For the most part, the 2017 NFL talent-grabbing season is over. Free agency has been picked over and the draft is in the rearview mirror.
Sure, there are players left in free agency, and there will be waiver claims in August and September. But, the chance to acquire impact players has come and gone.
Remarkably, several teams have failed to adequately fill holes. The following is a look at teams with weaknesses heading into the 2017 season. (The Philadelphia Eagles took themselves off this list Wednesday morning by signing former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. Nice job, Philly).
Now, on to the teams that have work to do:
Baltimore Ravens, wide receiver: Quarterback Joe Flacco needs a strong possession receiver; that’s what makes him most effective. He needs a bail-out receiver. The Ravens didn’t give him one this offseason. Flacco and the Baltimore offense will likely suffer because of it.
Cincinnati Bengals, offensive line: The Bengals have a lot of problems as they head into Marvin Lewis’ 15th season as coach. Lewis may have to win his first playoff game to save his job. But the issue is, the Bengals seem to be regressing. The Bengals, who went 6-9-1 last season, do not look like a playoff group. One of their biggest problems is the offensive line. This is a unit that has been heading in the wrong direction for a couple of years. However, it took a turn for the worse this offseason when tackle Andrew Whitworth (Los Angeles Rams) and guard Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland) left as free agents. What did the Bengals do to replace their two standout O-linemen? Very little. They waited until the fifth round and 176th pick to add J.J. Dielman, a center from Utah. There’s no doubt the Bengals have intriguing skill-position players, but who is going to block for them?
New York Giants, offensive line: The Giants need help at tackle, and they did not address the need this offseason. Well, they did take tackle Adam Bisnowaty from Pitt with the No. 200 pick. It’s doubtful he will help the cause as a rookie. Quarterback Eli Manning struggled last season, and at the age of 36, Manning is going to need good protection. Many league observers were surprised the Giants took Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram at No. 23 over an offensive lineman such as Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson or Forrest Lamp. It won’t be a shock if the Giants live to regret not getting Manning more protection.
New York Jets, quarterback: There were several teams that needed to add a quarterback this offseason, and most of them did. Of course, it’s no sure thing that those teams adequately addressed the position. But at least they tried. The Jets? They added a terrific backup in Josh McCown. But he is not a starter. The Jets are still looking for a starter, and I get the feeling that we’ll be saying that next year after Christian Hackenberg shows he’s not ready yet.
Oakland Raiders, middle linebacker, pass rusher: The Raiders had big problems on defense last season. If it weren’t for their defensive issues, the Raiders may have been able to pull off a playoff win or two, even with star quarterback Derek Carr injured. With Carr healthy, the Raiders have Super Bowl aspirations. But the defense has to improve. Yet, Oakland did not do anything to fill the hole at middle linebacker or add a third pass rusher behind NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Those two combined for 18 of the Raiders’ league-low 25 sacks. Oakland coach Jack Del Rio has acknowledged the Raiders haven’t answered their need at middle linebacker yet. He vows they will. But the clock is ticking.
Seattle Seahawks, offensive line: The Seahawks’ offensive line has been porous the past couple of seasons. In 2016, the makeshift unit hurt the Seahawks. The offense often stalled and quarterback Russell Wilson wasn’t as dangerous as he had been or should be because he often didn’t get much protection. Seattle didn’t do a ton to help the group. It brought in Jacksonville bust Luke Joeckel (he was the No. 2-overall pick in 2013) and drafted LSU’s Ethan Pocic in the second round. Neither are expected to make a major impact in 2017. So, the Seahawks’ biggest problem in recent years looks like it will continue.