Every NFL Team’s To-Do List for Rest of Offseason

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The primary building phase of the NFL offseason is over. The excitement of free agency and the draft has faded. This doesn’t mean, however, that teams are even close to being prepared for the 2019 season.

    There are goals that need to be accomplished before teams can even begin preparing for the regular season. Rosters must be evaluated, schemes must be installed, and areas of need must be addressed prior to training camps and the preseason.

    What does each squad need to do before the preseason arrives? That’s precisely what we’re here to examine.

           

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

  • Install Kliff Kingsbury’s offense
  • Prepare Kyler Murray to be a rookie starter
  • Establish chemistry among the receiving corps
  • Solidify the offensive line

The Arizona Cardinals are going all in on the offensive creativity of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. They used the first overall pick in the draft to get him his preferred quarterback, Kyler Murray, and they drafted wideouts Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler to support him.

Installing and fine-tuning Kingsbury’s offense has to be the top goal of the offseason. Preparing Murray to start as a rookie is part of that, as is developing the new-look receiving corps and establishing chemistry between it and Murray.

Improving the play of the offensive line must also be a primary goal. Josh Rosen was sacked 45 times in just 14 games last season, and Arizona cannot expect Murray to be an upgrade at quarterback if he’s under similar pressure.

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

  • Solidify the offensive line
  • Sign Julio Jones to a contract extension
  • Establish defensive depth
  • Settle the backup plan at RB

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t see star wideout Julio Jones in early OTAs, which isn’t surprising. Jones is entering the second-to-last year of his contract and is seeking a new deal.

“I’m confident that something will get done one way or the other,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If it doesn’t, we have a year to continue to talk about it.”

Really, the Falcons should get a deal done now and completely avoid any potential contract drama during the season.

Atlanta also needs to solidify the offensive line and find a new running mate for Devonta Freeman after Tevin Coleman signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency.

Developing defensive depth is also paramount. Injuries to linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal were directly responsible for some of Atlanta’s struggles in 2018.

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

  • Prepare Marquise Brown to be a No. 1 receiver
  • Establish a backfield rotation
  • Create a pass-rushing plan
  • Continue developing Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was dangerous as both a runner and a passer as a rookie. While his running ability isn’t going anywhere, he needs to grow more as a passer to get the most out of him in Year 2.

Part of the equation is developing rookie receiver Marquise Brown into Jackson’s No. 1 target. Brown is a threat to score almost any time he touches the ball, but it will take time to adjust to the physicality and nuances of the pro game.

Baltimore must also determine how to best utilize its new collection of running backs. Mark Ingram was added in free agency, and the team drafted Justice Hill.

Defensively, the Ravens need to find replacements for departed pass-rushers Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith.

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

  • Establish the receiving corps
  • Work on Josh Allen’s negative tendencies
  • Prepare Tyree Jackson to be the backup QB
  • Determine LeSean McCoy’s successor

Preparing quarterback Josh Allen for his sophomore season is the main offseason goal for the Buffalo Bills. If Allen is going to take a step forward, however, he’s going to have to improve as a passer and dump his desire to take off and run and to `initiate contact.

If the Bills can get Allen to play a little less backyard football, he’ll be able to take advantage of receiver additions John Brown and Cole Beasley. Getting them up to speed in the offense is another offseason goal.

While readying Allen for the season, Buffalo needs to prepare undrafted quarterback Tyree Jackson to be his backup. The two are similar players, and it’s Jackson—not journeyman Matt Barkley—who is best suited to take over if Allen gets injured.

The Bills also need to start preparing for life without 30-year-old running back LeSean McCoy. Whether it happens this season or further the road, he is going to need replacing at some point.

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

  • Get Cam Newton into playing shape
  • Establish a backup plan at RB
  • Get Greg Little ready for the NFL
  • Prepare Brian Burns to be a rookie starter

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton underwent shoulder surgery after the 2018 season. Will he be back to 100 percent in time for this season? That’s a question the Panthers need to answer and then plan for if the answer isn’t a definitive yes.

Carolina also has to figure out how to take some of the workload off of running back Christian McCaffrey. Whether it’s Cameron Artis-Payne or a rookie like Elijah Holyfield, someone needs to help ensure that McCaffrey is still fresh late in the season.

Speaking of rookies, the Panthers need to bring both pass-rusher Brian Burns and offensive lineman Greg Little up to speed. Burns is expected to be one of the team’s top pressure-producers from Day 1. Little may not start right away, but if he’s able to improve the line sooner rather than later, that will be a major offensive boon.

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

  • Establish a backfield rotation
  • Continue developing Mitchell Trubisky
  • Integrate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix into the defense
  • Find a reliable kicker

Tarik Cohen is likely to start the season as the Chicago Bears’ lead running back. However, Chicago needs to figure out how guys like Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery fit into the rotation. Chicago should again lean heavily on its defense and running game in 2019.

That defense now includes former Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Fitting him into the secondary and preparing him for Week 1 is the biggest priority on that side of the ball.

While third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed signs of progress in 2018, there is still room for him to improve as a passer. If he can work on his touch and consistency, the Bears offense will be more balanced this season than it was a year ago.

Oh, and Chicago needs to find a reliable kicker. See how its postseason ended for the reason why.

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

  • Install Zac Taylor’s offense
  • Establish a backup plan at QB
  • Solidify the offensive line
  • Keep Joe Mixon and A.J. Green healthy

Former Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is the new head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. Getting his offensive system installed has to be the first and biggest goal of the offseason. The Bengals have weapons, like receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon; they just have to figure out how to best utilize them.

Of course, keeping guys like Green and Mixon healthy heading into the season also has to be an important goal. Injuries were one of the biggest problems for Cincinnati in 2018.

Quarterback Andy Dalton dealt with his own injuries last season, so the Bengals must establish a sound backup plan—plus, there’s no guarantee that Taylor will want to keep Dalton around past this season if he doesn’t perform well.

Improving an offensive line that was inconsistent in 2018 will go a long way toward getting Dalton to play at a high level. Football Outsiders ranked the Cincinnati line 19th in adjusted sack rate and 22nd in adjusted line yards for 2018. Fortunately, the addition of rookie first-rounder Jonah Williams should help.

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Establish chemistry in the passing game
  • Identify a starting cornerback and starting guard

Thanks to offseason additions like superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr., defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and defensive end Olivier Vernon, the Cleveland Browns have high expectations for the first time in a long time. Goal No. 1 for the offseason has to be ensuring those expectations remain realistic, however. Gunning for the Super Bowl when the Browns haven’t even had a winning season since 2007 could be a recipe for disaster.

Now that Freddie Kitchens is the permanent head coach, the Browns need to further develop his passing attack. This means getting more out of quarterback Baker Mayfield and establishing chemistry with new weapon Beckham.

Cleveland must also find a replacement for standout guard Kevin Zeitler, who was traded to the New York Giants, and identify a reliable starting cornerback to play opposite Denzel Ward.

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

  • Keep Ezekiel Elliott healthy
  • Give Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper contract extensions
  • Prepare Kellen Moore for the offensive coordinator role

A large part of the Dallas Cowboys’ remaining offseason involves extensions. The team needs to get new deals done with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper to ensure that contract drama doesn’t hang over the offseason.

While Ezekiel Elliott is also eligible for a new deal, a bigger priority is keeping him healthy. Even good running backs are replaceable, but Elliott is a huge part of the offense, and he’ll be asked to carry a significant load in 2019.

Getting former quarterback Kellen Moore ready for life as an offensive coordinator is another goal. He has experience with the franchise, but he spent just one season as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to his current position.

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

  • Instill confidence in Joe Flacco
  • Establish Drew Lock as the backup
  • Prepare Noah Fant to be a rookie starter
  • Ensure Phillip Lindsay is ready for the season

If the Denver Broncos are going to get back into the postseason in 2019, it will likely happen with veteran Joe Flacco under center. He was acquired via trade but then watched as the Broncos drafted his eventual replacement in Missouri’s Drew Lock.

It’s fair to say Flacco may already feel threatened.

“As far as a time constraint and all of that stuff, I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that, Flacco said, per Scott Gleeson of USA Today. “That is what it is.”

The Broncos need to make Flacco feel comfortable as the starter so that he can focus fully on the coming season. At the same time, though, they need to develop Lock as injury insurance for the 34-year-old quarterback.

Denver also needs to prepare rookie tight end Noah Fant to be a significant piece of the passing attack. Ensuring Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay, who suffered a wrist injury late last season, is ready to go is another big priority.

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

  • Further implement Matt Patricia’s defense
  • Prepare T.J. Hockenson to be a rookie starter
  • Identify a primary pass-rusher
  • Settle on a backfield rotation

The hiring of Matt Patricia as head coach was supposed to help improve the Detroit Lions defense almost immediately, However, we only saw glimpses of a playoff-caliber unit in 2018. With pieces like defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerback Justin Coleman now on board, the team should be poised to take another step on that side of the ball.

Installing more of Patricia’s concepts in Year 2 is one goal, and identifying who will take over for Ezekiel Ansah as the team’s primary pass-rusher is another.

Offensively, the Lions need to determine how the backfield rotation will work. Kerryon Johnson showed flashes as a rookie but had his season ended prematurely due to a knee injury. C.J. Anderson, Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick are also on the roster.

Getting rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson ready for the pro level will go a long way toward getting more out of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Hockenson has the potential to be one of the league’s top pass-catching tight ends from Day 1.

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

  • Keep Aaron Rodgers healthy
  • Integrate new defensive pieces
  • Install Matt LaFleur’s offense
  • Grant Mike Daniels a contract extension

As Aaron Rodgers goes, so go the Green Bay Packers—at least, that’s been the trend in recent years. This is why keeping Rodgers healthy while getting him up to speed in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense is priority No. 1.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers need to incorporate their new defensive toys. Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith were all added in free agency. Green Bay also used first-round picks on edge-rusher Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage. The defense is poised to make a significant jump, but only if it operates as a true unit.

On the contract front, Green Bay needs to get a new deal done with defensive end Mike Daniels. He’s one of the top up-and-coming defenders in the league and is entering the final year of his contract. While Gary could be viewed as his eventual replacement, the Packers would be better off having both in their future plans.

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

  • Solidify the offensive line
  • Establish a backfield rotation
  • Improve Deshaun Watson’s habits
  • Extend Jadeveon Clowney

For the Houston Texans, this season is going to be all about protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was sacked an alarming 62 times in 2018, and that cannot happen again if Houston expects him to stay on the field.

This means improving the offensive line that allowed so many sacks and getting Watson to stop taking so many unnecessary hits. Supporting Watson with a strong running game will also help.

Houston, therefore, must determine what its backfield rotation will look like. Lamar Miller should open the season as the starter, but guys like D’Onta Foreman and undrafted rookie Karan Higdon will compete for playing time.

On the contract front, the Texans need to get a deal done with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He’s expected to play on the franchise tag this season, but he wants an extension and hasn’t been at OTAs, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

  • Keep Andrew Luck healthy
  • Integrate new receivers into the offense
  • Establish secondary depth
  • Start preparing for life after Adam Vinatieri

Last season proved just how important Andrew Luck is to the Indianapolis Colts offense. The Colts went from being one of the worst teams in the league in 2017 to a playoff team upon the quarterback’s successful return from shoulder surgery.

While keeping Luck upright and on the field is the top priority, Indianapolis must also build his chemistry with its new receivers, offseason acquisition Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell.

Defensively, the Colts need to establish depth behind cornerbacks Pierre Desir and rookie Rock Ya-Sin. With quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Nick Foles in the division, defending the pass will be a challenge in 2019.

While not an immediate need, the Colts also have to start thinking about their next kicker. Adam Vinatieri is back for one more run, but the offseason is a great time to start auditioning an eventual replacement for the 46-year-old kicker.

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

  • Instill confidence in Nick Foles
  • Develop chemistry in the passing game
  • Prepare Leonard Fournette for a bounce-back season
  • Identify new starters on defense

Nick Foles is the new starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, which means Jacksonville needs to do two things before the start of training camp to support him: They need to make him believe that he’s ready to lead his own team outside of Philadelphia, and they need to encourage chemistry with his receivers.

The addition of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who previously served as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach, should help on both fronts.

The Jaguars also have to prepare running back Leonard Fournette for a bounce-back season. He struggled in 2018 and endured friction with the team late in the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jacksonville must identify replacements for offseason departures Tashaun Gipson and Malik Jackson, both of whom were starters in 2018.

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

  • Settle the backfield depth chart
  • Integrate Tyrann Mathieu into the defense
  • Develop depth at receiver
  • Keep Patrick Mahomes healthy

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the heart and soul of the Kansas City Chiefs offense. Ensuring he gets to the regular season healthy is the team’s biggest goal, but certainly not the only one of the offseason. The Chiefs also need to figure out what his supporting cast will look like.

The biggest challenge is in the backfield, where Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Carlos Hyde will all compete for playing time. Kansas City also needs to develop a Plan B in the event that star wideout Tyreek Hill misses time as a result of the ongoing investigation of alleged child abuse and neglect involving his three-year-old son.

Defensively, the Chiefs need to get safety Tyrann Mathieu up to speed in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system. Mathieu is likely to be the centerpiece of the Chiefs secondary and one of their biggest assets on defense.

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

  • Identify replacement for Tyrell Williams
  • Integrate Jerry Tillery into the defense
  • Ensure Hunter Henry is ready for the season
  • Give Philip Rivers a contract extension

The Los Angeles Chargers were without star tight end Hunter Henry for all of 2018 due to a torn ACL. Getting him back to 100 percent and prepared for the coming season is one of the biggest offensive goals.

Another is identifying a replacement for deep-threat wideout Tyrell Williams. He racked up 653 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 but departed in free agency.

On the defensive side of the ball, L.A. needs to ensure that defensive tackle Jerry Tillery is ready to make an impact as a rookie. He’s a penetrating interior defender who can make edge-rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram better.

Though not a dire need, it would be wise to get a contract extension done with longtime starter Philip Rivers.

“As long as he wants to be here, we want him here,” owner Dean Spanos said of the quarterback, per Gilbert Manzano of the Orange County Register.

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

  • Identify replacements for Ndamukong Suh and Rodger Saffold
  • Determine Todd Gurley’s health
  • Develop a backup plan at RB

Los Angeles Rams star running back Todd Gurley may or may not be dealing with an arthritic knee condition that may or may not affect his future career. The Rams need to determine just how healthy he is before the start of camp so they can plan accordingly.

Part of the plan should involve sorting out the depth chart behind Gurley. Los Angeles brought back Malcolm Brown and drafted Darrell Henderson. One or both could see significant playing time if Gurley isn’t at 100 percent, and the Rams must decide who is the superior option.

Another big piece of the offseason involves replacing free-agent departures Ndamukong Suh and Rodger Saffold. Both played key roles in L.A.’s run to the Super Bowl last season, and if their replacements aren’t up to snuff, the Rams defense could take a major step back in 2019.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

  • Name the starting quarterback
  • Determine goals for the regular season
  • Install Brian Flores’ defense
  • Identify a No. 1 receiver

The first goal for the Miami Dolphins is to figure out what their goals for the 2019 season actually are. Is this team going to try to be competitive, or is this season going to be a tank job in an effort to grab a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa in next year’s draft?

Once Miami knows what it wants to accomplish, it needs to determine whether journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick or former first-rounder Josh Rosen is going to hold the starting quarterback job. The Dolphins traded for Rosen during the draft, so they’ll likely give him a shot at some point. But will it be in Week 1?

The Dolphins also need to identify who their No. 1 receiver is going to be. Former first-rounder DeVante Parker hasn’t grabbed hold of that role yet, and there may not be a guy on the roster who is really capable of doing so.

There are fewer questions on the defensive side of the ball, but new head coach Brian Flores will need to implement his defense ahead of camp.

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

  • Prepare Kirk Cousins for Year 2 in Minnesota
  • Develop a backfield rotation
  • Solidify the offensive line
  • Extend or trade Kyle Rudolph

Quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t quite live up to his massive free-agent contract in his first year with the Minnesota Vikings. Much of the offseason should be spent ensuring that he takes a positive step forward in his second year. That means improving last year’s inconsistent offensive line and getting Cousins more comfortable with new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s system.

It also means supporting Cousins with a strong rushing attack. Dalvin Cook is back for his third season, but Minnesota said goodbye to Latavius Murray in free agency. The Vikings need to determine if Cook can be an every-down back or if a player like rookie Alexander Mattison can carry part of the load.

Minnesota also needs to determine the future of tight end Kyle Rudolph.

“The $7.625 million cap hit Rudolph carries in 2019 is an issue,” Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com recently wrote. “Minnesota has less than $1.3 million in cap space and can’t afford to pay him at that price while accounting for other areas of need on the roster.”

Either trading Rudolph or working out a new contract would be ideal.

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

  • Prepare Sony Michel for a heavy workload
  • Develop the wide receiver depth chart
  • Identify a replacement for Rob Gronkowski
  • Give Tom Brady a contract extension

Regardless of what kind of offense the New England Patriots decide to run in 2019, they have some questions to answer.

Is running back Sony Michel prepared to handle a heavy workload this season? What will the receiving corps look like after the addition of first-round rookie N’Keal Harry and the departures of Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson?

And who the heck is going to replace star tight end Rob Gronkowski?

Answering these questions are of utmost importance for the Patriots heading into training camp. New England would also be wise to lock up quarterback Tom Brady, who is in the final year of his current deal. Doing so would give New England a window during which it could develop his successor.

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

  • Establish a backfield rotation
  • Integrate Jared Cook into the passing game
  • Create wide receiver depth
  • Further develop Teddy Bridgewater

Third-year back Alvin Kamara is one of the biggest weapons on the New Orleans Saints offense. However, he’s spent the past two years as a complement to Mark Ingram, who is now in Baltimore. The Saints have to determine how to best proceed at running back, where offseason addition Latavius Murray and rookies Devine Ozigbo and A.J. Ouellette will compete for a role.

Depth will also be important at receiver, where Michael Thomas is the only consistent weapon. In addition, the Saints need to get new tight end Jared Cook up to speed in the offense. Cook is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and has the potential to be a legitimate receiving weapon at the position.

While Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he’s also 40 years old. Further developing backup Teddy Bridgewater—both for the future and as injury insurance—will be crucial. Bridgewater got one start late last season, and there was a notable drop-off in quarterback play.

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

  • Solidify the offensive line
  • Prepare Daniel Jones to be the backup
  • Identify a new No. 1 receiver
  • Keep Saquon Barkley healthy

Eli Manning will be the New York Giants’ starting quarterback in 2019—at least initially. That means the Giants must establish a better offensive line than the one that allowed him to be sacked 47 times last season.

The Giants also must prepare rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones to be Manning’s backup and eventual replacement. Should Manning play poorly or suffer an injury, the rookie will be thrust into the staring lineup sooner than later.

Regardless of who is under center, New York needs to find a new No. 1 receiver now that Odell Beckham Jr. is in Cleveland. Will it be Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate or someone else?

In addition, the Giants need to ensure running back Saquon Barkley makes it to the regular season healthy and ready for a significant workload. He’s the one dominant playmaker on the offense now that Beckham is out.

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

  • Further develop Sam Darnold
  • Install Adam Gase’s offense
  • Develop chemistry in the passing game
  • Integrate Le’Veon Bell into the offense

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold struggled early as a rookie but looked like a future franchise quarterback later in the season. Getting him acclimated to new head coach Adam Gase’s offense and further developing him as a passer are the top goals for the remaining offseason.

This means getting Darnold comfortable with his new-look receiving corps after New York brought in Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy to complement returning receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson.

Another big piece of the puzzle is new Jets running back Le’Veon Bell. A weapon in both the running and passing games, Bell should be the centerpiece of New York’s offense. However, he’s spent the last year away from football and will need some seasoning before he’s ready to be a bell-cow back in the Big Apple.

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

  • Instill confidence in Derek Carr
  • Integrate new receivers into the offense
  • Ready Josh Jacobs for a heavy workload
  • Mentally prepare for final season in Oakland

After a season of inconsistency and plenty of buzz about the Oakland Raiders possibly drafting a quarterback, it’s fair to wonder if Derek Carr has had his confidence shaken. If so, it could spell trouble because he is Oakland’s starting signal-caller for 2019, for better or worse. The Raiders have to get him mentally ready for the coming season.

The Raiders also have to get the team as a whole mentally prepared for what is likely its final season in Oakland. It’s going to be an emotional—and potentially taxing—year with the pending move to Las Vegas hanging over it.

Oakland is going to have a new look to its offense with weapons like receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams and rookie running back Josh Jacobs now on board. Getting all of the new pieces integrated and up to speed in the system as quickly as possible will be crucial to the team’s success.

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

  • Keep Carson Wentz healthy
  • Establish a backup plan at QB
  • Settle the backfield rotation
  • Integrate new receivers into the offense

Starting quarterback Carson Wentz has missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons because of injuries. This wasn’t a major problem for the Philadelphia Eagles because Nick Foles was there to carry the offense in his absence.

Foles, however, is now in Jacksonville.

That means there’s added pressure to keep Wentz healthy heading into the season. It also means the Eagles need to determine if a guy like Nate Sudfeld or Cody Kessler is good enough to serve as injury insurance. If not, adding another signal-caller may be on the agenda.

Philadelphia also needs to figure out its backfield rotation. Corey Clement and rookie Miles Sanders are on the roster, and Jordan Howard will be joining the competition after Philadelphia acquired him in an offseason trade. Incorporating wideouts DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside into the passing game is another challenge.

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

  • Ready James Conner for another heavy workload
  • Prepare JuJu Smith-Schuster to be the new No. 1
  • Develop depth at receiver and in the secondary

James Conner took over for Le’Veon Bell as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ lead back in 2018, and for the most part, he performed well. However, injuries did hamper him late in the season, and Pittsburgh must better prepare him for a heavy, sustained workload this year.

While Conner replaced Bell last year, JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to replace Antonio Brown as the team’s No. 1 wideout in 2019. Pittsburgh needs to ensure he is prepared to handle the responsibilities and the opposing defensive attention that come with being the top option.

Pittsburgh also needs to develop more options behind Smith-Schuster, as the depth chart shifts with Brown’s departure. Depth in the secondary, where cornerback Artie Burns struggled mightily last season, is another area to focus on moving forward.

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    Josie Lepe/Associated Press

  • Ensure Jimmy Garoppolo is ready for the season
  • Settle on a backfield rotation
  • Integrate new receivers into the offense
  • Acclimate Nick Bosa to the defense

The San Francisco 49ers have the potential to make a significant jump in 2019 simply by having quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for a full 16-game season. Ensuring he is back to 100 percent after last year’s torn ACL has to be the top priority heading into camp.

The 49ers also must get rookie receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd—plus free-agent addition Jordan Matthews—prepared to catch passes from Garoppolo.

In the backfield, San Francisco has a logjam to sort out. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert could all see playing time in 2019.

Defensively, San Francisco must get second overall pick Nick Bosa ready to make a rookie impact as an edge-rusher.

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

  • Identify a new No. 1 receiver
  • Sort out the backfield rotation
  • Integrate L.J. Collier into the defense
  • Get D.K. Metcalf ready to be a rookie starter

The Seattle Seahawks released former No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin after a failed physical, which means someone else must take over as quarterback Russell Wilson‘s go-to guy. Tyler Lockett, who had 965 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018, is the most obvious candidate. Rookie D.K. Metcalf, who oozes physical potential, can’t be counted out, though.

At the very least, Metcalf should be a significant piece of the passing game in Year 1, and Seattle needs to properly prepare him.

Sorting out a backfield that features Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic is another offensive priority.

On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks need to get rookie pass-rusher L.J. Collier up to speed. He’ll be expected to replace Frank Clark, who had 13 sacks in 2018 and was traded to Kansas City in April.

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

  • Install Bruce Arians’ offense
  • Develop chemistry in the passing game
  • Create depth in the secondary
  • Identify a replacement for Gerald McCoy

The biggest move of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ early offseason was the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians. He is an offensive-minded coach who may be able to finally get quarterback Jameis Winston to play up to his potential, and with some consistency.

Installing Arians’ system has to be Goal No. 1.

At the same time, the Bucs must develop some chemistry between Winston and the new-look receiving corps. DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are both out, and Breshad Perriman is in.

Tampa also needs to sort some things out defensively. It needs to identify a starting defensive tackle to replace the recently released Gerald McCoy and improve a secondary that allowed an average of 259.4 passing yards per game in 2018.

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

  • Develop Corey Davis into a legitimate No. 1 receiver
  • Prepare A.J. Brown to be a rookie starter
  • Grant Kevin Byard a contract extension
  • Keep Marcus Mariota healthy

Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis took a big step forward in his sophomore season, finishing with 891 yards and four touchdowns. Now it’s time for him to become a legitimate No. 1 option. If he does, Davis and rookie A.J. Brown have the potential to be a solid one-two punch for the passing game.

This is important because quarterback Marcus Mariota still hasn’t become a consistent passer, but a lack of weapons has often hindered his progress. Continuing to develop Mariota while also ensuring he remains healthy has to be goal No. 1 for the offense, especially after he was hampered by an elbow injury for much of 2018.

On the personnel side, the Titans should get a deal done with starting safety Kevin Byard. He’s one of the best defenders on the team and is entering the final year of his current contract.

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

  • Prepare Dwayne Haskins for the NFL
  • Formulate a backup plan at QB
  • Ensure Derrius Guice is ready to play
  • Establish a starting receiver lineup

The Washington Redskins are holding an offseason quarterback competition between first-round pick Dwayne Haskins and veteran offseason acquisition Case Keenum. So far, there isn’t a clear front-runner.

“It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden recently said, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington.

The goal, though, should be to have Haskins ready to start as a rookie. While Keenum can be a solid starter, he doesn’t have the upside of Haskins, who is clearly Washington’s future.

As the same time, Washington needs to figure out how to field a functional receiving corps. The current group—headlined by first-round disappointment Josh Doctson—is underwhelming as it currently stands.

Getting former second-round pick Derrius Guice ready to play a role in the backfield is another priority. He missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL but could be a real asset in Year 2 by taking some pressure off of Haskins’ shoulders.

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