By: Brandon Martin
Every GM’s goal is to improve their team during the offseason. One of the best ways to do so is through free agency. In free agency, teams have the ability to sign any player whose contract is up.
Unlike the draft, free agency allows you to sign players who have already proved their worth opposed to the unproven rookies. Every NFL team has a spot where they can get better and here is one free agent that every NFL team should sign this offseason.
Arizona Cardinals: Mike Neal, OLB
Last season, the Cardinals front seven made a name for themselves after a seven-sack performance against Green Bay in week 16, but that game alone counted for 19 percent of the team’s total sacks.
If you were to take away that game, the Cardinals finish with 29 sacks, a number that by many standards are below average. Looking at Arizona’s free agent class, they could lose players responsible for 13 sacks meaning their pass rush could become non-existent.
To help with this issue, Arizona should look at Mike Neal at an SLB role. Neal, who played in all 16 games for Green Bay, recorded four sacks this season. Arizona tends to use their SLB as a pass rusher, as they did with Dwight Freeney this season. Since 2012, Neal has recorded four or more sacks every season. He would be a perfect fit for the aggressive Cardinals defense.
Atlanta Falcons: Danny Trevathan, ILB
The Falcons, last year, had a dynamic offense led by Julio Jones and Matt Ryan but failed to reach expectations due to their lackluster defense. Even worse for the Falcons, their two leading tacklers (Paul Worrilow and Justin Durant) and starting linebackers are set to hit free agency. This is also the same defense that recorded only 19 sacks this season. Thomas Dimitroff must address this issue.
One name that should interest them is Danny Trevathan. Trevathan was a key aspect of the Broncos’ Superbowl run. With 109 tackles, Trevathan would have led the Falcons in tackles and also had two sacks which are more than Worrilow and Durant had combined. Also recording two interceptions and six passes deflected, Trevathan can shut down TEs or HBs in coverage. The most important aspect of Trevathan is his age, 25 years old, meaning he has plenty of years left to play and lead the Falcons defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Leon Hall, CB
The Ravens had a rough season dealing with injuries, but the defense was less than stellar this year especially in the secondary. Behind Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb, the Ravens gave up 3957 passing yards and 30 receiving touchdowns. Even worse, the team has a whole had six interceptions.
Leon Hall, one of the most underrated CBs in the NFL would be a huge upgrade for the Ravens. Hall played in 666 snaps this year and recorded two interceptions and 55 tackles. The 55 tackles were more than any CB for Baltimore this season.
Hall, who has spent eight seasons in the NFL, brings veteran leadership to a progressively younger defense. Potentially the most important thing is stealing him from a division rival and former team, Cincinnati. The ability to improve your defense and weaken a rival must be a priority to Ozzie Newsome.
Buffalo Bills: Rueben Randle, WR
The Bills were a surprise to many especially their offense this season. Tyrod Taylor came out of practically nowhere to become a Pro Bowl QB. They also led the league in rushing yards per game but one thing that was apparent was the lack of a dominant passing game in which the Bills ranked No. 28 in the league with 208 yards per game. Sammy Watkins experienced a late season break through but had several games where he was nonexistent.
Rueben Randle would be a perfect number two WR for Rex Ryan’s offense. As the number two in New York, Randle caught 57 balls for eight touchdowns and 797 yards. At 6’2, Randle has the height to abuse shorter corners and also has the speed to take the top of defenses. Pairing him with Watkins, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin gives the Bills one of the fastest offenses in the entire league.
Carolina Panthers: Russell Okung, OT
If you watched the Superbowl, you know the Panthers had offensive line struggles. With Michael Oher the current starting left tackle, the Panthers should definitely look to upgrade this offseason to improve the line that gave up 33 sacks on MVP QB Cam Newton.
To let Cam be at his best, he needs time in the pocket to see the field and make a read. Oher has had a fairly inconsistent career since entering the NFL and had seen time as a backup in Tennessee before signing with Carolina.
Enter Russell Okung. Okung of the Seahawks is one of the best LT in the game and one of the best pass blockers in the game. Carolina knows they need to upgrade the offensive line and Okung would immediately make the Panthers more of a threat to run the NFC again.
Chicago Bears: B.J. Raji, DT
The Bears went through a changing of the guard with a new head coach, John Fox, and moving on from veterans Brandon Marshall and Jared Allen. The Bears’ defense gave up 1934 rushing yards this year and lacked the overall ability to shut down the run. With the youth on the defensive line behind Will Sutton and Eddie Goldman, some veteran leadership would help mentor the youngsters.
The perfect man for this role would be B.J. Raji. He slots into the defense line has a big body to stop the run plus has the experience to teach the youngsters. Raji had 22 tackles last year for Green Bay, which isn’t bad for a defensive tackle. Raji’s name may still scar the memory of some Bears fan after his touchdown against them, but the thought of stealing him from the Packers should intrigue them.
Cincinnati Bengals: Reggie Nelson, S
The Bengals will have a new look team come next year with the likes of Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson, Vincent Rey, Adam Jones, and George Iloka set to hit free agency, Cincinnati will need to find some new pieces. The defense had a solid year against the run with success from the linebacker core of Rey and Burfict but one player on the defense was who offenses game planned against.
Reggie Nelson earned his first Pro Bowl honor last season as well as second team All-Pro honors. Nelson co-lead the NFL this season with eight interceptions and deflected 14 other passes, becoming one of the best safeties this season. With 77 tackles, he was also very efficient in stopping the run. While Nelson is 32 years of age, he has been much like a fine wine, only getting better with age.
Cleveland Browns: Robert Ayers, DE
While almost any free agent could be an upgrade for the Browns, one thing stuck out to me like a sore thumb. The Browns only had 29 sacks this year, which is less than two per game. As shown in this year’s Super Bowl pass rush can single-handedly win football games. The Browns defense can take an upgrade almost anywhere and DE is definitely one of them.
Having 9.5 sacks from one player sounds pretty good doesn’t it Cleveland fans? That’s what Robert Ayers can bring to the table. Ayers possess a top-notch pass rushing ability that the Browns need to make their defense a threat again. For a secondary that gave up over 4100 yards, making the QB’s job harder make their job easier and, therefore, makes the Browns a better team.
Dallas Cowboys: William Hayes, DE
The Cowboys front four will look very different come next season. With Greg Hardy out the door and Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games, Dallas will need someone that can get to the quarterback. After having 31 sacks and six sacks from Hardy, sacks will be hard to find.
William Hayes, as a starting DE for the Rams, had 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Hayes, at 30 years old, could still play several years in the lone star state. Hayes has had 21.5 sacks in the past four seasons. He has the ability to single-handedly change the outcome of games such as he did in week 16 against Seattle in which he had three sacks and nine tackles. Dallas will not make a mistake in bringing him in.
Denver Broncos: Vonn Miller, OLB
Defense. Wins. Championships. As we saw during the big game, Denver’s defense showed why they are considered to be one of the best ever. From the 52 sacks and 14 interceptions, Denver brought everything to the table. And if they want to repeat as champions keeping the defense dominate is a must.
How do you keep a defense dominate? By resigning the best player and that is Vonn Miller. Miller helped run the defense with 16 sacks throughout the entire season. Not only was he able to dominate opposing team’s linemen he was also able to hold his own in coverage. Miller’s versatility makes him a valuable player and piece to a defense that was number one last season.
Detroit Lions: Alshon Jeffery, WR
When you lose a potential Hall of Fame receiver to retirement, you also lose a receiver who had 1214 yards last season. The Lions are a team that depends on the passing game to win and will need to find a new target to pair with Golden Tate. Calvin Johnson was also responsible for 88 catches and 9 touchdowns this season. Replacing him won’t be an easy task for Bob Quinn and company but there is one man that can take up that role.
Alshon Jeffery is a very similar receiver to Calvin Johnson. Last season Jeffery had 807 yards and 54 catches. That equates to an average of 14.9 yards per catch. Johnson being 6’5 had the ability to get up and make the catch while Jeffery at 6’3 has the same type of talent.
Both receivers also possess good speed and above average hand size. Jeffery played for division rival, Chicago, and had experience with the strong arm of Jay Cutler. Now in Detroit, he can get the same type of QB with Matthew Stafford under center.
Green Bay Packers: Vincent Rey, ILB
Green Bay will always be an offensive threat with Aaron Rodgers under center, pair him with the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and the offense is one of the league’s best. On the other end of the spectrum, the defense is always a liability.
After giving up 36 touchdowns this season, Ted Thompson will look to improve the unit. With Mike Neal and Nick Perry becoming free agents, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy says he plans on moving Clay Matthews back to an outside linebacker. This leaves Jake Ryan as the only man in the middle for the Pack.
Vincent Rey had 98 tackles this year as the second string inside linebacker for Cincinnati. He’s proved that he is more than ready for a bigger role and becoming the starting MLB for Green Bay would be a perfect task for him. His ability to stop the run is a high point that Green Bay will need after allowing 1905 rushing yards. In week 4, Rey had 15 tackles against the Chiefs including 10 solo tackles showing he has the ability to take over a game when called upon.
Houston Texans: Lamar Miller, HB
The Texans were the best worst team last season. After barely scraping into the playoffs, they were handed a swift round one exit from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans were a puzzling team throughout the season as they showed no weakness outside of injuries to their quarterbacks.
DeAndre Hopkins had a career year with 1521 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Texans fan worried when Arian Foster went down early but Alfred Blue and CJ Polk carried the load, but with Foster unlikely to return next season the Texans may look for a more consistent starter for next season
Lamar Miller had a breakout year for the Dolphins, emerged as one of the most dangerous RBs this season with 1269 all-purpose yards. Against the Texans this year, Miller erupted for 175 yards of rushing and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Miller also shown off elite speed, which was seen after running a 4.34 40 yard dash. He also has elite agility to make the tackler miss in the open field. Having a more consistent running game will allow Houston to open up the play action pass setting up DeAndre Hopkins.
Indianapolis Colts: Janoris Jenkins, CB
Last year, the Colt failed to meet several expectations and failed to make the playoffs. The season took a drastic change after QB Andrew Luck went down with an injury. Last off-season’s signings of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson disappointed and the defense gave up 47 touchdowns including 29 receiving touchdowns.
Last season, the Colts defensive backs gave up 4365 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. To improve this, the Colts could look to the duties of Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins for the Rams last season had 3 interceptions. Jenkins would be an upgrade over Greg Toler.
Jenkins has good speed to keep up with fast receivers and not get beat deep. Jenkins was the best corner for the Rams and one of the best in the league and paired with Vontae Davis would make Indy’s secondary one of elite talent.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trumaine Johnson, CB
Jacksonville took a step forward on offense this season as the light began to come on for Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson. As the Jaguars began to threaten on offense, their defense was less than stellar.
Giving up 6000 yards on defense and 51 touchdowns, the defense needs improvements nearly everywhere but one thing is for sure. Jacksonville may have one of the worst groups of CBS in the entire NFL. After giving up 4291 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, the team as a whole only had nine interceptions and four were from Linebackers.
When your team has only nine interceptions, going out to sign a corner that had seven this season is a drastic improvement. Trumaine Johnson has become a ball hawk with 15 interceptions in four seasons.
Johnson has great size at 6’2 which measures well against in division receivers such as Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Dorial Green-Beckham. Johnson also plays the ball very well in the air with 17 pass deflections.
Kansas City Chiefs: Mitchell Schwartz, OT
The Chiefs maybe a new-look team when next season rolls around when the names of Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Sean Smith and Eric Berry hit the market. Most importantly, though, the offensive line needs to improve and when the Chiefs drafted Eric Fisher, they thought they had a blue-chip left tackle. But thus far he has yet to live up to expectations.
As a team that gave up 46 sacks last season, something needs to change. The Chiefs still have a bright spot in Mitch Morris at center but outside of that, there are many questions.
The perfect fit to slide into the tackle position is Mitchell Schwartz, formerly of the Browns. Schwartz graded out at an 86.6 grade (per PFF) which was sixth best of any offensive tackle this season His 86.8 grade in the passing game was seventh best. Fisher scored at a 67.2 grade. It’s easy to see where KC must go to improve their line.
Los Angeles Rams: Marvin Jones, WR
The Rams were one of the most confusing team last year. The offensive line had a solid season only allowing 18 sacks but the team had the fewest passing yards in the league. The receiving core was led by WR Kenny Britt with 681 receiving yards and totaled for 2805 yards.
With Tavon Austin as the other receiver, more talent is needed. With Stedman Bailey out for the foreseeable future after being shot, the rest of the group will feature Brian Quick and Wes Welker.
To add to this group, Les Snead should add the talents of Marvin Jones. Jones made a name for himself as the number 3 receiver in Cincinnati. In his past two seasons, Jones caught 14 touchdowns and had 1528 receiving yards.
At 6’2, Jones generally has a height advantage over most defensive backs. He also ran a 4.46 40 yard dash. Jones may not single-handedly fix the passing game but his presence will improve them.
Miami Dolphins: Prince Amukamara, CB
When the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh, their defense was considered to be one of the best in the league but sometimes things look better on paper than how they perform. With only 31 sacks, saying the defensive line failed to meet expectation is an understatement.
To pair alongside that, the secondary wasn’t much better. Giving up 4000 yards and 31 touchdowns, Brent Grimes, and Jamar Taylor needed to step up or get out of the way.
If neither of the two are to step up a name that may come in could be Prince Amukamara. Prince has been one of the most consistence players in the Giant’s secondary. While he isn’t exactly a ball hawk with only one interception last year, he locks down receivers and plays the ball well to swat it away. He also is a very good tackler with 63 tackles this year and had a career high in 2013 with 85.
Minnesota Vikings: Richie Incognito, OG
The Vikings should be thankful that Adrian Peterson returned this season as if it wasn’t for him this season would not have ended well for the Vikings. Minnesota was ranked No. 31 in the league in passing yards a game and gave up 45 sacks.
This is not a formula you want to have with a young quarterback at the helm of the offense. Although they gave up 45 sacks, Minnesota started the same five offensive linemen every game during the season. While the consistency was there, reliability may be a different story.
Brandon Fusco scored a 61.6 grade this season including a 34.3 in the running game. That is awful. Rick Spielman must add to his offensive line and Richie Incognito would be a name to look at.
Incognito had the second highest grade of all guards this year at a 90.0. He also recorded a 92.0 in run blocking which I think AP would love to have in front of him. He helped lead the Bills to the number one rushing offense in the league. There were some concerns with off the field issues with him, but he remained out of the news this season. If Spielman still believes in AP, Incognito is the guy to put in front of him.
New England Patriots: Matt Forte, HB
After the hot start at the beginning of the season, it appeared New England was on pace for another Superbowl victory. Unfortunately for Patriots fans, things changed in a hurry. With injuries to Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman and Chandler Jones, as well as the collapse of the offensive line, New England’s season came to an early end.
Statistically, New England held its own, except in the running game in which they ranked No. 30 in rushing yards per game with 82. New England went through five running backs this year.
If you were asked who the most consistent RB was in the past five years, you would hear names such as Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Frank Gore. But many overlook the stardom of Matt Forte. Forte in the past five years has averaged 1071 yards per season and totaled 27 touchdowns.
In 2014, Forte caught 102 passes which would be perfect for New England’s offensive scheme which favors receiving backs. Forte would bring consistency to New England’s backfield that they haven’t had since Kevin Faulk.
New Orleans Saints: Nick Fairley, DT
As long as the Saints have Drew Brees, their offense won’t stutter. Unfortunately for Sean Payton, Brees can’t play defense too.
The Saints defense gave up over 2000 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns, which gives them the honor of being the second worst defense against the run. When four of the five leading tacklers on the team are in the secondary, the defense line and linebackers need to stop running backs to get to that level.
He’s big and he’s mean and he’s just what the Saints need. Nick Fairley at 6’4 and 308 pounds, he is a big body up the middle that will divert RBs from their hole.
Fairley has even been good at getting to the QB with 5.5 sacks in 2012 and six in 2013. Pairing him with the explosiveness of Cameron Jordan and the youngster Hau’oli Kikaha and the Saints could be a threat to all QBs they face next season.
New York Giant: Malik Jackson, DE
The Giants pass rush suffered a major setback in the summer with the freak injury to DE Jason Pierre-Paul caused him to miss several games at the start of the season, and after his return didn’t look to be the same player.
Pierre-Paul and sack leader, Robert Ayers, will both be hitting the free agent market this summer, crippling their defensive front. While Johnathan Hankins has been impressive in his first two seasons, he suffered a pectoral injury midway through the season.
To improve their pass rush, Giants GM Jerry Reese should look to the talents of Malik Jackson. Jackson played a huge play in the Superbowl scoring a defensive touchdown, recovering a fumbled by Cam Newton.
But don’t think this one play defined his season. Jackson had five sacks this season for Denver including a one and a half sack performance against the Steelers. Jackson, according to PFF, rated out with an 88.5 in pass rush. With the loss of two potential elite talents, Jackson could come in and become an impact player immediately.
New York Jets: Chris Ivory, HB
To say that the Jets offensive burst came from nowhere would be a good assessment. The acquisition of Brandon Marshall may have been one of the best trades of the entire offseason. The Jets also managed to make Ryan Fitzpatrick into a good-looking quarterback, but one thing is for sure. The Jets wouldn’t have been this dynamic if it wasn’t for the explosive running game of RB Chris Ivory.
Ivory lead the way for the Jets running game with 1070 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ivory also looked well in the passing game with 217 yards receiving and 3 receptions of over 20 yards. Ivory was a workhorse this season with 247 carries.
Ivory was also an extremely good pass blocker as he was the seventh highest pass blocking running back according to PFF. Of course, all teams want their backs to be good at protecting their QB but Ivory’s ability is particularly valuable so it allows Fitzpatrick to find Marshall and Eric Decker.
Oakland Raiders: Eric Weddle, S
Much of the noise about the Raiders this season was about the possibility of a relocation. Unfortunately, many fans overlooked how far Oakland came last season. The Raider offense finally found an identity that it has been missing for a while.
Second-year man, Derek Carr, as well as running back Latavious Murray and rookie receiver Amari Cooper carried the offense to what appears to be the beginning of a serious threat.
Defensively Oakland had several bright spots. Khalil Mack made a huge statement becoming the first ever player to be voted an All-Pro at two different positions (DE and OLB). Alongside Mack in the linebacker core was Malcolm Smith who led the team in tackles.
Most importantly, Oakland saw Charles Woodson play one of his best seasons for the team and had five interceptions. Unfortunately, Woodson announced his retirement and won’t be there to bail out Oakland’s secondary.
Reggie Mackenzie has to look for someone who will fill the massive gap left by Woodson. Luckily for him, there is one only 490 miles away in northern California.
Eric Weddle became a god for Chargers fans with his monstrous beard and even bigger hits. With 18 interceptions in 8 seasons, Weddle has a knack for getting the ball. He is also good at stopping the run, consistency being one of the top tacklers for San Diego.
Philadelphia Eagles: Travis Benjamin, WR
The Chip Kelly experiment is finally over. Rejoice Eagles fans. With Doug Pederson coming in we should expect a more conditional offense. DeMarco Murray disappointed in his first season in the Black and Green. With scheme more suited to fit his style, Murray should continue to his old form next season.
One thing Pederson should look for his a receiver. After the team cut ties to Riley Cooper, it leaves Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Nelson Agholor. While Matthews had a decent season this year, Huff and Agholor combined for only around 550 yards.
While there is no sign of who the QB will be next season, there is almost no doubt it will be a better situation than Cleveland. Bring in Travis Benjamin. Benjamin was able to post big numbers while Cleveland continued to shuffle QBs.
With 996 yards and 5 touchdowns, he would bring a bolt to the Philadelphia offense. With a 4.31 40 yard dash, he has elite speed to burn defenders deep. Whether it be Foles, Bradford, Sanchez or whoever under center. Benjamin will provide a reliable receiver.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Casey Hayward, CB
The word for the past several years is Pittsburgh is weak in the secondary and nothing has changed. Especially with William Gay getting up in age, the secondary is where Pittsburgh needs to upgrade if they want to win another Super Bowl in the rest of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
The offense has the firepower to win games in the regular season but in the playoffs having a secondary that gave up 4350 passing yards.
Casey Hayward slides in nicely in Pittsburgh’s secondary. He can play either a number two receiver or in the slot. He has good height for a corner at 5’11. His coverage ability is top notch and is truly a lock down corner and had seven deflections this season, and nine interceptions in three seasons. Hayward is still extremely young and has plenty of years left to play in the Steel City.
San Diego Chargers: Rodney McLeod, S
Everyone goes through a bad breakup, including NFL teams. But nothing says ugly like the breakup between the Chargers and Eric Weddle. Weddle was the face of the Chargers for the past ten seasons.
With 19 career interceptions, 850 career tackles and 5 forced fumbles, Weddle made quite the impression and filling his role is only something most Chargers fans could only dream of.
While he doesn’t have the same “ego” as Weddle, his play on the field should excite fans. McLeod is a playmaker. He has the ability to play the ball in the air for interceptions as well as putting the ball on the turf with his big-hitting tackles. He’s never strayed away from contact being a constant tackler. Anything Weddle did, McLeod can as well.
San Francisco 49ers: Sean Smith, CB
San Francisco isn’t the same team that went to the Super Bowl a few seasons ago. Hardly anything remains the same; they have a new coach, more than likely a new QB and lost Patrick Willis. The rebuilding process needs to start now.
The defense was one of the worst in the league. It gave up 43 touchdowns, only had 28 sacks and allowed more than 6200 yards and even worse only nine interceptions. While anything could be improved, one position more than others sticks out, the cornerback position.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, they have to face Arizona twice a year and that includes Larry Fitzgerald. Locking down receivers would be easy with one of the league’s best, Sean Smith at the helm.
Smith possesses lockdown ability as well as insane height for a cornerback at 6’3. He can play jump balls with his size and use his height to be physical in stopping the run. Smith is a plug and play corner San Fran needs for their defense.
Seattle Seahawks: Evan Mathis, G
The Seahawks have been known for their “Legion of Boom” defense, but their offense is beginning to match the defense’s intensity but if they want they to let Russell Wilson thrive, they need to allow him to stay in the pocket and not have to deal with pressure.
Last season, Seattle gave up 46 sacks. According to PFF, Seattle’s two guards, J.R. Sweazy, and Justin Britt, were rated 46.0 and 37.4 respectively.
The Seattle offensive line has holes nearly everywhere and the best way to fix that is by going with the best player available and right now that is Evan Mathis. Mathis has been one of the best guards in the NFL throughout his entire career. Mathis, in his first season with Denver last season, was the third highest rated guard with an 89.6 rating.
Mathis’s presence was key to Denver’s success in the running game as he was the highest rated run blocking guard and second highest of any position. Although Mathis is 34 years old, he still has the ability to be an effective offensive lineman for at least two more seasons in Seattle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin, HB
When having a rookie QB under center you expect some bumps and bruises, but Tampa’s offense never really hit a skid and that’s thanks to running back, Doug Martin.
Martin was second in the NFL for total rushing yards with 1402 yards. With his success on the ground, it opened up the play-action for Tampa and Jameis Winston. Tampa exploded for the fifth most yards on any team in the league thanks to Doug Martin.
Martin must be resigned in Tampa if they expect any of the same production. This is the second time in four seasons that Martin has had over 1400 rushing yards. Martin isn’t as successful in the receiving game as others but his 33 receptions for 271 yards is something that the offense can add to and make a bigger part if wanted.
Martin is still very young and hasn’t reached his peak yet, Tampa would be crazy to let him walk this early.
Tennessee Titans: Derrick Shelby, DE
Tennessee has so many missing pieces its crazy. They could use an improvement at WR, or HB, or OL, or DL, or CB or anywhere. With the rebuilding process in full effect, Tennessee needs to work some trial and error and bring in several pieces to try and improve.
The first step they should take is trying to improve the defense that managed to help the team to a negative 14 turnover ratio. Although Tennessee had 39 sacks this season, many came from the linebacker position on a blitz. The defensive ends need to be able to force pressure without the blitz and force bad throws and interceptions.
Derrick Shelby earned a starting job this season. As the number two defensive end behind Cameron Wake, he still managed to change games. With three and a half sacks, one interceptions and two forced fumbles, Shelby can do it all. He managed to do that all in a backup role, imagine what he can do as a full-time starter.
Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins, QB
We like that! That’s probably what Redskins fans said after making the playoffs this year. Washington was the surprise team of the NFC East and looked pretty good doing it.
Before the season, many considered Washington to have a QB controversy, but it appears it wasn’t that much of a struggle as Kirk Cousins managed to lead them to the tenth best scoring offense in the league. With 4166 passing yards and 29 touchdowns and a crazy 69.8 completion percentage, Cousins seemed to earn the job for good. That is if he resigns…
Thus far it sounds that all talks between the two sides have been largely on separate pages. Washington must resign their offensive leader if they want to repeat as NFC East champs. With a weak free agent class and mysteries in the draft class, Cousins is the best option at QB and without him, the Redskins will begin to fall into another downward spiral.
Cousins had his first good season this year but has been highly efficient his entire career with a 65.2 completion percentage. Jay Gruden and Cousins have found a scheme that works for both of them and a scheme that Redskins fans should want for the future.