, the likes of Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson should be available. Both are more long-term projects, which fits into the narrative of Brees planning on playing for at least a couple more seasons.
Carolina Panthers: Jerry Richardson scandal
Richardson and his ownership group has already started to receive offers for the franchise after a sexual misconduct scandal forced him to sell the Panthers. We have no idea what the offers will look like and who might be in play to be Carolina’s new majority owner.
We’ve seen Diddy and Kaepernick mentioned as a possible group, but that seems far-fetched at this point. What we do know is that many high-profile billionaires are going to get themselves involved. The team is worth an estimated $2.3 billion. It has a former MVP under center in Cam Newton. The North Carolina market has been friendly to the Panthers. And in reality, a change in culture from the top could very well do wonders for this franchise. It’s definitely the top storyline here.
Atlanta Falcons: Finding the right pieces
To the frustration of many Falcons fans, the team is going to keep offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian after a disastrous first season in that role. Matt Ryan regressed horribly under center after an MVP performance in 2016. It led to the Falcons ranking 15th in points scored after topping the NFL in that category the previous season.
The issue here is that we don’t know what Atlanta can do to improve one of the most-talented rosters in football. Ryan is still a franchise quarterback. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had in the past proven to be the best running back tandem in the league. And this squad boasts Pro Bowl caliber players on all level of its defense. How GM Thomas Dimitroff tackles free agency and the draft will be telling here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston contract
It seems shocking to think about, but there’s a real possibility that Tampa Bay will decline the fifth-year option on Winston’s rookie deal, making the 2018 campaign his contract season. If Tampa were to pick up that fifth-year option, Winston’s salary would be on the wrong side of $20 million. It’s not yet known whether the team is willing to do this.
Fresh off a disasterous 5-11 season, Winston has not yet proven himself to be a franchise quarterback. Really, it’s not close. If the Bucs were to decide to decline Winston’s fifth-year option, they could still franchise him following the 2018 season should he progress leaps and bounds. This would enable the team to have one more season of analyzing Winston’s play. It’s definitely going to be an interesting storyline to follow during the offseason.
Minnesota Vikings: The quarterbacks
For a team that was close to the Super Bowl, Minnesota definitely has a major question mark heading into the offseason. That surrounds one of the most-interesting quarterback situations in the NFL. Both opening week starter Sam Bradford and the veteran who led them to the NFC Championship Game, Case Keenum, are slated to become free agents. There’s some question as to whether Teddy Bridgewater will join them in free agency. But he should.
This leads to an interesting scenario that could include Minnesota potentially chasing after impending free agent Kirk Cousins once the market opens in March. Without a doubt it, it would be an upgrade for the defending NFC North champs. But with a roster that relies on other aspects for contention, the team might decide not to do that. How will GM Rick Spielman allocate his resources? More so than any front office over the past couple seasons, Minnesota seems to have a great grasp of its roster. Should that continue in the spring, these Vikings will surely be top-end Super Bowl contenders in 2018.
Detroit Lions: Matt Patricia’s team
The culture change is complete in Detroit. General manager Bob Quinn sought to bring more of a New England Patriots flavor from his former squad, and that’s exactly what he did by hiring former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as head coach.
We can focus on the need to find a competent rushing attack and somehow find a way to upgrade a defense that’s taken a step back. That’s going to be Quinn’s primary goal during the offseason. But after suffering through mediocre head coaches in Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell over the past several seasons, the Lions have added that in-demand young coordinator to change their culture. That’s going to be the biggest difference for the team during the offseason and heading into the 2018 campaign.
Green Bay Packers: A new front office philosophy?
Moving on from long-time GM Ted Thompson and replacing him with an in-house candidate in Brian Gutekunst wouldn’t normally equate to the Packers changing their front office philosophy. But Gutekunst’s first comments in his new role clearly seemed to indicate that the Packers have decided to transition from their old ways of ignoring free agency. For a team that has multiple holes to fill behind Aaron Rodgers on the roster, that’s a mighty big deal.
Green Bay fell flat on its face this past season once Rodgers went down to injury. A talent gap that had existed for some time was no longer being covered up by one of the most valuable players in the NFL. It’s in this that it became obvious the Packers needed to change from their old guard. That includes targeting proven veteran defenders at all levels in free agency, primarily a secondary that was burnt more often than not in 2017. We’ll see soon enough whether this was all just talk from the new boss man.
Chicago Bears: Tackling free agency
The Bears did one heck of a job filling out a staff for new head coach Matt Nagy. Hiring former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as the team’s new offensive coordinator will be huge for the progression of young quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Retaining defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was also a coup for Nagy. Despite boasting the eighth pick in April’s draft, the focus here needs to be on adding proven veterans to a youthful roster.
It’s not about finding short-term replacements. Instead, the Bears need to go out there and add players that can contribute over the long term. This includes reliable pass-catchers for Trubisky on offense and a true pass rusher on defense. That’s going to be the biggest key for general manager Ryan Pace and Co. during the spring months.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger’s future
Not only is it apparent Big Ben is going to return in 2018, he wants to play beyond a current contract that runs through the 2019 campaign. In fact, Pittsburgh is already looking to extend the future Hall of Famer. The issue here is that Roethlisberger is 35 years old and has taken his fair share of beatings over the course of his career. Prior to the 2017 season, Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert noted that the team needed to look to the future at quarterback. These recent events don’t change that one iota.
Picking 28th overall in the draft, Pittsburgh is in prime position to land a project quarterback that can sit behind Big Ben for the next few seasons. Maybe someone like Wyoming’s Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson of Louisville falls to the bottom of the first round. If so, the Steelers need to be ready to pounce on that. It’s a solid plan, especially considering first-rounders come with a fifth-year option on their rookie contracts. That affords Pittsburgh the ability to take it slow with the young quarterback while Roethlisberger plays out the twilight of his career.
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco’s future
Baltimore is not necessarily in the same situation as its division rival. As long as Big Ben wants to continue playing, he will be the Steelers’ starting quarterback. Now matter how much the Ravens want to deny this reality, the same cannot be said for Flacco. Here’s a guy that threw for less than 3,200 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 16 starts last season. He’s set to count north of $51 million against the cap over the next two seasons. At that point, the Ravens actually have an out on the bloated contract and could release Flacco without having to pay him all but $8 million remaining on his deal.
The time might be now for Baltimore to bite the bullet and draft an eventual replacement for the Super Bowl winning quarterback. Sure the team thinks it can contend in 2018. But that seems to be more fool’s gold than anything else. Flacco has been one of the problems in Baltimore. It’s unlikely he’s going to be one of the solutions moving forward. And at 33 years old, it’s time Baltimore to start thinking about the future. Picking in the middle of the first round, that could become an eventuality when the calendar flips to April.
Cincinnati Bengals: Much of the same
Sadly, that’s where we are with these Bengals. They had a golden opportunity to move on from Marvin Lewis after the 2017 season. Instead, the Bengals decided to extend the contract of a head coach that oversaw major regression and some troubling maturity issues for the team last season — the very same head coach that’s 0-7 in his playoff career. Cincinnati does so while seemingly committing to Andy Dalton as its starter for the 2018 season. That’s just an untenable situation for a Bengals franchise that somehow thinks these two can help them contend in the AFC North moving forward.
So how do the Bengals actually change this narrative during the spring? One would like to see the team actually go away from being cheap on the free agent market. But we know that’s not going to happen. Instead, it’s going to be all about the draft. Can Cincinnati overcome recent struggles in this area to find immediate contributors? If not, we’re looking at a team that could potentially be surpassed by Cleveland in the division. That’s the sad reality of the situation here.
Cleveland Browns: NFL Draft
Cleveland might have north of $110 million to spend in free agency. That’s fine. But the team isn’t going to find a difference-maker in that area until it actually turns things around on the field. It’s unlike the 49ers’ situation in that the Browns have not given free agents a real reason to join them. That’s where the draft itself comes into play. Changing their culture and fielding a competitive team is the first step back to respectability.
The good news here is that Cleveland boasts the first and fourth overall picks as well as three second-round picks in April’s draft. That’s a whole heck of a lot of capital for new general manager John Dorsey to exhaust. And unlike the Browns’ previous regime, he needs to actually use these picks on franchise-type players. That could very well include taking a quarterback such as Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen No. 1 overall while doubling down on the backfield with running back Saquon Barkley at four. Just imagine how the narrative would change in Cleveland if that were to come to fruition. The time is now for now for these Browns to use the assets it has kicked down the road on actual players at positions that will help them win a football game.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles
The defending champs have decisions to make on some free agents. That’s already well known. However, Philadelphia could improve its roster even more if the team is able to play this situation close to the vest. With one year remaining on his contract, the reigning Super Bowl MVP will be a highly sought after figure on the trade market come March. This could enable Philly to squeeze a quarterback-needy team for a whole heck of a lot in return.
Then again, we’re not completely sure if Philadelphia will even look to move Foles. Coming off both a torn ACL and a torn LCL, it’s not yet known whether Carson Wentz will be ready for the start of the 2018 season. If that remains a question moving forward, GM Howie Roseman and Co. could very well decide to hang on to Foles as an insurance policy.
Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant a goner?
The biggest story surrounding Big D this spring will be the Cowboys’ situation at wide receiver. Given the drama-filled 2017 season we witnessed, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is still going to play a huge role in determining whether the Cowboys can return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.
The biggest question here is whether Dallas will decide to trade or release former Pro Bowler Dez Bryant. The veteran has struggled mightily with Dak Prescott tossing him the rock, having caught just 52 percent of the passes thrown in his direction during that span. He’s also set to count $16.5 million against the cap in 2018. That’s not even defensible at this point. Should Dallas then decide to move on from Bryant, it would have to hit both the free agent market and the draft for receivers. It’s not yet known if the team is willing to do that. What we do know is that the Cowboys’ brass has given mixed signals regarding Bryant since the season ended.
Washington Redskins: Mr. Smith heads to D.C.
Mere days after playing in the Pro Bowl, Alex Smith was shipped off from Kansas City to the Washington Redskins in a shocking early offseason trade. Promptly, Washington signed the 33-year-old veteran to a four-year, $94 million extension. That was even more shocking than the trade itself. It will also now lead to Kirk Cousins moving on to another team in March.
Is Smith an upgrade over Cousins? Possibly. But swapping one for the other doesn’t do a whole lot to change the Skins’ standing in the NFC East. That’s where Washington needs to be proactive in both free agency and the draft to build up the necessary talent for him to succeed. This includes adding multiple receivers to a group that was downright disastrous last season. Sure Smith heading to D.C. was a big deal. That doesn’t mean the team can let free agency pass without adding more talent to its roster, primarily offensively.
New York Giants: A changed culture
It became apparent last season that Ben McAdoo simply couldn’t stay on as the Giants’ head coach. To the team’s credit, they recognized this and moved on almost immediately. In and of itself, that should help this team rebound after a disastrous last place finish in 2017. Sure what New York does with the second overall pick will play a role here. Whether they look for a long-team replacement under center or attempt to get an immediate contributor will tell us a lot about the direction of the Giants.
Even then, we’re more focused on how new head coach Pat Shurmur plans on changing the atmosphere. That includes how he handles the Eli Apple situation, and whether New York moves on from some of the other apples that rotted last season. It’s one thing to take a step back on the field. It’s a completely different thing to see drama and a lack of cohesion engulf an organization. Considered a player-friendly coach, Shurmur has an opportunity to change this out of the gate.
New England Patriots: Getting Tom Brady some help
It was somewhat humorous to watch armchair pundits and those within the media shade Brady after his team lost Super Bowl LII to Philadelphia. Here’s a guy that threw for north of 500 yards, breaking his own Super Bowl record in the process. Maybe, Brady should have performed better on defense when Philadelphia went with that trick play. Heck, dude slacked by not putting up 700 passing yards in the game, right?
Back to reality for a second here. Without Brady, the Pats wouldn’t have even been a .500 team this past season. It’s now time for Bill Belichick and Co. to actually get him some help. This includes upgrades along the offense line, in the defensive secondary and from a pass-rush standpoint. It should also include Brady himself getting a raise from the $14 million base salary he’s set to earn in 2018. Considering the mega deal former teammate Jimmy Garoppolo got, that’s only fair.
Buffalo Bills: NFL Draft plans
With multiple selections in both the first and second rounds of April’s draft, Buffalo has a prime opportunity to improve after earning its first playoff appearance since 1999. Obviously, that starts at the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor is likely gone. But what do the Bills do at that position now? They’re unlikely to target Cousins in free agency. And he’s the only proven franchise-type quarterback out there.
Instead, look for Buffalo to either move up in the first round for one of the top-end quarterback prospects or grab a second-tier option with one of their two picks in the early 20s. In this scenario, the Bills would then look to add a veteran stopgap that would be seen as an upgrade over Taylor. Case Keenum and Sam Bradford in Minnesota come to mind first. How that veteran quarterback market plays out will dictate Buffalo’s draft plans.
Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Landry’s contract
It seems to be a bit ho-hum, but the Dolphins have to be smart about how they allocate money moving forward. They fell behind Buffalo in the AFC East last season and are seemingly on equal footing with the Jets for the division’s cellar. Would it be prudent for the Dolphins to dole out elite receiver money for a player in Landry who boasts the most receptions for a receiver in his first four NFL seasons, but is also averaging just 10.1 yards per catch in his career?
How this specific situation plays out will determine whether Miami is even active in free agency during the spring. And now that the Dolphins have taken a step back in the division, it’s a big decision to make.
New York Jets: Rebuilding from within
Jets fans surely want them to go out there and make that big slash in free agency. Maybe add Kirk Cousins to the mix. While that seems tremendous in theory, we’re talking about a team that has done a stellar job building up its talent internally. It earned both the head coach and general manager extensions following a surprisingly competitive 2017 season.
New York now has a decision to make here. It can go hog wild in free agency, changing up the team’s front office philosophy in the process. The Jets can also decide that supplementing the draft with free agency is the way to go. Of course, it starts at quarterback. And with the sixth pick in April’s draft, that will pretty much tell us the entire story here.