Thanks for checking out our 2021 Offseason Team Needs previews. Consider this a primer for the goals each team has to accomplish this offseason and the resources they have to work with.
A couple of notes. Salary cap projections are from Over The Cap and based on a cap of $180.5 million. That number could ultimately be different depending on what the NFL and NFLPA figure out before free agency. Compensatory picks are also from OTC’s projections, which are historically the most accurate in the industry. Their methodology is outlined here.
With that, let’s get into it:
Projected Cap Space: $30,866,465
Draft Picks: 9
- 1st (No. 9)
- 2nd (No. 40)
- 3rd (No. 71)
- 4th (No. 105)
- 5th (No. 136)
- 6th (No. 167)
- 7th (No. 201)
- 7th (No. 203, from NYG)
- 7th (No. 218, from CLE)
Notable Free Agents: S Justin Simmons, DT Shelby Harris, OT Elijah Wilkinson, RB Phillip Lindsay (RFA), S Will Parks, OT Demar Dotson, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, CB De’Vante Bausby, OLB DeMarcus Walker, QB Blake Bortles, DT Sylvester Williams, OLB Anthony Chickillo
Denver very well could need three new starting cornerbacks this offseason. The Broncos cut A.J. Bouye, slot CB Bryce Callahan is a complete wildcard due to a foot injury he can’t completely shake and 2020 third-round CB Michael Ojemudia had a rocky first year like a lot of rookie corners do. This is an area where we could see the Broncos devote a lot of resources to this offseason.
- Defensive Line
At the time the Broncos traded a seventh-round pick to the Titans for DT Jurrell Casey last year, it looked like a steal for Denver as Tennessee just needed to dump salary. Fast forward and Casey missed the bulk of the season due to injury and Denver is on the void of cutting Casey itself to save money. With fellow DL starter Harris an unrestricted free agent, the Broncos could need to replace two starters on the defensive line. There are a couple of players in the pipeline, including Dre’Mont Jones and McTelvin Agim, but there’s room to make more additions here for the Broncos and hopefully get more production.
The tandem of Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell was solid for the Broncos in 2020. But neither is the kind of high-impact player in multiple phases of the game that other teams are searching out and finding at linebacker, particularly in coverage. This could be a situation where the Bronco find a great player staring them in the face in the draft and they take the opportunity to upgrade even though their current starters are fine. There’s also the matter of OLB Von Miller and the $18 million he’s owed that the Broncos aren’t going to pay all on the 2021 cap. If he’s cut, Denver will need to add to its pass rush even though Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed are a capable starting tandem.
Projected Cap Space: $23,801, 246
Draft Picks: 9
- 1st (No. 13)
- 2nd (No. 47)
- 3rd (No. 78)
- 3rd (comp)
- 4th (No. 109)
- 5th (No. 143)
- 6th (No. 174)
- 6th (No. 181, from TEN)
- 7th (No. 205)
Notable Free Agents: TE Hunter Henry, DE Melvin Ingram, CB Michael Davis, S Rayshawn Jenkins, OL Dan Feeney, OL Forrest Lamp, LB Denzel Perryman, QB Tyrod Taylor, OT Sam Tevi, LB Nick Vigil, DL Damion Square, S Jahleel Addae, S Jaylen Watkins, OL Ryan Groy
- Offensive Line
The Chargers hit the jackpot with 2020 offensive rookie of the year Justin Herbert. Now they have to keep the environment around him strong, and the situation on the offensive line is a potential five-alarm fire. The entire left side of their line is either a pending free agent or retiring in the case of Mike Pouncey. Right guard Trai Turner is probably a cap cut. Even RT Bryan Bulaga shouldn’t necessarily be assumed a building block given his growing litany of nagging injuries. Los Angeles needs to address this unit aggressively to shore up Herbert’s protection and their ability to continue to run the ball effectively for the next few years.
New Chargers HC Brandon Staley comes to this team with a reputation for being on the cutting edge of modern defense in the NFL. A component on that is flipping the focus on defense from back to front — ensuring coverages and the secondary are right before moving to the front and the run game. He has the benefit of one of the stronger secondaries in the NFL to work with in that regard but Los Angeles’ No. 2 corner, Davis, is set to hit free agency and their other two starters Casey Hayward and Chris Harris will both be 32 by the time the 2021 seasons starts. Corners over 30 are like that jug of milk in the fridge that’s past its expiration date: it may still be good today but tomorrow is another story. The Chargers should grab another pint or two now before ruining their morning coffee with expired milk.
3. Outside Linebacker
Another effect of Staley’s arrival and shift to the defensive scheme is the Chargers will be moving away from the Seahawks-style 4-3 they ran to more of a 3-4. With how much nickel teams play now, the distinction isn’t super important, but it does mean the Chargers will need to find another starting outside linebacker to line up across from Uchenna Nwosu given Joey Bosa is going to stay at defensive end and Ingram appears set for free agency.
Projected Cap Space: -$23,132,376
Draft Picks: 8
- 1st (No. 31)
- 2nd (No. 63)
- 3rd (No. 95)
- 4th (No. 127)
- 4th (comp)
- 5th (No. 159)
- 5th (comp)
- 7th (No. 223)
Notable Free Agents: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Bashaud Breeland, S Daniel Sorensen, C Austin Reiter, OL Mike Remmers, G Kelechi Osemele, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, LB Damien Wilson, RB Le’Veon Bell, FB Anthony Sherman, OL Daniel Kilgore, WR Demarcus Robinson, OL Stefen Wisniewski, DL Mike Pennel, CB Antonio Hamilton, DE Taco Charlton, TE Ricky Seals-Jones
- Offensive Line
The Super Bowl highlighted a weakness that the Chiefs were able to mask for most of the 2020 season. And while injuries played a role — Reiter was the only player in the same spot as Week 1 — it’s not projected to be much better as things stand. The interior was a weakness all year and needs to be addressed, though re-signing Osemele and Reiter and getting Dr./G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back from opting out to fight on the front lines against COVID-19 would help. But both tackle spots are major question marks after LT Eric Fisher tore his Achilles in the conference championship and RT Mitchell Schwartz was limited to just six games with a lingering back injury/
2. Defensive End
There are a few starters in the secondary set for free agency like Breeland and Sorensen, but Kansas City actually has done a good job of finding young players like S Juan Thornhill and CBs L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton who can step up. The defensive line is in need of a talent infusion, though, with a couple of starters and key rotation players set to hit free agency. Injuries also limited star DE Frank Clark and while the hope is he recovers and bounces back in 2021, the Chiefs should be looking to protect themselves. Their Super Bowl loss proved how crucial a good pass rush is.
3. Wide Receiver
The Chiefs’ biggest asset aside from QB Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid has been the overwhelming supporting cast at their disposal on offense. And not to overreact to just one game, but the Super Bowl showed Kansas City really doesn’t have any other consistent threats on offense besides WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman were non-factors and Watkins is a free agent. Kansas City finds itself in need of a No. 2 wideout and potentially a new No. 3 as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them dip into what looks like another deep class of receivers in the draft.
Projected Cap Space: -$8,855,669*
*includes the projected release of WR Tyrell Williams
Draft Picks: 7*
- 1st (No. 17)
- 2nd (No. 48)
- 3rd (No. 81)
- 4th (No. 112)
- 5th (No. 146, from MIA)
- 6th (No. 179, from WAS)
- 7th (No. 212, from CHI
*forfeited 6th-round pick, No. 176, due to COVID-19 violations
Notable Free Agents: WR Nelson Agholor, G Denzelle Good, DT Maliek Collins, DE Takkarist McKinley, OT Sam Young, DT Johnathan Hankins, DE Vic Beasley, RB Devontae Booker, LB Raekwon McMillan, K Daniel Carlson, CB Daryl Worley
- Impact pass rushers
The Raiders’ pass rush regressed from average back to bad in 2020. Maxx Crosby led the team with seven sacks, a little bit of a drop from the 10 he had as a rookie, while no one else had more than three. Crosby still looks like a strong player but the Raiders desperately need pass rushers all across the defensive line to complement him, whether it’s the other end spot, inside at defensive tackle and coming off the bench. Adding multiple players here should be a priority.
- Free Safety
Not only did the Raiders struggle to make plays on the quarterback by getting him down, they struggled in the secondary as well. Las Vegas picked off just 10 passes all year which was in the bottom quarter of the league. The team has made a significant investment at cornerback and in strong safety Johnathan Abram, so they’ll likely give them another year to develop. But a ball-hawking free safety could do a lot for this defense.
- Offensive Line
Technically the Raiders need better play out of their linebackers more than any position on the offensive line. But they made too much of a free agent investment in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to not give them another season. The line has been a strength of the Raiders’ offense but there’s a little bit of maintenance needed to keep it that way. At guard, Gabe Jackson is getting older and has been speculated as a cap cut despite his continued solid play. Richie Incognito turns 38 this offseason and battled an Achilles injury last year. And RT Trent Brown hasn’t shown he can stay healthy. There are a few current depth pieces on board but the Raiders could stand to add more to ensure the unit remains the strength of the team.