After the first week of the NFL’s Free Agency period, let’s breakdown the moves that were made and how the NFC West shapes up pre-draft for the 2020-21 season.
– Arizona Cardinals (2019-20 Record: 5-10 / 4th in Division) –
Gained: LB- De’Vondre Campbell, WR- DeAndre Hopkins, LB- Devon Kennard, DT- Jordan Phillips
Lost: RB- David Johnson, WR- Damiere Byrd, WR- Pharoh Cooper, TE- Charles Clay, OL- A.Q. Shipley, DE- Rodney Gunter, LB- Joe Walker, LB- Brooks Reed
The first year of the Kyler Murray / Kliff Kingsbury tandem was as up and down as expected, with the Cardinals finishing at the bottom of the division. While the record won’t show this, Murray and the Cardinals found their stride at the end of the season, keeping games competitive against strong opponents. There’s definitely a core starting to develop, and if they can bring free agents in while retaining most of the core, we could finally see positive football for Arizona over the next five seasons.
The biggest signing of the offseason for the Cardinals was the acquiring of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans. Not only did the Cardinals receive arguably the league’s most elite receiver, they also were able to send David Johnson to Houston along with his egregious contract (check out the full Hopkins/Johnson trade article here). Hopkins officially sparks an upward swing for Kyler Murray, adding to the offensive weapons of Kenyan Drake, Christian Kirk, and Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals still need to work on getting an offensive line to protect Murray moving forward, but this offseason is a good start for future seasons moving forward.
– Los Angeles Rams (2019-20 Record: 9-7 / 3rd in Division) –
Gained: Edge- Leonard Floyd, DT- A’Shawn Robinson
Lost: QB- Blake Bortles, DE- Dante Fowler, LB- Cory Littleton, OLB- Clay Matthews, CB- Nickell Robey-Coleman, S- Eric Weddle, K- Greg Zuerlein
Man have the tables turned for the Rams. Just over a year ago, the Rams were coming off a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Fast forward to today, where they are following a 9-7, 3rd place in the division season, missing the playoffs entirely. One of the best running backs in the league during the 2018 season, Todd Gurley, was cut and is now on the Atlanta Falcons.
They’ve moved on from key players in Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton, Clay Matthews, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Greg Zeurlein (Eric Weddle has also retired). Most of their money is tied up in the big star names of Jared Goff and Aaron Donald, but they were still able to get a hold of edge rusher Leonard Floyd and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to secure the defensive line.
It’s going to be a scary next few months for Rams fans, as this could be the last year of the Goff/McVeigh/Donald window. Too much money tied up in big stars, an underperforming QB and defense in 2019, and now they have three respectful opponents in the division. It’s only going to get tougher for LA from here on it.
– San Francisco 49ers (2019-20 Record: 13-3 / 1st in Division) –
Gained: WR- Travis Benjamin, re-signed Jimmie Ward, Ben Garland, Arik Armstead
Lost: WR- Emmanuel Sanders, TE- Garrett Celek, TE- Levine Toilolo, DT- DeForest Buckner, CB- Jason Verrett
There’s really not much to say here. The 49ers were 8 minutes away (or one drive away) from winning Super Bowl LIV, and they’ve structured their team in such a way that the window for a title is still wide open. The division is really theirs to lose, and besides the Seahawks, no other team in the division poses much of a threat (at least this year). San Fran doesn’t have much cap space, but they don’t have many holes to address. They have very few bad contracts on the roster and have the core of their team coming back for another deep run in the NFC.
The major moves of the offseason most likely include the re-signing of Erik Armstead and Jimmie Ward, while also letting Emmanuel Sanders walk to NFC contender New Orleans. All in all, the Niners will be back in 2020, and there’s a very good chance that similar results should follow.
– Seattle Seahawks (2019-20 Record: 11-5 / 2nd in Division) –
Gained: WR- Phillip Dorsett, CB- Quinton Dunbar, OL- B.J. Finney, Edge- Bruce Irvin, OT- Cedric Ogbuehi, TE- Greg Olsen
Lost: QB- Geno Smith, RB- C.J. Prosise, RB- Marshawn Lynch, WR- Jaron Brown, WR- Josh Gordon, OG- Mike Iupati, OT- George Fant, OL- Germain Ifedi, DT- Al Woods, DE- Ezekiel Ansah, DE- Quinton Jefferson, LB- Mychal Kendricks, OLB- Jadeveon Clowney
The Seahawks are in another prime spot to continue the Russell Wilson era. They are in the top half of the league in regard to cap space, had a few free agent decisions to make, and did a decent job getting things all straightened away for a run against the Niners in the NFC West.
After having an immense amount of injuries in the 2019 season, Seattle has decided to part ways with some of their more injury prone players, some core pieces on either end of the line, and made some key acquisitions to put the band-aids on some of the weaker parts of their roster.
Corner Quinton Dunbar, edge rusher Bruce Irvin, and tight end Greg Olsen are the most notable names to be added to an already solid Seattle squad. As of right now, they are still beneath the Niners as far as 2020 expectations, but with Russ Wilson leading the charge, anything is always possible.