Around the NFL

Biggest team needs in free agency

The salary cap has grown exponentially the last two years because of money generated by recent television contracts. Teams have done a better job managing their finances, and have far more cap room than ever before.

Those factors should result in new standards being set for free-agent contracts. Money will be flying because this is a relatively deep free-agent crop, and there will always be more team needs to fill than players available to fill them.

For the teams below to get passing grades in free agency, these are the areas that need to be addressed:

Biggest needs

Chargers running back

Time is ticking on the Philip Rivers era. The 33-year-old veteran threw the ball too much and took too many hits last season. It's time for San Diego to follow the route of the Cowboys, who expertly handled their own 30-something QB in Tony Romo last season. An upgrade over free agent Ryan Mathews is necessary and this is the year to do it. Speaking of the Cowboys, how would DeMarco Murray look lining up behind Rivers? Get a running back, add enforcement along the line and watch the Chargers' offense explode.

-- Dan Hanzus

Giants pass rush

Mathias Kiwanuka is gone. Justin Tuck is gone. Cullen Jenkins is getting old and Robert Ayers is underutilized. The front office bet on more longevity from their infamous NASCAR ends and are now looking at a rotation built around Jason Pierre-Paul. Of course, their offensive line needs to improve as well, but let's be real: This is a team that believes in sacking the quarterback and for the last three years, they have not been doing a good job of doing so. This is not something that can be addressed in one draft or free agency class, but the Giants will absolutely try.

-- Conor Orr

Chiefs wide receiver

The Chiefs' second-leading wide receiver in yards last season was Albert Wilson with ... 260! Junior Hemingway was second on the team in snaps at wide receiver with 260. This coincidence must mean something deeper, probably that the Chiefs desperately need to upgrade the position. Dwayne Bowe is nearly certain to be cut, so the Chiefs should pick up a few free agents and draft at the position.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Buccaneers offensive line

Even after signing Anthony Collins, Oniel Cousins and Evan Dietrich-Smith and trading for Logan Mankins, the Bucs' offensive line was a sinkhole last year. Collins won't be back, leaving the blindside wide open for the quarterback drafted at No. 1 overall. At the very least, this team needs major upgrades at left tackle and right guard.

-- Chris Wesseling

Cowboys cornerback

The team did a fine job working around some noticeable holes, but one of their major focuses will be aiding the secondary with some help at cornerback. Orlando Scandrick and Sterling Moore were great with all things considered, but could use the help of a lockdown option that could aid Rod Marinelli and allow him to get more creative.

-- Conor Orr

Browns wide receiver

It's telling that Brian Hartline is being rushed to Cleveland for a visit. Ted Ginn might be next, making it clear that the Browns are desperate for bodies to fill out a receiving group once again stripped of the talented-but-troubled Josh Gordon. We fully expect the team to use one of their two first-round picks on a prototypical No. 1 wideout while adding depth through free agency. This remains one of the least-talented gaggle of pass-catchers league-wide.

-- Marc Sessler

Under the radar needs

Cowboys quarterback

Think about it -- this team is built to win now. But do any of us truly feel confident in Tony Romo being able to soldier through another season in 2015 like he did last year? Let's just say for the record that it was an incredible feat of personal fortitude in 2014, but the body can only sustain so much pain. And behind Romo we have Brandon Weeden. We'd be interested to see if this is the summer that Dallas invests in a potential replacement for Romo and if not, at least they take a look at the top-tier of backups on the market this year no matter how uninspiring the names are.

-- Conor Orr

Bears slot receiver

The Bears are in need of some receiving help after they traded away Brandon Marshall. If Chicago can land a slot receiver who can exploit the holes in the middle of the defense, the Bears' offense can make a dramatic jump in effectiveness this season. 

-- Dan Hanzus

Seahawks offensive line

While the receiving corps, Marshawn Lynch's future and a banged-up secondary will get all the attention, the Seahawks' offensive line must improve in order to make a third-straight Super Bowl appearance. Part of the reason Russell Wilson was forced to perform magic nearly every game was because he was being constantly harassed. Lynch's tackle-breaking ability also masked a lot of run blocking troubles. Yes, injuries played a role, but that is the case with every team. Shoring up the line that will block for their franchise (and soon-to-be highly paid) quarterback is essential moving forward for the cream of the NFC crop.

-- Kevin Patra

Giants receiver

We all know Victor Cruz is going to push beyond his limits to recover from the torn patellar tendon in his knee, but how do we know this is a one-year injury? Cruz's game is predicated on top-level speed, and his injury will undoubtedly get in the way. For now, Odell Beckham is the future and like any franchise wide receiver, he needs to be paired with a smart route-runner who knows how to work off a dynamic player like Beckham. Rueben Randle has gotten his fair share of criticism for not being that player, so will the team step up and make another aggressive move in the top 10?

-- Conor Orr

Ravens defensive backs

Jimmy Smith is coming off Lisfranc surgery on his foot. The Ravens are asking Lardarius Webb to take a pay cut or they will release him. After that, the Ravens' secondary is grim. Guys like Rashaan Melvin and Anthony Levine were playing huge snaps at cornerback in the playoffs. Their safety spots are all question marks.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Raiders pass rusher

The Raiders have a handful of talented young players, but gaping holes exist on both sides of the ball. Oakland especially needs pass rushers to supplant an aging Justin Tuck and the departed LaMarr Woodley. After the team produced a franchise-low 22 sacks in 2014, the Raiders are under pressure to surround Khalil Mack with help. With a mountain of cap room, look for the Silver and Black to be aggressive.

-- Marc Sessler

Titans quarterback

If the Titans grow increasingly intrigued by Marcus Mariota, it would be foolish to continue to profess faith in Zach Mettenberger as the quarterback of the future. A one-dimensional quarterback with a long delivery, slow eyes and questionable accuracy, Mettenberger failed to move the chains until garbage time as a rookie. More importantly, he spent the end of his college season and first NFL season on the sidelines with major injuries. The Titans desperately need a franchise quarterback whether they realize it or not.

-- Chris Wesseling

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the franchise tags and discusses where Ndamukong Suh will land. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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