Patriots – Quarterback
With the monumental loss of Tom Brady down south to Tampa Bay, the Pats are left with a huge hole at arguably the most important position on the field. Coming off the bench is second year, 4th round draft pick QB Jared Stidham, and longtime journeyman QB Brian Hoyer. Stidham had a decent showing in the preseason, going 61 of 90 throwing for 731 yards (putting up a 102.6 passer rating), but has only seen meaningful playing time in 4 regular season games in garbage time type roles. Hoyer was even worse, throwing 4 TDs and 4 interceptions at his time in Indianapolis last year. The Patriots are also known to take risks in the free-agent market, with last year’s signing of Antonio Brown being one of those. That signing may not have worked out like they hoped, but signing Randy Moss in 2007 led to an NFL record 23 touchdown connections between him and “touchdown Tommy” Brady. The Pats need some depth at the QB position that is for sure, and the top available free agent at the position is Cam Newton, with whom Belichick is certainly familiar, naming him “public enemy #1” even while Cam was struggling with ankle and shoulder issues. Or if the Patriots feel like taking a big risk, Colin Kaepernick is still on the market. Who knows if they would shoot for the moon in that big a way, however.
Seahawks- Edge Rusher
The Seahawks made a move in the short-term last year to solidify this position by bringing in edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, but with him leaving for free agency and reportedly turning down a multiple year offer that would have net Clowney around $15 million a year, the hole has reopened. The good news for the Seahawks is there are some decent options out there on the market, should Clowney decide to take his talents elsewhere. Everson Griffen, the former Minnesota Viking edge man would certainly make a splash, or if they are looking to spend a little less, former Colt Jabaal Sheard is also on the market. The Seahawks not only lost Clowney this offseason, however, but also 31-year-old Edge rusher Ezekial Ansah, so they have their work cut out for them if they would like to shore up the holes in the defensive line before next season.
With former Pro-bowl CB Chris Harris leaving for the “rival” Chargers, this leaves a hole open in the defensive backfield that the Broncos need to address right away. The AFC West is not a division that you can compete in with holes in the defensive backfield, and MVP Patrick Mahomes certainly hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down any time soon. Lucky for them, the Broncos do have some options in the free agent market to address this issue. 29-year-old former Titan CB Logan Ryan still remains unsigned, as does 28-year-old former Bengal CB Darqueze Dennard. Both of these guys are still under 30, and should have plenty of tread left on the tires should they decide to make them an offer they cannot refuse. The question still remains, however, will it be enough to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the vaunted Chiefs offense? As the saying goes, “You can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them.”
Panthers- Offensive Line
Carolina had a subpar year last season up front, and unless they make a splash in free agency, it looks like that will continue into this season. They lost 5-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner to the Chargers in a trade for OT Russell Okung, and let another starter up front walk in free agency in Greg Van Roten. They also didn’t seem to care enough to address this in the draft, where all 7 of their picks play on the defensive side of the ball. I know Christian McCaffrey is good, but he can’t create the holes he needs to run through by himself. If the Panthers are looking to add some depth to their extremely thin offensive line, they could do so in the form of 31-year-old former New York Jet tackle Kelvin Beachum. Another solid addition would be former Saints guard Larry Worford. They certainly need the depth, as some of the people starting right now should really only be utilized in swing O-Line spots, and either of these two additions would make a ton of sense, and help protect what seems to be the future of the franchise in Christian McCaffrey, especially after they let former MVP Quarterback Cam Newton walk in free agency.
Packers- Wide Receiver
This one came as a shock on draft night when the boys from Green Bay took Jordan Love 26th overall, apparently already planning for the eventual dismissal of Aaron Rodgers, just as they did with now Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre by drafting Aaron Rodgers. While some claim Rodgers has fallen off, I think it has basically been the fault of their personnel people not giving him enough weapons. Sure, they have Davante Adams, but one WR can be double teamed into oblivion, especially when the talent falls off around him drastically like it has in Green Bay. And this one is tough, a lot of WR were snatched up early on in free agency, as they usually tend to do. The most talented option on the market is certainly Josh Gordon, but the question remains as it always seems to with him, can he stay on the field and stay out of trouble off it? Other, smaller name options are available as well. Former Bears WR Taylor Gabriel, who at 29, would make a great option for a second receiver behind Adams. But will the Packers shell out any money to support a QB who seems to be on the way out of town? Only time will tell I suppose.