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NFC team needs

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As the New York Giants and New England Patriots get ready for Super Bowl XLII, the league's 30 other franchises are reviewing their rosters to figure out how they can make a run at next year's big game.

Here's a look at some of the NFC's team needs.


Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): The primary issue is whether they plan to stick with quarterback Donovan McNabb or move in a new direction with second-year man Kevin Kolb. There would likely be three or four suitors for McNabb. Even more, head coach Andy Reid's off-field problems must be settled; the team cannot face another season with distractions. Their championship window of opportunity is starting to close as safety Brian Dawkins, defensive end Jevon Kearse, offensive tackles Jon Runyan and William Thomas, linebacker Takeo Spikes and kicker David Akers are approaching the down side of their careers.

Washington Redskins (9-7): The health of quarterback Jason Campbell won't be known until mini-camp, but will the next coach give savvy veteran Todd Collins a shot at the starting job? A healthy Clinton Portis clearly made a difference, but Washington's offensive line is getting old and a physical presence at wide receiver is also a necessity. The Redskins are also $20-plus million over the salary cap, so it will be hard for them to go after young free agents unless they do some creative money movement with guys like tight end Chris Cooley, who is owed an $11 million roster bonus in March. The loss of safety Sean Taylor could result in an early draft pick being used on someone that can challenge Reed Doughty a year from now.

Dallas Cowboys (13-3): One of the top priorities figures to be the secondary, as safety Roy Williams has become one of the league's more overrated players. He would be best served moving to weak-side linebacker in a different scheme as his lack of range over the top creates too many big plays for opposing offenses. The impending loss of Julius Jones would create the need for a backup behind Marion Barber, who is expected to re-sign with the Cowboys. Even with the progression of Patrick Crayton and youngsters like Sam Hurd and Miles Austin, Dallas needs to find and groom a playmaking receiver to eventually replace Terrell Owens. A mid-to-late round draft choice could also be spent on a developmental quarterback.


Chicago Bears (7-9): Besides needing to get healthy in the offseason, the Bears are once again faced with a recurring question: Who is the starting quarterback next year? Do they make a sweeping change and try to acquire someone like McNabb or even Derek Anderson, or should they go back into the murky waters of the draft with the hopes of finding a future leader? The durability issues surrounding running back Cedric Benson, a former first-round pick, does not help, nor does the fact that they lack a true young or established go-to receiver.

Detroit Lions (7-9): With running back Kevin Jones facing a 6-8 month rehab and the team finishing 31st in rushing, the Lions may need to focus on finding another quality running back. Overall, the offense had produced decent points and yards, but they turn the ball over way too often and commit too many sacks and penalties. They'll likely have to correct these issues while learning a new system, as Mike Martz was replaced with Jim Colletto. The most pressing issue on defense is that they do not create enough pressure from the outside without bringing an extra man.

Minnesota Vikings (8-8): With Adrian Peterson helping solidify the rushing attack, their offseason priority is adding a veteran signal caller to challenge Tarvaris Jackson and locating a playmaker at wide receiver. One option could be dealing current first-round bust Troy Williamson to the Denver Broncos for veteran Javon Walker. The Vikings have a solid run defense, but the combination of Kenechi Udeze, Ray Edwards and Erasmus James combined for just 11 sacks, so finding a true pass rushing defensive end has to become a priority.

Green Bay Packers (13-3): The Packers fell one game short of the Super Bowl, but again fans will hold their collective breath while quarterback Brett Favre ponders his future. Should Favre retire, the team will be in the hands of Aaron Rodgers, who flashed the potential that made him a first-round pick. Rodgers' biggest issue has been staying healthy. The emergence of running back Ryan Grant should allow the team to focus on potentially adding a young pass-catcher at tight end or look towards the future at offensive tackle in the early rounds of the draft. In their biggest game of the season, the Packers' front seven was not able to contain the Giants' running attack, so a space-eater should be sought as well. A down-the-line consideration is finding adequate replacements for All-Pro cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris.


Atlanta Falcons (4-12): They have two very good young receivers in Roddy White and Laurent Robinson, but consistency is still an issue. The pair fumbled nearly half as many times (3) as they scored touchdowns (7). The other side of the ball is not without talent either, but the unit lacked chemistry and seemed to fall apart after veteran defensive tackle Rod Coleman went down. The Falcons also seemed to lose confidence in former first-round pick DeAngelo Hall, who would bring a nice package of picks or prospects if the team decides to move him.

Carolina Panthers (7-9): While the Panthers may decide to unload a veteran defender like defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, their primary needs remain on the offensive side of the ball. The return of quarterback Jake Delhomme and dilemma of finding a true No. 1 running back remain on the docket for yet another year. Delhomme says he will be fine for the start of training camp, but is he really the team's long-term answer? Neither DeShaun Foster nor DeAngelo Williams has proven he can be a workhorse back in NFL. The offense received little help from '07 second-round pick Dwayne Jarrett, so a veteran No. 2 receiver would be on the short-list of things to find in the offseason, as well.

New Orleans Saints (7-9): They have to figure out how to keep Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush healthy and improve a pass defense that was riddled by big plays. Defensive end Charles Grant had a down year, and the middle of the defensive line could use a young playmaker. They are still without a true playmaker in the back seven, which is where they will likely concentrate their efforts when evaluating players for this year's draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): Now that head coach Jon Gruden has received a contract extension, the Bucs can turn their attention to quarterback. Jeff Garcia, 37, played well, but was slowed by injuries down the stretch. Backup quarterback Luke McCown played well when given the ball, and Chris Simms should be back to 100 percent by time training camp opens. Tampa Bay must decide whether to return with this trio or bring in someone else to challenge for the starting job. Meanwhile, running back Cadillac Williams has sputtered for two straight seasons and Joey Galloway, though still highly productive, needs a rising star behind him at receiver. I would expect them to invest in a few more weapons and possibly strengthen the interior of their defensive line with an early-round draft choice.


St. Louis Rams (3-13): Receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, and quarterback Marc Bulger can still be productive on any given day, but they are all getting old together and taking up far too much cap space. Former All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace has started to break down and a return to his former self is unlikely given his position and age (32). They had 12 players on IR and five of their most experienced linemen on both sides of the ball have 10 or more years in the league.

San Francisco 49ers (5-11): Virtually unknown third-string quarterback Shaun Hill could go head-to-head with former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith next summer for the starting job. Frank Gore must get healthy and return to form, while the franchise must avoid acquiring another injury-prone skill position player like receiver Darrell Jackson. The additions of defensive backs Nate Clements and Michael Lewis were solid signings and they hit a home run with future Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, but the passing game is in bad shape.

Arizona Cardinals (8-8): They may have a developing quarterback situation thanks to the play of veteran Kurt Warner, but the primary items on their agenda will be signing linebackers Calvin Pace and Karlos Dansby to new contracts. Kicker Neil Rackers missed nine field goals, although six were from 50 yards or longer. However, such a large number of failed conversations were troublesome to the staff. In order to re-sign Pace and Dansby, it may be necessary for the Cardinals to consider trading former Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James, which would create a void at running back that could be filled during the first few rounds.

Seattle Seahawks (10-6): Running back Shaun Alexander is in the latter stages of his career, and with the draft being stocked with young backs, now is as good a time as any to locate one. The late-season loss of speedy wide receiver Deion Branch could move that position up in priority, but the team still had troubles stopping the vertical passing game when the front four did not pressure the quarterback. The offense would also have a different look if the team had a pass-catching tight end.

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