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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
AFC East Offseason Forecast
By Matt Horkman

Buffalo Bills

Team Needs: Quarterback is obviously Buffalo‘s biggest need. With no first-round pick and free agency offering no solution, the Bills are going to have to turn to the trade market to solidify the position. They may also want to look for a long-term answer at running back, now that C.J. Spiller is heading to free agency. A tight end would really help the offense, as well. 

Free Agency: Rumors link free agent linebacker Davis Harris to Buffalo. Harris spent six seasons with the rival Jets, playing for Rex Ryan. The Bills also have a decision to make with impending free agent linebacker Jerry Hughes. Reports suggest he’ll earn $10 million annually. That could be too much for Buffalo brass.

Big Picture: Hiring Ryan was a great move. He’s gotten a lot more out of less talented teams than the one currently in Buffalo. Nonetheless, it’ll be all for nothing if the team doesn’t land a franchise quarterback. Nick Foles would be an intriguing candidate if he hits the market, but the Bills may lack the draft picks to acquire him. A reunion between Ryan and Mark Sanchez is possible, but we’ve been down that path before and it doesn’t lead to the Super Bowl. The Bills are in a good position to make the playoffs. Without a quarterback, they aren’t making a run at the Super Bowl.

Miami Dolphins

Team Needs: The Dolphins aren’t done fixing their offensive line, despite doing a good job of improving it last off-season. Look for them to focus on the interior after spending resources on the edges last year. The run defense faltered down the stretch, creating serious questions about their defensive tackle depth.

Free Agency: In recent years, Miami has been among the most active teams in free agency. They’ll need to make some moves to free up money, but look for them pursue outside help again. South Beach is an attractive environment for players. 

Big Picture: Heading into his fourth year as a head coach, it’s now or never for Joe Philbin. The Dolphins probably should’ve made the postseason a year ago, but their collapse down the stretch (2-4 in their final six games) left them out of the playoffs. Philbin doesn’t call plays in Miami, and hasn’t been as good at developing young talent as his former boss, Mike McCarthy, was in Green Bay. Despite receiving public support from owner Stephen Ross, you get the feeling Philbin is on thin ice in 2015. 

New England Patriots

Team Needs: With a young and emerging defense, the Patriots could use this off-season to address some issues on offense. An outside threat at receiver would do wonders for Tom Brady, who is coming off his best season since 2011. Additionally, the team could consider a running back early in the draft. The offensive line struggled last season, particularly inside. Finding a young, developmental guard is definitely in the cards.
Darrelle Revis
Free Agency: It’d be a heck of a coup if the Patriots pried Demaryius Thomas away from Denver. The current projection is for the Pats to be $3 million over the cap, but that’s including Darrelle Revis’ $20 million option. They’ll either restructure or cut Revis, clearing up enough room to make a move. The Pats are good for one eyebrow-raising move a year. Whether it’s Thomas or somebody else, landing a game-changing receiver would raise some eyebrows. 

Big Picture: Can the Patriots keep one of the best defensive backfields together? Revis was magnificent, earning first-team all-pro honors. Re-signing him is their top priority. Bringing back Devin McCourty is a close second. He is the top free agent safety on the market, so he’ll have plenty of options. He’s shown the versatility to excel at both safety and cornerback; he was second-team all-pro as a rookie cornerback in 2010. It’s hard to see the Patriots not retaining both, but football can be a cutthroat business.

N.Y. Jets

Team Needs: Geno Smith is not the answer at quarterback. He never was. The Jets will need to figure out what to do at the position or they could be in for another disappointing season. The offense, in general, needs an overhaul. Chris Ivory isn’t the long-term answer at running back, and adding a tight end would help whichever young quarterback they eventually land. New coach Todd Bowles likes to blitz which suits the Jets’ personnel, but that puts a ton of pressure on the secondary to hold up in coverage. As a result, they may need another cornerback.  

Free Agency: The Jets are interested in brining back Revis. They probably should’ve paid him years ago when he was the team‘s undisputed best player. If they decline Percy Harvin’s option, then Randall Cobb would be the perfect replacement.

Big Picture: Will Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston drop to the Jets at No. 6? They are desperate for a quarterback, and the media would love to see a former Heisman winner land in the Big Apple. That’s probably not going to happen, though. Mariota and Winston are both top-flight prospects, and the top two teams in the draft both need a quarterback. As a result, the Jets are going to need to entice Tennessee with a trade offer. If the Titans don’t bite, then UCLA’s Brett Hundley could be their target.

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