Every NFL Team’s Biggest Midseason Need
Every NFL Team's Biggest Midseason Need
Plenty of divisions are filled with mediocre teams this season, meaning there will be plenty of player movement before the looming trade deadline. The deadline is on October 29 at 4 p.m. ET, meaning teams have one more game until they must decide if an upgrade is needed, or if the season is lost and it is time to trade someone away to help another team.
Every team is lacking in some area this season, and some in expected areas, like the wide receiver position for the New England Patriots, but others have unexpectedly struggled such as the one win New York Giants. The Giants however, are a team that surprisingly still has a shot in their division given that the current leader has a mediocre 4-3 record, and they will get the chance to face each division team at least one more time.
Last weekend's games also saw an unusually high amount of injuries to key players, meaning there are a handful of teams who could be looking to really make a splash for an impact player. Then there are also the teams that are considered among the best in the league already, but they are looking for just one more player to help them make an extra push in the postseason.
This season has already seen plenty of player movement through both free agency and trades, and I don’t expect anything to change considering the trade deadline is looming, which is why the following slides indicate one position of need for each NFL team.
Arizona Cardinals: Defensive Tackle
The Arizona Cardinals’ defense carried the team last season, yet their defense has been mediocre this season. Thus, they stand with a 3-4 record in a highly competitive NFC West. If the Cardinals are able to bag a big nose tackle for their 3-4 defensive scheme, they could improve not only against the run, but the pass as well. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett are having solid years, but could be downright dominant with some help.
Atlanta Falcons: Safety
Yes, the Atlanta Falcons recently lost Julio Jones to a season-ending foot injury, but their biggest hole all season as been in pass coverage, and more specifically at the safety position. Rookie Desmond Trufant has excelled so far for the Falcons and is a starter, but has no help over the top. He could team up with fellow cornerback Asante Samuel to create a top-tier secondary given an upgrade at the safety position.
Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Line
Even though many people know him because of the movie the Blind Side, Baltimore Ravens right tackle Michael Oher has turned into an inconsistent and sometimes terrible run blocker. Oher came into the league as a left tackle, and quickly proved himself as a consistent and possible building block for the Ravens. Now in his fifth NFL season however, Oher is limiting the effectiveness of Ray Rice and the Ravens sit at 3-4 because of it. The Ravens did the right thing parting ways with Bryant McKinnie, but an upgrade on the offensive line is still a must if this team hopes to make the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills: Left Guard
Despite being ranked as the worst offensive guard in the league by Pro Football Focus (PFF), by a wide margin, Buffalo Bills left guard Colin Brown is still the team’s starter going forward. Brown has been terrible in both the run and pass blocking aspect of his job this season, and an effect of that has been the slow going of C.J. Spiller and the 24 total sacks that the Bills' quarterbacks have taken this season. The AFC East remains close, and the Bills are still in the hunt with a 3-4 record, so a deal for a left guard would help this team contend once E.J. Manuel returns.
Carolina Panthers: Wide Receiver
It is no secret that Steve Smith has been one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL over the past eight seasons, but the talented wideout is now 34-years old, and it is time for the Carolina Panthers to find his eventual replacement. The team is currently in need of a no. 2 receiver as well, so someone like Hakeem Nicks from the Giants would be a good target. Cam Newton is beginning to turn his season around and the Panthers are still in the hunt with a 3-3 record, so they should be looked at as buyers before the trade deadline passes.
Chicago Bears: Quarterback
The Chicago Bears just lost Jay Cutler for at least four weeks due to a groin tear, meaning Josh McCown will be the team’s starting quarterback coming off the bye week. Although Cutler will hopefully be back in time for the playoffs, the Bears will likely add a quarterback through free agency for no other reason than creating depth. The team is hitting their bye week at the perfect time, so if they bring in a quarterback either through trade or free agency, they could make an impact before Cutler’s return, which would be crucial considering the NFC North is still up for grabs.
Cincinnati Bengals: Cornerback
The Cincinnati Bengals just lost cornerback Leon Hall for the rest of the season because of a torn Achilles. Although the Bengals are 5-2 and leading the AFC North, this is a devastating blow as Hall was rated by PFF as the team’s best defensive back, meaning that Adam “Pacman” Jones and rookie Dre Kirkpatrick will be relied upon to fill the void opposite Terence Newman. The Bengals could be playing late into the playoffs this season, but in order to ensure their defense is reliable, they need a fourth cornerback option.
Cleveland Browns: Linebacker
The Cleveland Browns made a clear effort to get better on defense through the draft this year, and one player that has shone so far is linebacker Barkevious Mingo. While Mingo has shown the ability to make plays, he is not a starting linebacker just yet, and neither is second-year player Craig Robertson. Robertson is rated as the Browns’ worst defensive player by PFF, and if the team were able to replace him with a reliable pass rusher, the Browns could continue to make some noise this year and possibly contend with the division-leading Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys: Running Back
DeMarco Murray is missing time due to an injury, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone considering the running back has yet to play a full 16-game season. Murray is starting to earn the label “injury prone,” which means it is time for the Cowboys find a serviceable backup. Joseph Randle failed to impress in his first game as a starter, meaning the team is likely keeping their ears open for any possibly running back talk, the most intriguing of which would include the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew.
Denver Broncos: Defensive Back
Prior to their Week 7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Denver Broncos were considered by many to be the best team in the NFL. That, however, doesn’t mean they don’t have holes to fill and areas to improve if they hope to win a Super Bowl. The Broncos’ defense has been below average all season long, and with news that Champ Bailey injured his foot again, the Broncos may be searching for a defensive back. Safety Rahim Moore is a player they could be looking to replace as well, considering he is playing unspectacular football, and the defense needs another playmaker.
Detroit Lions: Offensive Line
The Detroit Lions are another team that is solid all around, but they are currently dealing with numerous injuries to their offensive line, so some depth is something that could certainly help. The Lions currently have three offensive linemen and two starters missing practice and who are questionable for their upcoming game. They must continue to protect Matthew Stafford if they hope to contend with the Bears and Packers in the NFC North, and adding offensive line depth is a great place to start.
Green Bay Packers: Cornerback
The Packers have seen little production from any cornerbacks this season, and the one thing that could stop them come playoff time is a high-powered passing attack. The Packers must take the time now to upgrade their secondary by shopping around for a starting caliber cornerback. The Packers are all set on offense minus the tight end position, but this team must improve somewhere on defense given they are one of the worst pass coverage teams in the NFL.
Houston Texans: Quarterback
The Houston Texans stand at 2-5 after seven weeks of action, and given they share a conference with the Colts, their season is surely over. The Texans have run into problems with their quarterback play this season as Matt Schaub is no longer the team’s starter, and Case Keenum is likely getting a second shot at starting after his performance last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Keenum threw for 271 yards against a tough Chiefs defense, but if he is unable to prove he is the team’s future starting quarterback, expect the Texans to target a quarterback in the upcoming draft.
Indianapolis Colts: Wide Receiver
Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne unfortunately tore his ACL in the team’s highly-anticipated game against the Broncos last week, which now leaves Andrew Luck without a go-to no. 1 receiver. Hakeem Nicks is another potential candidate to be moved to Indianapolis, but the bottom line is that if the Colts hope to contend this season, they must make a move for a wide receiver. Although they still have the productive T.Y. Hilton in the slot, the Colts are in need of an outside receiver that can make plays, such as Minnesota Vikings’ breakout receiver Jerome Simpson, who is a tall playmaker playing for a losing team.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback
We’ve known for quite some time that Blaine Gabbert has no future with the Jaguars, but neither does current starter Chad Henne, meaning the biggest need for the Jaguars in the offseason is a franchise quarterback. The Jaguars will finish with one of the worst records in the league, so expect them to target a quarterback with their first pick as either Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota is sure to still be available when they are on the board.
Kansas City Chiefs: Wide Receiver
Despite showing loads of talent in his first few years in the league, Dwayne Bowe has quietly faded into the background, allowing Donnie Avery to shine this year in Kansas City. Although Avery has stepped up this season, the Chiefs are still in need of a star wide receiver, and should target one either this season or during the offseason. Andy Reid has been able to keep the Chiefs undefeated despite having a lackluster offense, but if he is able to upgrade the unit midseason, it would only help their chances of making a run in the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins: Right Tackle
Ryan Tannehill is the Miami Dolphins’ franchise quarterback, so it’s about time they begin putting players on the field that can block for him. Right tackle Tyson Clabo has been the Dolphins’ worst offensive linemen this season by a wide margin, and plays at a position the team should look to improve. Tannehill helped the team get out to a solid 3-0 start, but since their Monday Night Football loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Dolphins’ season has taken a turn for the worse, and they must get back on the right track soon if they hope to start competing with the Patriots atop the AFC East once again.
Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback
The Vikings have been searching for their next franchise quarterback ever since Daunte Culpepper left the team in 2005 after serving as the team’s starting quarterback for six years. Christian Ponder has failed to solidify himself as the future of this franchise, and through just one game, Josh Freeman appears to be even further than Ponder from being the Vikings’ solution. Both Freeman and Ponder will get another shot to prove themselves this season, but if neither impresses the coaching staff, expect the Vikings to target a QB early in next year’s draft.
New England Patriots: Wide Receiver
Although having played in just one game to date, Rob Gronkowski has once again solidified himself at Tom Brady’s favorite target. The rest of the receiving corps for the Patriots is underperforming quite spectacularly this season, as the team’s young receivers almost cost them a win earlier this season against the New York Jets. New acquisition Danny Amendola has battled injuries this season, and has failed to produce even when he finds himself on the field, leaving the biggest hole on the Patriots’ roster at the wide receiver position. It has potential, but is in need of an immediate upgrade.
New Orleans Saints: Cornerback
The Saints took a step in the right direction when they drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round this past draft, but in order to improve their secondary, they must go a step farther and improve at the cornerback position as well. The Saints have dealt with a few injuries to their secondary this year, but Vaccaro is understandably struggling at times, and a shutdown corner would do wonders for the Saints’ secondary and Super Bowl aspirations.
New York Giants: Offensive Line
The New York Giants are another team that addressed an area of need through the draft. The only problem, however, is that it hasn’t been enough. The Giants feature one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and although rookie Justin Pugh struggled early, he did step up big Week 6 against the Bears and hopefully continues improving. The Giants will likely wait until after their game this Sunday to decide if they should try and upgrade the team, but with Hakeem Nicks as a prime trade asset, they could improve their offensive line before the trade deadline passes.
New York Jets: Wide Receiver
Geno Smith is the future of the Jets' franchise, but one of the things he is lacking is a go-to wide receiver. The Jets also lack a solid running back, but if Stephen Hill can continue to develop and the Jets put a no. 1 receiver opposite him, Smith will have his weapons to succeed. The Jets are still in contention in the AFC East with a 4-3 record, but they more likely than not will wait until the offseason to address any roster concerns.
Oakland Raiders: Wide Receiver
Although nothing concerning Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders is concrete, I would guess that Terrelle Pryor will be the team’s quarterback going forward, and they will begin building their offense around him. Davis is always in the mood to add big-time stars to his roster, and with a couple big-name receivers entering the upcoming draft, I would expect them to target one. The Raiders missed on Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round a few years ago, but with no real receiving threat around him, Pryor has still shown the ability to make plays with his legs, something that a top-tier receiver would help with.
Philadelphia Eagles: Safety
The Philadelphia Eagles brought in Cary Williams from the Ravens during the offseason to try and shore up their secondary. That hasn’t happened however, as the fifth-year cornerback is rated as the Eagles’ worst player in pass coverage by PFF. The Eagles’ defense has really gone downhill the past few years, but the place they must start to rebuild first is the secondary. Being able to stop the pass is what the best defenses do, so expect the Eagles to address their needs in the secondary this offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Line
The Pittsburgh Steelers are another team that has recently seen its defense collapse, but the area of need for the Steelers comes up front instead of in the secondary. The Steelers’ defensive line has been one of the least effective units in the league as they rank as one of the worst run-stopping teams, and have accumulated just two sacks as an entire unit. While Lamarr Woodley has been able to effectively rush the passer, the Steelers need to reshape their front three, which includes parting ways with the veteran Brett Keisel.
St. Louis Rams: Secondary
Janoris Jenkins has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming St. Louis Rams secondary. The Rams’ secondary has just three of the team’s five interceptions this season, but more importantly, they give up an average of nearly 250 pass yards per game, which isn’t nearly as impressive as it sounds considering the quarterbacks they have faced. With Sam Bradford now done for the season, so are the hopes of this team making the playoffs, but the Rams must improve their secondary in the offseason as it is the weakest unit on the team.
San Diego Chargers: Cornerback
Eric Weddle is once again the leader of the San Diego Chargers’ secondary, the only problem is him and fellow safety Marcus Gilchrist have gotten zero help this year from their cornerbacks. According to PFF, none of the starting cornerbacks for the Chargers is anywhere near having an average season, and given the Chargers are 4-3 and competing in the AFC West, they may be a team that makes a move in the coming days.
San Francisco 49ers: Center
Colin Kaepernick is the San Francisco 49ers’ most valuable asset, so spending money on their offensive linemen is never a bad thing. The 49ers’ offensive line hasn’t played that poorly this year, but considering they are one of the most complete team’s in the league, it’s clearly time to nitpick in order to make this team better. Joe Staley has been the team’s anchor at left tackle for some time now, but center Jonathan Goodwin has been underperforming through seven games this year and could be a player getting replaced come the offseason if he doesn’t improve his play.
Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line
Although Marshawn Lynch makes running over defenders and towards 100-yard games look easy, the Seattle Seahawks have one of the worst run blocking offensive lines in the league, and could really upgrade at any position. The Seahawks have finally solidified themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the league, but now they must begin spending time on their offensive line if they want to become one of the best all-around teams in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quarterback
Greg Schiano has likely overstayed his welcome in Tampa, and after the head coach ran Josh Freeman out of town, it is understandable why. Schiano’s career in Tampa hinges on the success of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. There was a reason Glennon fell to the third round, but if Schiano can somehow turn him into a star, the Buccaneers won’t be looking for a quarterback next offseason. The more likely scenario, however, ends with Schiano losing his job and his replacement drafting his own QB in the loaded 2014 draft class.
Tennessee Titans: Running Back
Chris Johnson’s time as a feature running back may finally have come to a close. After being donned CJ2K in 2010, Johnson slowly began his decline and now as a 28-year-old, he is more fit for a limited role in any offense. The Titans seemingly hit on Jake Locker, and with Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter emerging as his favorite aerial targets, the only offensive position lacking is in the backfield. The good news is that there will be plenty of running back talent in the second and third rounds of next year’s draft, so the Titans can spend their earlier picks on other areas while still improving their team later.
Washington Redskins: Defense
The Washington Redskins sacrificed a lot when they traded up in last year's draft to select Robert Griffin III, and their defense has suffered in return. Although set at the linebacker position with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins need to upgrade both their defensive line and secondary. Although Griffin could use another threat at wide receiver, the defense is in dire need of improvement and the Redskins should improve it through both the upcoming draft and free agency.