The offseason is the perfect time for fans to feel like their team is back and moving in the right direction, but not all teams! Some go into the next football season with the same holes they had at the end of the last one.
Depending on the quality of the roster, some teams can overcome issues on their roster and still have great seasons. Here are five teams that could have improved a key part of their roster this offseason.
The Bucs themselves in a place where they still have the shell of a quality roster, but they just don’t have the quarterback talent to make some serious noise this year. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tristan Wirfs, Cade Otton and Cody Mauch form a solid offensive core and they still have a handful of quality players on defense. However, they are trying to sell a quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. The “competition” aspect of this seems a bit far-fetched considering Trask wasn’t even able to supplant Blaine Gabbert as Tom Brady’s replacement. Unless something unforeseen happens in training camp, Mayfield will be Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback. That might be enough to win what should be a pretty soft NFC South, but they had a chance to make a statement at quarterback if they were a little more aggressive in free agency or the draft. Instead, they’re on the journeyman train – which, again, could still be enough to get them to the top of the division. There’s just a ceiling on what’s possible with their current quarterback situation.
It was always going to be tough for the Jets to be as aggressive as they wanted in free agency with their hands tied chasing Aaron Rodgers, but their offensive tackle depth is still shaky. They rely on unproven or older pieces to play a central role for them at tackle. Currently, their tackle group consists of Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, Mike Mitchell, and Billy Turner. Brown will be 38 at the start of the season, Becton and Mitchell are major question marks after injuries and Turner is more of a depth piece at this point in his career. It is a situation that could working for the Jets because Becton still has a massive advantage if he’s healthy and Mitchell was solid before he got injured last year. They could have just added a little more confidence to one of the most important positions on offense in a year when they are going all out to try to win the Super Bowl.
The Jaguars have invested heavily in their defensive line in previous years with three of their own first-round picks currently expected to make the team this year in Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson and Travon Walker. Allen has become a quality NFL pass thrower, Walker has the tools to improve, and Chaisson will likely peak as a depth thrower in the future. It gives them a rusher they can rely on and another player who is still trying to figure things out. This is the same team that ranked 27th in sack percentage last season (5.5%). Expecting Walker’s development to push them towards the middle of the pack might be a bit too much and they had the resources to add a piece in the offseason. The Jaguars need to be more flexible with Walker’s roster, but they may not have added enough depth this offseason to give them that luxury.
It’s certainly finicky, but the Eagles’ linebackers have been weak enough for big teams to exploit them in recent years. It didn’t spoil their overall defensive effectiveness, but they can be crushed in specific in-game matchups against teams that can stand their ground against their collection of defensive linemen. If the Eagles can find a way to fix that (and they might want to, with Sean Desai being their new defensive coordinator), they’ll have a defense that can raze any ground attack.
The Cardinals are likely to be pitching in 2023 given their current setup, but it will still be difficult to see them through the season en route to a top selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. For the new head coach Jonathan Gannon, with a defensive roster that has truly thrived on elite upside talent, it was a bit of a surprise to see the Cardinals let Zach Allen walk in free agency and not really replace him with a comparable player. Second-rounder BJ Ojulari is going to have to carry a pretty heavy pass-rush load as a rookie, but the Cardinals don’t seem to be pushing hard toward this season, so maybe it’ll be good for him in the long run. run.