With Super Bowl 50 a distant memory and the combine in the books, 32 NFL teams are turning their attention to one of the most im
With Super Bowl 50 a distant memory and the combine in the books, 32 NFL teams are turning their attention to one of the most imin Müll 21.04.2018 06:48
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With Super Bowl 50 a distant memory and the combine in the books, 32 NFL teams are turning their attention to one of the most important dates in the calendar year – the beginning of free agency. Steve Larmer Jersey . AFC options We assess what 16 teams must do to improve For 31 of those teams, the 2015 season ended in disappointment and free agency offers an opportunity to address the weaknesses on their roster which made them fall short.The Denver Broncos closed out the season as champions but general manager John Elway may have more work to do than anyone with a host of key players set to hit the market. Ins & outs Live blog with all the latest news At 5pm (GMT) on March 7, NFL teams are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with agents of pending unrestricted free agents. At 5pm (GMT) on March 9, the 2016 league year and free agency period officially begin and contracts with players can be signed. Here is what each team in the AFC will be looking to accomplish...Arizona Cardinals Rashad Johnson could be in line for a pay increase Biggest Need: Edge rusher. Arizona ranked joint 20th in the NFL last season with 36 sacks and were forced to rely heavily on the blitz to generate pressure. Markus Golden showed promise in his rookie season but the Cardinals need to find a marquee pass rusher.Free agent to keep: Rashad Johnson. The Cardinals boasted one of the leagues best secondaries last season and Johnson was an important part of that. Though Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu tend to grab the headlines, Johnson plays an important role with his ability to patrol the deep part of the field.Free agent to target: Outside linebacker is a big need but the pickings are slim in free agency. Another position where the Cardinals could stand to improve is centre. Stefen Wisniewski is coming off a strong season with the Jacksonville Jaguars and would represent a big upgrade over incumbent starter Lyle Sendlein.Atlanta Falcons Ryan Schraeder must be retained by Atlanta Biggest Need: Safety. When Dan Quinn was defensive coordinator in Seattle his defence was designed around having two elite safeties on the back end with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. He did not have that luxury in Atlanta last season. The Falcons cut injury-prone William Moore in the offseason.Free agent to keep: Ryan Schraeder played well at right tackle last season for Atlanta. At just 28, he has plenty of good football ahead of him. Re-signing him should be a priority the Falcons as they can use him to bookend their offensive line alongside 2014 number six overall pick Jake Matthews.Free agent to target: Despite an injury-hit campaign in 2015, Eric Weddle is still one of the NFLs best safeties. Though he turned 31 in January, he still has some quality years left and his leadership and experience would be a welcome addition to the back end of Atlantas defence.Carolina Panthers Josh Norman is an example of how players can use the market to get the best deal for themselves Biggest Need: Offensive tackle. Michael Oher and Mike Remmers exceeded expectations during the regular season but they struggled with Denvers pass rush in the Super Bowl. Remmers, in particular, was abused by Von Miller. Offensive tackle is a position Carolina must address.Free agent to keep: Josh Norman backed himself last offseason when he turned down an extension with Carolina and that gamble paid as he established himself as one of the NFLs elite cornerbacks. The Panthers have applied their franchise tag to him and will work to agree a long-term extension before the July 15 deadline.Free agent to target: Offensive tackle is a need but so is cornerback where Charles Tillman is a 35-year-old free agent. New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara would help Carolina get younger at the position and his injury history means they should not have to break the bank to land him.Chicago Bears Denvers issues mean Malik Jackson could be available, so will Chicago swoop? Biggest Need: Offensive tackle. Chicago needs to get better on both their defensive and offensive lines to compete in the NFC North. The Bears need to find a left tackle of the future as Charles Leno is not the answer at the position.Free agent to keep: There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Chicagos offence at the moment. Veteran running back Matt Forte wont be returning. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod has been cut. Tight end Martellus Bennett may suffer the same fate while fellow tight end Zach Miller is a free agent. 2015 first-round pick Kevin White has yet to catch a pass in the NFL. All that means keeping Alshon Jeffery is crucial. The Bears need to hammer out a long-term extension after franchising him.Free agent to target: Defensive lineman Malik Jackson is likely to be too expensive for the Denver Broncos to keep, with Von Miller and Brock Osweiler expected to be prioritised by general manager John Elway. Bears coach John Fox knows just how good Jackson is, having coached him in Denver, and he would fit nicely into the Chicago front seven alongside Pernell McPhee and Eddie Goldman.Dallas Cowboys Robert Griffin III has ties to Texas so playing for the Cowboys might reignite his career Biggest Need: Cornerback. Former sixth overall pick Morris Claiborne is a free agent and has never justified his lofty draft position in Dallas. Brandon Carr is expected to be a cap casualty. 2015 first-round pick Byron Jones may be better suited to safety. The Cowboys need to address this position.Free agent to keep: Rolando McClain has turned his career around in Dallas and is worth keeping at middle linebacker. Given Sean Lees extensive injury history, Dallas cannot afford to let McClain leave.Free agent to target: The importance of having a capable back-up quarterback was highlighted in Dallas last season when Tony Romo went down. Robert Griffin III would give them that. His star has faded massively in Washington but he was once one of the NFLs brightest young stars. He was a college phenomenon 90 miles south of Dallas for Baylor University and heading back to Texas could be just what he needs to rebuild his confidence.Detroit Lions Calvin Johnsons retirement would cause significant damage to Detroits offence Biggest need: Wide receiver. Calvin Johnson will leave a gaping hole in the Lions offence if he retires as expected. Golden Tate is a nice player but he is not a number one option and Detroit has little outside of him at the position.Free agent to keep: Tahir Whitehead performed well for Detroit at linebacker last season. He was solid in coverage and excellent against the run. Veteran inside linebacker Stephen Tulloch is also a free agent but the Lions should prioritise the younger Whitehead.Free agent to target: Assuming Alshon Jeffery stays in Chicago; the free agency crop of wide receivers looks extremely thin at the top. One player who would be a nice fit in Detroit is Rishard Matthews of the Miami Dolphins. He shined last season with extended playing time and he is an ascending player.Green Bay Packers Would Green Bay fancy tempting Danny Trevathan (left)? Biggest need: Inside linebacker. Clay Matthews is the most talented player on the Packers defence and they played him out of position for a lot of last season on the inside. He is at his best at outside linebacker when he can get after opposing quarterbacks. The Packers need to find someone to play inside so they can shift him back outside.Free agent to keep: Casey Hayward is a talented cornerback but he is likely to be too expensive to keep, especially given the Packers spent first and second-round picks on Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins in the 2015 draft. That being said, Green Bay should bring running back James Starks to compete with Eddie Lacy, who had a down year last season.Free agent to target: Danny Trevathan was excellent at the heart of the Denver Broncos Super Bowl-winning defence in 2015. He is unlikely to be brought back given the demands on Denvers salary cap and would be a terrific addition in Green Bay.Los Angeles Rams The Rams will need to invest in a better QB than Case Keenum Biggest need: Quarterback. Case Keenum is not a viable NFL starter in the long term and Nick Foles was a huge disappointment after arriving from Philadelphia. The lack of a quality quarterback has crippled this franchise for years since Kurt Warner left.Free agent to keep: Both starting cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, are free agents and the Rams had to keep at least one. They have decided Johnson is the superior player and ensured he will stay by placing the franchise tag on him.Free agent to target: Cutting Chris Long, James Laurinitus and Jared Cook positions the Rams to bid for Brock Osweiler in free agency. Landing a quarterback in the draft will be difficult because the Rams hold the 15th pick and Osweiler is the top option available in free agency.Minnesota Vikings Mike Wallace hasnt performed as Minnesota hoped Biggest need: Wide receiver. Stefon Diggs was great as a rookie but Mike Wallace has been a free agent bust. The Vikings need to find a receiver to draw coverage away from Diggs.Free agent to keep: Michael Harris played well at guard for Minnesota in 2015 and needs to be brought back to solidify the interior of the Vikings offensive line.Free agent to target: With the wide receiver free agent class being a weak one, the Vikings should look to upgrade that position in the draft and focus on strengthening the offensive line. San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone would be a nice addition to that unit.New Orleans Saints Damon Harrison could plug a leaky New Orleans defence Biggest need: Where to start? The Saints need help at every level of their defence but they really need an edge rusher to help out Cameron Jordan. New Orleans managed just 31 sacks in 2015 which was the sixth-lowest total in the NFL.Free agent to keep: Running back Tim Hightower gave the Saints a real spark down the stretch with his bruising style after Mark Ingram went down with injury. Hightower was out of the NFL for almost four years before New Orleans gave him a chance and he proved he belonged.Free agent to target: No team in the NFL allowed a higher yards per carry (4.9) in 2015 than New Orleans. Nose tackle Damon Harrison was an outstanding run stuffer for the New York Jets last season and would go a long way to solving that problem. Ian Williams of the San Francisco 49ers would be a good alternative.New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul is out of contract so could renegotiate a bumper deal Biggest need: Edge rusher. The Giants could not get to the quarterback last season, ranking 30th in the NFL with just 23 sacks, and their two best pass rushers - Robert Ayers and Jason Pierre-Paul - are free agents.Free agent to keep: Ayers had the best season of his career in 2015 but Pierre-Paul is younger with more upside, even with his damaged hand.Free agent to target: Free safety Rodney McLeod had an excellent season for the Rams in 2015. The Giants gave up the most passing yards in the NFL (4,783) last season and must address the back end of their defence.Philadelphia Eagles Byron Maxwell has done little to justify his generous salary in Philadelphia Biggest need: Cornerback. The massive deal the Eagles handed out to Byron Maxwell looks like a big mistake after one season and Nolan Carroll is a free agent. This is a problem position.Free agent to keep: Walter Thurmond handled his transition from corner to free safety well after arriving from Seattle and is worth bringing back if Philadelphia can get him for a reasonable rate.Free agent to target: The departure of Evan Mathis to Denver left a hole in the Eagles offensive line. They could stand to upgrade both guard spots. Jeff Allen had a stellar season with Kansas City and would be a good addition.San Francisco 49ers Is Joe Staley (left) worth the investment considering his age? Biggest need: Wide receiver. Torrey Smith was hugely disappointing after arriving as a free agent prior to the season. The 49ers have little outside of him at the position.Free agent to keep: Given the uncertainty in the 49ers passing game, bringing back Anquan Boldin is important for San Francisco. He has been their most consistent receiving option though his age - 35 - is a concern.Free agent to target: The 49ers have a lot of uncertainty on their offensive line. Left tackle Joe Staley will be 32 next season. It is still unknown whether right tackle Anthony Davis will return after a year out of the game. Alex Boone, San Franciscos best interior lineman, is a free agent. Signing versatile Baltimore Ravens tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele would be a great boost for San Francisco next season.Seattle Seahawks Seattle have to make a tough decision on Russell Okung (right) Biggest need: Offensive tackle. The Seahawks may need to find two starting offensive tackles this offseason. Injury-prone Russell Okung is a free agent while Garry Gilliam struggled at right tackle.Free agent to keep: Injuries have hampered Okung in recent seasons but he is a talented left tackle. Seattle may be able to sign him to a reasonably-priced, short-term deal which would work for both sides.Free agent to target: Richie Incognito was outstanding at left guard for Buffalo in 2015. He will be 33 entering next season and may fancy playing for a Super Bowl contender. He would provide a huge boost to Seattles offensive line.Tampa Bay Buccaneers Doug Martin has significant bargaining power after a great season Biggest need: Cornerback. Tampa had one of the poorest secondary groups in the league last season and need to find multiple new starters this offseason.Free agent to keep: If the price is right, it makes sense to keep running back Doug Martin in Tampa after his stellar 2015 season but the Buccaneers should not overpay.Free agent to target: Los Angeles Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins is a quality starter and would provide a big upgrade for Tampa Bay.Washington Redskins Kirk Cousins could earn a huge contract because Washington are desperate for a QB Biggest need: Quarterback. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are free agents and Robert Griffin III will be playing elsewhere in 2016. The Redskins have nothing at the quarterback position.Free agent to keep: Terrance Knighton didnt wow at nose tackle but he is a solid two-down run stuffer and the Redskins want to be a physical team so keeping him makes sense.Free agent to target: Washingtons limited cap space means they will not be big shoppers in free agency but ascending Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead would be a big upgrade in the middle of their defence. Also See: NFL Video Rookies guide NFL on Sky Sports Pundits CM Punk Jersey .Jeff Green, playing in his second preseason game after missing the first four because of a calf strain, had 18 points. The Celtics (3-3) shot 47.2 per cent from the floor and made 15 of 37 3-point attempts. 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