Every NFL Team’s Shopping List for 2022 Offseason | Bleacher Report

Every NFL Team’s Shopping List for 2022 Offseason | Bleacher Report

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    Lions head coach Dan Campbell

    Lions head coach Dan CampbellPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    It’s that time of year, football fans! Black Friday has come and gone, and the rush to complete holiday shopping is officially on. With free agency still months away, NFL teams aren’t quite under the same pressure to put their shopping lists together.

    Like department stores that put out wreaths on Halloween, however, it’s never too soon to plan for the season—or in this case, the offseason.

    Here, you’ll find a look at each team’s biggest offseason needs, based on factors such as past production, team health and the presence of declining players or those with expiring contracts. We’ll also dive into each team’s projected salary-cap situation, according to Spotrac.

    We’re looking specifically at roster needs. While several franchises will inevitably have front-office holes to fill in the spring, we’ll have that discussion another time.

    With six weeks left in the regular season, here’s an early look at each team’s shopping list for 2022.

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    Chandler Jones

    Chandler JonesRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $22.4 Million

  • Cornerback
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Tight End

The Arizona Cardinals have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL right now, but it could be time to restock in the offseason.

Cornerback Robert Alford is playing on a one-year deal, while fellow corner Byron Murphy will be in the final year of his deal in 2022. It would be wise to plan for the future at corner, specifically through the 2022 draft.

Arizona may have a more immediate need at pass-rusher. Star sack artist Chandler Jones is in the final year of his contract, while offseason acquisition J.J. Watt is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Watt may return this season, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer the 32-year-old can be a high-level contributor.

Things are a little murky at tight end too. The Cardinals acquired Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the trade deadline, but he too is on an expiring contract.

Ertz has performed well in Arizona—he has 269 yards and three touchdowns in five games—but he is still a 31-year-old pending free agent.

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    Dante Fowler Jr.

    Dante Fowler Jr.Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $13.7 Million

  • Edge-Rusher
  • Wide Receiver
  • Running Back

It may be time for the Atlanta Falcons to start thinking about a long-term replacement for quarterback Matt Ryan. While Ryan is still capable of playing at a high level, he is 36 years old, and the Falcons are not poised to win in the near future.

There are more immediate needs on the roster, though, including at edge-rusher. 2020 offseason addition Dante Fowler Jr. has underwhelmed in Atlanta—he has just 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback pressures this season—and the teams’ pass rush is virtually nonexistent.

Atlanta has logged just 15 sacks on the season, the worst mark in the league. 

Star wideout Calvin Ridley is taking time away from football to focus on his mental health. Even if he’s back in the fold next season, the Falcons need better depth out wide. Julio Jones is long gone, and only two players—tight end Kyle Pitts and runner/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson—have more than 300 receiving yards through 11 weeks.

Speaking of Patterson, the 30-year-old former return ace has served as Atlanta’s best rushing option. Despite his emergence, no other player has topped four yards per carry this season, and the Falcons need to invest in a long-term running back.

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    DeShon Elliott

    DeShon ElliottTerrance Williams/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $27.3 Million

  • Safety
  • Defensive Line
  • Cornerback

The Baltimore Ravens may be in control of the AFC North, but they are far from a perfect team. Pass defense has been a particular problem, as the Ravens rank 30th in yards per pass attempt allowed and 31st in yards per game allowed.

It would behoove Baltimore to address the safety position specifically. DeShon Elliott is on injured reserve with a torn pectoral and torn biceps, and he could face a long recovery. Rookie safety Brandon Stephens has allowed an opposing passer rating of 136.1 in coverage.

Cornerback is also an area of concern, though Marcus Peters’ eventual return from a torn ACL could bolster the secondary. It’s worth noting, though, that Peters could be a possible cap casualty in the offseason. He’ll carry a $15.5 million cap hit in 2022 but will have only $5.5 million in dead money.

Baltimore would also be wise to reload along the defensive line, where 35-year-old Calais Campbell, 32-year-old Justin Houston and 32-year-old Brandon Williams are among the centerpieces. The defensive front has been solid—the Ravens rank second in run defense—but Campbell, Houston and Williams are also all set to become free agents.

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    Mitch Morse

    Mitch MorseMatt Patterson/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $9.9 Million

  • Offensive Line
  • Running Back
  • Defensive Line

The Buffalo Bills dominated the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving, putting up 361 yards of offense in a 31-6 win. However, Buffalo has lost two of its last four games in an alarming fashion.

In Week 9, it was an embarrassing 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Week 11, it was a blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts, in which Buffalo surrendered 264 rushing yards. While the Bills don’t show many weaknesses statistically—they rank first in total defense, fifth in total offense, second in both scoring and points allowed after Thursday—they would be smart to build in the trenches in the offseason.

Quarterback Josh Allen has been under pressure on 23.8 percent of his dropbacks. The defensive line is set to see Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes, Vernon Butler and Harrison Phillips hit free agency. Reloading along the offensive and defensive lines should help ensure that Buffalo plays a more consistent brand of football next season.

The Bills should also look to add another running back to the mix. No running back has more than 500 rushing yards this season, and Matt Breida—who leads Buffalo’s backs with 5.2 yards per carry—is also scheduled to be a free agent.

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    Cam Newton

    Cam NewtonRusty Jones/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $30.0 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Offensive Tackle
  • Cornerback

The biggest question facing the Carolina Panthers is what to do at quarterback in the offseason. Cam Newton has played well since returning to Carolina, but he is playing on a one-year deal. The Panthers exercised the fifth-year option of offseason acquisition Sam Darnold, but he has not played well.

Darnold, who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, has posted a career-low passer rating of 71.3.

It’s time for Carolina to dip into the draft for a quarterback of the future, even if it brings back the 32-year-old Newton for another season or two.

Regardless of who starts under center, the Panthers need to find a long-term solution at left tackle. Cameron Erving is on injured reserve with a calf injury. Dennis Daley was responsible for seven penalties and three sacks allowed through the first 11 weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. Rookie third-round pick Brady Christensen has had a penalty and two sacks allowed in just 192 offensive snaps, per PFF.

On the defensive side of the ball, it would be wise for Carolina to add a cornerback. Trade acquisition Stephon Gilmore and starter Donte Jackson are both scheduled to hit the open market.

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    Justin Fields

    Justin FieldsCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $44.6 Million

  • Offensive Line
  • Cornerback
  • Wide Receiver

The Chicago Bears appear to have their quarterback of the future in rookie Justin Fields. What they don’t have is an offensive line capable of protecting him. The Bears line has been atrocious this season, and even if second-round tackle Teven Jenkins (back) gets healthy and on the field, the line needs addressing.

Fields has been sacked a stunning 31 times in 10 games. Fellow quarterback Andy Dalton has been sacked six times despite making only three starts. With Jenkins still a complete unknown, the entire line could use an overhaul.

The Bears should also look to strengthen their receiving corps. Darnell Mooney (694 receiving yards) is developing into a top option. However, former No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson II is playing on the franchise tag and is the only other wideout with at least 300 receiving yards.

Defensively, Chicago should seek out a legitimate No. 1 cornerback. Kyle Fuller was let go in the offseason, and the Bears rank a middling 17th in yards per attempt allowed and have logged just five interceptions. Jaylon Johnson is the only Bears cornerback with a pick this season.

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    Joe Burrow

    Joe BurrowRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $61.7 Million

  • Interior Offensive Line
  • Cornerback
  • Edge-Rusher

Fields might be a franchise quarterback in Chicago. There’s little question that the Cincinnati Bengals have their man in Joe Burrow. However, the Bengals still need to do a better job of protecting Burrow, who had his rookie season cut short by a devastating knee injury.

Burrow has been sacked 30 times and has been under pressure on 24.1 percent of his dropbacks. Tackles Riley Reiff and Jonah Williams allowed four and five sacks, respectively, through the first 11 weeks, according to Pro Football Focus, which means that the offensive interior is a bigger concern.

The fact that Cincinnati has averaged just 4.1 yards per carry also points to the interior offensive line needing work.

While Cincinnati’s sixth-ranked scoring defense has been mostly solid, the Bengals could use some new additions. Adding a cornerback to improve a secondary ranked 25th in pass defense would be a nice first step. The Bengals could also afford another potent edge-rusher to complement Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, who have accounted for 17.5 of the team’s 28 sacks.

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    Jarvis Landry

    Jarvis LandryDavid Richard/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $36.5 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Line
  • Cornerback

There’s a chance that the Cleveland Browns look to upgrade the quarterback position in 2022. However, Baker Mayfield will be on the fifth-year option, and the Browns seem likely to give him at least one more year to prove himself.

Instead, Cleveland should look to finally get Mayfield the No. 1 receiver he has been missing. Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t work out, and Jarvis Landry has been mostly underwhelming and hampered by a knee injury. Landry could also be a cap casualty, as Cleveland could save roughly $15 million by letting him go.

Landy leads Cleveland wideouts with just 356 receiving yards.

Defensively, the Browns should look to reload along the defensive front. Cleveland has been gashed by the run the past two weeks, allowing 167 yards a game, and is set to lose Jadeveon Clowney, Takkarist McKinley and Malik Jackson in free agency.

It would also behoove the Browns to add more cornerback depth. The team is deep at the position on paper, but corners Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II have all missed time because of injuries.

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    Leighton Vander Esch

    Leighton Vander EschRoger Steinman/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: -$12.1 Million

  • Cornerback
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Linebacker

On Thursday, fans got a look at just how bad the Dallas Cowboys defense can be when it isn’t regularly notching takeaways. The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t turn the ball over, racked up 509 yards of offense and won 36-33 in overtime.

The Cowboys could use defensive help at all three levels. They rank 21st in rushing yards per attempt allowed, 24th in passing yards per attempt allowed and 29th in total defense.

The first objective should be finding a quality cover corner to complement standout Trevon Diggs and starter Anthony Brown. Jourdan Lewis has been serviceable at times, but he’s allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 89.9.

Bigger issues lie in the front seven. Rookie Micah Parsons has been an instant star, but the Cowboys already parted with Jaylon Smith and could lose Leighton Vander Esch in 2022 free agency.

Dallas also needs to bolster a pass rush that has relied heavily on Parsons. The rookie has nine of the team’s 24 sacks, while Randy Gregory is the only other defender with more than two sacks on the season.

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    Teddy Bridgewater

    Teddy BridgewaterJack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $62.1 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Secondary

The Denver Broncos have been searching for a franchise quarterback since Payton Manning retired. They took a flier on Teddy Bridgewater this year, and while Bridgewater hasn’t been a disaster, he hasn’t looked like a long-term answer either.

Bridgewater has a solid passer rating of 98.9 but has too often played timidly in the pocket. He’s taken 27 sacks and ranks 25th in yards per pass completion (10.8). He’s been good enough, but in a division that features Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Justin Herbert, the Broncos should strive for more than that.

With the Broncos trading Von Miller before the deadline, they could use an edge-rusher on defense. Bradley Chubb spent the first 11 weeks on injured reserve following Ankle surgery, and Malik Reed is the only active defender with more than 2.5 sacks on the season.

Denver would also be wise to add secondary depth in the offseason. The Broncos are loaded in the secondary and rank 10th in passing yards allowed per game, but they’re also set to have several defenders hit free agency.

Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Kareem Jackson, Michael Ford and Nate Hairston will all be free agents in 2022.

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    Jared Goff

    Jared GoffPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $40.6 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Cornerback

The Detroit Lions have yet to win a game in 2021. They’ve come close—even tying the Pittsburgh Steelers a few weeks ago—but Detroit has consistently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It happened again on Thanksgiving, as penalties and the loss of running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder) sunk the team.

The rebuilding process has to start at quarterback, where Jared Goff hasn’t been good enough. He’s been above-average at his best but isn’t capable of carrying this offense and carries a passer rating of 87.0.

The Lions need to find a long-term answer as soon as possible.

They also need wide receivers, and lots of them. There is no No. 1 target on the roster, unless you count tight end T.J. Hockenson. No wideout has topped 400 receiving yards this season, with Hockenson and Swift the only players to do so.

Defensively, Detroit needs to improve its secondary. Cornerback Jeff Okudah has played just 10 games since being drafted third overall in 2020, and he’s on injured reserve with a torn Achilles. Even when healthy, he has disappointed, having allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 118.0 in nine games as a rookie.

As a team, Detroit ranks 31st in yards per pass attempt allowed.

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    Davante Adams

    Davante AdamsAaron Gash/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: -$33.8 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Tight End
  • Defensive Line

Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams might be the best receiver in football. However, he also happens to be among Green Bay’s impending free agents.

Even if the Packers retain Adams—possibly through the use of the franchise tag—they will need help at receiver. Adams is the only wideout on the team with more than 375 receiving yards, and several complementary receivers are headed to market.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be an unrestricted free agent, while Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown will both be restricted free agents.

The offense could also lose tight end Robert Tonyan, who is an impending free agent and on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

Defensively, the Packers should look to upgrade a linebacker corps that has struggled against the run. The Packers rank 19th in yards allowed per rushing attempt and could see linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and Oren Burks depart in free agency.

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    Deshaun Watson

    Deshaun WatsonJustin Rex/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $44.2 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Offensive Line

The Houston Texans didn’t trade quarterback Deshaun Watson before the early November deadline, but his exit seems inevitable. He hasn’t played this season and faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women who have accused him of sexual assault and misconduct. He also requested a trade in the offseason.

Rookie quarterback Davis Mills has flashed promise (80.2 passer rating) but not enough to keep journeyman Tyrod Taylor out of the lineup when the latter’s healthy. A new quarterback with franchise potential should be Houston’s first offseason priority.

The Texans could also use upgrades across the offensive line. They rank last in yards per rushing attempt and have allowed 31 sacks.

Defensively, Houston should angle for a new franchise pass-rusher. It parted ways with longtime star J.J. Watt in the offseason and released Whitney Mercilus in October.

Not counting Mercilus’ three sacks, the Texans defense has logged just 22 this season. Jonathan Greenard is the only player with more than three quarterback takedowns.

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    Zach Pascal

    Zach PascalJeff Lewis/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $57.6 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Cornerback
  • Offensive Tackle

The Carson Wentz experiment might just work out for the Indianapolis Colts. The former Philadelphia Eagles superstar-turned-disappointment is resurrecting his career in 2021. He’s thrown 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions and has helped the Colts win five of their last seven games.

Strengthening Wentz’s receiving corps would be a great offseason move. Michael Pittman Jr. is the only wideout with more than 400 receiving yards. Second-leading receiver Zach Pascal is set to hit the open market in the spring.

The Colts should also seek a long-term answer at left tackle. Anthony Castonzo retired in the offseason, and his replacement, Eric Fisher, is also headed toward free agency.

Defensively, the Colts could use a true shutdown cornerback. While Indianapolis has logged 14 interceptions, it has also allowed 26 touchdown passes, the second-highest mark in the league. Starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes has allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 111.7 and is set to reach free agency in the spring.

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    DJ Chark Jr.

    DJ Chark Jr.Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $71.3 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Cornerback
  • Offensive Tackle

The Jacksonville Jaguars have their biggest piece in place. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn’t been great—he holds a passer rating of 72.3—but he’s flashed the physical traits that could one day make him an elite signal-caller.

Getting Lawrence a legitimate No. 1 receiver should be at the top of Jacksonville’s to-do list. DJ Chark Jr. is on injured reserve with a fractured ankle, while 31-year-old wideout Marvin Jones Jr. leads the team with just 529 receiving yards.

Pairing Lawrence with a proven receiver, a la Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, could help him develop.

Jacksonville should also look at adding a premier cornerback. The team traded 2020 first-round pick CJ Henderson in late September and rank 30th in yards per pass attempt allowed.

The Jags also need to find a reliable left tackle to protect Lawrence’s blind side. Cam Robinson didn’t allow a sack through the first 11 weeks, according to Pro Football Focus, but he’s also playing on the franchise tag and is set to become a free agent.

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    Daniel Sorensen

    Daniel SorensenTerrance Williams/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $31.6 Million

  • Safety
  • Linebacker
  • Wide Receiver

The Kansas City Chiefs defense has played better in recent weeks, allowing fewer than 20 points in each of the past four games. However, they still have a massive need at safety.

Daniel Sorensen was pulled from the starting lineup after the first five weeks, but he’s remained a liability. In coverage, he has allowed an opposing passer rating of 144.0 and has played at least 35 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the last four games.

Kansas City could also use a run-stuffing linebacker, as its run defense ranks 28th in yards per attempt allowed.

Offensively, the Chiefs are still searching for a reliable third receiver to complement Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. The team took a flier on oft-suspended wideout Josh Gordon, but he has yet to emerge as a significant piece.

“His time is going to come as far as the production in the pass game,” head coach Andy Reid said of Gordon, per Jordan Foote of FanNation.

Unless Gordon blows up over the final six weeks and the postseason, the Chiefs should shop for that third wideout in the offseason.

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    Alex Leatherwood

    Alex LeatherwoodRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $50.7 Million

  • Offensive Line
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Line

In the offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders traded center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown. They also used a surprise first-round pick on Alabama product Alex Leatherwood, who has since slotted in at guard.

The new-look offensive line has been underwhelming, and Leatherwood has struggled. The Raiders have allowed 25 sacks and rank just 27th in yards per rushing attempt. Leatherwood has been responsible for 12 penalties and five sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

Kolton Miller is a serviceable left tackle—just three sacks allowed, per PFF—but the offensive line needs more retooling.

The Raiders could use help along the defensive front too. Las Vegas ranks 20th in rushing yards allowed per game and is set to see Johnathan Hankins, Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson hit free agency.

While the Raiders have the league’s second-ranked passing offense, they could use a replacement at receiver for Henry Ruggs III.

Las Vegas released him after he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor and four felonies, including reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death.

The Raiders added DeSean Jackson to the receiving corps after the trade deadline, but he will be a free agent in the spring.

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    Jared Cook

    Jared CookMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $76.2 Million

  • Defensive Line
  • Linebacker
  • Tight End/Wide Receiver

The Los Angeles Chargers have some key offensive pieces in place, including second-year quarterback Justin Herbert and star running back Austin Ekeler. However, they could use an upgrade at tight end.

Jared Cook has been serviceable at best, giving his QBs a passer rating of just 75.6 when targeted. Cook is also 34 years old and is set to reach free agency—along with wideout Mike Williams, who could create a void of his own.

If Williams gets away, the Chargers will likely be looking for a new No. 2 to pair with top target Keenan Allen.

Defensively, the Chargers should focus on revamping their front seven. Los Angeles has been atrocious against the run more often than not and could lose defenders like Kyler Fackrell, Linval Joseph and Christian Covington in free agency.

Los Angeles ranks last in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in yards per attempt surrendered.

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    Brian Allen

    Brian AllenKyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $4.7 Million

  • Edge-Rusher
  • Running Back
  • Linebacker

The Los Angeles Rams have loaded up for a Super Bowl run in 2021 and don’t have many glaring weaknesses.

One liability has emerged in recent weeks, though, as opposing teams have been able to attack the interior of the offensive line. In blowout losses to the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, quarterback Matthew Stafford was largely pressured up the middle.

Center Brian Allen has been responsible for five penalties and five sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. He and right guard Austin Corbett are both slated to reach free agency in 2022.

Cornerbacks Darious Williams and Donte Deayon are also scheduled for free agency, which could leave L.A. in need of depth.

While running back Cam Akers (torn Achilles) may be back in time for the postseason, the Rams would be wise to bolster the depth behind him. They rank just 24th in yards per rushing attempt, and trade acquisition Sony Michel is also among the team’s impending free agents.

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    Austin Jackson

    Austin JacksonWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $75.5 Million

  • Offensive Line
  • Running Back
  • Quarterback

The Miami Dolphins have done some tinkering with their offensive line recently, moving 2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson to guard and shifting second-round rookie Liam Eichenberg to left tackle. However, the unit remains underwhelming.

The Dolphins rank 31st in yards per rushing attempt and have surrendered 29 sacks. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been under pressure on 19.8 percent of his dropbacks, while Jacoby Brissett has been under pressure 27 percent of the time.

The Dolphins could also use a featured running back. Myles Gaskin leads the team with 482 rushing yards but has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. Miami recently added Phillip Lindsay but only on a one-year deal.

While it may be too early to pull the plug on Tagovailoa, Miami’s interest in Deshaun Watson before the trade deadline suggests that it’s looking for an alternative. If the Dolphins are indeed down on the 2020 first-round pick, expect a quarterback to be on the team’s shopping list.

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    Danielle Hunter

    Danielle HunterGerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: -$10.1 Million

  • Tight End
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Cornerback

The Minnesota Vikings offense hasn’t been elite this season, but it’s been quite good—it ranks ninth in both yards and scoring. However, tight end is a concern heading into 2022.

2019 second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. is on injured reserve with a knee setback, and leading tight end Tyler Conklin is among Minnesota’s impending free agents. The Vikings traded for Chris Herndon, but he is also set to hit the market in the spring.

Edge-rusher could be an even bigger concern. Team sack leader Danielle Hunter is on injured reserve. Everson Griffen, who is second on the Vikings in sacks, is away from the team while working on his mental health and is also an impending free agent.

Depending on Hunter’s health—he missed all of 2020 after neck surgery and is out for the rest of this year because of a torn pec—the Vikings could be particularly thin on the edge.

Minnesota could also be thin at cornerback, as Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland are all set to reach free agency. The Vikings rank 22nd in passing yards allowed per game and 22nd in yards surrendered per attempt.

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    Mac Jones

    Mac JonesBrynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $29.3 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback/Safety

The New England Patriots appear to have found their long-term answer at quarterback. Rookie Mac Jones has been superb this season, and the Patriots have been playing like one of the best teams in the AFC.

However, New England could lose some key pieces in free agency. Star cornerback J.C. Jackson and safety Devin McCourty are among the team’s impending free agents. Linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are among that group as well.

These are key members of a New England defense that ranks first in points allowed. If they’re allowed to depart, they’ll need to be replaced.

And while New England’s receiving corps is more than functional, the Patriots still lack a true No. 1 receiver. Adding one could help Jones turn the corner from rookie standout to legitimate star.

The Patriots rank eighth in passing yards per attempt and 14th in yards per game, but no wideout has topped 650 receiving yards.

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    Taysom Hill

    Taysom HillRich Schultz/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: -$61.7 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Running Back

The New Orleans Saints recently signed quarterback/utility man Taysom Hill to a four-year contract extension. That, however, is unlikely to solve New Orleans’ long-term quarterback problem.

Hill has not been given a starting opportunity this season. Jameis Winston won the starting job out of camp but is on injured reserve with a torn ACL. It’s been Trevor Siemian under center since, and he’s gone 0-4 as the starter.

Unless the Saints see a heck of a lot from rookie Ian Book over the final six games, they’ll need to find a new quarterback in the offseason—whether in the draft or by trying to acquire a proven starter such as Russell Wilson. 

Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Saints need to address wide receiver. Michael Thomas is out for the year following June ankle surgery, and no one on the team has yet reached 500 receiving yards.

New Orleans should also seek a long-term complement to star running back Alvin Kamara. The Saints traded for former starter Mark Ingram II before the deadline, but he’ll turn 32 in December and is only signed through 2022.

Before the Saints do anything else, though, they’re going to have to clear salary-cap space.

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    Billy Price

    Billy PriceSteve Luciano/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $5.3 Million

  • Interior Offensive Line
  • Edge-Rusher
  • Tight End

We’ll assume the New York Giants will give quarterback Daniel Jones at least one more year to prove himself. While Jones has yet to cement himself as a franchise-caliber signal-caller—he has a passer rating of just 84.8 this season—he’s been done no favors by a rocky offensive line.

The Giants have allowed 22 sacks, and Jones has been under pressure on 21.9 percent of his dropbacks.

It would behoove New York to address its line, particularly along the interior. Guard Will Hernandez, for example, has been responsible for eight penalties and four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Center Billy Price has four penalties and one sack allowed, per PFF.

Price and Hernandez are both slated to be free agents in 2022.

Tight ends Evan Engram and Levine Toilolo are also scheduled to hit the free-agent market, which will create a need for depth behind Kyle Rudolph—who will be in the final year of his deal in 2022.

New York could also use help at edge-rusher. Rookie Azeez Ojulari has shown promise, but he and Leonard Williams are responsible for 11 of the team’s 21 total sacks.

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    Zach Wilson

    Zach WilsonAdam Hunger/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $54.2 Million

  • Edge-Rusher
  • Safety
  • Tight End

The jury is still very much out on rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who has arguably been the New York Jets’ worst quarterback this season. Wilson, who missed a month with a knee injury, threw four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions with a rating of 62.9.

Still, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Jets will pull the plug on Wilson after one year.

New York is loaded with other needs. A reliable tight end who can be a security blanket for Wilson should top the list. The Jets traded Chris Herndon, and Ryan Griffin leads the position group with 21 catches, 179 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Jets need an edge-rusher in a big way. Offseason acquisition Carl Lawson suffered a ruptured Achilles in camp, and the Jets have tallied just 25 sacks. Defensive tackles Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers have accounted for 12 of those sacks.

The Jets also need safety help. Jamal Adams is long gone, and Marcus Maye—who is on injured reserve with a torn Achilles—is among New York’s impending free agents

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    Derek Barnett

    Derek BarnettRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $15.0 Million

  • Edge-Rusher
  • Linebacker
  • Safety

It’s looking more and more likely that quarterback Jalen Hurts will get the chance to be a long-term answer at the game’s most important position. The 23-year-old is developing into a potent dual-threat quarterback, and the Eagles have won three of their last five games.

Barring a collapse from Hurts, the Eagles will focus on improving a defense that ranks 11th overall and 15th in points allowed—and is set to lose several contributors on the open market.

Improving the pass rush should be goal No. 1. Philadelphia has logged a mere 19 sacks while standout pass-rusher Brandon Graham is on injured reserve with a ruptured Achilles. He’ll also turn 34 in April. Fellow pass-rusher Derek Barnett is set to hit free agency in the offseason.

The Eagles could also use a run-stuffing linebacker to help boost a defense ranked 16th in rushing yards allowed per game.

Philadelphia will need to reload at safety, too, where starters Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris are scheduled to reach free agency.

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    Ben Roethlisberger

    Ben RoethlisbergerMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $47.1 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Cornerback

Overall, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a decent roster. However, they also have a 39-year-old quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who can’t threaten defenses as he once did. Sunday’s 41-10 loss in Cincinnati showed that Pittsburgh needs to be planning for the future.

It’s time for Pittsburgh to invest in Roethlisberger’s successor. It isn’t Mason Rudolph, who has long served as a backup and spot starter but isn’t franchise-quarterback material—he “led” Pittsburgh to a tie with the lowly Lions in Week 10.

Even if Pittsburgh aims to land a veteran bridge quarterback, taking one high in the draft should be in the team’s plans.

“I would think they would make a move to bring someone like Jameis Winston in and use that as a bridge year,” Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote. “… I do think the Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson options are a bit of a pipe dream.”

The Steelers should also look to reload at cornerback and wide receiver, as Joe Haden and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both scheduled to reach free agency. Pittsburgh’s biggest goal, though, should be finding a long-term solution at quarterback.

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    Jason Verrett

    Jason VerrettJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $11.9 Million

  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Offensive Line

The San Francisco 49ers lost starting cornerback Jason Verrett to a torn ACL in the season opener, which led to the signing of free agent Josh Norman. While the pass defense has survived since then—the 49ers rank sixth in passing yards allowed per game—San Francisco will need to reload the position in the offseason.

Verrett, Norman, K’Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson are among San Francisco’s pending free agents.

Guard Laken Tomlinson is also scheduled to reach free agency and will need to be replaced if he’s allowed to leave. The 49ers could also use insurance at right tackle. Mike McGlinchey is out for the year with a torn quadriceps. Rookie fifth-round pick Jaylon Moore and Tom Compton have been serviceable as a rotational replacement duo but may not provide a long-term answer.

It would also be smart for the 49ers to add another quality linebacker to a defense that ranks 14th in rushing yards allowed per game and has surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns.

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    Duane Brown

    Duane BrownTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $54.4 Million

  • Offensive Line
  • Cornerback
  • Quarterback

The Seattle Seahawks already need a lot of help, and that’s assuming quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t end up on the trade block. While Wilson didn’t formally request a trade this past offseason, he did provide a list of franchises to which he would be willing to go.

According to CBS Sports’ Jay Glazer, the situation with Wilson and the Seahawks was “very dicey.”

It’s time for Seattle to at least start planning for life without Wilson.

Even if Wilson stays, the Seahawks desperately need to upgrade their offensive line. The unit has surrendered 33 sacks and will likely lose left tackle Duane Brown in free agency.

Brown is in the final year of his contract, wanted an extension in the offseason and didn’t get it. Instead, Seattle gave him an adjustment to get him on the field for 2021.

Defensively, the Seahawks need help at cornerback. Seattle lost longtime starter Shaquill Griffin in the offseason and ranks 30th in passing yards allowed per game.

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    Tom Brady

    Tom BradyMark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $32.4 Million

  • Tight End
  • Running Back
  • Wide Receiver

As long as Tom Brady is healthy and back under center for the 2022 season, we should expect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reload around him. This means that they’ll be shopping to replace—or as may be the more likely case, re-sign—departing players.

A few key members of Brady’s supporting case are scheduled to reach free agency. Wideout Chris Godwin, who is playing on the franchise tag, is the most notable name, and the Buccaneers should be eager to re-sign or replace him.

Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard are also set to hit the open market, along with slot receiver Antonio Brown. At running back, the Bucs could lose Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard and Ronald Jones II in free agency.

There’s a good chance the Buccaneers take the same approach to the offseason as they took in 2021—they brought back all 22 offensive and defensive starters. If any of these contributors depart, though, expect filling the resulting voids to top Tampa Bay’s game plan.

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    Julio Jones

    Julio JonesMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $24.6 Million

  • Wide Receiver
  • Tight End
  • Cornerback/Edge-Rusher

Before last week’s shocking loss to the Texans, the Tennessee Titans had performed reasonably well without star running back Derrick Henry, who’s out after foot surgery. However, there are offensive needs that must be addressed in the offseason.

The Titans receiving corps has been serviceable at best—Tennessee ranks 22nd in yards per attempt and 23rd in yards per game—and the offseason trade for Julio Jones isn’t panning out as a home run move. He has missed five games because of injury and has just 336 receiving yards.

Tennessee needs to find a long-term No. 2 to complement A.J. Brown.

The Titans also need to find a quality receiving tight end. Jonnu Smith departed in free agency, and Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim are among the team’s impending free agents.

Tennessee also needs to address its 26th-ranked pass defense. Rookie first-round pick Caleb Farley is out for the year with a torn ACL and could face a lengthy recovery, while standout pass-rusher Harold Landry is slated to hit the open market.

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    Taylor Heinicke

    Taylor HeinickeRusty Jones/Associated Press

    Projected Cap Space: $62.0 Million

  • Quarterback
  • Cornerback
  • Wide Receiver

There’s a chance Taylor Heinicke has done enough to return as the Washington Football Team’s starter in 2022. He’s gone just 4-5 but has posted a respectable 91.4 passer rating. However, head coach Ron Rivera has made it clear that he won’t rest until Washington has a true franchise quarterback.

“Until you get one, you’re always going to be looking,” Rivera told 106.7 The Fan (h/t CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr).

While Heinicke will have the rest of the season to prove himself, there’s no doubting the fact that Washington needs cornerback help. The team ranks 28th in passing yards allowed per game and 26th in yards allowed per attempt.

Washington could also use another receiver to complement standout Terry McLaurin. The team added Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries and rookie Dyami Brown last offseason, but they have contributed little.

McLaurin is the only wideout on the roster with more than 300 receiving yards.


Salary-cap and contract information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.