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Biggest Positional Needs for All 32 NFL Teams - AFC North Edition

Lamar Jackson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The 2024 NFL Draft is under 75 days away. NFL Free Agency starts in less than a month. These two events are undoubtedly the biggest offseason dates on every team’s calendar. One can easily make the argument they’re the two most important events for a franchise’s future. The ramifications of both can have a lasting impact, both good and bad.

In this new series, we’ll be looking at each of the 32 NFL teams and identifying what assets they have available, from both a financial and draft capital standpoint. We’ll also be identifying which positions are their biggest areas of need. We'll focus on each team's three biggest needs and why those needs are the biggest. We'll also be identifying some other positions each team could also target following their big three.

We’ll be going division by division, starting with the AFC North, then the NFC North, before moving into our East, South, and finally, West Divisions. This series is designed to provide a blueprint of sorts for how each team might attack their offseason. Let’s get started. If you want to take advantage of all of our great premium tools, please use promo code, "BOOM" to receive a 10% discount.

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Baltimore Ravens

Season Review and Offseason Assets

The Ravens are coming off a 13-4 season where they finished with the best record in the AFC. They were eliminated by the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Their offense finished fourth in total points and sixth in total yards. Their defense finished first in points allowed and sixth in yards given up.

The Ravens have roughly $18.5 million in cap space. They could restructure the contracts of Lamar Jackson ($32.4$ million cap hit), Ronnie Stanley ($26.1 million cap hit), and Marlon Humphrey ($22.8 million cap hit) to create more cap space if they wish. All three players have a 2024 cap hit north of $22 million. Their best pending free agents include Patrick Queen, Jadeveon Clowney, and Justin Madubuike. Queen and Madubuike are likely to be their priorities, but they may have to choose one of them given their cap space.

They own the No. 30 (first-rounder), No. 62 (second-rounder), No. 93 (third-rounder), No. 130 (fourth-rounder), No. 133 (fourth-rounder), No. 163 (fifth-rounder), No. 225 (seventh-rounder) and No. 247 (seventh-rounder) picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Biggest Needs

1. Edge Rusher/Linebacker

Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy, and Patrick Queen are all free agents. All three of these players were regular contributors in 2023 and will need to be re-signed or replaced. They could have a ready-made replacement for Clowney in David Ojabo, who was their second-round pick in the 2022 draft, but he’s played just five games over the last two seasons. Queen played over 90% of the team’s snaps and finished with 133 total tackles. Clowney had 19 quarterback hits, 9.5 sacks, and 23 pressures. Between these two players, Baltimore has a lot of production they’ll need to replace.

2. Offensive Line

Both of their starting guards, John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler are free agents. Morgan Moses, their starting right tackle, will turn 33 in March. While Moses is still under contract for 2024, he’s not a long-term option anymore. He missed three games last season and starting left tackle, Ronnie Stanley has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. The Ravens have little depth along their offensive line and could be in the market for two starting guards this offseason. Having a strong, dependable, backup tackle is also important considering the availability concerns from Stanley and Moses’s age.

3. Running Back

The defensive line and wide receiver position get honorable mentions here. Madubuike is a free agent and the team will likely have to choose between re-signing him or Queen. At receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. is a free agent, which leaves their second and third spots to Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor. Both positions have a claim to being one of their three biggest needs, but we’re going to highlight the running back position.

In the loss to Kansas City in the playoffs, Baltimore didn’t even attempt to run the ball. J.K. Dobbins is a free agent who has struggled significantly with injuries. That has led to Baltimore leaning on Gus Edwards and Justice Hill for multiple seasons. That just isn’t good enough. Keaton Mitchell, a rookie last season, showed some juice, but he’s just 190 pounds. The Ravens desperately need to add talent to this position. Lamar Jackson is a fantastic quarterback, but he can’t be asked to do it all offensively. Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews are two excellent receiving options, but they need a strong, running game.

4. Other Positions of Need: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver


Cincinnati Bengals

Season Review and Offseason Assets

The Bengals finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs. Joe Burrow missed seven games and Tee Higgins missed five. It was a disappointing season after losing to the Chiefs in the 2022 AFC Championship Game. Cincinnati’s offense finished 16th in points scored and 22nd in yards. Their defense was 21st in points allowed and 31st in yards given up. Their offensive coordinator, Brian Callahan, took the Titans’ head coaching position.

The Bengals have just under $73 million in cap space. They have several key free agents they’ll need to make decisions on. Ja'Marr Chase is in the fourth year of his deal and is eligible for a contract extension. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are both free agents this year. D.J. Reader and Jonah Williams are also free agents. As is cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Higgins is a likely candidate for the franchise tag if they cannot come to a contract agreement. This would cost $21.6 million, fully guaranteed, giving them just over $51 million remaining.

They own the No. 18 (first-rounder), No. 49 (second-rounder), No. 80 (third-rounder), No. 115 (fourth-rounder), No. 147 (fifth-rounder), No. 174 (fifth-rounder), No. 195 (sixth-rounder), No. 234 (seventh-rounder), and No. 251 (seventh-rounder) picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Biggest Needs

1. Wide Receiver

With Higgins, Boyd, and Trenton Irwin all scheduled to be free agents this offseason, Cincinnati only has Chase and 2023 sixth-rounder, Andrei Iosivas under contract. Cincinnati could franchise tag Higgins which would cost just over $20 million. They’d likely prefer to get a long-term deal done, but that’ll depend on Higgins’ asking price because they also need to consider the large deal Chase is going to command.

Burrow’s new deal doesn’t kick in until 2025 when his 2024 cap hit of $30 million increases to $45 million. They may not feel they can afford a contract that pays Higgins $25 million annually. So much of their offseason plans are based on what happens with Higgins. If they re-sign him, they can consider this need filled. If they don’t or they don’t franchise him, this need becomes the undisputed top need for a team with Burrow under center.

2. Offensive Line

This entire unit could be upgraded. They’re stuck with Orlando Brown Jr. as their left tackle. Starting right tackle Jonah Williams will likely depart in free agency creating a hole there. Their left guard, Cordell Volson, finished with a 58 overall PFF grade. He gave up five sacks and 38 pressures. Their right guard, Alex Cappa, gave up 35 pressures. Among guards, they allowed the eighth-most and 11th-most pressures. Either guard spot could be upgraded and there’s a huge hole at right tackle.

3. Tight End

Cincinnati used three different tight ends last year. They were Drew Sample, Tanner Hudson, and Irv Smith Jr. All three of these players are free agents. They do not currently have a tight end under contract for the 2024 season. This becomes an even bigger position of need if they lose Higgins. Either way, they’ll need to find a capable tight end who can ideally help in the passing game, but more importantly, can help strengthen the offensive line and be a plus blocker.

4. Other Position of Need: Defensive Line, Cornerback


Cleveland Browns

Season Review and Offseason Assets

Cleveland finished the season with an 11-6 record before getting blown out by the Texans 45-14 in the first round of the playoffs. Considering the amount of injuries they endured, it was an impressive season. They started three different quarterbacks. Nick Chubb essentially missed the entire season. They also missed large chunks of time from star offensive linemen Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. One can easily make the argument that the Browns were the unluckiest team in terms of injuries this past season. Despite this, they still finished 10th in points scored and 16th in yards gained. They also finished 13th in points allowed and 1st in yards given up.

The Browns are $6 million over the cap. Deshaun Watson has a $64 million cap hit, which will have to be restructured. Amari Cooper and Denzel Ward are also scheduled to have cap hits north of $23 million. Cleveland can save close to $12 million by cutting Nick Chubb, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t even be considered. However, due to his devastating injury, age (will turn 29 this season), and their financial situation, it can’t be entirely ruled out. Luckily, Cleveland doesn't have any players that would qualify as a "must re-sign" kind of player. Their biggest free agent is Sione Takitaki.

Cleveland owes their first-round pick (No. 23) to Houston as part of the Watson trade. They own the No. 54 (second-rounder), No. 85 (third-rounder), No. 134 (fifth-rounder), No. 154 (fifth-rounder), No. 204 (sixth-rounder), No. 207 (sixth-rounder), and No. 227 (seventh-rounder) picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Biggest Needs

1. Wide Receiver

Cooper was fantastic again last season finishing with 128 targets, 72 receptions, 1,250 yards, and five touchdowns. The turnover at quarterback makes that all the more impressive. Behind Cooper, however, the team lacked any dependable option. Elijah Moore struggled in his first season with the Browns. He averaged just 6.2 yards per target, which out of 59 receivers with at least 70 targets, ranked just 56th.

David Bell, their third-round pick from 2022 has failed to make much of an impact in his first two seasons. Cedric Tillman was a third-round pick in last year’s draft and wasn’t asked to do much in his rookie season. Cooper will be 30 this season and the depth behind him is concerning. This is their biggest position of need heading into 2024.

2. Defensive Line

Shelby Harris, Za’Darius Smith, Jordan Elliott, and Maurice Hurst II are all free agents. These four players combined for 1,774 snaps played on defense. All of them played at least 300 snaps. They had 11 sacks, 98 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, and 31 quarterback hits. That’s a lot of production and snaps that Cleveland will need to replace heading into 2024. They could re-sign some of these guys, but as it stands right now, this is a major position of need.

3. Linebacker

Starting linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki are both free agents. Backup linebackers Jacob Phillips and Matthew Adams are also free agents. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the only returning starter from the 2023 team. Walker and Takitaki combined for 109 tackles. Tony Fields, a fifth-rounder from the 2021 draft was forced to play a much larger role than previously expected due to Walker and Takitaki missing seven games combined. This is a position the Browns will need to add depth and starting-level talent to this offseason.

4. Other Position of Need: Running Back, Quarterback


Pittsburgh Steelers

Season Review and Offseason Assets

The Steelers went 10-7 last year and managed to just sneak into the playoffs. They were solidly beaten by the Buffalo Bills 31-17, but there was a moment in that game where it was close. This is a good football team. There’s a lot of talent on the team, but their quarterback position has consistently held them back for the past several years. They finished 28th in points scored and 25th in yards. Their defense was sixth in points allowed and 21st in yards given up.

Pittsburgh has roughly $7 million in cap space. T.J. Watt has a $30 million cap hit and could easily be restructured to create cap space. Allen Robinson can be cut to save $10 million, which would give them just over $17 million. There are plenty of other players they can cut to create space. Cutting James Daniels would save $8.2, but that seems unlikely given his play. Cutting 34-year-old cornerback Patrick Peterson would save $6.8 million. Cutting center Mason Cole would save $4.8 million. Cole was dreadful, making center one of the team's top five positional needs.

They own the No. 20 (first-rounder), No. 51 (second-rounder), No. 84 (third-rounder), No. 120 (fourth-rounder) No. 121 (fourth-rounder), No. 196 (sixth-rounder), and No. 237 (seventh-rounder) picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Biggest Needs

1. Quarterback

The Steelers finished 25th in passing yards, 30th in passing touchdowns with 13 (!!!), 23rd in yards per attempt, 21st in completion percentage, 21st in quarterback rating, and 24th in expected points added by their passing offense with -2.76. Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett, and Mitchell Trubisky form one of the worst quarterback trios in the NFL. This is the team’s biggest need heading into the 2024 NFL Season. They cannot afford to add a legit prospect or a quality veteran. Going into the season with this trio the only option cannot happen.

2. Offensive Tackle

Right tackle Broderick Jones had a fantastic rookie season. He looks like the team’s future right tackle for many years to come. However, he primarily played left tackle and could make the switch this offseason. Their starting left tackle, Dan Moore Jr., struggled mightily this past season. He finished with a 39.7 pass-blocking grade via PFF. He allowed eight sacks and 55 pressures. If Jones switches to left tackle to replace Moore, then there’s a hole at right tackle. If Jones stays at right tackle, the franchise needs to find a new left tackle.

3. Wide Receiver

Diontae Johnson has just one more year on his contract before becoming a free agent in 2025. The team is almost guaranteed to cut Robinson. Their third receiver is Calvin Austin III. The new offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, will likely use plenty of 12-personnel with tight ends, Pat Freiermuth and Darnell Washington, but they still need an upgrade at receiver for when they do go into 11-personnel. Not only that, but Johnson will likely be playing on a new team next season, so adding reinforcements to this position is a very good idea. This position is even more important because of their quarterback position. Rumors have swirled that they may trade for Justin Fields or sign Russell Wilson. Either way, their quarterback play is not going to be at a premium and to get the most out of whoever is behind center, they'll need plenty of quality playmakers on the outside to lift them up.

4. Other Positions of Need: Cornerback, Center, Defensive Line


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