Free Agent and Draft Needs For All 32 NFL Teams
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. That’s a song lyric, right? Well, it’s true. The 2019 NFL season concluded with the Super Bowl, but that leads us to the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. “But Mike, that’s in September!” Did you forget about free agency and the draft?
This is one of the toughest articles to do because many will argue with the strengths and weaknesses of their favorite team, telling those who disagree with them that they’re idiotic. Today, we’re going to do our best at objectively highlighting each team’s three 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 (last updated 2/24/20). 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: $51.5 million, 15th-most)
After taking Kyler Murray in last year’s draft, the Cardinals remain in a deep hole on their offensive line. They really have no strengths on it, though left guard Justin Pugh is average. Offensive tackle is clearly a problem for them, and if they want Kyler Murray to remain upright, they should consider one in the first round. They invested so much at wide receiver last year that it’s hard to say they’ll snag any with early-round picks, as they do need to find out if Hakeem Butler is a long-term solution. They have tons of players on the front seven hitting free agency, but having Chandler Jones and Corey Peters does help make edge/defensive tackle a bit less of a priority. Linebacker has been and will continue to be a problem for them, though they can likely upgrade in the middle rounds of the draft. They have to let Byron Murphy grow into a starter role, which comes with aches and pains, but cornerback depth is another area of need. The Cardinals are not short on team needs.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, LB, CB
Atlanta Falcons (Estimated Cap Space: $4.9 million, 29th-most)
The Falcons have put off their right tackle position for much longer than they should’ve, as Kaleb McGary is one of the worst in football. They’ve already declared they’re moving on from Vic Beasley, while Adrian Clayborn is an unrestricted free agent. They will draft an edge rusher; the only question is when. They also must address the cornerback room, as Desmond Trufant isn’t getting any younger, and Isaiah Oliver hasn’t flashed shutdown potential in a division that’s littered with stud wide receivers. There’s a rumor that the Falcons may move on from Devonta Freeman, which would create an obvious need at running back. They’re one of the teams who should be looking to upgrade the depth at the position, regardless, but cutting Freeman would put them in Day 1-2 territory of the draft. They do have three picks in the first two rounds.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, EDGE, CB
Baltimore Ravens (Estimated Cap Space: $31.0 million, 22nd-most)
This is a team that had very few holes towards the end of the season, though they opened up the offseason by releasing safety Tony Jefferson. They have Chuck Clark to insert into the lineup, as he did late in the year, so it’s not a need. Edge rusher is a huge need, especially if they lose both Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee in free agency, as it leaves Jaylon Ferguson as their top option. That’s just the beginning when it comes to free agency on their front seven, though. They have both linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor, as well as defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Domata Peko hitting free agency. If everyone were retained, they wouldn’t have many needs at all, though edge rusher has to be a priority. There will be some who suggest wide receiver, though it’s not a massive need after they took both Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin with early-round picks last year.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: EDGE, LB, WR
Buffalo Bills (Estimated Cap Space: $83.1 million, 4th-most)
Those who believed Robert Foster was the answer coming into 2019 were quickly shut-down as he caught just 3-of-18 targets this year. Sure, John Brown played extremely well, but he’s going to be 30 years old in April and isn’t a true No. 1 receiver. They need to get Josh Allen a big-bodied wide receiver with a high ceiling. Last year’s first-round pick Cody Ford wasn’t great at right tackle this year, but they need to give him time. Meanwhile, replacing Quinton Spain at left guard should be a high priority. They could slide Ford into the guard position and draft a tackle if they choose. If they can retain Shaq Lawson in free agency, it would keep their top-tier edge rushing unit intact. Outside of Tre’Davious White, they don’t have another cornerback teams hesitate throwing at, though Levi Wallace played much better in 2019. He’s a restricted free agent, but regardless, they should add another starting-caliber cornerback in the draft or free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OG, WR, CB
Carolina Panthers (Estimated Cap Space: $32.1 million, 21st-most)
The retirement of Luke Kuechly is going to hurt. They need to find a linebacker, obviously. Quarterback has to be a concern for them as well, as Cam Newton is entering the final year of his deal, his legs are going to fade at 31 years old, and is 0-8 in his last eight games as a starter. Will Grier didn’t look very good towards the end of the year, either. Their front four is hurting as well. Gerald McCoy, Kyle Love, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, and Bruce Irvin are all slated to be free agents. Keep in mind this is a defense that allowed a touchdown every 14.0 carries to running backs in 2019, so they weren’t good with them on the roster. They need defensive linemen, really bad. The only cornerback on the roster who saw real playing time and is under contract heading into free agency is Donte Jackson, so that appears to be another area of importance. There are more holes on the back end of the defense, but they’re not as pressing as the ones listed. New head coach Matt Rhule has walked into a tough spot with a team with tons of holes.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: LB, IDL, QB
Chicago Bears (Estimated Cap Space: $26.3 million, 23rd-most)
Let the debate begin on whether the Bears will draft a quarterback. It’s not a strength, but Ryan Pace isn’t going to forfeit his job, which is what would likely happen considering I believe Pace’s job is tied to Mitch Trubisky. They certainly need to address the offensive line, as Kyle Long’s release/retirement created a big need at guard, while left tackle Charles Leno was horrendous in 2019. The fact that they have so much money tied in Trey Burton makes it difficult to spend at tight end, but it’s one of their weaknesses. They could also upgrade their wide receiver depth, but Riley Ridley is likely going to be shoved into more playing time after releasing Taylor Gabriel, so it’s a position they’ll likely wait until later in the draft to address. Their defense is very strong, with the only notable free agents being linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety Haha Clinton-Dix. We can’t assume they don’t retain them right now, but if either were to leave, it would create a need. Releasing Prince Amukamara last week also didn’t help their cornerback depth, which needs to be addressed.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OG, CB
Cincinnati Bengals (Estimated Cap Space: $47.6 million, 19th-most)
We aren’t even going to think twice about it, the Bengals are drafting Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall, which will take care of the quarterback need. Everyone knows the Bengals need to address the offensive line, right? It’ll help when last year’s first-round pick Jonah Williams gets on the field, but it doesn’t clear up their needs on the interior. The question becomes: will they draft an offensive lineman early in the draft considering they spent a first on Williams last year, a fourth on guard Michael Jordan (who was horrendous) last year, and a first-round pick on center Billy Price in 2018 (who’s also struggled). Knowing they’re almost certainly going to cut Cordy Glenn, there’s a need at tackle. They desperately need to find a linebacker, as Nick Vigil, Preston Brown, and Germaine Pratt aren’t going to cut it. There are many other holes we can pick at with the Bengals but upgrading cornerback should be near the top of the list, too.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OT, LB
Cleveland Browns (Estimated Cap Space: $58.3 million, 10th-most)
Despite what the product on the field was in 2019, the Browns are a team that doesn’t have a lot of holes. The most obvious holes are at the offensive tackle position, as Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard may have been the worst anchor duo in the league. That’s the position they should be attacking in the first round. They have linebacker Joe Schobert hitting free agency and they just released Adarius Taylor, so linebacker has to be a priority as well. They brought in Morgan Burnett to help at safety last year, but they knew he wasn’t the long-term solution, and neither is Jermaine Whitehead. Not just that, but Damarious Randall is slated to be an unrestricted free agent, so safety is clearly a need for this team. They also need to address the depth at wide receiver, but that’s not a must at the top of the draft/free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, LB, S
Dallas Cowboys (Estimated Cap Space: $74.0 million, 5th-most)
The Cowboys are a team that have a unique situation on their hands, as both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are slated to be unrestricted free agents. They’re obviously going to use the franchise tag on one of them (most likely Prescott), but it’s something to monitor. Even if they retain Cooper, wide receiver is a need for them, as Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin are also free agents this year. Their top four interior defensive linemen are all free agents next month, though Antwaun Woods is restricted. They also have Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett hitting free agency, so getting some bodies on the edge is another need. Clearly, their front four is going to have some holes once free agency hits. It’s no secret that the Cowboys have been attached to multiple safeties as a suitor over the last few years, but now that Jeff Heath, Darian Thompson, and Kavon Frazier are slated to be free agents, they will be addressing the position, and likely early-on in the draft or free agency. The Cowboys have some money to spend, but they also have a ton of players hitting the open market.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: S, WR, IDL
Denver Broncos (Estimated Cap Space: $58.0 million, 11th-most)
While Courtland Sutton emerged as the No. 1 receiver they hoped he’d be, they still have a big need opposite him. They’ve slowly invested in their offensive line, which is sturdy, but replacing Elijah Wilkinson should be a priority, especially for a team that wants to run the ball. He’s a free agent, so they’ll most likely be looking for his replacement in the draft. They have their top three interior defensive linemen about to hit free agency, so that’s going to be a major need, especially if they don’t retain Mike Purcell, who’s a restricted free agent. Cornerback is going to be a massive need even if they retain Chris Harris Jr., though he’s expected to move on. That would leave them with Isaac Yiadom as their No. 1 cornerback, someone who was benched in 2019. We can’t assume they’ll be without Justin Simmons, who’s slated to be a free agent, but if he were to leave, safety would be another massive need.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, IDL, OT
Detroit Lions (Estimated Cap Space: $52.0 million, 16th-most)
With the talks that the Lions are shopping Darius Slay, it’s clear they’re going to need a cornerback, as it was already a position of need for them. After trading away Quandre Diggs last year and seeing Tavon Wilson about to hit free agency, safety seems to be another area of need for them. But maybe even more importantly, do they replace Jarrad Davis at linebacker? Sure, they drafted him in the first-round back in 2017, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations. The defense is where this team has the most needs, which is odd considering Matt Patricia was supposed to raise their level of play. They also announced last week that they were going to release defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison on the defensive line. This defense has a lot of holes. They can use some depth at wide receiver behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones (who’s entering the final year of his contract), as Danny Amendola filled the gap for one year, but is once again a free agent. And no, I don’t believe quarterback should be on their list of priorities right now.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, S
Green Bay Packers (Estimated Cap Space: $22.0 million, 25th-most)
If the Packers don’t add a wide receiver in free agency or in the first few rounds of the draft, Aaron Rodgers should refuse to report to training camp. They need to add some talent to the wide receiver room, as Davante Adams is on an island. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is set to be an unrestricted free agent, but may be retained, so it’s not a need just yet. They should still add depth at the position, as Bulaga has dealt with plenty of injuries over his career. Linebacker is almost as needy as wide receiver, as Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson weren’t great to begin with, but both are headed to the open market. The Packers don’t have many needs, but the ones they do are easily identifiable.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, LB, OT
Houston Texans (Estimated Cap Space: $63.0 million, 6th-most)
The Texans have more holes than they’d like, especially when you consider they’ve traded away future picks. They have a void to fill at running back with both Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller hitting free agency, even though they did trade a third-round pick for Duke Johnson. They need help on the interior of their offensive line, as both Max Scharping and Zach Fulton are far below average. Defensive tackle D.J. Reader is supposed to be a free agent but has stated he’d like to remain with the team. They need to add edge rushers, as J.J. Watt’s gone through his fair share of injuries, and they don’t have much depth behind him. And then onto the biggest issue, which is the cornerback position. Forget the fact that Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby are free agents… they weren’t good with them on the roster. For a team lacking draft picks, the Texans have some big needs to fill in free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, OG, RB
Indianapolis Colts (Estimated Cap Space: $86.1 million, 2nd-most)
After Andrew Luck retired, the Colts had hoped Jacoby Brissett would be the long-term answer, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. They’re the ones who should be expected to court Philip Rivers in free agency. While they did draft Parris Campbell last year, they need wide receivers, as T.Y. Hilton is on the final year of his deal and should start the decline of his career soon (will turn 31 years old this year). We don’t know if they’ll try to retain Eric Ebron, but if they don’t, his position is very important in this offense. On the defensive side of the ball, most of their issues are in the secondary, as strong safety Clayton Geathers is slated to be a free agent and has dealt with nagging injuries his entire career. Meanwhile, cornerback Pierre Desir didn’t live up to his contract extension and they don’t have that top-tier cornerback you’d like. They could use more experienced edge rushers but have some young guys they’re likely hoping can make a difference in 2020. All in all, the Colts aren’t really desperate at any position.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, TE, S
Jacksonville Jaguars (Estimated Cap Space: -$1.5 million, 31st-most)
We could argue that quarterback is a need, but they’ll be fine sticking with Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew for another year to see if either can make positive strides. It appears the Cam Robinson isn’t the player they’d hoped when they took him in the second-round of the 2017 draft, but will they admit defeat and move on? Highly unlikely. They should upgrade at right guard, as A.J. Cann isn’t doing anything to help the run-game, which is what they’d like to be their bread and butter. The Jags spent some equity on an edge rusher last year with Josh Allen, but will likely do the same this year considering Yannick Ngakoue is a pending free agent and they have little depth behind him. The Jaguars have no idea whether or not linebacker Telvin Smith will return to them after taking the year off football, while Myles Jack struggled to hold down the fort. Linebacker has to be a priority, unless they hear something new from Smith. Trading away Jalen Ramsey created an obvious need at cornerback, which is a position they’ll most likely in the draft with their additional picks.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, OG, LB
Kansas City Chiefs (Estimated Cap Space: $16.5 million, 27th-most)
As the Super Bowl champs, there shouldn’t be many holes to pick apart on their roster. The glaring one is cornerback, as they were not a top-tier unit in 2019, but now face unrestricted free agency on three of their top four on the depth chart, as Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, and Morris Claiborne are all going to the open market. Linebacker is another position that could use an upgrade, as Anthony Hitchens has been well below average since signing his big contract prior to the 2018 season. The Chiefs should be finding a way to lock Chris Jones up long term, as he’s headed to free agency, though the franchise tag is likely with him. Edge rusher should be upgraded, as Frank Clark is the only one who’s above average, and the reason they snagged Terrell Suggs down the stretch. Their offense doesn’t have much to improve outside of upgrading the interior of their offensive line, though the defense should get priority.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, EDGE
Las Vegas Raiders (Estimated Cap Space: $51.6 million, 14th-most)
They tried to clear up the need for wide receivers last offseason, but we all know that didn’t work. It’s still a need, and a very clear one. While their offensive line took great strides last year, Kolton Miller is still a sore at left tackle, as he was graded by PFF as the third-worst tackle in all of football last year. They have linebackers Nicholas Morrow, Will Compton, and Vontaze Burfict slated to become free agents, and they’re not a particularly good group now, so linebacker should be a high priority for them. Cornerback is an area where they can certainly improve, though Lamarcus Joyner grew into his role as the slot cornerback as the year went on, while Trayvon Mullen was solid. I still believe the Raiders are debating a quarterback upgrade, though we could still be another year away from that.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, LB, OT
Los Angeles Chargers (Estimated Cap Space: $51.8 million, 13th-most)
After letting the world know they’re moving on from Philip Rivers, quarterback is the most obvious need for the team. They have Melvin Gordon becoming an unrestricted free agent while Austin Ekeler is a restricted one. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle those two, but my guess is that Rivers/Gordon are gone. They need a few wide receviers behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as their depth chart is depleted. Will Russell Okung keep playing football with his health scare? If not, they need two offensive tackles. No matter what, they need at least one. Their defense is solid and one that won’t be very affected by free agency, either. If there’s a position that could use an upgrade, it’s cornerback, as they should search for a perimeter cornerback to play opposite Casey Hayward while Desmond King covers the slot. This offense will look much different in 2020.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OT, CB
Los Angeles Rams (Estimated Cap Space: $23.3 million, 24th-most)
If you watched the Rams in 2019, you know the offensive line is a complete mess. Not just that, but Andrew Whitworth is an unrestricted free agent, and just might retire. Offensive tackle is the top priority for them. They could also upgrade the interior of their line, but the anchors are more important. Eric Weddle decided to retire this offseason, but they do have John Johnson to insert into the starting lineup. Linebacker Cory Littleton is a big question mark, as he’s headed towards free agency, and that would leave a big hole at linebacker, but we can’t assume he won’t be retained. The same can be said about edge rusher Donte Fowler. With no first-round picks over the next two years, the Rams have some challenges ahead, particularly on the offensive line.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, OG, LB
Miami Dolphins (Estimated Cap Space: $93.7 million, most in NFL)
Yes, they need a quarterback for the long-term, but will that be atop the list of needs this year with the lack of talent everywhere else? The running back position is the ugliest in football, as is the offensive line. You can make the case that there’s not one salvageable piece on the entire unit. Seriously, it’s bad. Getting an edge rusher should also be high on the list of priorities, as they have no game-changer (or even above average talent) at the position. They were starting cornerbacks that no one had heard of towards the end of the year, and then had Xavien Howard arrested on domestic charges. Will he be on the roster? This is a roster with so many holes that it might make sense to wait on filling their quarterback need with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen on the roster. The last thing you want to do is crush a young quarterback’s confidence and being behind this offensive line would do that.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: Entire Offensive Line, EDGE, CB
Minnesota Vikings (Estimated Cap Space: $0.7 million, 30th-most)
This is a team that’s had a dominant defense for quite some time, though they started to slip in 2019 and have plenty of guys hitting free agency. Safety is going to be a big need of theirs, as Anthony Harris, Andrew Sendejo, and Jayron Kearse are all going to be unrestricted free agents. The secondary as a whole has problems, as the cornerback unit wasn’t particularly strong in 2019, and the two players who were arguably the best (Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes) are free agents. Will Xavier Rhodes bounce back? Will Mike Hughes live up to expectations? Meanwhile, Everson Griffin declined his option and will become a free agent. Behind him and Danielle Hunter, they don’t have much depth on the edge. They’ve been slowly trying to rebuild the offensive line, and it can still use some work, as Pat Elflein and Josh Kline could both be upgraded on the interior. Adding another receiver could be on the priority list as well, as they could use a solid No. 3 and Adam Thielen is going to turn 30 years old in August.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: S, CB, EDGE
New England Patriots (Estimated Cap Space: $44.1 million, 20th-most)
Will Tom Brady leave? That would change a lot, though I’m assuming he returns. They drafted N’Keal Harry in the first-round last year and traded for Mohamed Sanu (they can cut with no dead cap), but they still have a big need at wide receiver. Since losing Rob Gronkowski, tight end has been a mess. They could also be looking for an interior lineman, as Ted Karras played 1,102-of-1,145 of their snaps at center and is an unrestricted free agent. Another player who’s slated to hit free agency is defensive tackle Danny Shelton, which would create a need for them. Not just him, but Adam Butler is a restricted free agent, so this is a situation worth monitoring. Bill Belichick’s defense likes versatility, so watch for someone who can play anywhere on the defensive line. Lastly, will safety Devin McCourty remain with the team, or leave via free agency? His departure would move safety up the list.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: TE, IDL, IOL
New Orleans Saints (Estimated Cap Space: $12.3 million, 28th-most)
With Drew Brees back for another year, the Saints aren’t going to be looking at quarterbacks. They’re a team who’s going to try and win now. They could really use a wide receiver to play alongside Michael Thomas, as Ted Ginn should not be a full-time player anymore, while Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t lived up to his draft stock. Left guard Andrus Peat was the weakest link on the offensive line last year and is going to be a free agent, but they may move Will Clapp into the starting lineup this year, though it’s possible they draft an interior lineman. The biggest name to watch in free agency for them is defensive tackle David Onyemata, as he’s one of the centerpieces on the defense. Depending on what they do with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, they could use a safety or cornerback, as he’s able to play both. Ideally, they snag a cornerback who can play in the slot and keep Gardner-Johnson at safety considering they may lose Vonn Bell in free agency. This is a complete team with very few holes.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, CB, OG
New York Giants (Estimated Cap Space: $61.3 million, 8th-most)
The offensive tackle position has been an issue for the Giants for some time and the issue compounds when right tackle Mike Remmers hits free agency. Nate Solder hasn’t been great, but they’re likely sticking with him at left tackle. They should be looking to add a road-grater at right tackle. The other obvious need for them is at cornerback, as it was bad before they released Janoris Jenkins. DeAndre Baker seemed to get a little better as the year went on, but they need to add multiple cornerbacks to this unit. With both linebackers David Mayo and Deone Bucannon slated to be unrestricted free agents, they need to add a linebacker to play alongside Alec Ogletree. They have some solid rotational edge rushers but could use a difference-maker at the position.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, LB
New York Jets (Estimated Cap Space: $56.3 million, 12th-most)
When it comes to the Jets offensive side of the ball, there are a lot more holes than there are positions solidified. They don’t have a single offensive lineman who’s above average and have both of their starting tackles (Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell) hitting free agency. It seems Robby Anderson is all but gone, as he’s not taking a discount to stay with the team. The only starting wide receiver likely to remain after free agency is Jamison Crowder, who’s essentially slot-only. The Jets defense actually has a lot of good pieces in place, though their cornerback unit is among the worst in the league. Not just that, but Brian Poole, the one cornerback who was solid for them, is now an unrestricted free agent after just one year with the team.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, WR, CB
Philadelphia Eagles (Estimated Cap Space: $48.6 million, 17th-most)
We saw a lack of depth out of the wide receiver unit for the Eagles last year, though it didn’t help that both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery were injured. The biggest question is: have they already declared JJ Arcega-Whiteside a bust? That would definitely create a need at wide receiver. The biggest glaring hole for them is at cornerback, as Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are both set to be free agents, and really weren’t even that good in the first place. They also need upgrades at linebacker. They declined the club option on Nigel Bradham, leaving them with Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards on the depth chart. They also have Timmy Jernigan hitting free agency, which would leave a void next to Fletcher Cox on the defensive line, though that’s not realized just yet. The same can be said about pending free agent safety Rodney McLeod.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, WR
Pittsburgh Steelers (Estimated Cap Space: -$2.2 million, 32nd-most)
The Steelers trading away their first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick may have seemed odd at the time, but this is a team with very few holes. They could really use a tight end, as Vance McDonald isn’t the answer, and with his escalating contract, it’s almost guaranteed they don’t pick up his option. Left guard Ramon Foster is getting up there in age and didn’t have a particularly great season in 2019, so adding a piece on the offensive line should also be a priority. Edge rusher Bud Dupree is hitting free agency and they have little depth behind T.J. Watt, so edge rusher should also be on their list. All in all, this is a very sound team that can compete if Ben Roethlisberger can return to form. If he can’t, well, quarterback would be at the top of this list. They do need to prepare for life without him, and it wasn’t pretty last year.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: TE, EDGE, OG
San Francisco 49ers (Estimated Cap Space: $17.9 million, 26th-most)
The first priority for the 49ers should be locking up free agent Jimmie Ward, as they have no clear solution to replace him at safety. They could also use a cornerback or two, as Richard Sherman isn’t getting any younger, while Ahkello Witherspoon is who we thought he was. Emmanuel Moseley looked solid in relief, but he’s a restricted free agent this year. Edge rusher Arik Armstead is also coming off a career year, though he’s likely going to command a lot of money on the open market. They have solid depth at the position, but Ronald Blair and Damontre Moore are also unrestricted free agents. As far as the offense goes, they should look to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, especially when you consider how often they run the ball. They also need to consider adding a top-tier wide receiver, as Emmanuel Sanders and Kendrick Bourne are both free agents. While Deebo Samuel played fantastic, he really emerged once Sanders came to the team.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OG, WR, CB
Seattle Seahawks (Estimated Cap Space: $59.7 million, 8th-most)
Every year, we talk about how bad the Seahawks need to upgrade their offensive line. This year is no different. Replacing Germain Ifedi at right tackle should be a top priority. The interior of the line could use some work as well, as Mike Iupati wasn’t the answer and was on a one-year deal. The front four has so many important players hitting free agency, it’s kind of ridiculous. Here’s the list: DT Quinton Jefferson, DT Al Woods, DT Jarran Reed, EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE Mychal Kendricks, and EDGE Ezekiel Ansah. That very well may be their top six players available on the defensive line. Meanwhile, their cornerback situation is a disaster behind Shaquill Griffin. So, in short, the offensive line is the only problem on the offense, but the defense has holes all over depending on who leaves via free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, EDGE
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Estimated Cap Space: $85.0 million, 3rd-most)
Will Jameis Winston come back, or will he leave via free agency? That would create a large need for them but we can’t assume he’s gone just yet. They have said edge rusher Shaquill Barrett will be retained somehow, but it’s not just him who’s headed towards free agency, as Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and Sam Acho are also headed to the open market. Edge rusher is going to be a need, as they won’t retain everyone. They also have Ndamukong Suh hitting free agency, so there’s still a lot to be determined with this defensive unit. While the cornerbacks (Carlton Davis, in particular) played better down the stretch, they could still use more talent at the position. They also need to upgrade at safety, as Jordan Whitehead is among the worst in football. The offense is in great shape compared to the defense, especially when you factor in free agency and how it can affect the roster.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: EDGE, S, CB
Tennessee Titans (Estimated Cap Space: $47.9 million, 18th-most)
The Titans have quite a few big names heading towards free agency, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry, right tackle Jack Conklin, and cornerback Logan Ryan top the list. We can’t assume they all leave right now, but cornerback would be a need even if Ryan was re-signed. They invested in Harold Landry on the edge in the 2018 draft and snagged Cameron Wake in free agency last year, but the depth behind them isn’t great. Wake is also 38 years old. Edge rusher should be considered one of their needs. Lastly, they would ideally swap out Nate Davis at right guard. Sure, they drafted him in the third-round last year, but he was horrendous. Free agency is going to be bigger for them than most teams, as it can create many more needs.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, EDGE, OG
Washington Redskins (Estimated Cap Space: $62.1 million, 7th-most)
The Redskins already let us know about some of their needs when they released cornerback Josh Norman and wide receiver Paul Richardson. Those are two positions that they’ll need to address, though cornerback is more of a priority. The biggest question surrounding their team right now is Trent Williams, who doesn’t want to play for the Redskins. They inserted Donald Penn last year, who is now a free agent, and possibly done playing football altogether. They’ll be drafting an offensive tackle at some point, unless they can get Williams back on board. Snagging an offensive guard would make sense, too, as Ereck Flowers isn’t the answer at left guard. They have talent on defense, but they can use a difference-making edge rusher to pair with Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan, which is why many have mocked Chase Young to them at No. 2 overall. They have plenty of needs on the roster right now, but it’s clear which ones are most important.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, EDGE