The main priority for the Texans is to figure out what they are going to do with CB Dunta Robinson, who is an unrestricted free agent. He is coming off a serious injury, but he returned partway through last season and took back his starting job. He was not yet at 100 percent, but his knee held up well and Robinson is going to command money this offseason.
As for their other current players facing possible free agency, there are no other players that will command nearly as much of their time – or money – as Robinson.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Defensive end: Given the team re-signs Dunta Robinson, they will be able to focus on bolstering their pass rush in the first round by signing another defensive end to help complement Mario Williams.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYIn recent years, the Colts have not been big players in terms of signing other team’s veteran free agents, and that is expected to be the case again this offseason.
Instead, team president Bill Polian will direct most, if not all, of his attention to the NFL Draft. Indianapolis would rather build through the draft and coach players up in the Colts‘ system.
“We always get help from the draft,” Polian said. “We do what we do, which is to develop good players throughout the draft, and in collegiate free agency, and we’ll continue to do that. Nobody will know their names and everybody will give us a ‘C’ or a ‘D’ in the draft, and we’ll just keep winning.”
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Wide receiver: With Marvin Harrison getting closer to the end of his career and his contract situation perhaps becoming an offseason issue, it isn’t too early to start looking for his eventual replacement in the Colts‘ offense. Indianapolis needs to find more game-breaking speed and athleticism on the outside to keep opposing defenses from trying to press the team’s receivers at the line of scrimmage.
2. Defensive line: If not for questions about Harrison’s immediate future with the team, defensive tackle would probably be the Colts‘ biggest need heading into next season. The team needs to find a big, athletic defensive tackle who can be a run-stopper and who can provide some push up the middle in passing situations.
3. Cornerback: Now that Kelvin Hayden is an unrestricted free agent, Marlin Jackson is coming back from a season-ending knee injury and former draft picks such as Dante Hughes haven’t progressed as rapidly as expected, there will most likely be a need to bolster the depth at cornerback.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYThe Jaguars will have to address the deficiency at the left tackle spot. Khalif Barnes has held the starting spot for the past four years. The club thought he would have made more strides by now. He’s stayed away from injuries, missing just four games in his career, two of which were due to disciplinary action. By now the Jaguars thought Barnes would have established himself as a top player at left tackle. But last year was probably his worst and with the problems off the field, the Jaguars are in a dilemma as to whether to let the unrestricted free agent find a new home.
The club was able to find a starter at right tackle (Tony Pashos) in free agency two years ago and would like to do the same at the left tackle spot. But after being burned by Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence, the Jaguars aren’t likely to go after a quality player that’s looking for a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal. Chances are the team won’t be real active in free agency, other than to bring in a marginal player that won’t command much guaranteed money.
The other tough decision for the Jaguars will be whether to try and retain safety Gerald Sensabaugh. The fourth-year player became a full-time starter mid-way through the 2008 season and played well. But Sensabaugh is now an unrestricted free agent and his audition as a starter could land him a mega-bucks deal elsewhere. The Jaguars are in a good position, well under the salary cap, but is it enough to dish out the kind of money that Sensabaugh will be looking for?
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Defensive tackle: the Jaguars didn’t realize what a big loss Marcus Stroud was going to be. It took the effectiveness away from John Henderson as no one did an adequate job in replacing Stroud. Definitely a must fill spot, probably more so through the draft.
2. Offensive left tackle: Khalif Barnes has not proven to be the answer the Jaguars were looking for. They’ll seek one of the top 3-4 tackles in the first round but if they’re all gone by the club’s 8th pick, they’ll likely go after a tackle in the latter rounds.
3. Safety: If Sensabaugh is not resigned, this will be a top priority. Brian Williams can fill the hole, but it weakens the team too much at cornerback. If a top cornerback can be found, it could send Williams back to the safety position. But that’s what the Jaguars did last offseason with the acquisition of Florence and that certainly didn’t work out.
OFFSEASON STRATEGYThe biggest decisions facing the Titans front office obviously deal with Albert Haynesworth, who is seeking to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player and at quarterback, where Tennessee hopes to re-sign both Kerry Collins and Chris Simms and must retain at least one of them heading into training camp next season.
With Haynesworth, everything on the defense runs through him at defensive tackle. His ability not only to occupy two blockers and still be effective against the run, but also to rush the passer from the interior (8.5 sacks) keys the whole defensive line. It was that play that allowed the Titans to blitz rarely and let linebackers make tackles and defensive backs play in coverage without worrying about holes caused by blitzes.
Offensively, Collins enjoyed a resurrection of his career and now says his options are to start somewhere (preferably in Tennessee, he says) or retire. The Titans want him back, and he will likely be re-signed. Simms is also a possibility to return, and could unseat Young as the No. 2. He might even win the starting job if Collins departs.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Wide receiver: The Titans have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2004 when both Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett accomplished the feat. Tennessee relies on its running game heavily, and Chris Johnson was a home run draft pick last year, but when he went out with an ankle injury in the playoffs, the Titans offense reverted to its old moribund self. Of the current crop of wideouts, only Justin Gage shows consistency. There is talk of re-signing Brandon Jones, but the Titans would be better off upgrading, even if Jones returned.
2. Defensive tackle: If Haynesworth departs, this obviously jumps to No 1 on the list. The Titans have nice complementary pieces in Tony Brown and Jason Jones, but they don’t yet know how Jones would do with more responsibility on him. One more playmaker on the interior will be absolutely necessary if Haynesworth departs.
3. Defensive back: The starters at both cornerback and safety are solid with three of the four making the Pro Bowl. It is behind them where the issues lie. Nickel back/safety Vincent Fuller, and key backup corners Chris Carr and Eric King are all free agents. The Titans say they want to re-sign Carr and Fuller, especially, but they also need to bring in help at cornerback, probably in the draft, to groom as an eventual replacement for Nick Harper, who can be a free agent after ’09.