With the NFL Draft now only just a few short weeks away, let’s take a look at what each team’s best move was so far during the free agency period. This is not a complete list (as a deal could be made official after this article has been published), but a highlight of each team’s most impactful decisions over the past few months.
– Arizona Cardinals –
The Cardinals are surprisingly at the forefront of “winning” free agency. Their needs entering the offseason included upgrades at receiver, pass rush, and offensive line depth. DeAndre Hopkins and several defensive pass rush signings have now bolstered this Arizona team into what seems to be playoff contention. The roster is starting to take shape, and with year number two coming up for Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury, the party in the southwest might just be getting started.
– Atlanta Falcons –
Atlanta’s number one concern this offseason was acquiring depth and playmaking on the defensive side of the ball. They did just that in signing Jacksonville Jaguars edge rusher Dante Fowler. Adding Todd Gurley to an offense that already has Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley is a plus, and Hayden Hurst may be able to fill Austin Hooper’s role nicely after all. Atlanta will have to be stout on the defensive side of the ball if they have any shot at keeping up with division rivals Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
– Carolina Panthers –
Carolina decided to go full rebuild, including starting from scratch with a whole new coaching staff as well. Cam Newton’s departure will save the Panthers $21.1 million, allowing them to use the cap in other much-needed areas. Getting Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater will make the offense more mobile and inject life into a team that was decimated to end the season. They should be able to plug up their holes on the defensive line with the draft and protect Teddy by signing a guard. With Christian McCaffrey on the last year of his rookie deal, the Panthers will need to do all they can to pinch pennies.
– Chicago Bears –
There are question marks around the offensive signings of both QB Nick Foles and TE Jimmy Graham. Foles and Trubisky will battle it out for QB duties this summer, but neither will be able to create much to move the ball, as the Bears only really have one ‘real-threat’ receiver outside of Allen Robinson (and swiss-army knife Tevin Coleman). Chicago decided to sign Cowboys OLB Robert Quinn, who will be a nice addition opposite of Khalil Mack. They’ll have to look to find ways to improve their O-Line and offensive weapons, but all storylines will revolve around the quarterbacks this year.
– Dallas Cowboys –
The Cowboys were able to sidestep Dak Prescott’s contract negotiations by franchise tagging him and signing Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million deal. While they lost a few key pieces on the defensive side including Robert Quinn, they were able to do a pretty decent job of patching some much-needed holes. With LB Gerald McCoy, DL Dontari Poe, and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix all signing with Dallas this season, they’re right back in the mix for favorites in the NFC East.
– Detroit Lions –
Detroit had an offseason to totally overhaul the defense but came up a little short. Acquiring Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, and Desmond Trufant are all solid additions, but the Lions are still lacking any sort of pass rush. Here’s to hoping that an early draft pick will give them the help they need.
– Green Bay Packers –
Green Bay came within one game of the Super Bowl in 2019, so how do they get better? They lost veteran linebacker Blake Martinez and right guard Bryan Bulaga to free agency and replaced them with cheaper/younger options Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner. While failing to land a big weapon in free agency (put bids in for Emmanuel Sanders and Austin Hooper), the Packers did wind up signing Devin Funchess, who will most likely be the No. 2 behind Davante Adams. Any time you have Rodgers leading the offense, the offense should be able to get the job done. The question for the next few months in Green Bay is – how do they bolster the defense to compete with New Orleans and San Francisco?
– Los Angeles Rams –
It has been an interesting turn of events for the Rams. A team that went to the Super Bowl just over two calendar years ago slipped to third in the division last season. The NFC West isn’t getting any worse, and with the loss of Todd Gurley, Los Angeles may be in for a world of hurt. They were able to reinforce both the offensive and defensive lines, bringing in Leonard Floyd to help bring the pass rush with Aaron Donald. McVay and Goff better have some tricks up their sleeves this season, as it could be rough sledding if the Rams underperform in any way.
– Minnesota Vikings –
Are the Vikings still in title contention, or are they in rebuild mode? The defensive turnover they experience this offseason will most likely set them back before they’re able to move forward. The loss of Stefon Diggs to Buffalo also takes away one of the team’s best weapons outside of Dalvin Cook. Minnesota is in trouble and signing Kirk Cousins to another extension was not the saving grace this team needed.
– New Orleans Saints –
Not much is different in New Orleans. Their offense is still elite and actually got better with the signing of Emmanuel Sanders. While they don’t have much cap space, they don’t really need to spend it on anything pressing. The Saints are doing everything they can to keep the window open for Drew Brees and Co. for a few more seasons and should be primed to do so again in 2020.
Weather, location helped drive WR Emmanuel Sanders to pick Saints over Packers https://t.co/tVlKyiAouN— The Packers Wire (@ThePackersWire) March 30, 2020
– New York Giants –
The Giants came into the offseason needing star power on defense. It’s not a certainty by any means, but the signings of CB James Bradberry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Leonard Williams (franchise tag), OLB Kyler Fackrell are a start. They still do need a line to protect young QB Daniel Jones, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
– Philadelphia Eagles –
Philly was staring down the barrel of a team filled with old age and injury-prone players. While they let safety Malcolm Jenkins and left tackle Jason Peters hit free agency, they were able to sign a few younger pieces to solidify their horrendous secondary. Corners Nickell Robey-Coleman and Darius Slay will help sideline to sideline, and the signing of Will Parks should at least be a little bit of a step up from last year. The one problem they still have lies on the offensive side of the ball, as they failed to have any receiver on the roster hit the 500-yard receiving mark in 2019.
– San Francisco 49ers –
The Niners are in full ‘run it back’ mode, as they did everything they could to keep the NFC Championship roster intact. They were able to resign Ward, Armstead, and several other pieces, but lost DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders in the process. While the draft can fill some of these voids (they have two first-round picks), it’s unlikely that those picks will make an immediate impact this season. Regardless, the Niners are atop the favorites to come out of the NFC once again.
– Seattle Seahawks –
Seattle’s defense needs some work, but all in all, they did an effective job in getting the roster to compete yet again in the Russell Wilson era. The big question of the offseason continues to be what will happen with Jadeveon Clowney, as the feared pass-rusher has yet to sign with anyone in free agency. If Seattle can bring him back along with Jarran Reed and Bruce Irvin, Seattle stands a chance against anyone come January.
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers –
The biggest move of the 2020 free agency period was the Bucs signing of QB Tom Brady. Partnered with Bruce Arians, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin, Brady should be able to do whatever he wants with the weapons at his disposal. Keeping the front seven intact on the defensive end was also a plus for the Bucs, as they were one of the most ferocious run-stopping defenses in the league. Things are looking up for Tampa, who will have their work cut out for them in an offensive-minded NFC South.
Belichick’s Patriots will have a better record than Brady’s Bucs— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) March 31, 2020
– Washington Redskins –
Washington is still in a world of hurt in offensive playmaking, but they were able to get a couple of playmakers on defense with the decent amount of cap space they had. The signing of LB Thomas Davis brings leadership and a path for the team to grow. Corner Kendall Fuller also adds to the defensive depth, which was desperately needed. If the Redskins can use the draft to gain some offensive talent and bolster the line to protect Haskins, it could be ‘less of a sinking ship’ kind of year.