Biggest Off-Season Needs: NFC Edition

With Super Bowl 50 now in the rear view mirror, the NFL offseason has officially begun. But it won’t be very long before teams begin to address their biggest needs in free agency and later via the draft. Here, we discuss the most glaring needs that teams in the NFC will have to address if they hope to improve on last year’s campaign.

Biggest Off-Season Needs: NFC Edition

NFC North

The Green Bay Packers
Pass Rusher

Jordy Nelson will return in 2016, paired with Randall Cobb and hopefully Jeff Janis should reinvigorate the passing offense, and this brings them back to 2014. They need help on defense. They’ve tried Clay Matthews at almost every defensive position, and while he tries, there’s only so much that one man can do. He’s not getting any younger, and the Packers need to get more playmakers on defense.

The Chicago Bears
Linebacker

The legacy of Chicago Bears linebackers is a great one. From Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher, the Bears have always had a stud linebacker, except for the last few years. With some nice pieces on offense like Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey, and the young Kevin White, rebuilding the defense should be a priority. Whether it’s a stand-up inside linebacker or a pure pass rusher, they need to get some dynamic talent on defense.

The Detroit Lions
Wide Receiver

Detroit is in big trouble all over the field. They lack playmakers on defense, there’s chaos in the front office, and arguably the best wide receiver in the history of the league who just announced his retirement. They need just about anything, but a wide receiver makes the most out of what is left of Matt Stafford’s career.

The Minnesota Vikings
Wide Receiver

While Maryland wideout Stefon Diggs turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the Vikings this season, he doesn’t have what it takes to be a true number one wide receiver in the NFL. If Minnesota plans to help Teddy Bridgewater evolve into more than just a game manager after Adrian Peterson retires, they’re going to have to get him a young playmaker.

NFC West

The Seattle Seahawks

Offensive Line

The Seahawks offensive line is probably the biggest reason that the Seahawks had such a slow start in 2015. They struggled to run the ball, they couldn’t protect the quarterback, and as much fun as it is to watch Russell Wilson dodge pass rushers, the human body can only handle so much. With J.R. Sweezy and Russell Okung’s contracts expiring, the Seahawks need to make the entire offensive line a priority this off-season.

The Arizona Cardinals
Pass Rusher

Arizona’s pass epitomizes their entire season. They’re all pretty good, but nobody is great. The fact that 35-year-old Dwight Freeney was able to come off the street and make an immediate impact is not a good sign for the rest of the squad. Against Denver, Oakland’s Khalil Mack had five sacks in one game. Through 16 games, 29-year-old Calais Campbell had five sacks, and he led the team. The offense is great, and they’ve got good pieces in the secondary, but the Cardinals need a real pass rusher.

The St. Louis Rams
Quarterback

The St. Louis Rams were the worst passing football team in the league in 2015. They came in dead last in almost every passing category. They desperately need answers in the passing game. Todd Gurley is a fantastic young player, and they still have the best defensive line in all of pro football. But in order for defense to win championships, offense has to get you there.

The San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback

It’s doubtful that Chip Kelly sees a ton of potential in Blaine Gabbert, and conventional wisdom says Colin Kaepernick is on his way out. The 49ers have gone from NFC West royalty to the worst team in the division in three short years, and they need to start rebuilding.

NFC South

The New Orleans Saints
Pass Rusher

The Saints need a fresh start. Their offense isn’t what it used to be, and they’ve traded away anyone worth value that isn’t named Drew Brees. The lone bright spot on their defense is rusher Cameron Jordan, but they need more than that. Last season, they set the record for most touchdown passes allowed, and as badly as they need defensive backs, everyone is getting open when there’s no pressure.

The Carolina Panthers
Wide Receiver

The whole story of the 2015 pre-season was that the Panthers didn’t have any offensive weapons for Cam Newton to work with after the loss of Kelvin Benjamin. Tight end Greg Olsen and the running game helped step up, but there’s no question that Ted Ginn Jr. wasn’t getting the job done as a starting wide receiver. The Panthers need to give the league MVP another toy to play with if they hope to continue their success for years to come.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Defensive Back

The Tampa Bay defense had a really ugly 2015. They gave up a lot of yards and a lot of points, and their offense just isn’t ready to engage in shoot-outs. They need a quality defensive back or two back in coverage to stop the bleeding and prevent all of the huge plays.

The Atlanta Falcons
Pass Rusher

The Falcons are in desperate need of a playmaker in the front seven. While they still have plenty of weapons on offense, and a couple of bright young stars on defense, highlighted by corner Desmond Trufant, they need balance on defense. They need an edge rusher that can hurry opposing quarterbacks into bad decisions and make plays.

NFC East

The New York Giants

Linebacker

It’s been forever since the Giants used a first round pick on a defensive player, and the team is beginning to suffer. The lack of leadership alone might have something to do with how they were unable to stop a leaky faucet in 2015. Most experts say the Giants will go pass rusher here, but in the NFC East, where they run the ball more than any other division, the Giants need to get a stud inside linebacker.

The Dallas Cowboys
Quarterback

2015 was the year that everyone learned to appreciate just how good Tony Romo is. In 2014, he took a significantly less talented Cowboys team into the playoffs. In 2015, he was hurt early in the season, and the Cowboys ended up being one of the league’s worst teams.

An argument could be made that they need more help on defense, but after relying on quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, the Cowboys know they need a young quarterback to eventually take over.

The Philadelphia Eagles
Quarterback

The Sam Bradford experiment is over, and it was a failure. While Bradford had his moments, he was there as part of Chip Kelly’s offense, and will have no place in the new look Eagles. This franchise has gone through seven starting quarterbacks since trading Donvan McNabb in 2009, and none of them have matched his input as a leader or a passer. They need to start looking for the new face of the franchise.

The Washington Redskins
Defensive Line

Chris Baker, Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, and Jason Hatcher might all be gone in 2016, and as a team that relies on defense and will be facing the three other division champions from 2015, they’ll need to rebuild the front seven. Fortunately for the Redskins, this draft class is very deep at first round quality talent at defensive tackle.