Free Agent & NFL Draft Needs for All 32 Teams
The Super Bowl may have seemed like the end of the NFL season, but truth be told, it just signifies the start of a new season. The 2019 free agency and NFL Draft season. While many will argue with the strengths and weaknesses of their favorite team, we’re going to do our best at objectively highlighting each team’s biggest weaknesses.
It’s also important to remember that just because a team is listed with a “need” at a certain position, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically address it. Why? Well, because some teams have glaring needs while others have what I’d call convenience needs. I’ll be including each team’s estimated cap space, courtesy of Spotrac.com, though it’s important to remember the numbers will change as players are cut and/or released. If you’d like to check out my mock draft prior to free agency beginning, you can find it right here.
Arizona Cardinals (Estimated Cap Space: $38.6 million, 12th-most)
It feels like the Cardinals needs haven’t changed much from last year’s draft. While some have written off Josh Rosen, the Cardinals will not be doing that. Instead, they’ll look to build around him. That all starts with the offensive line, as they have no above-average players on it, and they may lose long-time starter Mike Iupati in free agency. Larry Fitzgerald is coming back for another year, which is a really good thing because they don’t have anyone worth starting behind Christian Kirk on the depth chart. After selecting Nick Bosa with the first pick (or potentially trading back to acquire more picks), expect them to attack their offensive line early in the draft.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, CB, WR
Atlanta Falcons (Estimated Cap Space: $28.7 million, 18th-most)
The biggest thing to watch with the Falcons is how they handle defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, as he’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent. Whether they franchise tag him or work out a long-term deal, it’s best that he’s on the team next year. If they lock him up, they don’t have many weaknesses (outside of edge rusher) on the roster, and the only other notable free agents are left guard Andy Levitre and running back Tevin Coleman. With money tied up in Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith showing the ability to play in the league, Coleman is surely elsewhere in 2019. They did just release cornerback Robert Alford, which means Isaiah Oliver will move into the starting lineup, but adding depth and/or replacing Brian Poole as the nickel cornerback would be wise.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, CB, OG
Baltimore Ravens (Estimated Cap Space: $48.7 million, 9th-most)
Unloading Joe Flacco and getting a fourth-round pick back in the process? Bravo, Ravens front office. The offense is changing their identity, so you have to wonder if they feel the need to upgrade their wide receiver corps, though they do have to replace John Brown, who’s an unrestricted free agent. Their defense has a lot of key players hitting free agency, so it’s a good thing they have some cap space. Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, C.J. Mosley, and Brent Urban are all set to hit the free agent market, which is over one-third of their starting defense. They aren’t going to be able to retain all of them, so we really don’t know their official needs just yet. Whatever the case, this team will look a lot different in 2019.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OG/C, RB, WR (Before the free agent period begins)
Buffalo Bills (Estimated Cap Space: $82.4 million, 3rd-most)
It’s a good thing the Bills have cap space, but it’s a bad thing that this isn’t what we’d call a good free agent class. They legitimately could upgrade every position on the offensive line, which is quite the problem because most teams don’t let star-studded offensive linemen hit the open market, especially the tackle position, which is where they need the most help. Do we really believe they’re going to continue trotting out Zay Jones, Robert Foster, and Isaiah McKenzie out there as the starting trio of wide receivers? They also just cut their long-time starter Charles Clay, so you should fully expect them to get some pass-catchers for Josh Allen. There are a lot of holes on the offense right now, but they also need to add cornerback to play opposite Tre’Davious White. There’s no two ways about it, the Bills need to nail this draft with all the holes on their roster, though I do expect them to be big players in free agency. The good news is that they should be able to retain Lorenzo Alexander with all their cap space, though they will need to replace the retired Kyle Williams.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, CB, WR
Carolina Panthers (Estimated Cap Space: $11.6 million, 26th-most)
Maybe the Panthers realize they need to protect their quarterback and draft a left tackle? They need to move on from Matt Kalil once and for all, and while that may not be possible with his giant weight in dead cap ($14.7 million), they can draft his replacement right now. With Julius Peppers retiring and Thomas Davis moving on to another team, the Panthers also need to start rebuilding their front-seven. They have quite a few wide receivers who are shifty and can make plays, but will they try to replace Devin Funchess with another big-bodied receiver? You also have to factor in the division they play in, as they have the Falcons, Saints, and Bucs receivers to cover in 6-of-16 games, so their secondary needs to be in good shape if they want to be able to slow down those offenses. And then, on top of all this stuff, they aren’t sure what they’re doing with Cam Newton, who now has just two years left on his deal. This is a team who’s in a transition period and one who can go in many different directions.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, EDGE, OLB
Chicago Bears (Estimated Cap Space: $11.1 million, 25th-most)
After spending a ton of money and draft picks in 2018, the Bears are a team with very few holes. The fact that they don’t have a first- or second-round pick and just $5.4 million in cap space doesn’t feel as bad because of that, though there’s one big free agent who the Bears must address. Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson have formed one of the better safety duos in the league and Amos is set to be an unrestricted free agent, though the Bears and him have reportedly been working on a deal. Bryce Callahan is also slated to be a free agent, though you have to wonder if his injury at the end of 2018 may give the Bears a chance to retain the sturdy nickel cornerback at a discount. The Bears aren’t likely to make a lot of noise this offseason, unless there’s a trade to be made.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: RB, CB, OG depth
Cincinnati Bengals (Estimated Cap Space: $47.3 million, 11th-most)
Of the five offensive tackles on the Bengals roster, four of them are set to become free agents. It’s not all bad, though, because they aren’t good. Heck, even the one under contract (Cordy Glenn, who they acquired last offseason) wasn’t good. The Bengals also need an offensive guard to replace Alex Redmond who was among the worst in the game last year. So, in short, the offensive line should a top priority. After that, they need to find a few linebackers, particularly one to replace the oft-injured/suspended Vontaze Burfict. If they cut him, they’ll also save $5.5 million against their cap number in 2019, though they don’t necessarily need the cap space. Between Darqueze Dennard being a free agent and Dre Kirkpatrick being another cap casualty, the Bengals are also going to need to address the cornerback position. Needless to say, the Bengals aren’t a team that’s built to win now, as they have tons of holes to fill, but they start on the offensive line.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, LB, CB
Cleveland Browns (Estimated Cap Space: $74.7 million, 4th-most)
I’ve said this elsewhere, but I’ll repeat it for those who’ve missed it… the Browns can be a playoff team and Super Bowl contenders in 2019. Not only is their roster pretty well rounded, but the other teams in their division are going through major shifts. An area they can improve immediately is left tackle, as Joe Thomas‘ retirement put them in a bad spot last year. They could also use another defensive tackle to play alongside Larry Ogunjobi, someone who’s more of a plugger against the run. It shouldn’t surprise you to see them add a big-bodied wide receiver at some point in the draft to compliment Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, though they made do with what they had last year. And the last position they could upgrade is linebacker, as the combination of Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins hasn’t worked out as planned. The best part is that they’re not really losing anything in free agency, as E.J. Gaines is the biggest potential loss. They have tons of money to spend in free agency, too, so if they have a good offseason, you may want to think more about winners when you think about the Browns rather than the old Hue Jackson Browns.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, DT, WR
Dallas Cowboys (Estimated Cap Space: $48.4 million, 10th-most)
The health of Travis Fredrick is going to determine a lot, as Joe Looney didn’t quite fit the role of starting center for the Cowboys. That’s a major hole on their offensive line, though it’s possible Fredrick is back in 2019. The Cowboys have some young playmakers on their defense and the cornerbacks started coming into their own last year, so there is no clear-cut need where most expected there to be. They are expected to be in the market for a safety in either free agency or the draft. There are some solid safeties available in free agency, while I believe they should attack the defensive tackle position in the draft, as this draft class a lot of talent at the position. Not having a draft pick until No. 58 overall means they aren’t going to get a can’t-miss prospect, though there should still be some solid tackles available. After releasing Terrence Williams and having Cole Beasley entering free agency, we may also see them add wide receiver depth behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, though that will likely be later in the draft. It should also be a foregone conclusion that Demarcus Lawrence will be franchised tagged if they can’t work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys have some solid pieces in place, but beefing up the defensive line should be their top priority.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: DT, S, C (Depends on Fredrick’s health)
Denver Broncos (Estimated Cap Space: $21.2 million, 21st-most)
Let’s be clear, the acquisition of Joe Flacco did not fix the Broncos needs at the quarterback position, though trading away a fourth-round pick may indicate they believe they’re closer to winning than most do. They’ve invested in their offensive line the last few years, though it’s been a relatively average unit, and now some believe they may release Ron Leary due to his escalating salary. I don’t believe letting go of good offensive linemen is a good solution for any team. They already released Brandon Marshall, so you have to assume they’ll be drafting an inside linebacker in this draft, unless they believe Josey Jewell is the long-term answer. We know the pass-rush is good, but the cornerback position was a glaring weakness last year. Chris Harris Jr. is getting older, Bradley Roby is a free agent, and Isaac Yiadom isn’t a top-tier talent. I’m expecting them to try and land a high-end cornerback in either the draft or free agency, while they could be setting up to draft a quarterback in the 2020 draft.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: CB, LB, QB
Detroit Lions (Estimated Cap Space: $36.0 million, 13th-most)
So, the decision to hire Matt Patricia didn’t work out so well in the first year. Totally unrelated question: Are we allowed to add head coaches to this list? There wasn’t many strengths as a team to the Lions last year, but we’re here to find their most glaring weaknesses, so we have to start at the edge position. They don’t have much talent there to begin with and now losing oft-injured Ezekiel Ansah in free agency isn’t going to help. They also need some cornerback depth behind Darius Slay, as Nevin Lawson has been continually below-average, while Teez Tabor has been a bust. They didn’t use the tight end position at all during last season, which isn’t all that surprising considering who they have on the roster, so they’re going to add someone there in one way or another. Knowing they hired Darrell Bevell to be the offensive coordinator, don’t be shocked if they draft a tight end in the top three rounds, as he used tight ends an awful lot during his time in Seattle.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, CB, LB
Green Bay Packers (Estimated Cap Space: $30.2 million, 16th-most)
The Packers were a bit more active in free agency last year, giving their fans hope that maybe they’ll address some needs again this year. After letting go of Haha Clinton-Dix in a trade last year, they’re going to need to address the safety position. While Kevin King has been mediocre (when he’s not hurt), they’re likely sticking with him Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson as their three cornerbacks. Clay Matthews is set to be a free agent, though his game has started to deteriorate over the last few years, making edge defender a huge need. Do they try and re-sign Muhammad Wilkerson who is also slated to be a free agent? Their needs on the defense are apparent, while the offense also took a step back last year. They haven’t invested in the offensive line over the last five years and outside of Davante Adams, they have no sure thing at wide receiver. Jimmy Graham is nearing the end, but releasing him would cost them a $7 million cap hit, though his $12.7 million salary is more. Outside of Aaron Rodgers, the running backs, offensive tackles and cornerbacks, this team has quite a few holes to fill.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, OG, WR
Houston Texans (Estimated Cap Space: $74.4 million, 4th-most)
The good news? The Texans have a whole lot of money to spend in free agency. The bad news? The positions they really need aren’t exactly available. Teams don’t let stud offensive linemen get to free agency. Well, smart teams, anyway. After not having a pick in the first two rounds of last year’s draft, the Texans have three of the top 55 picks in this draft. I’m expecting them to draft multiple linemen through the draft, and likely with their first pick at No. 23. It seems like they’ll use the franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney if they can’t work out a long-term contract, so that clears up a big question mark. The versatile Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu are hitting the free agent market, though. Another position of clear need is cornerback, as Johnathan Joseph is going to be 35 years old in April, Kevin Johnson hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and Aaron Colvin is looking like a free agent bust. A lot of smart people will tell you that it starts in the trenches. They have the defensive line down, which is why they’ve made the playoffs in three of the last four years. It’s time to work on the other side of the ball.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, OG, CB
Indianapolis Colts (Estimated Cap Space: $104.3 million, Most in NFL)
After hammering the offensive line in last year’s draft (and nailing it), the Colts have some freedom with this draft class. On top of that, they have more money to spend in free agency than any other team. It’s no secret that Andrew Luck can use some more weapons in the passing game, something many thought the Colts would address in last year’s draft with three second-round picks. Well, they own three of the top 59 picks in this draft, too. They have both defensive tackles Margus Hunt and Al Woods hitting free agency, so if they’re unable to retain them, it’s a clear need for the defense. Cornerback Pierre Desir had his best season as a pro in 2018, just as he’s hitting free agency. While he, Kenny Moore, and Nate Hairston played well last year, they could use some more talent in the secondary. The Colts also tried to bolster their edge with Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay in the draft last year, though they were inconsistent, so they could potentially go back after the position this year.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: WR, CB, EDGE
Jacksonville Jaguars (Estimated Cap Space: -$6.0 million, 31st-most)
After a disappointing season, the Jaguars need to make some cap space, as they’re currently over the cap by $6 million. The obvious need for them is at quarterback, as Blake Bortles is expected to be released. His release will cost them $16.5 million in dead cap, but adding in his salary, they’d actually save $4.5 million. Some believe they’ll also cut defensive tackle Marcel Dareus and his $10.6 million salary which carries no dead cap. The good news is that they’re only losing Donte Moncrief, T.J. Yeldon, and Josh Wells in free agency (provided they don’t re-sign them), so there aren’t many starter holes to fill. Many thought the defense lost a step in 2018, but that really wasn’t the case, as they were just on the field a lot more. They have tons of talent on the defensive side of the ball, so I’d expect them to focus much more on the offense this offseason. Knowing Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark are on the roster, expect them to snag a big wide receiver or possession-style tight end.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: QB, WR, OT
Kansas City Chiefs (Estimated Cap Space: $23.8 million, 20th-most)
The Chiefs have a window of opportunity right now, as they were essentially one series away from a Super Bowl appearance. While having Patrick Mahomes under his cheap rookie contract, they can approach free agency as a ‘win-now’ scenario. They can save $14 million by releasing Justin Houston, though that may not be wise to remove one sturdy veteran presence from the roster, particularly on an underwhelming defense. Dee Ford is slated to be a free agent and is coming off a career-year, so he won’t come cheap. With Eric Berry still dealing with a bunch of leg injuries stemming from his Achilles tear in 2017 and Ron Parker hitting free agency, they need to add some safety help. Many of their needs are on the defense, as their cornerback unit is among the worst in the league, and Steven Nelson is now a free agent. The signing of Anthony Hitchens to a big contract last offseason didn’t work out very well, either. Among the needs on the offensive side of the ball, getting an interior lineman has to be atop the wish list. They’ll also add a running back with Spencer Ware hitting free agency, though they may not view it as a big priority with the way Damien Williams played down the stretch.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: CB, S, OG
Los Angeles Chargers (Estimated Cap Space: $29.0 million, 16th-most)
In case you’ve missed it, the Chargers desperately need defensive tackles. Not only were three of their top five tackles hitting free agency, but they declined the option in Corey Liuget‘s contract, leaving them with essentially zero starters. They’ll be addressing the position in the draft, and it’s a good one to do that, as it’s a very deep draft class full of defensive tackles. Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emanuel are also hitting free agency, so inside linebacker is another obvious need. Some will view the Chargers losing Tyrell Williams as a bad thing, but I’m not one of them, as I believe Travis Benjamin is perfectly fine as the No. 3 receiver behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. If the Chargers need anything on the offense, it’s help on the offensive line. They drafted both Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp, but Feeney has been a bust, while Lamp can’t seem to stay healthy. Sam Tevi was among the worst right tackles in football, so replacing him to help protect the immobile Philip Rivers wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: DT, ILB, OT
Los Angeles Rams (Estimated Cap Space $27.4 million, 18th-most)
Coming off a Super Bowl loss, you’d think the Rams don’t have many holes. While that’s true with their starters, they’re not a team who has much depth. And now, they may have a Joe Thomas situation on their hands, as left tackle Andrew Whitworth has contemplated retirement. That would create a massive need for a team that has a late first-round draft pick and no second-round pick. They traded for Dante Fowler to help boost their edge last year, but he was just a rent-a-player who is now a free agent. Ndamukong Suh is also set to be a free agent and it’s hard to imagine them being able to afford re-signing him to a multi-year deal. If they do manage to fix their defensive line issues with their current free agents, they’ll still need to address linebacker, as it was a glaring weakness in 2018. They franchise tagged Lamarcus Joyner last year, though it’s unlikely they do that again. So, while they have depth issues on offense, the focus needs to be on the defense, as they saw how big of an impact losing even one player had when Aqib Talib missed two months in the middle of the season. They were built to win-now and stayed relatively healthy, covering up some holes in the roster.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, LB, C
Miami Dolphins (Estimated Cap Space $10.0 million, 27th-most)
We keep hearing the Dolphins will release Ryan Tannehill, which makes sense given the $13.2 million they’d be saving against the cap in 2019. The issue is that they don’t have another quarterback on the roster. It’s clearly their biggest need, but do they reach for a quarterback in this class, or are they waiting until 2020? Free agency will tell us a lot about these QB-needy teams. Both Cameron Wake and William Hayes are unrestricted free agents, so edge rusher will be atop their draft board as well. On top of that mess, the Dolphins can release both DeVante Parker and Robert Quinn with no dead cap and save over $22 million. The question becomes: What would they spend their newly found money? It all starts up front with the offensive line, because outside of Laremy Tunsil, Josh Sitton (aging), and maybe Ja’Waun James, they don’t have much. If they release Parker, it leaves a clear void at the “X” receiver position, too. It’s easier to list the strengths than it is the weaknesses on the Dolphins at this point, so new head coach Brian Flores surely has his work cut out for him.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: QB, EDGE, OG/C
Minnesota Vikings (Estimated Cap Space: $5.3 million, 30th-most)
The signing of Kirk Cousins was supposed to be the final piece the Vikings needed to make a Super Bowl run. Instead, they missed out on the playoffs all together, and that’s despite staying relatively healthy all year. They now have both Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson hitting free agency, and it makes little sense for them to use a franchise tag on either player. If they lose Barr, it would create a massive need at linebacker. Alongside Richardson, Tom Johnson is also going to be a free agent (as he was last year), so the defensive line suddenly may need a few bodies. If they were able to retain one of Barr or Richardson, it would surely allow them to attack their biggest weakness on offense in the draft, which is their offensive line. Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill are serviceable at tackle, but the interior is brutal. They desperately need help at guard and it’s time to move on from Pat Elflein at center. The good news is that their secondary is deep, their top wide receivers and running back are locked up for a few more years, and they believe they have their quarterback in place. This is a team who believes their window to win is over the next two years, so expect them to draft that way.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OG, C, DT
New England Patriots (Estimated Cap Space: $11.7 million, 24th-most)
The Patriots surprised everyone last year selecting a guard and running back with their two first-round picks, so what’s the plan for 2019? Knowing how much Rob Gronkowski has meant to the offense, his pending decision on retirement will affect a lot. If he were to retire, the Patriots would surely snag someone who can go up and pluck the ball out of the air, as Tom Brady‘s had someone he can lean on heavily like that since back in the Randy Moss years. Whether it be a wide receiver or tight end, someone will be added to the roster. The only wide receiver they will have on the roster (who contributes) when free agency starts is soon-to-be 33-year-old Julian Edelman, as Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson are set to be free agents. And naturally, we have to mention the fact that Brady is now 41 years old and that they have nobody on the roster as his heir apparent. On the defensive side of the ball, they have Trey Flowers, Jason McCourty, Malcolm Brown, and Danny Shelton all hitting free agency. Bottom line, they’re going to rebuild their front-four this offseason. They’re a team who’s obviously got a window to win right now, so expect them to draft pro-ready players (minus quarterback).
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, WR, QB
New Orleans Saints (Estimated Cap Space: $9.4 million, 24th-most)
The Saints are a team who arguably should have been in the Super Bowl with very few holes on the roster. After trading for Eli Apple, I hope they don’t feel as if they don’t need to address the cornerback position, because they do. Patrick Robinson will be coming off a season-ending injury, Marshon Lattimore looked human at times, and Apple himself has had a subpar NFL career to this point. That’s one of the weak points on the roster, though it’s not as if it’s a glaring weakness. On the offense, they should add a tight end, as this is known as one of the better drafts in some time for the position. Even better, it’s a position they should still be able to get a top-tier one in the second-round, because they don’t have a first-round pick. Their offensive line is a strength, but upgrading Andrus Peat at left guard would be even better. When looking at the Saints roster, it feels more like nitpicking than anything, which tells me they should once again be in the hunt for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: TE, CB, OG
New York Giants (Estimated Cap Space: $27.4 million, 17th-most)
Let the questions begin now: Will the Giants select a quarterback at No. 6 overall? Last year, the excuse was that there was a generational talent on the board with Saquon Barkley, but there’s no clear-cut Hall of Famer (their standard for not taking a quarterback last year) at this pick. Some believe they’ll tank this year (and maybe next) for a shot at Trevor Lawrence in 2021, but that’s not going to be the case, as they would have wasted three years of Barkley’s best production. Landon Collins is the only big-name free agent they have this offseason, and while he seems ready to move on, the Giants may use the franchise tag on the young Pro Bowler. After solidifying the left side of their offensive line last year, they need to attack the right side and replace both Chad Wheeler and Jamon Brown. There are some guards available in free agency, but tackles are harder to come by. Their skill-position players are set for years to come, which sets up well for a young quarterback. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback is a huge need behind Janoris Jenkins. While B.W. Webb was better than expected last year, he’s now a free agent, and not one they should overpay for.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: QB, OT, CB
New York Jets (Estimated Cap Space: $102.9 million, 2nd-most)
Another team with extreme holes on the offensive line, as there isn’t a single starter who is above replacement level. They need to go the Colts route and select multiple offensive linemen in the first few rounds, though you must remember they’re without a second-round pick in this draft. Fortunately, they have a lot of money to spend in free agency, and there’re some solid interior linemen available. Putting Le’Veon Bell behind the current offensive line would be a nightmare. They could also use some wide receiver help, as Jermaine Kearse, Andre Roberts, and Rishard Matthews are all free agents. On the defensive side of the ball, edge rusher is the biggest need, and it’s not all that close. With all the talent they have on the interior of the defensive line, they just need some competent edge rushers. Without the pass-rush, it’ll make the secondary look all that much worse, and it’s already bad as it is. Buster Skrine has been a liability covering the slot and is a free agent, as is Morris Claiborne, who was signed to just a one-year deal last offseason. The Jets aren’t a team who’ll be contending in 2019, so they can go a variety of different ways.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, CB, OT
Oakland Raiders (Estimated Cap Space: $69.8 million, 7th-most)
After unloading two Pro Bowl talents last year in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, the Raiders will attempt to find players who fit that mold with four of the top 35 picks in this year’s draft. Let’s just hope they do better than they did last year, as Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker (No. 15 and No. 65 overall picks) don’t look to be long-term solutions on the offensive line. They severely need help on the edge, as Arden Key is mediocre at best, and their next three edge rushers on the depth chart are free agents. Their secondary is set to lose safeties Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson, creating a void on the back-end, while cornerback has its own question marks. As mentioned before, the offensive line is not looking very good, but considering they spent two top-65 picks on it last year, we may see them give the young guys another year to develop. Both Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are free agents, as are Jared Cook, Martavis Bryant, and Brandon LaFell. From the sounds of it, the Raiders are looking to re-sign Cook before free agency begins. But wide receiver is a clear need for them, as Jordy Nelson is going to be 34 years old, Seth Roberts is nothing more than a role player, and Marcell Ateman is just a big body. There are many holes on this roster, so fortunately, they have plenty of money to spend in free agency and plenty of picks to make in the draft.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, WR, S
Philadelphia Eagles (Estimated Cap Space: $-7.4 million, 32nd-most)
I remember writing this article last year and when I got to the Eagles, I realized they didn’t have many holes on the roster. My recommendation was cornerbacks, which turned out to be the position that injuries affected the most last year. This year, they have a lot more holes that are likely going to need filling, as free agency is hitting them as hard as anyone. Here’s the list of notable free agents: RB Jay Ajayi, WR Golden Tate, WR Mike Wallace, DT Haloti Ngata, DE Brandon Graham, DE Chris Long, ILB Jordan Hicks, LB Paul Worrilow, CB Ronald Darby, and FS Corey Graham. With their cap issues, it’s unlikely they’re able to retain many of them. They also need to start thinking about Jason Peters‘ replacement at left tackle, as that’s not a position you’ll find in free agency. It’s hard to say what their obvious needs are until we find out just how many players they’ll lose in free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: CB, LB, OT
Pittsburgh Steelers (Estimated Cap Space: $5.7 million, 29th-most)
Now that we know Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will likely be moving on, the Steelers may realize they need to start rebuilding the core of their offense. The issue is that the clock is ticking on Ben Roethlisberger‘s career, as he’s hinted at retirement several times. The biggest potential free agent loss is Ramon Foster at left guard, but outside of him, they’re relatively good in free agency. After benching Artie Burns last season, they’ll be looking at cornerback in the draft. They also need to find another edge rusher to complement T.J. Watt, as Bud Dupree isn’t that guy. For a team who failed to make the playoffs, the Steelers don’t have a ton of holes on their roster. If they do trade away Brown, wide receiver suddenly becomes a huge need.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, CB, WR
San Francisco 49ers (Estimated Cap Space: $71.4 million, 6th-most)
When writers mention San Francisco as a potential landing spot for Antonio Brown, it makes plenty of sense. It’s out of division, conference, and the 49ers have a clear need with plenty of cap space. After drafting Mike McGlinchey last year, the offensive line looks better than it has in a long time, though upgrading Weston Richburg at center wouldn’t be a bad thing. Many of the 49ers needs come on the defensive side of the ball, as they can use linebacker, cornerback, and edge help. When picking at No. 2 like they are, cornerback and linebacker may seem like a reach, while Nick Bosa is likely to go No. 1 to the Cardinals. They don’t necessarily need another defensive tackle, but Quinnen Williams alongside DeForest Buckner would be nasty and make everyone else around them look better. It shouldn’t shock anyone to see them trade back and acquire more picks. There’s just so many needs on the defensive side of the ball that it’ll be hard to fix them all with the picks they currently have. Fortunately, they have plenty of money to spend in free agency, and I’d expect them to be big players in the free agent market this year.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: CB, LB, EDGE
Seattle Seahawks (Estimated Cap Space: $52.9 million, 8th-most)
Despite all the losses on defense last year, the Seahawks managed to hang in there and allow the 12th-fewest points per game. That doesn’t mean they’re loaded with talent and can simply ignore that side of the ball, as Frank Clark, Earl Thomas, and K.J. Wright are all headed to free agency. The franchise tag is always an option, but they need to add some star power to that defense via the draft, too. Outside of Duane Brown, who they acquired in a trade, the offensive line continues to be underwhelming. With Russell Wilson getting up there in age, he’s not going to be able to run forever, so they need to strengthen the line, especially considering they ran the ball 32.8 times per game last year, the second-most in the NFL. With the holes they have, you wonder what their plans are for Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson, as it makes little sense to keep both of them around. Maybe a trade can be made this offseason?
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, CB, OG
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Estimated Cap Space: $12.6 million, 23rd-most)
Now under a new coaching staff, maybe the priorities shift? After watching Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barber, and Ronald Jones struggle in the same scheme with the same offensive line, maybe they weren’t the problem? Call me crazy, but I don’t think the Bucs should move on from Jones just yet. The left tackle position is the top need for them right now, as Jameis Winston makes some bad decisions when under pressure. Fortunately, they now have an excuse to snag one early in the draft, as Donovan Smith is a free agent. The safety position is another big need, as Chris Conte wasn’t good and is now a free agent, while Jordan Whitehead is not the answer. They can really use a top-tier cornerback to help out with Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, who they see four times a year, but knowing they already spent a couple Day 2 picks on Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart last year, that may not happen. They also need help at edge rusher after releasing Vinny Curry a few weeks ago. And the biggest question mark is whether or not they can retain Kwon Alexander, who has been one of the staples in their defense for years. Can Bruce Arians make it work with so many holes?
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: OT, S, CB
Tennessee Titans (Estimated Cap Space: $34.5 million, 14th-most)
Are the Titans stuck in mediocrity? While Marcus Mariota had flashed early in his career, his play (and health) has deteriorated over the last few years while throwing just 24 touchdowns compared to 23 interceptions over the last two seasons. After drafting Harold Landry last year, they now need to replace the retired Brian Orakpo on the edge. Malcolm Butler may not have answered their questions at cornerback, though his play did pick up slightly towards the end of the year. They could definitely use some depth at the position. The offensive line had some hiccups last year, but they’re overall a solid unit. They could use some depth at wide receiver, but overall, I’d say the offense has a lot of usable parts. When going through their roster, I thought they’d have a lot more holes. If they can upgrade the pass-rush, it’ll make the secondary look that much better. This has to be a make-or-break year for Mariota.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: EDGE, CB, OG
Washington Redskins (Estimated Cap Space: $14.6 million, 22nd-most)
Just one year after trading for Alex Smith, the Redskins may have a massive hole at the quarterback position. Not only was his broken leg a hard injury to come back from at the age of 35, but he suffered an infection that set him back in his recovery and there’s a chance he may not play football again. He’s already been ruled out for 2019, but the Redskins need to be prepared for the worst. They have a massive hole at safety after releasing D.J. Swearinger, as Haha Clinton-Dix is also set to be a free agent, meaning they’ll start over with a new safety duo if they can’t get Clinton-Dix under contract. Their front-seven is rock-solid, while the cornerback position can use an upgrade. After spending a first-round pick on Josh Doctson three years ago that hasn’t panned out, they really need to consider drafting another wide receiver early in the draft. Paul Richardson is more of a complimentary receiver, Jamison Crowder is a free agent, and Maurice Harris is just a guy. It’s possible that Trey Quinn can play, but he’s not the solution. They have a few clear-cut needs on the roster, so they’re a team who can go multiple directions with their first-round pick. Watching what they do in free agency should help clear some of that up.
Pre-Free Agency Biggest Needs: QB, S, CB