As the heart of the offseason quickly approaches, NFL teams are preparing their “to-do” and “wish” lists. With free agency less than a month away and the NFL Draft‘s April 30th start right around the corner, team’s must soon be finalizing their desired plans for the offseason.
In this series, we take a look at key moves – signings, draft picks, player extensions, etc. – each team should make over the course of the next three months in order to improve their franchise.
Next in our series is the top-heavy AFC East and split NFC East…
There is good news and bad news for Rex Ryan and the Bills this offseason. The bad news is that they no longer have a first round draft pick. The good news is that they have Sammy Watkins and nearly $30 million to spend in free agency next month.
Ryan needs a quarterback to helm his team going forward, as it is becoming increasingly evident that EJ Manuel has no future with the Bills. Brian Hoyer would be a safe choice for an offense that has more weapons than many realize. Hoyer is smart and has the ability to make any throw on the field.
In his first season with Buffalo, Brandon Spikes was quietly solid. His forte is stuffing the run game, and that is exactly what he did for Jim Schwartz‘s defense last season. At just 27-years old, Spikes can continue to plug the middle of the field for Rex Ryan’s squad going forward. Bringing him back for another season would be a smart move for the Bills.
Miami Dolphins: Sign Rolando McClain (LB), Draft Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
After seeing a surprising resurgence last season with the Dallas Cowboys, Rolando McClain seems to be in prime position to get a nice pay increase. Bringing him to Miami would be a nice addition for the Dolphins, assuming he continues to play as he did in 2014. His versatility would benefit the Dolphins against the pass as well as the run.
Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan are both 31-years old (Grimes will be 32 when the season begins), the Dolphins must begin adding youth to their secondary. Marcus Peters might not address an immediate need, but it would be incredibly hard to argue against this pick. At the same time, the Dolphins may opt to choose an offensive lineman, if one falls to them at number 14.
New England Patriots: Re-Sign Darrelle Revis (CB), Draft Sammie Coates (WR, Auburn)
It goes without saying that bringing back Darrelle Revis for the foreseeable future in New England is the biggest offseason priority for the Patriots. His price-tag will be astronomical, but it’s hard to imagine the New England brass not doing all they possibly can to keep him around.
One of the most fun aspects of the NFL Draft is predicting Bill Belichick‘s draft plans – we hardly get it right. However, there is a scenario in which we could see the Patriots taking a chance on Sammie Coates; and that is a move that would be incredibly enjoyable to watch as his career takes off under the tutelage of Tom Brady. Sure, the Patriots have other needs they should address in the draft, but bringing Coates into the fold could prove incredibly dangerous for opposing defenses in 2015.
New York Jets: Sign Brian Hoyer (QB), Draft Ereck Flowers (OT, Miami), Sign DeMarco Murray (RB), Sign Michael Crabtree (WR)
The Jets will need some stability under center. While Geno Smith was not exactly given the best situation to excel in, he still struggled mightily. Bringing in Brian Hoyer could give the Jets something to build on, and ensure they don’t have to necessarily get a quarterback in the 2015 draft. However, as we pointed out above, there will be others around the league (and their own division) who will likely be seeking Hoyer’s services.
The draft is a tough nut to crack for the Jets. There are a few situations where we have Jameis Winston falling right into new head coach Todd Bowles‘s lap at pick number six in the draft. However, the needs are so great for this organization that it seems as though drafting Winston would be a huge error on their part. That is why it would be smartest to start building that offense from the front, and Ereck Flowers would be a great place to begin. Flowers will immediately provide relief for whoever ends up being the quarterback for the Jets in 2015.
After releasing Chris Johnson, the Jets are likely to rid themselves of Percy Harvin and his expensive contract. Assuming that happens, the Jets will need to find running mates for Chris Ivory and Eric Decker. The options in the backfield look to be either DeMarco Murray or C.J. Spiller, two more than qualified options capable of taking the load off of the passing game. Though the Jets have a ton of money to spend this offseason, Spiller will be the more affordable of the two. In terms of receivers, the Jets could (and should) look to Michael Crabtree to line up opposite of Decker, giving the offense even more weapons in the passing game. If the Jets can make these moves in addition to bringing in someone with the ability under center like Hoyer, New York could see great improvements over last year’s disastrous season.
Dallas Cowboys: Re-Sign Dez Bryant, Draft Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
Much has been made about two of the biggest free agents in this year’s class – the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. With the Cowboys limited in cap space for 2015, it is evident they will likely only be able to retain one of them. That one should be Bryant, no doubt about it. It is beginning to look as though they will retain the star receiver with the NFL’s franchise tag, something that seems to not be sitting well with Bryant.
That is why it is essential that Jerry Jones find a way to come to terms on an extension with the receiver if for no other reason than to keep him happy.
In the draft, the Cowboys have been very smart lately. Instead of the Felix Jones-type of picks, they are making solid selections such as Zack Martin. There is a chance that Melvin Gordon could be available when Dallas is on the clock at pick 27, but Jones must refrain from that selection. Instead, the pick of Eddie Goldman would do wonders for the bolstering of the Dallas defensive line. Depending on the status of Rolando McClain in the offseason, linebacker Eric Kendricks could be another possibility for the Cowboys. Either way, they would be wise to load up a defense that was surprisingly good in 2014.
New York Giants: Re-Sign Jason Pierre-Paul, Draft Brandon Scherff (OT/OG, Iowa)
There is talk that the Giants are not going to allow Jason Pierre-Paul to hit the open market this offseason, as well they shouldn’t. Pierre-Paul saw a resurgence last season as he once again became a defensive force against the run as well as attacking opposing quarterbacks. The Giants have many needs, but replacing Pierre-Paul should not be one of them.
After robbing the league with their selection of Odell Beckham in last year’s draft, the team will look to once again pick wisely as their re-loading continues. First off, Tom Coughlin and company need to find a way to buy Eli Manning more time in the pocket. Drafting Brandon Scherff would be a great way to do just that. The Giants want Manning to get the ball to Beckham, but he needs time in order to do so.
Philadelphia Eagles: Sign Jason Worilds (OLB), Draft P.J. Williams (CB, Florida State)
The Eagles need help at outside linebacker, the Pittsburgh Steelers are allowing Jason Worilds to test the market – see where we are going here? Though Trent Cole and Connor Barwin occupy places on the depth chart, it might be time for Philly to get younger. While Barwin is 28-years old, Cole is 32 and a ten-year veteran of the league. At 26, Worilds would not only give the Eagles youth at the position, but another stellar option at getting after the quarterback. In just 27 games started, Worilds has racked up 25.5 sacks during his five years in the league. The addition could give new life to the Eagles’ defense.
Is the “Marcus Mariota to Philadelphia” talk just smoke screen bull? It would take a ton for the Eagles to trade up for Mariota, so we don’t see that happening. And while Nick Foles struggled at times last year, he can still successfully lead Chip Kelly‘s offense. Instead, the Eagles should focus on improving their secondary. P.J. Williams would provide the team with physicality, strong coverage skills and sure tackling. It might not be as sexy of a pick as Mariota, but it may be just as important to the team’s success.
Washington Redskins: Sign Doug Free (OT), Draft Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
Jay Gruden has a few areas he must address this offseason – protecting his quarterback and improving his defense. Unfortunately for the Redskins, there isn’t really a slam dunk offensive lineman prospect worth taking at number five overall in the draft. Luckily, there are a few available in free agency – such as Doug Free. Free did very well during his time in Dallas and could provide the Redskins with a strong veteran presence to help protect Robert Griffin (since he is the official starter now).
Without forcing the Redskins to reach for a lineman in the draft, choosing to select defensive end Shane Ray from Missouri is the best option for Washington. Ray would give the Redskins a definitive sack threat on the defensive line. In turn, his presence would make that of Ryan Kerrigan even more potent.
Cover Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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