One move every AFC team should make before training camp

2RYJN29 Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

• The Dolphins need to lock down their franchise quarterback: Many might not consider Tua Tagovailoa the driving force behind Miami’s electric offense, but his timing and precision as a passer keep things ticking.

• High-profile wide receivers remain at the center of trade speculation: Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins could still be on the move ahead of the 2024 season, with the Steelers and Chiefs, respectively, looking like prime landing spots.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to prepare for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes


As we approach the 2024 NFL season, rosters begin to take real shape as front offices plan for the near and distant future. Despite teams having all offseason and a draft to address their needs, there will be another wave of moves, trades and contract extensions completed by the time training camp rolls around. 

Here’s one trade, free agent signing or extension for every AFC team before 2024 training camp.


JUMP TO A TEAM:

BLT | BUF | CIN | CLE | DEN | HOU | IND | JAX
KC | LVR | LACMIA | NENYJPITTEN


BALTIMORE RAVENS: Extend Brandon Stephens

A third-round pick in 2021, Brandon Stephens has transitioned from safety to cornerback in his three years in the NFL, starting 16 games as an outside cornerback for the Ravens in 2023. His 68.0 PFF coverage grade last year was the second-highest mark among Ravens cornerbacks, and with Ronald Darby moving on and Marlon Humphrey potentially transitioning to the slot, re-signing Stephens in the final year of his deal is a must.

Stephens is still just 26 years old and heading into the prime of his career. The Ravens can re-sign him and pair him with Nate Wiggins, their 2024 first-round pick, and reap the benefits of having one of the NFL's better secondaries.


BUFFALO BILLS: Extend Gregory Rousseau

Rousseau hasn’t flashed with raw sack numbers since entering the NFL, totaling just 17 in three seasons with the Bills, but his all-around performance in 2023 should have left the front office feeling good about his capabilities moving forward. Rousseau earned an excellent 85.6 PFF overall grade in 2023, and his 55 pressures were a career high.

The sacks will come if Rousseau can consistently rack up high pressure numbers. That means the money will come, too. With Von Miller in his twilight years and the Bills not having much of a pass-rushing threat outside of Rousseau, his value to the cause means even more.

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CINCINNATI BENGALS: Lock down Ja’Marr Chase

The Bengals' choice is a no-brainer: they have to give Ja’Marr Chase a mega deal. The wide receiver has been playing at historic levels since he was drafted in 2021, catching 268 passes for 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons while becoming one of the league's elite wide receivers. The case for him to be re-signed doesn’t need to be made.

Chase's fifth-year option has already, predictably, been accepted, and parlaying his 2024 and 2025 cap hits into a longer-term deal to bring the year-to-year hit down is a smart move for the Bengals, especially when Chase could earn in the region of $30 million per year on average.


CLEVELAND BROWNS: Bring in more cornerback depth

The Browns' defense was an elite unit in 2023. Their 84.7 overall grade ranked sixth in the NFL, and they were led by eventual Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett. Defensive consistency across multiple seasons is tough to maintain, but with the talent on the team's roster, Cleveland is in good shape to field one of the best defenses again in 2024. But they could use some cornerback depth.

Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson Jr. are locked in as starters, but beyond them, there is concern. While Cameron Mitchell showed some flashes in his rookie season and Justin Hardee was signed in free agency, more talent is needed. Experienced players like Xavien Howard and Adoree' Jackson are out there, as are cheaper options like Ahkello Witherspoon.


DENVER BRONCOS: Extend Quinn Meinerz

The Broncos' offensive line underwent significant changes in 2023, but the key to the improved unit was Quinn Meinerz at left guard. The former third-round pick has molded himself into one of the best guards in the NFL, earning an 83.7 overall grade in 2023 to rank third at the position.

Meinerz is heading into the final year of his four-year rookie contract and will be a free agent in 2025. Finding quality guards in the NFL is a tough task, so when one falls into a team's lap, they should do everything they can to retain them. Locking up Meinerz to a long-term extension should be a priority in Denver.


HOUSTON TEXANS: Add interior defensive line depth

The Texans were active in free agency, adding veteran pass-rusher Danielle Hunter, trading for Stefon Diggs and making a host of other moves. The young and hungry Texans surprised everyone in 2023, but some veteran experience and savvy will go a long way for them in 2024, as will some help on the interior defensive line.

The edge positions are locked in with Danielle Hunter and Will Anderson Jr. wreaking havoc, and newcomers Denico Autry and Foley Fatukasi provide beef up the middle, but some extra recruiting could help strengthen the interior.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Extend Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly is a four-time Pro Bowler and consistently one of the best centers in the NFL. His 77.2 PFF overall grade in 2023 ranked seventh at the position, and his 78.3 pass-blocking grade was second only to Creed Humphrey. His importance to the Colts can’t be understated ahead of the final year of his current contract.

It’s paramount that the Colts re-sign Kelly soon and don’t lose him to free agency. Replacing someone as consistent as him would be a tough task, and he’s still just 31 years old. Keep him around for a few more years while the offensive line is playing well and he’s contributing.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Add a cornerback

The Jaguars addressed their biggest need in the offseason, locking down franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence until 2030. That was always the move, though the Jaguars did make moves to improve the roster, too, adding Brian Thomas Jr. in the draft and Gabriel Davis and Arik Armstead in free agency.

However, the Jaguars still have a need at cornerback. They added veteran Ronald Darby after his strong 2023 season in Baltimore, but the jury is still out on Tyson Campbell. And beyond that, the position is bare.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Trade for Tee Higgins

The Chiefs have long been in the hypothetical market for a receiver despite signing Marquise Brown to a one-year deal in free agency. The Bengals might not be too content with the idea of trading Tee Higgins to a Super Bowl-contending rival, especially when those rivals are the reigning Super Bowl champions, but a long-term contract doesn’t appear to be on the horizon for Higgins. Rather than let him walk, the Bengals could look to move him for future draft picks.

The Chiefs should throw themselves into the sweepstakes. Travis Kelce might not have too many years left in the tank, and Higgins would give Mahomes a legitimate X receiver.


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Extend Nate Hobbs

After struggling as an outside cornerback in his second NFL season, Nate Hobbs returned to the slot, where he thrived in his rookie season, and recaptured his high level of play. His 69.0 PFF overall grade in 2023 was a solid improvement from his 60.9 mark in 2022, and Hobbs now heads into the final year of his contract looking to maintain his excellent slot form.

The Raiders are in desperate need of defensive playmakers, and Hobbs contributes in all facets. He has earned a PFF run-defense grade higher than 75.0 in consecutive seasons. Locking him into a long-term deal is key.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Extend Rashawn Slater

The Chargers picked up Rashawn Slater’s fifth-year option earlier in the offseason, keeping him under contract until 2025. Slater earned a 76.6 PFF overall grade in 2022 after spending 2023 on injured reserve with a torn bicep suffered in Week 3. It took a few weeks to get back into the swing of things, but Slater earned the highest pass-blocking grade of his career in 2023.

Slater will likely get a monster deal as Justin Herbert’s de-facto blindside protector, and getting the extension done early and keeping him on the books long-term as the Chargers rebuild their offensive line is key.


MIAMI DOLPHINS: Get the Tua Tagovailoa deal over the line

Love it or hate it, the Miami Dolphins are going to extend Tua Tagovailoa. Many might not consider him the driving force behind Miami’s electric offense, but his timing and precision as a passer keep things ticking. The question is: How much will they pay him?

The longer the wait for a deal goes on, the more the pressure increases. Tagovailoa is playing on his fifth-year option in 2024 and will be a free agent at the end of the season. Without an extension, he could walk and the Dolphins could be back in quarterback purgatory.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Bring in another option at receiver

The Patriots are thin at receiver, to say the least. The front office drafted Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker in the second and fourth rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, but there’s no true standout receiver on the roster. Demario Douglas showed some potential in his first NFL season, and Kendrick Bourne has been productive across his three years in New England.

But with quarterback Drake Maye likely to start at some point in his rookie season, the Patriots could stand to use more help at receiver. The options out there aren’t extensive, but a veteran like Hunter Renfrow or Russell Gage could give them just a little more juice.


NEW YORK JETS: Extend Haason Reddick

The Jets traded a conditional third-round draft selection for Haason Reddick after letting Bryce Huff walk in free agency, making it an easy case of one pass-rusher in, one pass-rusher out. Reddick has been a consistent sack-getter over the past four years, racking up more than 50 sacks. He tallied 135 pressures in two seasons with the Eagles and earned a 75.2 PFF overall grade in 2023. There’s obvious pedigree there, and the Jets are getting one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers.

One-year rentals are common in the NFL, but Reddick is in the prime of his career, and letting him walk at the end of the season after giving up a third-round pick for him would be bad business.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Trade for Brandon Aiyuk

The Steelers' offense underwent some major changes in the offseason. The front office brought in Russell Wilson and Justin Fields to compete for the starting quarterback job, added three new faces to the offensive line and traded away Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers. George Pickens is now expected to be the leading receiver, but the Steelers are thin overall at the position.

Brandon Aiyuk’s contract situation is looming large in San Francisco. The former first-round pick will play out 2024 on his fifth-year option and is due to be a free agent at the end of the season. While the 49ers would like to have him back, we’ve yet to see a long-term deal play out. And when it does, it’ll likely be for big money — money the 49ers may not be able to afford. That could open the door for a receiver-needy team like the Steelers to make a move.


TENNESSEE TITANS: Bring in a free agent offensive tackle

The Titans' offensive line has been in the repair shop for a few seasons. The team drafted Peter Skoronski in the first round in 2023 and followed it up by drafting JC Latham in the first round in 2024, completely overhauling the left side of their offensive line. The unit is in better shape with the addition of Lloyd Cushenberry III in free agency, too, but the Titans could still use some tackle depth, and maybe even someone to push Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle.

The free-agent tackle market is filled with veterans like David Bakhtiari, D.J. Humphries and Charles Leno, though all three are predominantly left tackles. There are further options like Cam Erving, Billy Turner and Conor McDermott who could challenge, but either way, the depth is necessary.

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