With the Super Bowl just around the corner, most NFL teams are already starting to look at their situation going for the offseason. The offseason is a very important time for all teams, but it’s more important for the teams that did not fair too well during the regular season. A few months ago, we would not have believed some of these teams would be where they ended up. In fact, a number of these underperforming teams could very well find themselves in line for a run at the Lombardi Trophy in the next few years.
A few teams have a ton of potential going into the next season based on their current roster, the average age of their players and the amount of cap space they have to acquire the missing pieces of the puzzle. Aside from the obvious choices (the Falcons and Texans), the team that sticks out most is the Cleveland Browns. They play in a weaker division, have a great roster filled with young talent, and have loads of cap money to spend. On the other side of the coin is the St. Louis Rams. It’s hard to see them being a factor in the NFC West. This is unfortunate because they would be a highly competitive team in any other division. What hurt their situation most is their lack a cap room to bring in some veteran leadership to help a particularly young team.
It goes without saying; any team on this list is here for a reason. Everyone needs a good amount of work if they are to make a serious run at the playoffs next year. However, as we saw with the Kansas City Chiefs this season, it is possible to go from worst to first. Here is a look at some moves the bottom ten teams could be making before training camp.
10. St. Louis Rams (7-9)
The Rams are in an interesting situation this offseason. They have two first round draft picks, including the second overall pick from the Washington Redskins. They also have a chance at replacing quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford was great in his rookie season, but since then he has not met the expectations of a first overall draft pick. The general manager has already said they will not look into acquiring another wide receiver despite not having had a 1,000 yard wide out since Tory Holt. The Rams could use either an offensive lineman or a defensive back, but unfortunately they only have $1,509,846 in cap space to work with.
9. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
The Buffalo Bills have an average offseason ahead of them. They have $27,459,097 in cap space and five unrestricted free agent starters. Jarius Byrd is the big name player of the group. Byrd was injured through most of 2013, but is still one of the NFL’s elite defensive backs. The major concern for the Bills should be on the offensive side of the ball. They should look into drafting an offensive lineman to give their new franchise quarterback a chance to stay healthy.
8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1)
By now you may have noticed a trend. Most of these teams have a dire need at quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings are no different. The difference between them and the other teams on this list is that the Vikings have three decent quarterbacks. Unfortunately, none of them are cut out to be a franchise passer. The Vikings also should look into resigning defensive end, Jared Allen. Allen has been the face of the franchise for a long time. He may not be getting any younger, but he is still a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
The Jaguars were in the running for the first overall pick for the first ten games of the season. Then, due to a talented young defense, they started winning games. With $53,023,075 in cap space, they have plenty of room to shore up any problems with the offense. Best of all, the Jags are only losing four of their starters. One major name is running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew is not getting any younger and has had trouble staying healthy. It would not be a surprise if the running back and the organization parted ways. The main concern for the team is the quarterback position. With such a good draft class, there is no way they will not address is issue.
6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
The Falcons are in a very similar situation as the Houston Texans. The offense was rattled by injuries, which caused them to lose their explosive edge. This team is built to put up a huge number of points and beat teams in shoot-outs. The defense is the team’s real problem. The Falcons have $9,566,337 in cap space to work with. Tony Gonzalez is going to retire, but the Falcons should attempt to bring in a young pass rusher or defensive back before they address any issues with their offense.
5. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
The Browns are one of the best bottom feeders in recent memory. They fielded a top ten defense, a strong group of wider receivers led by Josh Gordon, and a strong special teams unit. It seems the only piece of the puzzle the Browns are missing is a franchise quarterback. There is no doubt they will draft one. They could also try to bring in a new running back since Willis McGahee will be a free agent. McGahee did not play well enough to earn himself a long-term deal. Expect the Browns to draft a quarterback and look into picking up a free agent running back like Darren McFadden or Maurice Jones-Drew.
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
The Raiders are in a great position this offseason. Their $64,705,390 in cap space is the highest of any team. Lamar Houston and Darren McFadden are entering free agency and Charles Woodson could retire. The Raiders will definitely look into resigning Houston, but more than likely McFadden will not be with the team next season. The Raiders’ defense is stout. It will be interesting to see what they do at the quarterback position. Both Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor could be in line for the starting job, but it is also very likely they will draft a quarterback. With all the money they have to work with, expect the Raiders to be very busy this offseason.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
The Buccaneers have already replaced Coach Shiano. This is a good start to their offseason, as he had lost the support of the locker room and fan base halfway through the season. The next major issue to address is whether or not 2013 seventh-round pick, Mike Glennon, is the future franchise quarterback. If they believe he is, they would have a starter at a rock-bottom price, but only time will tell. Either way, the Bucs should sure up their offensive line to give their quarterback more time to stand in the pocket.
2. Washington Redskins (3-13)
The health of Robert Griffin III is not the only concern of the Washington Redskins organization this offseason. The team could possibly lose nine starters. Star middle linebacker London Fletcher is going to retire shortly. The defense is also running the chance of losing defensive backs DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather, along with defensive lineman Brian Orakpo. Signing a linebacker will be a high priority for the organization this offseason. More than likely, they will attempt to resign Riley Perry Jr. and try to grab another LB off free agency. The Redskins have $28,637,929 in cap space too, but do not have a first round draft pick. Unless some draft day moves can be made, the team is in serious danger of fielding an ageing defense next season.
1. Houston Texans (2-14)
The Texans have a pretty good situation heading into this offseason. Remember, it was only a few months ago that this team was expected to be competing for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Texans have an estimated $7,815,650 to work with. Six of their starters are entering free agency, including defensive end Antonio Smith. Obviously, the Texans are expected to use their first overall draft pick on a quarterback. However, with such a deep in-coming class at the position, it would not be surprising if they traded down in the draft to get a cheaper gunslinger. This would give them more room to bring back the pass rusher who plays on the opposite side of the line from J.J. Watt.
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