Objectives, high strikes and largest remaining questions


Each staff has offseason targets.

For some, such because the world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is find out how to preserve the usual. For others, akin to these groups that missed the postseason, it is find out how to get higher, notably now that there are two further playoff groups this season.

Obligatory minicamps are performed. Some groups shortened theirs; others did not even really feel the necessity to take the sector. For those who did, who confirmed up and who confirmed out? Which free-agent acquisitions pays massive dividends? Which rookies will dwell as much as the hype, exceed it or go bust?

Virtually something appears attainable earlier than the 2021 season begins. Perhaps Carson Wentz is the reply in Indianapolis. Perhaps Dak Prescott is prepared for an epic comeback. Can Justin Fields finish years of quarterback frustrations in Chicago? Will the Aaron Rodgers state of affairs in Inexperienced Bay get resolved amicably?

What did our NFL Nation reporters see this offseason? We requested them to evaluate how the groups they cowl did within the offseason and choose the most important unanswered questions for every squad. Here’s what they advised us:

Bounce to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE
NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

NFC EAST

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Dak is again. Prescott’s well being is paramount to the Cowboys’ success. He displayed within the organized staff actions and minicamp that his proper ankle harm shouldn’t be going to carry him again when issues get actual. His willingness to place within the work has served his teammates as nicely. In the event that they see him work as exhausting as he did to get again, they haven’t any selection however to work simply as exhausting.

Offseason targets: Repair the protection. It is exhausting to know if will probably be fastened, however it could actually’t be worse than it was a 12 months in the past. There is a new coordinator in Dan Quinn. They added some low-cost free brokers they consider might be higher matches of their scheme, akin to Brent City, Keanu Neal and Tarell Basham. Their first six draft picks have been on the defensive aspect of the ball, highlighted by first rounder Micah Parsons.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can the offensive line return to type? Prescott stated crucial gamers to him are Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins. Smith performed two video games final 12 months, Martin performed 10 and Collins performed none. They’re on monitor to do every part when camp begins, however can they not solely stand up to a 17-game season however thrive? — Todd Archer


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Getting Daniel assist. The Giants have been intent on getting Daniel Jones extra weapons. Mission achieved.

Offseason targets: This offseason was about attempting to repair the Thirty first-ranked offense. So the Giants went exhausting in free company (WRs Kenny Golladay and John Ross, TE Kyle Rudolph and RB Devontae Booker) and even went again to the nicely within the first spherical of the draft (Kadarius Toney). On paper, particularly with Saquon Barkley coming back from harm, they’re gentle years higher than what was on the sector final season.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Is the offensive line ok? For all of the additions the Giants made this offseason, they did not tackle the offensive line. They removed veteran Kevin Zeitler and are as an alternative banking on a bunch that features three second-year gamers who’re all slated to start out. All include query marks. – Jordan Raanan


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Sudden change. The Eagles banked exhausting away from the course they’d been on, firing Tremendous Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson earlier than buying and selling Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts following a disastrous 4-11-1 marketing campaign. Now it is first-time head coach Nick Sirianni and second-year QB Jalen Hurts out in entrance. They’re tasked with the tough problem of placing out a profitable product throughout a interval of transition.

Offseason targets: The Eagles needed so as to add younger expertise and improve on the receiver and cornerback positions. They went 2-for-3. DeVonta Smith headlines a promising draft class that includes 9 picks in all, together with Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson and Memphis operating again Kenneth Gainwell. Smith, taken tenth total, has an opportunity to be the lead receiver from Day 1. Whereas they did choose Texas Tech nook Zech McPhearson within the fourth spherical, there may be nonetheless no clear reply for who will play CB2 reverse Darius Slay.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Is Sirianni prepared for prime time? Sirianni, 40, has by no means been a head coach at any degree, and has assembled the youngest employees within the NFL. Now he’s in control of a major-market staff coming off a dysfunction-riddled 2020 season. He’ll should navigate among the tough inside dynamics that appeared to burn Pederson out and discover a solution to get this franchise again on monitor, all whereas adjusting to a brand new function. Aside from that, ought to be a stroll within the park. — Tim McManus


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Assist needed: offense. Washington’s offense ranked twenty fifth in factors and thirtieth in yards final season in comparison with a protection that ranked fourth and second, respectively. Washington lacked sufficient expertise to threaten groups and wanted extra constant play at quarterback.

Offseason targets: Add velocity, athleticism and depth. Washington achieved that on offense by signing receiver Curtis Samuel and drafting receiver Dyami Brown. It elevated the depth alongside the offensive line, drafting sort out Samuel Cosmi, signing sort out Charles Leno, Jr., and buying and selling for guard Ereck Flowers. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick does not assist the velocity or the athleticism, however the place ought to be higher. And Washington achieved this on protection by signing nook William Jackson III and drafting linebacker Jamin Davis, amongst others. It added depth within the secondary with third-round nook Benjamin St-Juste and free-agent security Bobby McCain.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: What is going to Ryan Fitzpatrick do? Fitzpatrick represents an improve over what Washington had final season, particularly as a passer. And his management abilities are near Alex Smith’s. Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick is now along with his ninth franchise and has by no means led a staff to the postseason. Within the final eight seasons he has began 12 or extra video games 3 times. Can he play nicely sufficient for 17 video games? Will he keep away from sufficient disasters to benefit from elevated expertise on the talent positions? And, if not, can Taylor Heinicke take over and play at a sustained degree for greater than a pair video games? Fitzpatrick was a great signing, and he is able to good seasons. If he, certainly, has been taking part in higher than ever as he and the staff say, then Washington might be good. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Justin Fields mania. The number of Fields (eleventh total) re-energized the town of Chicago. The Bears have searched in useless for a real franchise quarterback for over 70 years. The Bears consider that that Fields — when prepared — can flip them right into a perennial playoff contender — for the primary time for the reason that Mike Ditka period within the Nineteen Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties.

Offseason targets: The Bears achieved their predominant offseason targets which consisted of upgrading at quarterback and offensive sort out. Fields has garnered most of post-draft consideration, however the Bears have excessive hopes for second spherical choose Teven Jenkins, who’s lining up at left sort out. Barring an upset, Jenkins might be Chicago’s beginning left sort out in Week 1. The Bears have been unable to succeed in a long-term take care of star large receiver Allen Robinson II, however Robinson will play this season underneath the franchise tag and report back to coaching camp on time in late July.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: When does Fields take over for veteran Andy Dalton? Bears coach Matt Nagy made it abundantly clear that Dalton will begin Week 1 and Fields will open the 12 months No. 2 on the depth chart. After all, all of that’s topic to vary. Fields will play as a rookie, that appears apparent. The hope is that Dalton performs nicely sufficient and the Bears win sufficient video games to maintain Fields on the bench till maybe the halfway level of the 12 months. The Bears don’t need to play Fields earlier than he’s prepared. However ultimately, the change might be made, and there’ll no turning again after that. — Jeff Dickerson


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Roster reclamation venture. Detroit’s roster wasn’t excellent on the high or backside previous to basic supervisor Brad Holmes and the brand new regime taking on. The entrance workplace did every part in its energy to construct a decent roster, beginning within the trenches of the NFL draft and the commerce of Matthew Stafford to generate future picks whereas additionally touchdown a stable beginning quarterback in Jared Goff. How good will they be in 2021? That is still to be seen.

Offseason targets: Detroit had lots of work to do that offseason, but it surely was capable of maximize the assets they’d accessible whereas transferring with out their foot hovering over the brake pedal. Detroit stayed about as aggressive because it may, whereas nonetheless being rational and sensible in including key items akin to large receivers Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, operating again Jamaal Williams, tight finish Josh Hill, defensive finish Michael Brockers, linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Who’s Detroit’s No. 1 large receiver? While you have a look at Detroit’s roster this season, the large receiver place is a official concern with a comparatively no-name corps. The staff returns only one receiver who had a catch for the squad final season in Quintez Cephus, in order that’s going to be a giant query, particularly for a quarterback like Jared Goff who’s trying to turnaround his profession within the new setting. Who will Goff be throwing the ball to? Throughout minicamp, Tyrell Williams and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown have been each stable, however Victor Bolden and Kalif Raymond have been nice surprises as nicely, in accordance with a supply. The competitors on the place is large open and coaching camp will probably decide who fulfills that function. — Eric Woodyard


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: “It is in regards to the folks.” OK, that is 4 phrases, however that is what Aaron Rodgers indicated his beef with the Packers is about. That beef turned the offseason the other way up in Inexperienced Bay. It was all anybody needed to speak about — and nonetheless desires to speak about — with regards to the Packers.

Offseason targets: Recover from the hump. After shedding within the NFC Championship Sport two straight years, the Packers made some modifications. They changed two of their three coordinators, hiring Joe Barry to run the protection and Maurice Drayton on particular groups. They reworked a number of veteran contracts as a way to carry again many of the roster to make one other run at a Tremendous Bowl.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will Rodgers play? He skipped all the offseason program, together with the necessary minicamp, so now the query turns into: Will he finish his holdout, report back to coaching camp and let bygones be bygones? — Rob Demovsky


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Protection, protection, protection. To ensure that the Vikings to bounce again from a 7-9 end and make the postseason in 2021, the protection must return to type. This group ought to present dramatic enchancment from the one Mike Zimmer known as the “worst” he has ever had. Final 12 months’s inexperience is primed to grow to be this season’s adeptness together with a number of gamers who missed important time as a consequence of harm returning this fall. The Vikings assured almost $50 million to defensive gamers by way of restructured offers (Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter) and with the free brokers they introduced in since March (Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods, Mackensie Alexander, Nick Vigil, Stephen Weatherly, Bashaud Breeland and Sheldon Richardson). In addition they spent 5 draft picks on defensive gamers.

Offseason targets: On the finish of final season, Zimmer felt the Vikings’ offense was essentially the most explosive he has had in seven years on the helm. Sustaining that meant fixing the protection so the offense does not should shoulder such a heavy load, whereas taking one other step ahead after ending fourth in yards and eleventh in factors. The defensive additions, notably within the secondary, present depth and expertise the place it didn’t exist final season. Offensively, Minnesota additionally achieved certainly one of its greatest wants with inside go safety.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Talking of offensive linemen, will the projected beginning 5 of Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Wyatt Davis and Brian O’Neill be able to go Week 1? We did not see the Vikings’ first-rounder Darrisaw take snaps because the first-team left sort out in OTAs or minicamp, partially as a consequence of the truth that Minnesota needed to ease him into the combination and since he was restricted whereas recovering from a groin pressure this spring. Moreover, will the Vikings use the $13.5 million in cap house to usher in a No. 3 receiver to offer the offense one other layer within the passing sport? And most significantly, who begins at defensive finish reverse Danielle Hunter? The Vikings notched a franchise-low 23 sacks in 2020. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: OK, what’s subsequent? There wasn’t a ton to be gleaned from Arthur Smith’s first offseason with the Falcons. The large transfer got here off the sector — buying and selling Julio Jones — and sufficient starters have been lacking from OTAs and minicamps that it is robust to get a really feel for what the staff on the sector may appear to be.

Offseason targets: When basic supervisor Terry Fontenot took over in January, he was confronted with a messy wage cap state of affairs he knew he wanted to repair. It wasn’t going to be a one-year overhaul, however he discovered methods to create room by restructuring contracts, asking gamers to take pay cuts, discovering veterans to take one-year offers and — in a transfer that can outline his first 12 months — traded star receiver Julio Jones to Tennessee. The plan labored, as Atlanta created nearly $15 million in cap house to signal its rookies, give itself an working price range for 2021 and a few cap room to work with coming into 2022, the place harder selections might should be made.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: What is going to the Falcons really grow to be this fall? It is a query no person actually is aware of the reply to, and if that is wishy-washy, it is also the fact. The offense has a bunch of expertise, but it surely hasn’t been on the sector on the identical time within the spring, and Arthur Smith’s scheme is new. Defensively, the Falcons have some high-end gamers, however depth is a significant, main concern. Atlanta might be ok to contend for a playoff berth or unhealthy sufficient to be across the high 5 picks in subsequent 12 months’s draft. — Michael Rothstein


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: All about Sam. Coach Matt Rhule could be fast to remind right here that it is a staff sport and never about one participant. However on this case it truly is about one. The Panthers in buying and selling for Sam Darnold, stated he was higher than Teddy Bridgewater and the quarterbacks they might have had with the eighth choose. Free company and the draft was all about constructing round Darnold and giving him the perfect probability to succeed. Due to the opposite weapons on offense, and a protection with lots of upside, how a lot success Carolina has in 2021 actually does come right down to how efficient the quarterback is.

Offseason targets: Improve at quarterback and provides that man higher safety. Carolina traded a sixth-rounder in 2021, in addition to a second- and fourth-rounder in 2022, to the Jets for Sam Darnold, the third choose of the 2018 draft. Whether or not this actually is an improve stays to be seen. Darnold was 13-25 as a starter with the Jets. Just one starter alongside the O-line, heart Matt Paradis, was underneath contract coming into the offseason. The rebuild started with putting the franchise tag on proper sort out Taylor Moton. It continued with signing left sort out Cam Erving and left guard Pat Elflein within the first wave of free company. Then got here the re-signing of John Miller at proper guard. From there it has been all about including depth. On paper this appears to be like like an improve from 2020.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Is there a bona fide menace at tight finish? Coach Matt Rhule repeatedly stated final 12 months that one purpose Carolina struggled within the pink zone was the absence of a serous menace at tight finish. Ian Thomas had solely 20 catches and one landing, and the highest two gamers at that spot mixed for simply 26 catches and one landing. Including Dan Arnold supplies an inexpensive menace. Former Notre Dame star Tommy Tremble is a stable blocker however nonetheless a venture as a receiver. Thomas had what Rhule known as an “excellent offseason.” Whereas this seems to be an improve, how a lot of 1 stays to be seen. — David Newton


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Retooling, not rebuilding. These have been the phrases of basic supervisor Mickey Loomis, who insisted the Saints are nonetheless chasing a title regardless of shedding Drew Brees to retirement and several other others to a salary-cap purge. New Orleans nonetheless has loads of expertise after a 12-4 season, however a lot will hinge on whether or not Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill can thrive as the brand new quarterback.

Offseason targets: The Saints stripped down their OTAs and minicamp to conditioning, classroom work and place drills as an alternative of conventional apply classes. So we’re nonetheless ready to see what the product appears to be like like on the sector. Coaching camp might be extra compelling than regular with starting-job battles at quarterback, defensive sort out, linebacker and cornerback.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Jameis or Taysom? The Saints could have a brand new beginning QB for the primary time in 16 years, and each candidates have quite a bit to show in the event that they need to earn the gig. Winston, 27, feels just like the front-runner since he is youthful with the ceiling of a former No. 1 total choose. However he clearly has to scrub up the turnover and accuracy points that doomed him in Tampa. — Mike Triplett


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Relaxation and restoration. Whereas it was tempting to go together with “New 12 months,” which is one thing coach Bruce Arians has reiterated numerous instances along with his staff, “Relaxation and restoration” is a extra correct description of the offseason’s occasions. Veterans have been advised to remain dwelling from OTAs as a result of Arians stated he discovered that after the NFC championship with the Arizona Cardinals, he pushed his staff too exhausting within the spring and it resulted in accidents within the fall. He did not need to make the identical mistake twice. The end result? Veterans seemed refreshed in necessary minicamp, and there was surprisingly little rust.

Offseason targets: The Bucs re-signed each impression participant from their Tremendous Bowl LV win: Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh, Ryan Succop and Antonio Brown. They improved their operating sport and short-passing sport by signing Giovani Bernard in free company. They bolstered depth at exterior linebacker, quarterback, inside offensive line, large receiver, cornerback, inside linebacker and particular groups. And most significantly, they stayed wholesome and rested.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can they repeat? Fourteen groups have returned to the Tremendous Bowl the 12 months after profitable it, and people groups are 8-6. However the final three — the 2020 Chiefs, 2017 Patriots and 2014 Seahawks — have misplaced. However Tremendous Bowl winners get poached of expertise. Tampa Bay has taken care of enterprise on that entrance. Working towards and taking part in an additional 5 weeks within the postseason, plus the return of preseason video games this 12 months, will undoubtedly tax gamers’ our bodies. That is the place Arians’ expertise and reliance on sports activities science might help, understanding when to push and when to tug again. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Brief and candy. The Cardinals ended their offseason program sooner than most groups, chopping out one OTA and transferring up minicamp by every week. They have been performed by June 11. Whether or not it is the best choice is, clearly, but to be seen, however there is not any going again now.

Offseason targets: The Cardinals wanted to get their offense again on monitor and discover a approach to not depend on quarterback Kyler Murray after ending because the No. 16 offense regardless of being the second greatest via the primary seven video games, wherein they went 5-2. Murray spent the offseason retooling his fundamentals, and the Cardinals tried to determine methods to achieve success with out having to depend on Murray’s operating.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can the Cardinals put collectively a full season? They began 5-2 and completed 3-6 final season, lacking the playoffs by a sport. Quite a lot of that needed to do with the offense’s reliance on Kyler Murray’s operating, which grew to become a difficulty after he was initially harm in opposition to the Miami Dolphins and in addition in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks. Solely time will inform if Arizona can determine methods to maneuver the ball and rating with out having to be so depending on Murray, which may propel them to changing into a playoff staff. — Josh Weinfuss


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Hollywood blockbuster. The Rams proved as soon as once more they are not afraid to make a daring, daring and extremely scrutinized transaction in an try and improve their roster, as they traded 2016 No. 1 total choose Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round choose to the Detroit Lions for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Offseason targets: The Rams entered the offseason needing a repair for his or her offense following two inconsistent seasons for the once-prolific group. Two weeks after a divisional playoff loss, the Rams parted with Goff and future draft assist to amass Stafford, a 12-year veteran who owns each all-time passing report for the Lions. Rams coach Sean McVay has raved about Stafford’s management, soccer data and bodily traits and stated that his new QB had an “excellent” offseason program.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can the protection retain its place because the top-ranked unit within the NFL? Brandon Staley departed after one season as defensive coordinator to grow to be the Chargers’ head coach, clearing the trail for the Rams to rent Raheem Morris to fill the place. Morris is anticipated to take care of Staley’s scheme and inherits a roster that returns three-time NFL Defensive Participant of the 12 months Aaron Donald and All-Professional cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Nevertheless, the protection misplaced 4 starters, together with nine-year veteran lineman Michael Brockers and security John Johnson III, the defensive signal-caller. — Lindsey Thiry


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Every now and then. The Niners’ offseason was all about looking for a solution to return to contender standing in 2021 whereas additionally sustaining success for the lengthy haul. That strategy was evident in every part they did, most notably within the dramatic commerce as much as No. 3 for quarterback Trey Lance whereas additionally hanging on to incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo.

Offseason targets: The 49ers hoped to maintain a handful of their very own free brokers whereas additionally addressing the elephant within the room at quarterback. Regardless of the dropping wage cap, they did all of that after which some. Not solely have been they capable of retain key gamers akin to sort out Trent Williams, cornerback Jason Verrett and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, however a couple of extra of their very own gamers additionally returned at discount charges, and so they have been ready to usher in notable exterior free brokers akin to heart Alex Mack and edge rusher Samson Ebukam. These strikes left the roster in a ok spot for 2021 for them to maneuver up for Lance as quick Garoppolo insurance coverage and the long-term reply on the place.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can the 49ers get and stay wholesome? Sure, the quarterback state of affairs goes to loom for some time, however that is not fairly as urgent as having most of their greatest gamers accessible as typically as attainable. Garoppolo, tight finish George Kittle, defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, receiver Deebo Samuel, cornerback Richard Sherman and operating again Raheem Mostert mixed to play in simply 37 of a attainable 112 video games (33%) in 2020. In response to Soccer Outsiders’ adjusted video games misplaced metric (which additionally factored in gamers lacking video games for COVID-19 causes), the Niners misplaced 161.6 video games to harm, the second most of any staff previously 20 years. None of that offseason maneuvering will matter if crucial 49ers cannot keep on the sector persistently in 2021. — Nick Wagoner


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Russell Wilson drama. Frustration that had been constructing for a couple of years with Wilson bubbled to the floor in February, prompting QB-needy groups to name Seattle a couple of potential commerce. The Seahawks and Wilson are in a greater place now. He likes their new offense (which is able to characteristic extra tempo) and among the personnel additions they made (akin to guard Gabe Jackson and tight finish Gerald Everett). However Wilson will not stay completely happy if all that fails to translate to fewer hits and extra postseason success.

Offseason targets: The primary order of enterprise was to rent a brand new offensive coordinator to switch Brian Schottenheimer, who bore among the blame for his or her second-half nosedive on offense. Pete Carroll picked Shane Waldron with a robust endorsement from Wilson. Then they needed to navigate the Wilson drama and plug holes with restricted assets. They resorted to including void years in a number of contracts to work round their lack of cap house, however they solely made three draft picks. Their go rush, nonexistent early final season, now appears to be like just like the deepest a part of their roster, at the least on the sting.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Jamal Adams’ contract. It does not seem like a query of whether or not the Seahawks and their Professional Bowl security will comply with an extension however when they’ll and what it is going to appear to be. They would not have made such a daring transfer to amass Adams in the event that they did not plan on conserving him long run. Which raises one other query: Does GM John Schneider have one other massive summer time commerce up his sleeve? If that’s the case, cornerback could be essentially the most logical place since that is Seattle’s greatest weak spot. — Brady Henderson

AFC EAST

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Run it again. The Payments’ entrance workplace and training employees consider within the core of their AFC runner-up roster and made it some extent to maintain it intact — the one main departure being large receiver John Brown. Buffalo hopes that one other 12 months of improvement for its youthful gamers and one other 12 months with the identical teaching employees might be sufficient to push it previous Kansas Metropolis within the AFC.

Offseason targets: The Payments had three main free brokers: Matt Milano, Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano. By means of a sequence of restructures, they created sufficient house to re-sign all three. Buffalo additionally wanted to enhance its go rush and spent its first two draft picks on defensive ends Greg Rousseau and Carlos Basham, and it added depth to the offensive line by drafting Spencer Brown, Tommy Doyle and Jack Anderson.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Is cornerback nonetheless a necessity? The Payments have stated publicly they’re comfy with their choices at cornerback, with incumbent starter Levi Wallace and 2020 seventh-round choose Dane Jackson. It is but to be seen, nevertheless, how a lot high quality depth Buffalo has on the place. There’s expertise on paper, however it’s nonetheless comparatively unproven behind Wallace and Tre’Davious White. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Tua or bust. Regardless of a number of alternatives so as to add a beginning quarterback within the draft and commerce market, the Dolphins wager on Tua Tagovailoa making a 12 months 2 soar. They named co-offensive coordinators to create an offense that might greatest make the most of his talent set and added much-needed velocity in Will Fuller V and Jaylen Waddle. This staff appears to be like like a contender in lots of locations, however Tagovailoa has to take the subsequent step to get them there.

Offseason targets: The Dolphins’ high precedence was including offensive playmakers. They slow-played the free-agency market earlier than signing Fuller to a good-value one-year deal, after which after buying and selling again from the No. 3 choose, they ultimately landed at No. 6, the place they chose Waddle. Two explosive playmakers for Tagovailoa was a win. In addition they swapped out two offensive line starters, sending out veteran guard Ereck Flowers and veteran heart Ted Karras and bringing in rookie second-round sort out Liam Eichenberg and veteran heart Matt Skura.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: How will the Dolphins resolve Xavien Howard’s request for a brand new contract? Howard held out of necessary minicamp, leading to over $93,000 in fines, as a stance for wanting a brand new contract. Howard signed an extension in Might 2019, however he is since outplayed the take care of a Defensive Participant of the 12 months-caliber 2020 season and has only one totally assured season left. Howard’s reps have approached the staff a couple of new deal — at the least one that may assist him resume his place because the highest-paid cornerback on the staff over Byron Jones — however the Dolphins are hesitant to redo a deal only one 12 months into the brand new portion of that extension. If one thing does not give, Howard may make issues stickier by requesting a commerce this summer time. — Cameron Wolfe


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Cam and Mac. Whereas this offseason was actually in regards to the rebuilding of all the roster — and the way a lot the Patriots paid in free company to assist accomplish that — essentially the most intriguing query comes at quarterback with incumbent starter Cam Newton and first-round choose Mac Jones. Invoice Belichick set the stage initially when he stated, “Cam’s our quarterback. No matter time Jarrett [Stidham] or Mac [Jones] are able to problem and compete, then we’ll see how that goes.” Jones acquired lots of reps within the spring in a teaching-based atmosphere, and now comes the competitors in coaching camp.

Offseason targets: Freed from the constraints of the wage cap, which handcuffed them in 2020, the Patriots aggressively got down to replenish the expertise on the roster. No staff spent extra in free company. Then got here the draft and Jones slipping to them at No. 15, which might be the reply to the most important query: Who’s the subsequent franchise QB after Tom Brady? The Patriots appear to be they achieved their targets, however the true reply will come within the type of on-field outcomes.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will Jones problem Newton for the beginning job? There was a temptation to spotlight whether or not the protection — with significantly extra expertise in 2021 — may return to type. However that appears to be overthinking it. A lot facilities round quarterback play, and when Jones had it entering into spring practices, the Patriots’ offense seemed the closest to what it had been over nearly all of the previous twenty years from a timing, anticipation and accuracy standpoint. Newton additionally seemed extra comfy. — Mike Reiss


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Welcome again, Hope. After two years of gloom and doom underneath former coach Adam Gase, new coach Robert Saleh has energized the group along with his upbeat persona and confirmed methods on either side of the ball. That is the primary time in franchise historical past the Jets have been in a rebuilding state of affairs with a first-year coach and a rookie beginning quarterback (wild, proper?), sparking optimism after 10 straight years out of the playoffs.

Offseason targets: Brief reply: The offseason purpose was to vary just about every part, however let’s give attention to the most important personnel transfer — Zach Wilson for Sam Darnold at quarterback. The Jets gave up on Darnold too quickly, however basic supervisor Joe Douglas was decided to reboot with a rookie contract. Wilson, drafted No. 2 total, must be a star to validate the choice. One other purpose was to bolster the strains, which they did by signing defensive finish Carl Lawson and defensive sort out Sheldon Rankins, drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker within the first spherical and including veteran proper sort out Morgan Moses final week.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: The Jets do not have a No. 1 cornerback. They may not have a No. 2 cornerback both. Their cornerbacks have a complete of 35 profession begins. Not solely are they inexperienced, however none of them is a high-round draft choose. So sure, the Jets want a veteran (Richard Sherman, anybody?), however the present plan is to let the children combat it out within the preseason. Bryce Corridor and Blessuan Austin will go into camp because the starters, however that would change. Chances are high, it is going to. — Wealthy Cimini

AFC NORTH

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Take subsequent step. The Ravens, who’re 1-3 within the postseason with Lamar Jackson, upgraded his supporting forged within the draft and free company in an effort to make an prolonged Tremendous Bowl run.

Offseason targets: Enhance the NFL’s Thirty second-ranked passing assault. With restricted cap room, the Ravens did their greatest to assist Jackson develop right into a extra constant passer. Jackson obtained a few new weapons at large receiver when Baltimore drafted Rashod Bateman within the first spherical and signed Sammy Watkins in free company. The Ravens additionally revamped their offensive line — bringing in free brokers Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva in addition to drafting Ben Cleveland within the third spherical — after they allowed their quarterbacks to be pressured on 35% of their dropbacks, the fourth-highest price within the league in 2020.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Which edge rusher is attending to the quarterback? The Ravens misplaced their two most achieved pass-rushers in Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free company. Baltimore’s high returning exterior linebackers — Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee — are identified extra for his or her run stopping and go protection. The Ravens drafted Odafe Oweh within the first spherical, however he did not have a sack in his final season at Penn State. Nobody could be stunned if Baltimore signed Justin Houston or Melvin Ingram earlier than the beginning of coaching camp. — Jamison Hensley


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Construct round Burrow. The Bengals made positive they continued so as to add key items round franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati added a few starters to the offensive line (sort out Riley Reiff, rookie Jackson Carman) and drafted large receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth total choose.

Offseason targets: The Bengals needed upgrades on either side of the road of scrimmage. Cincinnati made some participant acquisitions to enhance the offensive line, however the greatest transfer was bringing again assistant coach Frank Pollack. On protection, finish Trey Hendrickson obtained a giant contract after Carl Lawson left in free company. Cincinnati is banking on Hendrickson’s 2019 manufacturing not being a one-year fluke.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Is the roster lastly ok to compete for a playoff berth? Proper now, the Bengals must outperform what’s on paper in the event that they need to make the postseason for the primary time since 2015. The staff has been rebuilding the previous couple of years and spent important cash in free company to make enhancements. However will that present up within the win column, the place it issues? It is time for that to occur. — Ben Child


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Revamp the protection. The Browns boasted one of many high offenses within the league final 12 months. But regardless of the star energy of pass-rusher Myles Garrett, Cleveland did not have the constant defensive functionality to match its offense. Because of this, the Browns invested closely within the draft and free company to bolster the protection.

Offseason targets: The Browns have been aggressive in free company, signing arguably the highest accessible security in John Johnson III. In addition they added former No. 1 total choose Jadeveon Clowney to enrich Garrett within the go rush. Different free-agent additions, notably defensive sort out Malik Jackson, nickelback Troy Hill and linebacker Anthony Walker, are anticipated to start out as nicely. Within the draft, Cleveland grabbed cornerback Greg Newsome II within the first spherical, then linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah within the second. Each gamers have the expertise and potential to counterpoint Cleveland’s promising younger core.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: How lengthy will it take for this revamped protection to search out its stride? Cleveland invested considerably in its offense earlier than the 2020 season. However with so many transferring components, it took a number of weeks for the offense to discover a rhythm. This new-look Browns protection may expertise some preliminary rising pains. But when and when it finds its footing, the Browns might be a load come playoff time. — Jake Trotter


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Rebuild the run. Each decision-maker on the Steelers’ employees — plus new offensive coordinator Matt Canada — emphasised the significance of recommitting to the run sport, and the offseason mirrored that, starting with the number of operating again Najee Harris within the first spherical. The Steelers want a extra balanced offense within the twilight of the Ben Roethlisberger period, and revamping the run with Canada, Harris and a extra bodily offensive line underneath new coach Adrian Klemm is the way in which to get it performed, at the same time as the road returns just one starter.

Offseason targets: Recommitting to the run sport was the highest precedence, however the different is to maximise Roethlisberger’s effectiveness at 39 years previous with a reconstructed elbow. To do this, the Steelers are specializing in a brand new offensive scheme designed by Canada. The instillation continues to be in its infancy, however Roethlisberger is asking all the inquiries to get it nailed down by the season’s begin.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Can the Steelers’ offense do sufficient to grow to be not so predictable in 2021? The most important downside because the 2020 season slid to a end was the staff’s predictability on offense. Canada’s scheme is meant to repair that downside — however there must be a buy-in from Roethlisberger. Whether or not he does that and may execute Canada’s plans will dictate the success of the offseason and 2021 season. — Brooke Pryor

AFC SOUTH

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Numerous change. Not solely do the Texans have a brand new coach and basic supervisor, however in addition they have 49 new gamers on their roster. Houston may even have a brand new quarterback, whether or not it is as a result of Deshaun Watson is suspended, on the commissioner’s exempt checklist, sits out or is traded. J.J. Watt, the face of the franchise, requested to be launched to attempt to win a Tremendous Bowl elsewhere.

Offseason targets: Discover a new quarterback. Between Watson going through 22 lively lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct and him asking for a commerce, it appeared unlikely he would return because the Texans’ Week 1 beginning quarterback. On March 16, hours earlier than the primary lawsuit was filed in opposition to Watson, the Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to a one-year, incentive-laden deal. Houston additionally drafted quarterback Davis Mills with their first choose, however he is anticipated to start out the season as Taylor’s backup.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: What is going to Watson’s standing be in 2021? The NFL’s investigation into the lawsuits and any attainable prison costs is ongoing, so it might be a very long time earlier than we all know the reply. If the investigation continues to be going when coaching camp or the common season begins, Roger Goodell may put Watson on the commissioner’s exempt checklist, which might imply Watson couldn’t play whereas on the checklist however could be paid. — Sarah Barshop


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Constructing essential chemistry. In contrast to 2020, when the pandemic brought about an absence of on-field work, Carson Wentz had the offseason to develop chemistry along with his new teammates. He’s following Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers as Colts beginning quarterbacks since 2018. The hope is that Wentz, who is simply 28, will grow to be a franchise quarterback.

Offseason targets: The quarterback place was taken care of with Wentz. The Colts hope they’ve changed the mixed 15.5 sacks misplaced with the departures of Justin Houston and Denico Autry, having used their first two draft picks on their edge rushers of the long run in Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo. It is unsure whether or not Odeyingbo will play throughout his rookie season after tearing his Achilles whereas understanding in January.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Who replaces the retired Anthony Castonzo to guard Wentz’s blind aspect? The Colts signed left sort out Eric Fisher, who has been chosen to 2 Professional Bowls, however the veteran continues to be recovering from a torn Achilles. It does not seem now that Fisher might be prepared for the beginning of the common season, which implies the Colts must plug any person in on the place — in all probability Sam Tevi — to assist shield Wentz, who was sacked 50 instances in simply 12 video games final season. — Mike Wells


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Altering the tradition. Proprietor Shad Khan introduced in City Meyer to conduct a radical analysis of the franchise and make the modifications that may take the Jaguars from one of many league’s worst franchises to among the best. It’ll take some time, however Khan is playing that Meyer can duplicate what he did at Florida and Ohio State within the NFL. Meyer has already made important modifications, and gamers appear to have purchased in heading into coaching camp.

Offseason targets: The Jaguars needed to enhance their personnel at key positions, and so they did that at quarterback, receiver, operating again and defensive again. Trevor Lawrence was crucial addition, clearly, however including WR Marvin Jones Jr. was massive too as a result of it provides the offense a constant, productive veteran who will take warmth off DJ Chark Jr. Operating again Travis Etienne might be used at receiver too, and he has the big-play capability the offense has lacked. Including nook Shaquill Griffin, safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Andre Cisco and defensive again Tyson Campbell to a unit that already consists of second-year nook CJ Henderson turns what was a significant weak spot on protection right into a energy. The Jaguars’ roster is considerably higher — on paper, anyway — than it was in February.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Go rush? The change to a 3-4 underneath coordinator Joe Cullen meant the staff needed to rework the defensive entrance, but it surely additionally permits Josh Allen and Ok’Lavon Chaisson to maneuver to their extra pure OLB/DE positions. That ought to release Allen, who had 10.5 sacks as a rookie in 2019, to be extra disruptive. The hope is the transfer does the identical for Chaisson, who struggled final season as a rookie and had only one sack. However the one different participant on the roster with double-digit profession sacks is DE Dawuane Smoot (11.5), so the Jaguars will have to be artistic to stress the quarterback. Anticipate lots of blitzes and alignments to attempt to create some confusion, however even when that works, the staff ought to nonetheless prioritize including pass-rushers in 2022. — Michael DiRocco


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: To be continued. Bud Dupree was the most important free-agent addition in the course of the offseason. Sadly, he’s not but capable of take the sector after struggling a torn ACL in December. First-round choose Caleb Farley hasn’t been on the sector both. So the Titans have not seen the 2 gamers who created essentially the most buzz in the course of the offseason. Nevertheless, each are working towards being able to go for coaching camp.

Offseason targets: Julio Jones is definitely the most important splash Tennessee made in the course of the offseason. However the Titans additionally needed to bolster the protection after having a down 2020 season. They added Dupree and Denico Autry to enhance the go rush. Fourth-round choose Rashad Weaver figures into the development plan as nicely. The secondary wanted to be revamped, so the Titans signed Janoris Jenkins and drafted Farley together with Elijah Molden. They may carry extra aggressiveness to the DB group.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will there be sufficient footballs to maintain everybody completely happy? The Titans instantly have a wealth of weapons with Julio Jones becoming a member of A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry and the crew. However Henry wants his touches as nicely. Discovering methods to verify everyone seems to be taken care of falls on new offensive coordinator Todd Downing’s plate. Stated Downing: “The addition of Julio and our weapons on the skin, within the backfield are all methods to assist us keep balanced and assault in several methods. That is our greatest cost, not to verify there are specific mouths that get fed.” — Turron Davenport

AFC WEST

Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Select a quarterback. Look, the Broncos have performed loads this offseason to restore most of their roster holes, however the continued hunt for a quarterback within the post-Manning period has persistently stunted their development.

Offseason targets: The most important roster wants when the offseason started, past something the Broncos did at quarterback, have been within the secondary and, after Ja’Wuan James’ season-ending harm, at proper sort out. The Broncos signed security Justin Simmons to a long-term deal, signed cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free company, re-signed security Kareem Jackson and chosen Pat Surtain II with their first-round choose. So, downside solved there. The Broncos then launched James earlier than signing Bobby Massie and Cameron Fleming in free company, as they count on a kind of two to start out at proper sort out, with Massie anticipated to get the early look with the starters in coaching camp.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Who, precisely, is the quarterback? Till the Inexperienced Bay Packers formally announce Aaron Rodgers is, or is not, going to be traded, the Rodgers-to-Denver narrative definitely is not going to get any quieter on this planet of drive time, however within the here-and-now both Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater continues to be the probably Week 1 starter. The underside line is that if the Broncos can keep away from one other rash of accidents like they confronted in 2020. They did sufficient within the offseason to be higher, however they should be proper that both Lock or Bridgewater is nice sufficient to show progress right into a return to the postseason. And if they are not proper about that, a sixth consecutive playoff miss might be on the way in which, and the Broncos might be on the quarterback carousel as soon as once more in 2022. — Jeff Legwold


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Constructing a wall. The Chiefs re-made their offensive line over the previous few months, including eight linemen to higher shield quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Offseason targets: The offseason for the Chiefs was largely about upgrading the offensive line. They added linemen in each attainable approach (commerce, free company, draft, return from decide out). And after including amongst others guards Joe Thuney and Kyle Lengthy, and sort out Orlando Brown, they haven’t any excuses to guard Mahomes as poorly as they did within the Tremendous Bowl LV loss to the Bucs.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will the Chiefs remorse not including a large receiver? They misplaced veteran Sammy Watkins and have no person confirmed as a No. 2 receiver. In Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson, the Chiefs have some candidates however no person who has performed it each week. — Adam Teicher


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Work in progress. The Raiders had a high 8 offense final season and QB Derek Carr, who had profession highs in passing yards (4,103), passer score (101.4) and Whole QBR (71.0), acquired added weapons in John Brown, Willie Snead IV and Kenyan Drake to go together with Professional Bowlers Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs. However the offensive line was reimagined with three new starters, and the protection is being overhauled by new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Add in a tricky begin to the schedule and, nicely, it is all a piece in progress.

Offseason targets: The Raiders needed to get youthful, inexpensive and deeper. Mission achieved. That doesn’t imply Las Vegas essentially obtained higher, however the Raiders did add depth, particularly on the offensive and defensive strains. Time will inform if improved play can be within the combine. Video games are gained and misplaced within the trenches.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will the reimagined offensive line maintain as much as shield Carr? Look, the projected O-line of Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown performed a grand complete of three snaps collectively final season. Three! The Raiders didn’t get a lot, if something, in return from their costly funding there. So it is on Miller and Incognito to assist out heart Andre James, guard Denzelle Good and first-round sort out Alex Leatherwood to maintain Carr clear. In any other case, one other built-in excuse is there for the taking if issues do not fairly work out. — Paul Gutierrez


Offseason summed up in three phrases or fewer: Shield the quarterback. Justin Herbert is the franchise, and the Chargers had one of many league’s worst offensive strains final season. He was pressured 217 instances, most by a rookie quarterback since ESPN started monitoring pressures in 2009. The Chargers’ offensive line depth chart appears to be like utterly completely different in 2021.

Offseason targets: This staff needed to get assist round Herbert. They signed heart Corey Linsley, and he seemed fabulous in minicamp. They introduced in guard Matt Feiler. They drafted Rashawn Slater in Spherical 1, and he is prone to begin at left sort out as a rookie. The Chargers have been severe about discovering the perfect guys to guard their most essential participant; now they should take the step to playoff contender in 12 months 1 with new coach Brandon Staley.

Greatest query nonetheless to be answered: Will the Chargers’ kicking sport doom them once more? Michael Badgley’s 9 missed kicks final season have been essentially the most within the league and essentially the most by a Chargers kicker since Wade Richey missed 11 in 2001. Herbert is the actual deal, however Badgley must be higher if the staff expects to problem the Chiefs and grow to be a playoff staff. — Shelley Smith



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