1.) Get rid of Charles Johnson and draft up front:
It is clear after three straight years with three different iterations of corners and safeties brought the Panthers three straight division titles, that they can afford to be lax on the secondary. I would still lock up Josh Norma (at least tag him), but get rid of Charles Johnson and invest in youth on the d-line. That is the hidden strength, and while Mario Addison and Kony Ealy have shown promise, the Panthers have relied on a rotation since their two bookends from 2013 (Hardy and Johnson) crashed and burned. They need to start re-developing that rotation.
2.) Find a new possession receiver:
The Panthers have done an incredible job of manufacturing offense from slightly above average collection of offensive talent. They have two stars in Newton and Olsen, but then a bunch of #3 and #2 types at WR. With Benjamin back, a trio of Benjamin, Ginn and Funchess gives them some versatility, but they should look to make one into their Anquan Boldin, or Hines Ward, a possession receiver who can dominate the 5-15 yard region. They sorely need this as teams will continue to try to match Denver's strategy of press coverage knowing the Panthers really only like to throw deep.
1.) Find Matt Ryan a TE:
Three years ago, when the Falcons came one Harry Douglas slip away from a Super Bowl appearance, the Falcons had a bevy of receiving options. Julio Jones was and still as a mega-star, but they had a reliable #2 in Roddy White, a decent #3 in Douglas, and dependable TE in Gonzalez. They can fill the Douglas role fine - but any team can do that. They have yet to find a TE who can replicated even late-stage career Gonzalez. Matt Ryan is still a good QB, but he's now dealt with two years where there is no set alternative to Julio Jones. Replacing Roddy White is not easy. Replacing late-stage Gonzalez should be much easier, and honestly should have happened by now.
2.) Beef up the d-line at the expense of the linebackers:
The Falcons have in the Mike Smith and onwards era focused on Linebackers a little too heavily. Some of them have worked out, but in both Mike Smith's defense, and definitely in Dan Quinn's, and to be honest in most defense, the linebackers are just not that important. The Falcons sorely need more production from a d-line that hasn't crossed 35 sacks in 2010. They have draft capital and a lot of youth everywhere else; they need to do what Seattle did in rebuilding that d-line.
1.) Explore letting go of Drew Brees:
This has no real shot of happening (but then again, most likely neither does teh Texans kicking the tires with Peyton), but the Saints should really explore this. His cap number is ridiculous, any creative accounting will just stave off cap hell to a year where Brees wouldn't even be that good. The Saints have now gone 7-9, 11-5, 7-9, 7-9 in the last four years. They can make excuses for the first year as that was the year without Payton, but the 11-5 was, hilariously, driven by Rob Ryan's defense. The team is aging and overpaid. Let Brees go, just look at the potential to maybe fall back to 4-12 for a year. They've built up enough cache in that community to survive 1-3 bad Brees-less years.
1.) Get a slot receiver for Winston:
The Buccaneers got a better rookie season from Winston than maybe even they expected. He didn't have a great start, but Winston had a great middle-half of the season. He has two good receivers to throw to in Evans and Jackson, but those two are similarly talented with medium and deep throws. They really don't have an effective short passing game, something all young QBs need to ease the pressure and introduce easier throws in the offense. Ever since college Winston had focused, and to a large part succeeded, on longer and tougher throws. Let's make things easier for him, why don't we?
2.) Build up the d-line through the draft:
The Buccaneers have tried to find solutions to put along-side Gerald McCoy in free agency. Most of those have not worked. The draft is their real opportunity to get some edge talent. They have skill players in the back-seven of the defense, but the front has been lacking any pass rush for years. They are higher-wage players, but on rookie contracts this should not be an issue - given that the people they need to pay are at lower-wage positions (Lavonte David, for instance).
1.) Settle on a receiving core:
Larry Fitzgerald had an amazing season this past year. He quietly had a career high in catches, and did great work out of the slot. While it seems Slot + Palmer + Arians = Success for Fitz, chances are he is not repeating those numbers. The Cardinals have a ton of talent at WR in Floyd, Brown, Nelson, but it would be good if they can be typecasted more. That is not always a positive for teams, but someone should be groomed to take over the Fitzgerald role if Fitz falls off to where he was in 2013-14.
2.) Draft some pass rushers:
The Cardinals are a year or two away from having to pay a lot of money to players, be it Patrick Peterson or Deone Buchanon, or Tyran Mathieu, on that defense. They sorely need pass rush, and while Marcus Golden might be an intriguing prospect, any gains in his game will likely be off-set by continued depreciation of Freeney's contribution. This isn't news, and we can argue that in Bettchner's defense, edge rushers aren't as important, but that is even more reason to pound that position through the draft, where there are lottery tickets at low value available.
1.) Change up the way you view the O-Line:
The Seahawks have already said they are NOT going to change the way they view developing the o-line, but they really should at this point. The Seahawks have often tried to convert players over to that position, and even actively traded away a center-piece in that line in the Jimmy Graham deal. For the first half of 2015, that was a disaster. Even during the incredible 2nd half by Russell Wilson, the problems still occurred, with in three of their last four games, the Seahawks lost two and came a field goal away from all three, and the offense was shut down for long stretches in all of them. The o-line needs to be viewed as it should, not some overvalued area where converting college TEs and back-ups can be a viable strategy.
1.) Figure out the path forward on defense and who needs to be there:
The Rams have already started this by getting rid of Chris Long and James Laurinitus. They have about $60 MM in cap room right now, a staggering amount. However, a lot of that gap is going to go the their youth on defense, whether it is Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald (who is going to get all the money), Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, LaMarcus Joiner. The Rams have the ability to be a great defense for a long time, but it will take making the right decisions on who to keep. Donald is obvious, but some of these guys will age or get hurt, or not be as good in the future. These are tough decisions, but they are better decisions to make than not having them in the first place.
2.) Don't kick the tires on Peyton Manning:
The Rams have no #1 receiver, they have an average o-line, they have no good TE. The Manning that was in Denver for 2012-(1st half of)2014 would have worked with those conditions. The 2016 Peyton Manning cannot. Given their move to LA, there may be some internal and external pressure to go get a big name at QB to sell for the fans, and the perennially 7-9 Rams may think they are a QB away from 11-5 (not exactly a wrong line of thinking), but that QB is not Manning at this stage. I don't know who it is, actually.
1.) Give Colin Kaepernick a Year:
It seems like this is not going to happen as Kaepernick's people have already asked for him to be traded. However, I don't know why Kelly is not at least giving him a chance. Blaine Gabbert is not a better option. Kaepernick at least showed he can be competent. What allowed Kaepernick to be so dangerous at his peak in the Harbaugh era was his athleticism and his ability to make quick decisions on simple reads. You can't have too complex a passing game. Well, the Kelly passing game is really simple if you can play fast. It would work better with a mobile QB. All these things Kaepernick has. Unless they are going to kick the tires with RGIII, I don't see any better wild-card alternative to Kaepernick.