Admist the world shutting down due to covid-19 (Coronavirus), the NFL seems intent on free agency kicking off this week with the ‘legal tampering’ period to begin on Monday. I thought I’d look at each team and think about one free agent that each should go for. All cap figures referenced are from Overthecap.com as of 15th March and am listing teams in descending order of cap space (Miami with the most, Pittsburgh the least). Also am discluding any player that has been franchise tagged!
The Dolphins have so many needs on a team that is in full rebuild mode. The good news is that they also have the most cap space with circa $87m to spend. I liked what Gary said on the pod last week about building the defence, but I don’t think it’ll be done solely through the draft (I also think that at least two of their three first round picks will go on offence). As there’s so many holes, fill the most important need on defence first and get a the premium edge rusher in free agency by targeting Jadeveon Clowney.
A team that, if they had a good quarterback, would certainly be in a ‘win now’ mode. That lack of franchise quarterback could be relieved by targeting someone like Teddy Bridgewater. Yes there’s been rumours of Rivers heading there but lets be realistic, he was pretty bad last year. With Teddy you get a solid, if unspectacular, QB who has got plenty of years ahead of him.
The Bills have already solidified their backfield by bringing in Josh Norman and with QB Josh Allen on a rookie deal and playing well, the Bills could make a serious push in the AFC East to dethrone the Patriots. Adding more fire power up front will further improve an already stingy defence. Defensive end Robert Quinn had a quietly effective year in Dallas in 2019 and would make a great addition alongside Ed Oliver on that line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I can’t look outside of quarterback for the Bucs and with the roster they have, and the money available, they could make a serious play for the GOAT, Tom Brady.
New York Giants
Another team that could enter the Clowney sweep stakes with $78m in cap space and I like the idea of continuing to build on the offensive line. However, improving the defence is the priority in free agency and they get the prime piece by taking Byron Jones away from their divisional rivals.
The Cowboys have to pay their own first, namely Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Once that’s done, the amount they have to spend will be significantly less! They’re likely to lose cornerback Byron Jones and as such a veteran replacement would be top of the bill and someone like Jimmy Smith would be a nice add and may be a little cheaper due to his age (32).
Lots of good players on this team already but a severe lack of talent on the offensive line which hampered the team in 2019. Look no further than an AFC North division rival and pick up Cordy Glen.
Like Dallas, the Titans need to pay their own first, in their case Tannehill and Henry. With team favourite tight end Delanie Walker gone and a limited supply of talent at this position in the draft, the Titans could look to another former 49er tight end and target Vance McDonald.
Another team that is lacking a tight end following the release of oft injured Jordan Reed. Austin Hooper would be a nice add for the Redskins and give young QB Dwayne Haskins a talented pass catcher across the middle.
Las Vegas Raiders
A team that needs significant improvements on the defence and bringing in a player like Dante Fowler will help add pressure to the opposing quarterbacks.
I hope/think they’ll tag AJ Green, but if they don’t they need to bring in a reliable, veteran wide receiver. I can’t seem him going there, but someone like Emmanuel Sanders would be an ideal candidate to work with a new young quarterback.
A team that seems intent in getting rid of many premium players might be pretty quiet during free agency. Per my previous article, insurance at running back would be useful and coming off injury, Lamar Miller might be a cheap option.
With very little draft capital, the Texans need to be active in free agency and they need help at running back. A lot of the $52m they have in cap space may be used on a new deal for quarterback Watson but they should have space to bring in a premium running back like Melvin Gordon.
Look set to bring in a rookie QB and roll with former back up Tyrod Taylor. With Hunter Henry rightly frnachise tagged they can look for help on the other side of the ball and shore up their linebacker corps with a former Patriot in Kyle Van Noy.
New York Jets
Like their neighbours, the Jets need to get better on offensive line and I expect them to be the main players in targeting tackle Jack Conklin.
AJ Bouye has come in to help fill the space that Calvin Harris Jr has left so they can work on offence in free agency where they bring in a speedy wide receiver in Paul Richardson to play opposite Courtland Sutton.
The Seahawks were undone by a spate of injuries at running back last year. They can restock that in the draft or add some veteran depth by targeting Dion Lewis to provide Wilson with a pass catching option out of the backfield.
Two areas to fill are at receiver and cornerback. With the draft deep at receiver, I’m going to give them a cornerback in free agency and have them target Chris Harris Jr.
New England Patriots
Their scheme works best with a good tight end. I’ve already had Austin Hooper go and Hunter Henry is tagged so welcome to New England Eric Ebron!
Like the Eagles, I like the Cardinals to take a receiver high in the draft. The other area of attention should be the offensive line and with DJ Humphries locked down to a new contract I want them to look to the interior of the line and target someone like guard Andrus Peat (though I expect the Saints to try and keep him).
Green Bay Packers
Receiver is another need but so is stopping the run, especially after their performance (or lack of) in the NFC Championship game. As such getting better in the middle of the defensive line could be a priority and there’s some decent depth in free agency here including a beremoth of a player in Danny Shelton.
Matt Rhule and Robby Anderson have good history dating back to their Baylor days. The Panthers could use another wide receiver. Robby Anderson is a wide receiver. Job done.
They’ve tagged Matt Judon but more depth is needed at edge rusher and Vic Beasley needs another chance to prove he’s a good player, he could be had on a cheap one year ‘prove it’ deal.
Losing some key players on the defensive line means there’s going to be need to add depth. I fancy them to bring back Everson Griffen and pair him with another veteran who formerally played in the NFC North, Ezekiel Ansah.
Like the Texans, the Rams have little draft capital and their cap space is dwinderling! With $19m to play with they could go out and get some veteran help on the offensive line by bringing in another veteran tackle, Jason Peters.
Two big holes at cornerback that weren’t there last year and not a lot of cap space (which is surprising given the lack of talent on this roster!). After a terrible year in Minnesota, Xavier Rhodes is looking for a new start and his most recent form may mean he comes cheap!
San Francisco 49ers
With Sanders seemingly out of the door, the 49ers turn to a former Shanahan favourite from his Atlanta days and bring Taylor Gabriel to the bay area.
Kansas City Chiefs
With Chris Jones tagged (and for their sake, hopefully not traded) the Chiefs could focus on corner or running back. There’s depth in both through the draft but I think there’s more depth at running back so targeting a second tier cornerback like Ronald Darby could be a the best option.
With only $13m in cap space, the Bears need to be creative in free agency whilst giving Mitch Trubisky options to pass to. Tight end is a need and someone like Ricky Seals-Jones who will come fairly cheap would fill a need.
New Orleans Saints
With Drew Brees back, the Saints are defintely in ‘win now’ mode and need depth at cornerback. Bringing back Eli Apple is one option but they could also look at a cheap veteran like Aquib Talib.
Likely to address the pass rush in the draft but could bring in help on that front by giving Gerald McCoy his third home in the NFC South, just New Orleans to go now!
At the bottom of this list with only $1.5m in cap space, the Steelers are going to have to get creative in free agency. With McDonald gone, tight end is a need and there’s likely to be some cheap veteran options there (per previous picks in this article!). After a breakout season in Seattle, I like the idea of Pittsburgh giving a new home to Jacob Hollister who will still come at a reasonable price.