No division is undergoing more transition than the AFC South.
Quarterback questions abound: The Colts are set under center with the ascendant Andrew Luck, but Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee are in flux at the position. We won't have a complete snapshot of the South until after the draft, when the Texans are likely to add a signal-caller to compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jaguars, despite re-signing Chad Henne, are a logical landing spot for one of the top passing prospects.
The Jaguars have been the division's busiest squad on the open market, but Colts general manager Ryan Grigson wisely re-signed his own talent and filled holes. The Texans were quiet, while Tennessee's top storyline was the exodus of running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Britt from the offense. Change has been the constant.
In our Roster Reset series, Around The League will rank teams in each division based on how much they improved this offseason. The AFC South is up next.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they're atop our list: The Jaguars haven't been shy about overhauling a roster that needed plenty of help. Bradley and general manager David Caldwell deserve credit for not only importing talent, but finding players already familiar with the coach's system.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant played under Bradley in Seattle and give the Jaguars much-needed depth. With Tyson Alualu and the re-signed Jason Babin still on the roster, Jacksonville is one step closer to attacking opponents with waves of linemen as Bradley once did with the Seahawks.
On offense, Caldwell brought in fresh-legged Toby Gerhart to serve as the team's bell-cow back with Maurice Jones-Drew out the door. Parting ways with Blaine Gabbert (and getting a draft pick in return from the 49ers) made plenty of sense and leaves Henne as the incumbent. Bradley told us at the NFL Annual Meeting that Jacksonville believes the veteran can serve as a capable starter and allow the Jaguars to opt for the "best player available" with the No. 3 pick.
» Luring Alex Mack away from the Browns? NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Mack agreed to terms on a five-year, $42 million offer sheet from the Jaguars, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The offer sheet will be executed Friday, at which point Cleveland would have five days to match it. The Browns had designated Mack as their transition player, which allowed him to visit other teams and sign a new contract.
» Plan for life without Justin Blackmon: Cecil Shorts was a revelation last season, but the Jaguars could use more help at receiver after Caldwell labeled the return of the indefinitely suspended Blackmon a "luxury" and acknowledged that "we have to have a contingency plan." The draft is thick with talented wideouts, and we expect Jacksonville to make this a priority.
» Figure out the plan at quarterback: Bradley told Around The League last month that Henne loomed as the team's starter "going into this season." I genuinely believe Jacksonville is comfortable with the veteran for another campaign, but Henne's limited skill set won't stand in the Jags' way if they fall in love with a quarterback.
2. Indianapolis Colts
After coach Chuck Pagano told Around The League at the combine that he had every ounce of confidence in the runner, Indy allowed Donald Brown to walk in free agency. The Colts appear intent on making Richardson "the guy" in front of Vick Ballard and the re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Colts upgraded their passing attack with the signing of receiver Hakeem Nicks. He failed to score a touchdown off 56 catches last season, but the former Giants wideout is set up nicely for a bounce-back campaign with Luck at the wheel.
» Find your center: We wondered if the Colts might make a run at Mack, but instead they opted to sign veteran center Phil Costa. He'll compete with second-year man Khaled Holmes after the release of Samson Satele. As of today, this is not a position of strength for Indy.
» Upgrade safety position: Losing a strong cover man like Antoine Bethea is a major loss for a team left with Corey Lynch or Sergio Brown across from free safety LaRon Landry. Re-signing Vontae Davis at corner made sense, but more depth is needed throughout the secondary.
3. Houston Texans
What's changed: Gary Kubiak has been replaced by first-time head coach Bill O'Brien, who was brought to Houston to trigger what Texans owner Bob McNair believes will be a quick fix, telling reporters in January that he expects "to see great things happen immediately."
The reality is that Houston has talent and depth issues on both sides of the ball. It starts at quarterback, where O'Brien and friends decided to trade away Matt Schaub to Oakland and add Ryan Fitzpatrick. Clearly it's not the Texans' final move at the position, with O'Brien suggesting last month that as many as two young passers could be added in May's draft.
Offensive centerpiece Arian Foster is coming off season-ending back surgery, and the Texans no longer have pounding backup Ben Tate to fill the gap. Instead, injury-prone Andre Brown was signed to do the job.
» Pass-rushing outside 'backer: Coordinator Romeo Crennel has promised a versatile, multiple version of his 3-4 scheme. One burning need is an outside linebacker who can bring the heat. Whitney Mercilus has underwhelmed, and Brooks Reed doesn't fit the bill. Adding Jadeveon Clowney would give Crennel the type of player who can be used all over the field.
» Juice up the QB room: O'Brien was brought in to revive an offense that crashed hard in 2013. That's a tough sell with Fitzpatrick in the lead role. Surprisingly, plugged-in Houston Chronicle scribe John McClain believes Johnny Manziel could be their choice at No. 1.
» Find a young running back: We saw Steven Jackson return from minor back surgery in 2010 to play well for the Rams. Still, it's a tricky procedure for running backs, and Arian Foster's durability remains a concern.
4. Tennessee Titans
New look in Tennessee: New coach Ken Whisenhunt brings a strong resume as a quarterback whisperer. After successful runs with Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner, Whiz revived the career of Philip Rivers in San Diego last season. He now must flip the switch with young Jake Locker.
Locker is one of the few familiar faces left on offense after Tennessee parted ways with running back Chris Johnson, enigmatic wideout Kenny Britt and veteran passer Ryan Fitzpatrick. One new addition, jitterbug Dexter McCluster, is expected to mimic the role Danny Woodhead played with the Chargers one season ago while he plays alongside Shonn Greene.
» Running back help: It was high time to move on from CJ2K, but his departure creates a burning need in the backfield. Greene showed promise last season as a guy who can grind out tough yards, but leaning on McCluster to bring firepower on the ground is a risk. Titans general manager Ruston Webster confirmed the team "definitely" will look at the position in the draft.
» More pass rushers: The Titans finished 21st in the league with just 36 sacks last season. Wimbley agreed to a reduced three-year deal and is expected to shift to outside linebacker in Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme. In general, there's a lack of difference-makers here, and we expect the team to add a young edge rusher out of the college ranks.
» Fifth-year option for Locker? The Titans are not expected to pick up the fifth-year contract option for Locker, making this a make-or-break campaign. Whisenhunt sees strengths in the young signal-caller, but injuries have derailed his career. If Locker struggles to emerge this season, look for the Titans to start over at the position.
In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys begin the offseason Roster Reset series with the AFC West and dive into the ATL mailbag.