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2017 NFL free agency: Needs for each AFC team

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The free agency market officially opens at 4 p.m. ET on March 9. Before signings start flying fast and furious, Chris Wesseling provides three big needs for each AFC team (listed in alphabetical order):

Baltimore Ravens: Wide receiver, pass rusher, running back

The Ravens' biggest need is big-play ability on offense. With Steve Smith retiring and Kamar Aiken due to hit free agency, the seemingly perennial vacancy at wideout has popped up again. Coach John Harbaugh has already emphasized the team's desire for another running back, particularly one with game-breaking speed. With Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil approaching their mid-30s, it's time to find a young, impact pass rusher, as well.

Buffalo Bills: Wide receiver, cornerback, defensive line

Alleged franchise receiver Sammy Watkins can't stay on the field, and No. 2 wideout Robert Woods is headed to the open market. This might be the shallowest wide receiver corps in the league. With Stephon Gilmore set to get overpaid in free agency, the Bills will need an outside cornerback opposite Ronald Darby. The defensive line also could use reinforcements, with Kyle Williams turning 34 years old this offseason. If the Bills don't exercise Tyrod Taylor's contract option, quarterback will jump to the top of this list.

Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive line, wide receiver, pass rusher

The offensive line regressed from one of the league's best in 2015 to a liability in 2016. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler will be free agents. Former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi was a turnstile last season after gaining limited experience in his rookie year. Where's the depth behind A.J. Green at wide receiver? Brandon LaFell's contract is up, and Tyler Boyd might not be ready to play the second-fiddle role. Director of player personnel Duke Tobin told reporters Wednesday that upgrading the pass rush will be the priority on defense this offseason.

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback, safety, pass rusher

No organization has been plagued by quarterback woes to the extent of the Browns' two-decade struggle, which reached its apotheosis with last year's endless parade of starters. It's time to find a solution that will put the Factory of Sadness to rest. Cleveland's safety play was perhaps the most egregious weakness on a defense full of ineptitude. Although Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib flashed potential as rookies, the need for a consistent pass rush is glaring.

Denver Broncos: Offensive line, defensive line, running back

John Elway went out and splurged on a pair of tackles last offseason, only to see his offensive line sabotage the ground attack and surrender consistent pressure on Trevor Siemian in the passing game. After opting out of Russell Okung's contract, tackle remains the roster's Achilles' heel. It's time to restock the D-line after the run defense slipped from above average to bottom five in the league.

Houston Texans: Quarterback, offensive line, defensive line

Brock Osweiler was a colossal bust, holding an otherwise-talented offense hostage in his Houston debut season. It's time to give up the ghost and make a serious run at Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Regardless of the quarterback, the offensive line could use reinforcements after an inconsistent 2016 performance. With Vince Wilfork retiring and J.J. Watt battling recurring back woes, the defensive line needs an infusion of youth, as well.

Indianapolis Colts: Pass rusher, running back, cornerback

Pick any position on defense, and the Colts need impact talent. Start with pass rusher, where Robert Mathis is retiring and Erik Walden is due to reach free agency. The linebacker corps limped to the finish line while the cornerback rotation was in shambles throughout the 2016 season. Frank Gore managed to reach the 1,000-yard mark, but that shouldn't overshadow his utter lack of big-play ability as he approaches his mid-30s. Running back has been a position of need for a half-decade in Indianapolis.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback, tight end, defensive back

The Jaguars don't believe they need a quarterback, a stance which got Gus Bradley fired in December. If Blake Bortles' mechanics don't drastically improve, more jobs will be on the line this season. Chad Henne is not an adequate insurance policy. If he was, he would have sent Bortles to the bench by last November. After cutting bait on Julius Thomas, the Jags could use a pass-catching threat at tight end. As promising as Jalen Ramsey's rookie season was, depth is an issue at cornerback with Davon House and Prince Amukamara on their way out the door.

Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback, linebacker, running back

Marcus Peters has the look of a perennial All-Pro, but the Chiefs should be searching for an upgrade on Phillip Gaines at right cornerback. The second torn Achilles of Derrick Johnson's career leaves inside linebacker as an area to target in the draft or free agency. The departure of franchise rushing leader Jamaal Charles should be answered by an early-round draft pick at running back.

Los Angeles Chargers: Offensive line, defensive line, defensive back

If the offensive line could stay healthy, Mike McCoy might still be running the show. A running-game guru, new coach Anthony Lynn will want to tinker with the blocking upfront. While Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form an intimidating pass-rushing duo, the Bolts could use a couple of hog mollies on the interior of the defensive line. As promising as the Casey Hayward-Jason Verrett tag team might be at cornerback, the secondary has depth concerns.

Miami Dolphins: Cornerback, pass rusher, offensive line

Cornerback is a perennial problem in Miami. Cameron Wake remains a top-notch pass rusher, but recently turned 35. The Dolphins will target defensive ends in free agency and the draft after cutting ties with Mario Williams. Although Laremy Tunsil has the potential to upgrade the left tackle position, both guard spots are vacant on the offensive line.

New England Patriots: Pass rusher, linebacker, tight end

Trey Flowers emerged as a strong interior force, but the Patriots managed to win the Super Bowl without an explosive edge rusher. The linebacker corps also will need help on the interior if Dont'a Hightower seeks greener pastures. As many surgeries as Rob Gronkowski has undergone the past few years, the Pats will want to find a replacement for free agent Martellus Bennett as premium Gronk insurance.

New York Jets: Quarterback, offensive line, cornerback

Bryce Petty is raw and Christian Hackenberg wasn't close to seeing the field as a rookie, leaving quarterback as the most obvious competitive disadvantage on a roster full of holes. With aging veterans Ryan Clady, Nick Mangold and Breno Giacomini jettisoned, the Jets will need to devote heavy resources to the offensive line. Ditto for cornerback following Darrelle Revis' Tuesday release.

Oakland Raiders: Linebacker, cornerback, running back

As effective as the Khalil Mack-Bruce Irvin tandem was last season, inside linebacker was a season-long liability. The Raiders should be in the market for a high-end cornerback with Sean Smith losing a step and D.J. Hayden headed to free agency. Although Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are promising pass-catching backs, Latavius Murray's potential exit will create a need for a power back to handle work in the trenches.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Pass rusher, cornerback, running back

Impressive playoff push aside, James Harrison is closing in on age 40. With failed first-round pick Jarvis Jones walking out the door, the Steelers will be in the market for an edge rusher opposite Bud Dupree. Similarly, Senquez Golson's injuries have opened the door for a cornerback addition. Between Le'Veon Bell's franchise tag and DeAngelo Williams' free agency, the backfield must be bolstered in the coming months.

Tennessee Titans: Defensive back, wide receiver, defensive line

The Titans boast a promising young nucleus, but need impact players at cornerback as well as safety. They also are expected to be active in free agency at wide receiver, targeting a bigger downfield threat, such as Alshon Jeffery, to complement the underneath options already on the roster.

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