The Biggest Need for Each NFC Team in 2021
Just like the AFC, listing each NFC team’s biggest concern that needs attention during the offseason months
By: Maxwell Argento
The Washington Football Team Need: A little bit of Fitzmagic
The signings of Curtis Samuel and William Jackson III provide added depth and skill to both sides of the ball, and if Ryan Fitzpatrick can avoid catching the turnover bug, I like the Football Team to win the division again. The veteran quarterback has never been a game-manager, but allowing his defense as many opportunities to put their stamp on the game as possible gives the team from Washington the inside track to a playoff spot.
The New York Giants Need: An available Saquon Barkley
A healthy and fully firing Saquon Barkley provides three massive things for the G-men: A running back capable of rushing for over 1,000 yards in a season, the physical ability that commands the defense’s attention enough to allow Daniel Jones to capitalize in the bootleg and play-action game with their newest addition Kenny Golladay, and a player who can be in the top-10 in the league in jersey sales. Call me hyperbolic, but I think the Giants would kill for those things.
The Dallas Cowboys Need: A capable defense
Mike McCarthy bringing in Dan Quinn to sort out that side of the ball isn’t a bad start, but there is still a ways to go before the Cowboys have a defense stout enough to compliment the lethality posed by their offense. Adding former Falcon Keanu Neal in free agency improves the secondary and provides some continuity for Quinn, but the bolstering can’t (and won’t) stop there. Expect a mess of defensive picks in the draft this year by America’s Team.
The Philadelphia Eagles Need: To make the right choice with the 6th pick
Which in my book means drafting the best skill position player on your board when it’s your turn to pick on the first night of the draft. That could be Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or Devonta Smith (depending on how the board shakes out through the first five picks) but if one of them is still available I am grabbing them. Drafting a quarterback doesn’t solve the lack of difference-makers on offense for new head coach Nick Sirianni, and creates the same type of QB-controversy that was present last year between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts, which is the last thing Eagles fans want to go through again. Put enough talent around Hurts so that if the offense doesn’t perform, you know who to point to.
The Green Bay Packers Need: To support their MVP
Re-signing Aaron Jones helps, but the Packers are going to need to make more moves to surround Aaron Rodgers with the sort of talent that the other top teams in the league possess. Sitting idle during the first week of free agency isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but if the Packers don’t make sound decisions (especially in the draft) to help out their league MVP, there is going to be trouble in Green Bay.
The Chicago Bears Need: To pray that Andy Dalton is effective
From (seemingly) being in the mix for Russell Wilson, all the way to acquiring Andy Dalton to lead their football team…what a fall from grace. Signing the veteran quarterback ostensibly flies in the face of Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace being in a make-or-break-it year and creates more confusion as to what the goal of the team going into the 2021 season actually is.
The Minnesota Vikings Need: To make the playoffs, at least
Another year without postseason football more than likely means the end of Mike Zimmer, and will create one heck of an offseason as it relates to Kirk Cousins, who contractually has the Vikings right where he wants them. A year with fans back in the stands should improve their fortunes at home, but they are clearly inferior to the Packers in the division, and will be in a scrap for a Wild Card birth.
The Detroit Lions Need: This rebuild to work
The length of head coach Dan Campbell’s contract tells you all you need to know about what is happening in Detroit. The Lions are keen to rebuild from the ground up, but it’s going to take some time. Owner Sheila Ford Hamp seems eager to facilitate the process by being more involved, but the path to a sustainable, winning franchise will be arduous.
The New Orleans Saints Need: To survive this free agency period
The consequence of the Saints being in a terrible situation cap-space wise entering this offseason has resulted in many of their effective, experienced players leaving for new teams in free agency. That fact, combined with Drew Brees’ retirement leaving massive shoes to fill at the QB position, has Sean Payton’s team in as precarious a position as they’ve been in a long while.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need: Next to nothing
Jason Licht and Bruce Arians made good on their promise to get the band back together for 2021 by tagging Chris Godwin, signing Shaq Barrett to an extension, while making substantial progress on getting Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette back as well. All signs point to the Bucs giving another Super Bowl appearance a serious run.
The Carolina Panthers Need: A franchise QB
Considering the recent Deshaun Watson drama and David Tepper’s outspoken desire for a franchise quarterback, I would assume that their first draft selection will address who they want to play under-center. Tepper and the Panthers are prepared to do whatever it takes to land a serious commodity at QB, and Matt Rhule has the surrounding cast already present on the roster to make it worthwhile once they do.
The Atlanta Falcons Need: Arthur Smith to get the most out of Matt Ryan while they still have to pay him
The Falcons are in that terrible place where they more than likely want to move on from Matt Ryan and start the Arthur Smith era in Atlanta with a fresh face at quarterback, but can’t move on from Ryan due to his exorbitant contract. That, coupled with the veteran QB giving them the better chance to win when compared to any quarterback they could draft with the number four pick means that Smith and Ryan will need to figure out how to co-exist for a little while.
The Seattle Seahawks Need: To win the Super Bowl
The Seahawks aren’t trading a disgruntled Russell Wilson yet (even though they should), and have only three picks in this year’s draft. If that doesn’t scream “Super Bowl or bust”, I don’t know what does.
The Los Angeles Rams Need: Cash in on their agressiveness
The Rams are more or less in the same boat as the Seahawks, and have pushed all of their chips to the middle of the table in hopes of grabbing a Lombardi Trophy. The relinquishing of picks to obtain Matt Stafford makes them a legitimate contender the next several seasons, but at the cost of not really having many avenues to improve their team via the top of the draft. That, plus the financial pressure caused by having players signed at the top of the market at their position means that winning now is a necessity.
The Arizona Cardinals Need: To show marked improvement after an effective offseason thus far
J.J. Watt, A.J. Green and Rodney Hudson are all phenomenal additions to a team that already has a lot of good talent, but it needs to be backed up with a season that shows the fanbase that they are continuing to go in the right direction. Being in the hardest division in football doesn’t necessarily make things any easier, but that should be offset by Kyler Murray having a whole offseason to improve. If you’re looking for a sleeper team out of the NFC that could make some noise come the end of December and into January, take the Cardinals.
The San Francisco 49ers Need: To stay healthy
In my mind, a healthy 49ers team in 2021 has as good a chance at making it to the Super Bowl out of the NFC as anyone, especially if John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan can somehow find an upgrade at the QB position. The resigning of Trent Williams is hugely positive for Shanahan, who relies on tremendous tackle-play to get the most out of his running scheme. Having the 12th overall pick in the draft gives them the ability to either fill a need with a difference-maker or trade down for more value, and considering the organization’s talent evaluation skills, either choice is a win.