Much of the 2023 offseason is in the rearview mirror, with a majority of top free agents off the market and the draft complete. However, there are still pressing matters for each team to address before the '23 NFL season kicks off on Sept. 7.
Marc Sessler identifies the top remaining offseason priority for each NFC team below.
Top priority: Get what you can for DeAndre Hopkins
Arizona is needy up and down the roster. The dark of night comes next, but shinier tomorrows lie ahead after general manager Monti Ossenfort wheeled and dealed his way through April's draft to craft a massive future bounty. The Cardinals hold two first-rounders, a second, a trio of thirds, two fourths (including a projected compensatory pick), two fifths and a seventh in next year's selection process. DeAndre Hopkins says he'll be a bird this season, but with everything aimed toward the future, why not acquire more capital for a highly tradable asset? Hanging on to the soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout lacks logic for a team prepared to field some combination of Colt McCoy, David Blough and Jeff Driskel under center until Kyler Murray returns from injury.
Top priority: Ponder a swap for Ryan Tannehill
The Falcons bear the mark of a rough-and-tumble, fun-to-watch offense. Sign me up for Sunday afternoons starring Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier bashing their way through cowed defensive fronts. Heavy spending on both sides of the ball has this roster ready to compete in a weakened NFC. Ownership on down has backed the concept of Desmond Ridder at the motherboard, but he remains a projection. I remain attached to the idea of Atlanta swinging a trade with Tennessee for Arthur Smith's pal Tannehill. One of the game's grittier passers would fit right into an offense that has the feel of Titans 2.0.
Top priority: Commence the Frank Reich/Bryce Young mind meld
The Panthers could use help at wideout -- another edge rusher, too -- but nothing outshines the relationship between Frank Reich and first overall pick Bryce Young. I realize it's an obvious observation, but Young's tutelage over the next four months will determine his first steps inside an organization anchoring its destiny to the 21-year-old passer. Spare us any wasted breath on the concept of Andy Dalton opening the year under center or stealing a single snap. Give us Young taking every possible rep with Adam Thielen, DJ Chark and fellow rookie Jonathan Mingo. When Reich isn't arm-in-arm with Young, I want the newbie talking shop with quarterbacks coach Josh McCown. Everything begins now.
Top priority: Find someone who can consistently pressure the QB
The Bears made plenty of progress on paper, but who will rush the passer this fall? Chicago failed to draft an edge rusher after ending last season with a league-low 20 sacks. Defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus can't be thrilled with free-agent pickup DeMarcus Walker -- with 19.5 sacks in six seasons -- doubling as the club's top dog. General manager Ryan Poles would be wise to chase down the likes of Frank Clark or Yannick Ngakoue before the competition comes calling.
Top priority: Place a phone call to Robbie Gould
The Cowboys should be in the market for anyone who can help Dak Prescott. I remain convinced Jerry Jones will ultimately bring back Zeke Elliott, too, but let's not ignore special teams. The only kicker on the roster right now is Tristan Vizcaino, a fellow with a whopping 12 career field-goal attempts. Why not call up Gould after his break with the Niners? Yes, he's crossed the 40-year mark but remains one of the game's clutch booters. It would shore up a weak spot and provide Dallas with a dash of psychological warfare when it invariably meets the Niners all over again in January.
Top priority: Ignore the outside world
The bandwagon's on tilt. The hyper-frisky Lions are all the rage, compelling enough in the eyes of schedule-makers to throw punches with the Chiefs come kickoff. They could use depth along the interior defensive line, but my to-do for Detroit is neck-up based. Avoid reading your own press clippings. Ignore the praise, eschew cheerful chatter about winning a weakened North and block out last year's feel-good foray into meaningful football. Reduce your world to spartan nothingness. Zero has been accomplished. Prepare everyone inside the building for the only task with an ounce of meaning: Turning Patrick Mahomes into Raggedy Ann on national television.
Top priority: A trusty weapon for Mr. Love
The Packers pulled an atypical lever in the draft, grabbing three wideouts (Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Grant DuBose) and a pair of tight ends (Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft). The five-pack forms a compelling gaggle of young talent next to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Green Bay's in good hands if it all clicks, but why not eye the late-summer market for a trusty veteran? Why not pump up the volume on Jordan Love's Big Adventure with a swap for DeAndre Hopkins?
Top priority: Keep an open mind on moving Matthew Stafford
With 14 draft picks in April and a full helping of selections next offseason, the Rams can shrug off last year's apocalyptic dirtnap with an eye toward the future. We're peering at a roster in flux. So what's Matthew Stafford doing here? The 35-year-old can still play, but he's an awkward fit inside an overt rebuild. I'd love to see the Rams deal Stafford if and when a playoff hopeful loses its starter. Why not give Sean McVay a long look at Stetson Bennett before next year's presumably QB-rich draft?
Top priority: Put a ring on Danielle Hunter
GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is making moves to ease one of the league's trickier cap scenarios. Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks were cut free. Millions came off the books with last week's trade of Za'Darius Smith to Cleveland. A post-June 1 release of runner Dalvin Cook could come next. So could -- or should -- an extension for Danielle Hunter. Owed just $4.9 million in the final year of his deal, an extension for the veteran edge rusher could free up additional space and keep new coordinator Brian Flores from pulling his hair out.
Top priority: Another experienced body at linebacker
I concocted a blurb about the need for a tight end hours before the Saints inked Foster Moreau to a three-year pact. Next stop: Linebacker, where Pete Werner and the ageless Demario Davis headline an inexperienced group. Candidates abound -- Zack Baun, Nephi Sewell, Ryan Connelly, D'Marco Jackson, Ty Summers, Andrew Dowell and Anfernee Orji -- but this hodgepodge of names combined for 104 defensive snaps a year ago, per PFF.
Top priority: Add an edge rusher
Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari form a spicy duo along the edge, but the latter missed 10 games a year ago. Thibodeaux morphed into a monster down the stretch, but also lost three starts to injury. There's a lot to like, but general manager Joe Schoen would be wise to add a veteran to round out an inexperienced group. Outside linebacker was ignored both in the draft and free agency beyond re-upping with Jihad Ward. Expect Big Blue to add a body.
Top priority: Smooth sailing with two new coordinators
The last time Philly reached the Super Bowl, offensive coordinator Frank Reich bolted for a job with the Colts. The Carson Wentz-led offense was never the same. This time around, the Eagles saw a pair of top lieutenants -- Shane Steichen on offense and Jonathan Gannon on defense -- jet for-head coaching gigs in Indianapolis and Arizona, respectively. It's easy to trust Nick Sirianni to oversee the transition, but a leadership shift means new personalities, relationships and approaches to the role. Brian Johnson was already seen as a star inside the building and boasts a long-term friendship with Jalen Hurts. Sean Desai is new to the club, but his defense shares concepts with Gannon's proven playbook. The roster is ready. There's not much to pick on, especially if Philly's OC/DC duo hits the ground running.
Top priority: Master the "Choose Your Own Adventure" story at QB
Kyle Shanahan is tasked with navigating a quarterback competition featuring:
- An on-the-shelf wonderboy in Brock Purdy, who might not be ready for the opener.
- A former first-round pick in Trey Lance, who has thrown 102 passes in two seasons.
- A former first-rounder in Sam Darnold, who flamed out with the Jets and Panthers before the Niners snatched him up.
Shanny's already busy talking up Darnold -- calling him an "unbelievable thrower" -- but it's ill news for the organization if he's starting games over Lance while Purdy mends. As for Brock, it's still unclear what he is long-term.
It's not the offseason if the Niners aren't bathed in quarterback drama -- few teams handle it better -- but steering toward Week 1 is no Sunday drive.
Top priority: Eye help along the defensive front
Seattle's big rebuild happened in a hurry. The improbable rise of Geno Smith hastened the process, leaving the 'Hawks with a functional starter and one of the league's better wideout rooms after adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the mix this offseason. Padding the middle of the defensive line fits as the club's next to-do. Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed have replaced Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods atop a baby-faced supporting cast. With Bryan Mone coming off an ACL tear, first-year heavies Cameron Young, Jonah Tavai and Robert Cooper are vying for snaps. "We're putting together a real competition there," head coach Pete Carroll said over the weekend. Seattle likes its roster, but another helping hand wouldn't hurt.
Top priority: Honesty under center
Tampa's busy pitching Baker Mayfield vs. Kyle Trask as a viable quarterback competition in a post-Tom Brady universe. Maybe Trask can play. Maybe there's more to Baker's career than a hot-and-cold quarterback three teams have passed on. Bruce Arians adores Mayfield. The former coach openly lobbied for the Browns job in 2018 for the chance to guide the quarterback's career. Now an in-house Tampa consultant, Arians has his guy, but the Bucs must advance with eyes wide open. There's talent on this roster inside a winnable division. If it's clear you don't have a quarterback in camp, swinging a trade for Stafford, Tannehill or fill-in-the-blank sends a statement to the team: We're not mailing this in.
Top priority: Like it or not, all in on Sam
Not unlike Tampa above, the Commanders are crossing their fingers at quarterback. Jacoby Brissett is a fine backup who showed starting traits a year ago. He's hardly a sure thing, though, which is also true of second-year arm Sam Howell. Washington brass appears unmoved, ignoring the position in the draft and telling us on repeat that Howell is their guy. He was an engrossing watch in the team's Week 18 romp over the Cowboys. That's a miniature sample size, but coaches, the front office and plenty of teammates continue to gush over Sam. This could be Ron Rivera's final chance to get it right under center. He might as well pick his own dance partner.