2024 NFL free agency: Steelers receivers, Cowboys running backs and the most pressing need for every team



The bulk of NFL free agency is complete. There are still opportunities for teams to improve upon the roster but the reality is that there are fewer options than there were yesterday and even less than the day prior. Several teams have been successful in filling needs on the roster while others have been more proactive in creating needs. 

Here are the most pressing needs for teams across the NFL: 

AFC North

Bengals: Offensive tackle

As of writing this, Cincinnati has not traded franchise-tagged wide receiver Tee Higgins, so receiver is not a primary need despite Tyler Boyd potentially signing within the division. Defensive tackle had been a big need with D.J. Reader landing with the Lions, but the team at least found a quality 3-tech defensive tackle in Sheldon Rankins. The other two positions of consideration are cornerback and offensive tackle. Given Joe Burrow’s injury history, offensive tackle gets the nod. 

Browns: Linebacker

Cleveland’s roster is one of the best positions if a game were to be played today. The Browns do not have any needs that would submarine the team’s efforts. Linebacker suffered the losses of Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki, but the team signed Jordan Hicks. If he can stay healthy, they are probably fine, but depth is a concern. Running back is a question mark as long as Nick Chubb is dealing with his injury, but Jerome Ford and Nyheim Hines are a playable pairing.

Ravens: Offensive tackle

Baltimore is currently in a position to start two players along the offensive line that played a combined 191 offensive snaps last season. Utility man Patrick Mekari has been able to step into any role asked of him. However, the Ravens traded Morgan Moses to the New York Jets and veteran offensive guard Kevin Zeitler remains a free agent. For the time being, the offensive line should be a point of emphasis.

Cornerback and linebacker are a few other spots that require attention. 

Steelers: Wide receiver

Prior to the Diontae Johnson trade, the conversation would have centered around the cornerback and offensive tackle positions. Left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and cornerback Donte Jackson give them options, but either starting will bring frustrations over the course of the season. With Johnson gone, Pittsburgh has little outside of George Pickens. The Steelers have been linked to Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd in free agency but that is an unknown for now. Fortunately, the Steelers have been one of the best franchises over the past decade-plus when it comes to identifying Day 3 receivers capable of contributing. 

AFC South

Colts: Cornerback

Indianapolis was able to re-sign wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and retain a defensive line that played pretty well when the full complement of talent was available. The most-pressing need is cornerback. The team drafted and developed depth at the position in 2023, but could still use that lockdown cornerback on one side who is able to open up so many more possibilities for the defense.

Wide receiver and safety are other spots that could be addressed. 

Jaguars: Cornerback

Jacksonville needs to find more consistency out of its starting offensive tackles this season, but there are players on the roster capable of providing that level of performance. The bigger issues are wide receiver now that Calvin Ridley has signed in Tennessee and cornerback, which suffered the salary cap casualty of Darious Williams. If a top wide receiver begins falling in the draft, it would not be a surprise to see the Jaguars become aggressive because they need to do everything in their power to support Trevor Lawrence.

Texans: Defensive tackle

Defensive tackles Sheldon Rankins, Maliek Collins and Teair Tart are gone from last year’s roster. They signed Folorunso Fatukasi and have been linked to Arik Armstead, but that remains a position to monitor. Cornerback opposite Derek Stingley Jr. and center are a few other positions of note. 

Titans: Offensive tackle

Tennessee made it abundantly clear during head-coaching interviews that the team intends to build around Will Levis. To this point in free agency, the Titans have done just that by signing running back Tony Pollard, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and center Lloyd Cushenberry. Offensive tackle is the next piece to that puzzle. Andre Dillard, Dillon Radunz and Nicholas Petit-Frere are in position to fill two starting assignments and that is not ideal. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan is one of the best in the league and his presence alone should raise the floor of that group, but they need to find long-term solutions.

AFC East

Bills: Cornerback

Buffalo has been hampered by injuries at the cornerback position in recent years. Their lack of depth has been exposed. First-round selection Kaiir Elam has not lived up to expectations thus far and their best performer was Rasul Douglas, who was acquired at the trade deadline. Cornerback should be considered a position of need even by those who believe Douglas’ play is sustainable. 

Safety is a question mark in the absence of Jordan Poyer.

Dolphins: Defensive tackle

Where does one begin with Miami? Offensive guard? Center? Defensive tackle? The Dolphins are one of the best examples of a team that has had more pulled out than they have put in to this point in free agency. Offensive guard Robert Hunt, defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis and linebacker Jerome Baker are all gone. Edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, cornerback Xavien Howard were released and center Connor Williams remains non-committal about the upcoming season. They could also use an additional wide receiver considering Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill missed four combined games last season. 

Jets: Offensive tackle

New York acquired right tackle Morgan Moses from Washington, but left tackle is still a question mark. Veterans Tyron Smith and David Bakhtiari are still available but most draft evaluators have pegged No. 10 overall as a prime opportunity for the team to add a tackle capable of starting for the next decade.

Wide receiver is also a soft spot outside of Garrett Wilson. 

Patriots: Offensive tackle

The choice between wide receiver and offensive tackle was a knock-down-drag-out fight. Both are critical needs but it all starts upfront along the offensive line. If that is not solidified, then the rest hardly matters. They signed Chuks Okorafor from Pittsburgh in free agency but the Steelers already deemed him not good enough to start in the Steel City. He is a viable third tackle option for a team but the tandem of Conor McDermott and Okorafor is not going to instill a lot of confidence in the rookie quarterback they potentially draft No. 3 overall.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Reagor, DeMario Douglas and Tyquan Thornton comprise New England’s current receiver situation. 

AFC West

Broncos: Quarterback 

Russell Wilson was clearly not the answer in the Rocky Mountains but no one is rushing to claim Jarrett Stidham is either. Denver is likely to take a rookie quarterback somewhere in the 2024 NFL Draft. It is just a matter of how high. Center and cornerback are a few other positions that the franchise could look to address in the coming months.

Chargers: Defensive tackle 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to build a tough, physical football team and that means being stubborn in the trenches, first and foremost. Most project wide receiver, tight end or offensive tackle with the team’s first-round selection, but the reality is that both defensive tackle and cornerback are more critical areas of weakness. Defensive tackle has been an issue for years and J.C. Jackson was unable to meet their expectations at cornerback. 

Chiefs: Wide receiver

Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are gone. Outside of Rashee Rice and the chain-mover Justin Watson, Kansas City has not achieved reliable contributions from any wide receiver returnee. The Chiefs reached a deal with free agent Marquise Brown, but is that enough? As much as I was a fan of Wanya Morris coming into the 2023 NFL Draft, it is a lofty expectation to think the former Oklahoma right tackle will step in at left tackle seamlessly. 

Defensive tackle is a secondary need.

Raiders: Cornerback 

While the offensive line — specifically offensive guard — remains a point of concern, cornerback is likely the bigger issue at this time. Jack Jones was a good find for them on the waiver wire but the team lost Amik Robertson and are in a position to start Brandon Facyson on the other side.

Linebacker and defensive tackle are a few secondary needs.

NFC North

Bears: Edge rusher

Defensive tackle, edge rusher and offensive guard are the biggest needs on Chicago’s roster. The trade for veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen alleviated any pressure that the organization had to take a wide receiver in the top 10 overall. 

Lions: Offensive guard

Jonah Jackson was rewarded with a large contract with the Rams and Halapoulivaati Vaitai remains a free agent. Detroit wants its offensive line to be a strength more than any other so if would be a surprise if it does not make a big addition to that position.

The team should also consider making a long-term investment in the cornerback room even with veterans Carlton Davis, Emmanuel Moseley and Cam Sutton in place. 

Packers: Left tackle

After 11 seasons with the Packers, David Bakhtiari’s time has come to an end and, as of writing this, there is no clarity on his future; just as there is no clarity on Green Bay’s plans at left tackle. Former seventh-round selection Rasheed Walker was perfectly adequate, but will the organization feel comfortable placing Jordan Love’s fate in his hands?

Despite the signing of Xavier McKinney, Green Bay could still use another safety. Cornerback is a bit of an unknown given the up-and-down performance of rookie Carrington Valentine. 

Vikings: Defensive tackle

Harrison Phillips and Jerry Tillery have been at the heart of a few defenses that were unable to stop the run. Those two are in line to start with Minnesota. Depth is not inspiring. Offensive guard is also high on the wish list, followed by cornerback. 

Quarterback is the elephant in the room. Sam Darnold was signed to replace Kirk Cousins, but the NFC franchise is viewed as a favorite to trade up for the right to select a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft, especially after swinging a deal with the Texans for the No. 23 pick.

NFC South

Buccaneers: Interior offensive line

Center Ryan Jensen has announced his retirement since the conclusion of the regular season. Both offensive guard positions were already considered a liability on the roster. Tampa Bay has done well to retain some key contributors but nothing has been done to supplement that unit. 

Cornerback ranks high among the list of needs following the trade of Carlton Davis to Detroit. Zyon McCollum is in line to start opposite Jamel Dean. 

Falcons: Edge rusher

Atlanta’s offense is in a good place following offseason additions of wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore, as well as quarterback Kirk Cousins. The pass rush is not going to instill fear in any of their foes. The Falcons need a player with some explosion off the edge and that is why Alabama’s Dallas Turner has been such a popular choice for them at No. 8 overall. 

In addition to edge rusher, Atlanta also must address cornerback. 

Panthers: Edge rusher

There was no reason for the Panthers to trade away pass rusher Brian Burns unless they were going to lean in further to the agenda of surrounding rookie quarterback Bryce Young with talent. Do not be surprised when they use that pick acquired from New York to add another piece to the offense. They traded away a defensive piece for Diontae Johnson as well. Both moves created holes in the defense that will now need to be addressed. 

They could still look to acquire a No. 1 wide receiver as well.

Saints: Wide receiver

New Orleans may be lacking in difference-makers, but there are not many holes on the roster, which is a direct result of financially kicking the can down the road for so many years. Michael Thomas has been released and that leaves Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, A.T. Perry and Cedrick Wilson Jr. 

The offensive line needs to perform better. There are three first-round picks and one second-round pick on that unit. 

NFC East

Commanders: Quarterback

Marcus Mariota has not been viewed as a viable starting quarterback for years and Sam Howell has been packaged and shipped to the Pacific Northwest. It is not a secret that Washington is going to use the No. 2 overall selection on the quarterback position. While it is the biggest need, it also happens to be the least concerning because there is a clear plan. 

Beyond that weakness, the Commanders may also need a left tackle after releasing Charles Leno. Tight end and pass rusher would be the two other areas at which they should throw assets.

Cowboys: Running back

Running back is also high on the list of concerns. A year after parting with Ezekiel Elliott, the team bid farewell to his replacement, Tony Pollard. Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis and Snoop Conner are positioned for a hotly contested training camp battle.

Center Tyler Biadasz signed with Washington in free agency and left tackle Tyron Smith remains a free agent. Dallas could move left guard Tyler Smith back to tackle or keep him inside. Either way, the franchise has a starting spot to fill on its offensive line.

Safety and defensive tackle are a few other spots. 

Eagles: Safety

Philadelphia has a viable option at every position but the secondary needs to perform up to its billing. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been impactful players for most of their careers but last season was disappointing. Safeties Reed Blankenship and Sydney Brown are relatively inexperienced but each has the ability to lock down their respective roles. The return of C.J. Gardner-Johnson could prove to be a major coup.

Giants: Wide receiver

The answer may be quarterback. It is difficult to ignore the rumors coming out of the Big Apple over the past few months. Regardless of who is under center, the Giants need to find a pass catcher capable of creating opportunities who can also win downfield. Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson bring defined skill sets to the table but having a true No. 1 wide receiver would allow them to unlock those players. 

The hope is that rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III take the next steps in their respective careers but the reality is that is probably a spot that needs another capable of starting.

NFC West

49ers: Interior offensive line

San Francisco needs to continue investing in its offensive line. The 49ers removed right tackle Mike McGlinchey but did not replace him with a similar investment. Trent Williams is the only former first-round pick and Aaron Banks is the only Day 2 selection. They need to invest more now before Williams up and retires on them and the bottom falls out. 

Cornerback could use additional investment. 

Cardinals: Wide receiver

Arizona would trot out Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch and Chris Moore in a three-wide receiver set if the season began tomorrow. Kyler Murray may be their franchise quarterback but they have not exactly done a convincing job of proving it. 

Defensive tackle, cornerback, edge rusher and running back would also be high on the list. 

Rams: Cornerback

Los Angeles re-signed Darious Williams in free agency but the Rams could use a developmental boundary piece. It is imperative that the team picks up an edge rusher to apply pressure opposite Byron Young. Fortunately, the franchise has done as well as anyone finding competent pieces on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. 

Safety was somewhat addressed with the signing of Kamren Curl. Defensive tackle is also high on the list of needs following the announcement that All-Pro Aaron Donald is hanging up his cleats after 10 seasons. 

Seahawks: Offensive guard

Seattle not only needs a starter or two at offensive guard, but they also need depth. The roster is very thin at the position. They did pick up traveled veteran George Fant, who has experience filling multiple roles. 

Linebacker, cornerback, safety and edge rusher are all secondary needs.





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