RunSportBet goes division by division to identify the biggest needs for every AFC team entering free agency, which opens March 17 at 4 p.m. ET. The legal tampering period begins two days prior.
AFC I NFC (Thursday)
Biggest needs: WR, EDGE, C
For the umpteenth straight year, the Ravens head into the offseason looking for help at wide receiver. The problem is Baltimore has seven pending free agents who play on the defensive front seven, and it must address issues on the interior of its offensive line, too. Without much cap space, the Ravens may have to choose which holes to fill now and which to leave for the draft.
Top potential FA targets: Marvin Jones, Justin Houston, Alex Mack
Biggest needs: OL, DE, CB
The Bengals can’t allow Joe Burrow to return to the same offensive line that put him in the hospital with a shredded knee. Jonah Williams at least showed signs of life in his debut season, but the rest of the line was relatively dreadful. Cincinnati could also chase an edge rusher after producing a league-low 17 sacks, as well as a cornerback if William Jackson is too pricey to retain.
Top potential FA targets: Joe Thuney, Matthew Judon, Quinton Dunbar
Biggest needs: DE, CB, LB
The Browns are in a good spot financially, though general manager Andrew Berry must consider future extensions for Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward when dishing out deals this spring. A defensive end to replace Olivier Vernon, a cornerback to complement Ward, and a linebacker to help in coverage would all be sensible additions for Cleveland.
Top potential FA targets: J.J. Watt, Patrick Peterson, Jayon Brown
Biggest needs: OL, RB, QB
After fizzling out last season, the Steelers face an offensive overhaul, especially up front, where they need to rebuild a depleted offensive line. The backfield could also use a change, as Pittsburgh appears ready to move on from the injury-prone James Conner. It’s likely the Steelers bring back Ben Roethlisberger and sign a backup with more upside than Mason Rudolph.
Top potential FA targets: Russell Okung, Leonard Fournette, Jameis Winston
Biggest needs: RT, LB, CB
A fascinating offseason awaits the Bills, who face major decisions with right tackle Daryl Williams and top linebacker Matt Milano. Both turned in excellent seasons and should garner lucrative deals in free agency, which may force Brandon Beane to seek cheaper alternatives. Buffalo is likely to dip back into the cornerback pool after handing Josh Norman a one-year deal last offseason.
Top potential FA targets: Demar Dotson, Eric Wilson, Desmond King
Biggest needs: WR, OL, LB
The Dolphins need to figure out what they have in Tua Tagovailoa, which starts with providing the young quarterback with better protection and skill talent. They’re likely to be in on most of the marquee offensive linemen and wide receivers, and could make a splash early. On defense, linebacker remains an issue after forgettable one-year experiments with Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Top potential FA targets: Will Fuller, Daryl Williams, Reuben Foster
New England Patriots
Biggest needs: QB, WR, TE
It wasn’t all Cam Newton’s fault, but the Patriots need better quarterback play if they’re going to get back into contention. They also need a perimeter receiver and a tight end to give the offense some firepower. Bill Belichick will be tempted to add skill pieces with his newfound cap space, but he also needs money for at least one of Joe Thuney and David Andrews, two of the top offensive linemen set to hit the market.
Top potential FA targets: Dak Prescott/Jacoby Brissett, Corey Davis, Gerald Everett
New York Jets
Biggest needs: OL, WR, EDGE
Whether it’s Sam Darnold or someone else, the Jets must give their quarterback a legitimate chance at success next season and revamp an offensive line that has been one of the worst in the NFL in recent years. New York could also boost a receiving group that didn’t feature a single 700-yard performer in 2020, and add a pass-rusher to ease the burden on Quinnen Williams.
Top potential FA targets: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Taylor Moton, Shaq Barrett
Biggest needs: DE, DT, S
The Texans ranked 30th in defense last season, don’t have a draft pick until the third round, and are fairly cap-strapped. On the bright side, Houston does have a path to financial flexibility given the number of restructuring and cut candidates on its roster. Deshaun Watson can overcome issues on offense – if he remains on the team – so the Texans are likely to focus their spending on the other side of the ball.
Top potential FA targets: Denico Autry, Ndamukong Suh, Jaquiski Tartt
Biggest needs: LT, EDGE, WR
The Colts plugged their largest hole by trading for Carson Wentz but still have a few issues to solve. Their greatest question mark is at left tackle, where Anthony Castonzo retired after a decade of service. Flush with cap space, this could be the offseason Chris Ballard finally pushes his chips to the middle of the table and makes a series of bold moves.
Top potential FA targets: Trent Williams, Shaq Barrett, Allen Robinson
Biggest needs: LT, S, TE
What’s the point of drafting Trevor Lawrence first overall if you can’t keep him upright? The Jaguars need to invest in a left tackle, even if they have to overpay to get a good one. Jacksonville also needs more production from their safeties and tight ends, but the success of its offseason really hinges on its ability to craft a viable line for Lawrence, the most hyped quarterback prospect in years.
Top potential FA targets: Trent Williams, Anthony Harris, Jonnu Smith
Biggest needs: EDGE, WR, CB
After striking out with Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley last year, the Titans find themselves back in the market for a pass-rusher. They’ll also need to bring in some new targets for Ryan Tannehill, as Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith have expiring deals. An opening at cornerback could develop if Desmond King leaves in free agency, especially if Malcolm Butler becomes a cap casualty.
Top potential FA targets: Haason Reddick, Willie Snead, William Jackson
Biggest needs: QB, CB, S
On paper, the Broncos look to be on the cusp of contention. In reality, it’s hard to see them getting there with Drew Lock. We know Denver is prepared to move on from Lock if the right opportunity arises, and the club could add a veteran quarterback with starting experience should nothing more spectacular manifest. The Broncos are also poised to invest in the secondary, as they’re thin at cornerback and face uncertainty at safety with Justin Simmons coming off the franchise tag.
Top potential FA targets: Dak Prescott/Andy Dalton, Chidobe Awuzie, Justin Simmons
Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest needs: OL, DT, DE
The Chiefs could have a vastly different offensive line next season, as Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are potential cap casualties, while Austin Reiter and Mike Remmers are on expiring contracts. Kansas City also needs to beef up a defensive line that got pushed around too often in 2020. With Patrick Mahomes’ extension kicking in this year, the Chiefs won’t be able to spend as freely as they have the last few offseasons.
Top potential FA targets: Alejandro Villanueva, Derek Wolfe, Jadeveon Clowney
Las Vegas Raiders
Biggest needs: DE, CB, S
Basically, if you play defense, the Raiders ought to be interested. Las Vegas has bought plenty of free agents (Lamarcus Joyner, Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Carl Nassib) and drafted ample youngsters (Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette) on that side of the ball over the last two years, but it’s still waiting to collect dividends. The Raiders have publicly expressed interest in Richard Sherman, even though they may have violated the NFL’s anti-tampering rules by doing so.
Top potential FA targets: Yannick Ngakoue, Richard Sherman, Marcus Maye
Los Angeles Chargers
Biggest needs: OL, TE, CB
With Justin Herbert years away from a big contract, the Chargers can afford to build aggressively around him – and they need to. Bryan Bulaga was their only adequate offensive lineman in 2020, and he missed games with his typical array of injuries. Hunter Henry was a reliable target, but he could leave as a free agent. Defensively, the Bolts would be wise to add youth to a cornerback group that features Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., who are both entering their age-32 seasons.
Top potential FA targets: David Andrews, Jared Cook, Mike Hilton