Mar. 08, 2018
If I Was Every NFL Team's GM...
With the NFL combine set to kick off, it's essentially the soft open to the new NFL year. While the official beginning of the new league doesn't begin until March 14th, NFL front offices have already made major decisions impacting the rest of the market. Hell, just look at the Alex Smith-to-Washington trade. Regardless if a team won the Super Bowl or couldn't win a single game, both ends on the spectrum of success have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. Tough decisions will be made involving free agency, the draft, and cutting cap casualties.
Lucky, I obviously have all of the answers for every NFL roster. In alphabetical order, here are every team's offseason dilemmas and how I could be Mr. Right and fix them. Well, at least try...
Significant free agents: WR John Brown, CB Tramon Williams, WR Jaron Brown, CB Justin Bethel, SS Tyvon Branch
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Cornerback 3) Right Guard 4) Wide Receiver 5) Right Tackle
1. Draft AND sign new Quarterbacks
With Carson Palmer retiring, the Cardinals don't have a single quarterback under contract. Arizona holds the #15 pick, so unless they trade up in the draft, the four starting-ready quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield) will all be gone. Sitting with only $23 Million in cap space, they can't afford to sign Kirk Cousins. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater or A.J. McCarron will get their opportunity to start in Arizona. If Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson are still available in the second round, they should both get a long look.
2. Sign a starting Cornerback
Tramon Williams stepped up as a starter in 2017, but he's unrestricted and likely to leave. With limited cap space, they can't go out and splurge on Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler. What they can do is sign a solid second-tier corner, someone like Prince Amukamara or Davon House. Denzel Ward and Josh Jackson are draft options if they want to go that route with pick #15.
3. Draft a Guard on Day 2
It's hard to see this offense being successful without an improvement to the offensive line. LG Mike Iupati is okay, and he's getting paid. Jared Veldheer can play Right Guard or Right Tackle, but he was complacent at best and cutting him would save Arizona over $6 Million. #15 is a reach for Ohio State's Billy Price or Georgia's Isaiah Wynn. Arizona can nab an athletic guard on Day 2 of the draft.
4. Sign and draft Receivers
Both John and Jaron Brown are unrestricted free agents. Their workhorse for the past decade, Larry Fitzgerald, is 35 years old and has to drop off at some point. If Alabama's Calvin Ridley is still on the board at #15, he's the obvious choice. They could reach for Courtland Sutton or James Washington with #15 if they're that desperate, but this receiving draft class is deep and they can add talent on Day 2 as well. Signing an inexpensive veteran to be an option in three-receiver packages would be smart.
5. Draft a Right Tackle and (finally) cut Jared Veltheer
Veldheer is expensive and mediocre. Connor Williams and Mike McGlinchey are draft options at #15. Otherwise, they could give backup Will Holden a chance. Given that it's not the biggest of priorities, a second, third or fourth rounder could be used to address this issue as well.
Significant free agents: DT Dontari Poe, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Andre Roberts, ILB Sean Weatherspoon, SS Kemal Ishmael
NEEDS: 1) Right Guard 2) Defensive Tackle 3) Free Safety 4) Wide Receiver 5) Inside Linebacker
1. Draft a Guard
Right Guard Wes Schweitzer underperformed compared to the rest of the O-Line in 2017. If they still believe in him, cutting Left Guard Andy Levitre would save the cash-strapped Falcons $7 Million. The point is, both players shouldn't start again in 2018. Atlanta could stay in state and draft Georgia's Isaiah Wynn with pick #26. Otherwise, Billy Price, James Daniels and Will Hernandez are other options.
2. Re-sign Dontari Poe and let Adrian Cloyborn walk
Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe are both defensive playmakers. Unfortunately, they're also both free agents. Currently the Falcons only have about $12 Million of cap space, very little to work with. Atlanta has Takk McKinley who could start if Adrian Clayborn isn't retained, but they don't have an adequate fill-in next to Grady Jarrett if Poe doesn't come back. Dontari Poe should be the priority as far as re-signings, but if he decided to test the market, they need to either sign a replacement who's used to the 4-3 or use one of their first two picks to address the hole.
3. Draft a speedy deep threat receiver in the first three rounds
Taylor Gabriel is a free agent, and unless he's willing to take a hometown discount, he's heading elsewhere. With a deep receiver class in this year's draft, they could afford to use pick #26 on a different need and use their second or third round picks on a new deep threat. James Washington and Christian Kirk would both be ideal picks.
4. Draft a Free Safety to give Ricardo Allen competition
Ricardo Allen isn't a bad safety by any means, but this is a talented defense who could use both depth in the near future and a talented replacement as a long-term option. There are about five or six different safeties that should fit the bill on Day 2 of the draft.
5. Listen to trade offers for Tevin Coleman.
It might sound crazy, but Atlanta could address other needs on the team by trading a second-string player with plenty of trade value With 20 touchdowns over the past three seasons, his production is much desired. He only has one year left on his contract and RB1 Devonta Freeman just got a hefty extension. It's definitely something to consider.
Significant free agents: C Ryan Jensen, WR Mike Wallace, TE Ben Watson,
WR Michael Campanaro, RB Terrance West, RT James Hurst
NEEDS: 1) Wide Receiver 2) Center 3) Right Tackle 4) Edge Rusher 5) Tight End
1. Before anything else, cut some dead weight
With only $10.5 Million in cap space, they need to clear more. Jeremy Maclin is a mediocre starter and cutting him would save $5 Million. Danny Woodhead is just a depth back now, so he's not worth the money. Brandon Carr really stepped up after Jimmy Smith went out injured, but cutting him would save another $5 Million. Breshad Perriman is an absolute bust and should be cut anyways, saving another $1.6 Million. By just cutting those four players, you're more than doubling the current cap space to work with.
2. It's time to completely rebuild the receiving corps: Draft, Sign, and Pray.
Joe Flacco will never be an elite quarterback, but he could look a lot more like one if he actually has decent receivers to throw to. Mike Wallace is debatably their best option and he's unrestricted. Again, Jeremy Maclin is mediocre and cutting him would save $5 Million. Breshad Perriman has been northing short of their worst draft pick for the Ravens in recent years, and cutting him makes more sense than bringing him back. Michael Campanero is also unrestricted, so DeVIer Posey, their fifth-string option, is the best option that's guaranteed to return in 2018. Receivers like Terrelle Pryor should be pursued in free agency, and if Calvin Ridley is available at #16, he's a no-brainer selection. They need at least three new viable options by training camp.
3. Re-sign Ryan Jensen.
Ryan Jensen is unrestricted, but the Ravens should do what they can to bring him back. There aren't realistic replacements in this free agent market, nor the draft.If they can't, well, use their second rounder on Frank Ragnow.
4. Draft a Right Tackle to give Austin Howard competition
Austin Howard isn't a BAD Right Tackle, but he was inconsistent and didn't hold his own in pass protection. Cutting him would only save a little over $1 Million, so you might as well keep him around. Just use a Day 2 draft pick on one of a half dozen potential options.
5. Draft an edge rusher to develop under Terrell Suggs
There's a good chance Terrell Suggs will be their best pass rusher again in 2018, but he also isn't getting any younger. Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser could both develop into reliable edge rushers, but they still have growing to do and the team could still use another option. Look for Baltimore to try and find a sleeper in rounds two through four.
Significant free agents: CB EJ Gaines, DT Kyle Williams, RB Taiwan Jones, WR Jordan Matthews, ILB Preston Brown, CB Shareece Wright, CB Leonard Johnson, FB Mike Tolbert, RT Seantrel Henderson
NEEDS: 1) Defensive Tackle 2) Cornerback 3) Center 4) Linebacker 5) Quarterback
1. Keep Tyrod Taylor as your starting quarterback in 2018
This might come as a suprise, considering many people in the organization aren't a fan of him and cutting him would save $10 Million.ever, Buffalo isn't in the best position to instantly improve at the position. No starting-worthy QB will be left by the time they pick at #21, and paying a free agent QB might be far more expensive than $10 Million. Just look at Jimmy Garoppolo's new contract. Plus, their backup right now is Nate Peterman, the guy who threw five interceptions in one half. They might just have to pick the less lethal poison here and keep Tyrod Taylor.
2. Sign or draft a Defensive Tackle
Kyle Williams has been a decent starter for Buffalo, but he's 34 and unrestricted. With two first-round picks back-to-back, they should definitely look at DT's like Maurice Hurst, Harrison Phillips and Rasheem Green. Otherwise, they could sign a starting-worthy defensive tackle in free agency.
3. Draft a Cornerback
White was undeniably the best player in Buffalo's secondary last year. E.J. Gaines was right behind him, but he's unrestricted and 26, so another team is going to pay him big money to be a shutdown corner. They signed Vontae Davis, but they could still use a third option. Assuming they can't re-sign Gaines for a reasonable price, Buffalo should save the free agency money for another position and use an early pick on another young corner. Josh Jackson, Mike Hughes, and Isaiah Oliver are three stud prospects that would fit nicely.
4. Draft a Center in the first round
All-Pro Center Eric Wood suffered a career-ending neck injury, leaving a big hole on an otherwise decent offensive line. Baltimore will likely re-sign Ryan Jensen, but their cap situation isn't the greatest either. Jensen would be an excellent addition to the line, but assuming he's not available, Billy Price and James Daniels are two Big Ten Center prospects that would fit the bill nicely for Buffalo.
5. Re-sign Preston Brown and draft or sign another cheap Linebacker option
Preston Brown is unrestricted, but the 25-year-old likes Buffalo and fits in well. Signing a new free agent Inside Linebacker would be costly in this market, so bringing back Preston Brown on some form of a home town discount is perfect. Matt Milano is still raw and may not be the best option to start with Brown and Lorenzo Alexander, so using a second-through-fourth rounder or signing an inexpensive veteran with linebacker experience would solidify the entire Linebacker corps.
6. Draft a middle-round sleeper to back up LeSean McCoy
Taiwan Jones is a free agent, and even if they did bring him back, there's not much talent nor depth behind LeSean McCoy. Picking a player like Rashaad Penny in the third, fourth or fifth rounds would help provide both and potentially produce the running back of the future.
7. Draft a speedy Wide Receiver on Day 2
Jordan Matthews is a free agent, and there's a good chance he'll attracted a large sum of teams. Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones are formidable options, but they could use a faster slot/deep-threat option. A play like Texas A&M's Christian Kirk would fit perfectly to give whoever is throwing the ball in Buffalo next year another big play target.
Significant free agents: LG Andrew Norwell, FS Kurt Coleman, RB Jonathan Stewart, DE Charles Johnson DE Julius Peppers, K Graham Gano, DT Star Lotulelei, TE Ed Dickson, WR Charles Johnson, CB Teddy Williams, FS Jairus Byrd,
NEEDS: 1) Guard 2) Wide Receiver 3) Defensive End 4) Free Safety 5) Cornerback
1. Re-Sign Andrew Norwell
Re-signing a Guard doesn't seem to be a common top priority, but Andrew Norwell was an All-Pro guard and the anchor of Carolina's offensive line in 2017. He's undoubtedly the top free agent at the position, and Carolina should do whatever they (reasonably) can to bring him back. If for some reason they decide to move on, they could use pick #24 on Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels or Will Hernandez.
2. Draft and sign Wide Receivers
One of the reasons Carolina struggled in the passing game last season was Greg Olsen's injury. Not only did it prove Olsen's value as a veteran pass catcher and red zone threat, it exposed a weak receiving corps that only boasts one start-worthy option: Devin Funchess. With about $26 Million cap space, they can't afford to sign a Jarvis Landry-type receiver. What they should do is use a first or second round pick on a deep threat receiver like James Washington and Christian Kirk. Put that player in packages with Funchess, Olsen and a newly-signed second-tier option, and Cam Newton will be a happy quarterback.
3. Draft a young Defensive End early
Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson are both old and unrestricted. Mario Addison is a good rotation player, but he's on the wrong side of 30 as well and shouldn't be the top edge rushing option. The Panthers should take a player like Harold Landry, Arden Key or Sam Hubbard with pick #24. If they take a receiver in the first round instead, they better take an edge rusher on Day 2.
4. Sign and draft two new Free Safeties
Carolina cut Kurt Coleman at the end of February and they're most likely letting Jairus Byrd walk, which leaves Colin Jones as the only Free Safety on the roster. That's not good. They should either draft a free safety early and sign a cheap veteran, or sing a quality start like Nate Allen or Ron Parker and use a middle round pick on a project of a Free Safety. Either way, they should have two new options in center field.
5. Draft a Cornerback for depth on Day 2
Carolina's secondary isn't atrocious, but Captain Munnerlyn is only okay and can be a distraction, while James Bradberry didn't develop any further in 2017. With a deep cornerback class this year, they should take a cornerback with one of their three picks on Day 2.
Significant free agents: CB Kyle Fuller, CB Prince Amukamara, OLB Pernell McPhee, ILB Jerrell Freeman, QB Mike Glennon, TE Zach Miller, G Josh Sitton, WR Kendall Wright, P Pat O’Donnell, OLB Lamarr Houston, WR Dontrelle Inman
NEEDS: 1) Wide Receiver 2) Cornerback 3) Outside Linebacker 4) Tight End
1. Completely rebuild this god-awful receiving corps
Chicago's leading receiver in 2017 was....Kendall Wright. That's bad. After cutting dead weight, the Bears have more that $60 Million to work with this offseason, meaning they can afford to sign an A-List receiver AND draft multiple solid options. Markus Wheaton and Kevin White are the only receivers on the roster right now, and they might as well cut Wheaton and save another $5 Million. With the 8th overall pick, they should seriously consider taking top pass catcher Calvin Ridley. A receiving crew trio of Kevin White, Calvin Ridley and an Allen Robinson-type player makes Mitch Trubisky's job a whole lot easier.
2. Sign a reliable Cornerback and either draft Denzel Ward at #8 or another Corner at #40
Chicago's two best Cornerbacks, Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller, are both free agents likely to leave town. While Crevon LeBlanc deserves more reps, they still need two new start-worthy options. Top corner prospect Denzel Ward should be considered just as much as WR Calvin Ridley at #8. If they don't take Ward, Chicago should use their second-rounder on an athletic corner like Isaiah Oliver, Jaire Alexander or Donte Jackson. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio worked wonders with 2017 4th-rounder Eddie Jackson; he can help grow another young secondary playmaker again. In addition to the draft pick, there are plenty of seasoned cornerbacks for Chicago to pick from in free agency.
3. Sign an Outside Linebacker
Chicago cut Pernell McPhee during their cap-clearing spree, meaning McPhee, Sam Acho, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston are all gone. Now they need a new Outside Linebacker. With the first two rounds of the draft set to address the Wide Receiver and Cornerback issues, the Bears must turn to free agency, where options like Connor Barwin and Erik Walden should be considered. If Acho and Houston don't ask for much, I'd offer to bring them back as well.
4. Re-sign Zach Miller and Josh Sitton
Zach Miller may be best remembered for his gruesome leg injury, but when healthy, he was Mitch Trubisky's favorite receiving weapon. His experience and familiarity with the young QB should be considered when offering him a new contract. As far as Josh Sitton, he once again played at a formidable level. Replacing him with what's available in free agency and the draft is much more risky than just re-signing him. While Chicago should consider using middle round picks to find long-term options at Tight End and Guard, both of these veterans will be valuable to Mitch Trubisky, the rest of the offense and the success of the entire roster.
5. Cut Bobbie Massie and sign a new Right Tackle
When looking at the Bears' offensive line, it's a lot more put together than a few years ago. After they re-sign Josh Sitton, that leaves just one under-performer as a starter: Right Tackle Bobbie Massie. Cutting him would save another $5.6 Million, which they can use to give another free agent option a chance.
Significant free agents: TE Tyler Eifert, ILB Kevin Minter, G Andre Smith, P Kevin Huber, RT Eric Winston, C Russell Bodine, RB Jeremy Hill, QB AJ McCarron
NEEDS: 1) Offensive Tackle 2) Center 3) Guard 4) Cornerback 5) Edge Rusher
1. Restructure this entire Offensive Line
Cincinnati has, well, one of the worst O-Lines in all of football. Former 1st-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi filled in at Left Tackle last year and struggled big time. He's much better suited as a guard, where he can start opposite of Clint Boling. Center Russell Bodine is mediocre and unrestricted. While Cincinnati's cap space stands at over $35 Million, owner Mike Brown is very frugal and wouldn't splurge for a lineman like Andrew Norwell or Nate Solder. With pick #12, it might honestly be smart to trade down and gather more picks. Quenton Nelson will be gone and no other O-Lineman will be worth reaching for that high. If they don't trade down, their best lineman to stretch for is the 6'8" project Kolton Miller. He's the best Left Tackle option and has a higher ceiling than Connor Williams, Orlando Brown and Mike McGlinchey. They'll need to invest in at least two more free agent O-Lineman to round out Center and Right Tackle as well. If the Packers cut Brian Bulaga, this would be a decent landing spot. I'd expect Day 2 of the draft to address another O-Lineman as well.
2. Stick with Andy Dalton in 2018 and draft a Quarterback on Day 2
While Andy Dalton has a short leash, Cincinnati won't spend money on a new starter nor use pick #12 to address the issue. A.J. McCarron is leaving to find starting time elsewhere, which means Jeff Driskel is the only back-up. Look for Cincy to use their second or third round selection on a new long-term option at Quarterback.
3. Don't overspend on Tyler Eifert. Only bring him back if he's reasonable
After Vontaze Burfict;s extension, Tyler Eifert stands as the only player deserving of a franchise tag on the roster. It doesn't look like Cincy will use the tag, meaning they won't gamble on paying Eifert $10 Million for a year, which I completely agree with. The NFL is as injury-riddled as ever, and Eifert happens to catch that bug often. He's missed 40 games over the past 5 years. Apparently he does want to come back, so if he understands the injury risk and the toll it takes on his potential salary, then by all means, bring him back. If he's looking for a salary closer to that tag number, let him walk. Fill-in starter Tyler Kroft was Top 10 out of all Tight Ends in Eifert's absence, so they can afford to let him go.
4. Cut Darqueze Dennard or Adam Jones and bring in a new third corner
Dre Kirkpatrick earned his big money extension, but Darqueze Dennard and Adam Jones are both in their final years and taking up too much cap space. Cutting Dennard would save $8.5 Million, while cutting the older Pacman Jones would save $5.8 Million. Cut one or the other, cut both, I don't care. All i know is those two shouldn't be accountable for almost $15 Million in cap space. They can sign a veteran for much cheaper or use a Day 2 draft pick to fill the void.
5. Draft a Defensive End on Day 2
Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, both starting Defensive Ends, are on the last year of their contracts. It's highly unlikely that they'll both be brought back, and Cincy could actually save $7.3 Million by cutting Dunlap now. The draft class edge rusher is very deep, so using a second or third rounder on a Defensive End could lead to another Carl Lawson-type scenario.
Significant Free Agents: RB1 Isaiah Crowell
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Running Back 3) Wide Receiver 4) Cornerback 5) Safety 6) Left Tackle
1. Draft Josh Allen with the #1 pick and sign Sam Bradford
With the top pick in this year's draft, it's their choice between Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield. Allen has the ideal size for an NFL quarterback and an absolute cannon of an arm, but he might not be NFL ready. Sam Darnold has incredible intangibles, but his inconsistency showed in the second half of USC's season. Josh Rosen said he didn't want to go to Cleveland, so there's that. Baker Mayfield might have won the Heisman, but his height and potential ceiling makes scouts worry. To me, Allen has the highest ceiling, possibly the best arm and size, and is only a year out from being a quality starter. Cleveland should do what the Rams did with Jared Goff and let him learn for a year behind a short-term option. Sam Bradford makes perfect sense to bring in on a prove-haters-wrong deal. Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh McCown would also work, as well as Trevor Siemian, whom the Broncos are actively shopping. They don't need to spend for Kirk Cousins when they're in a position to get the best QB in this year's draft.
2. Draft Saquon Barkley at #4 or sign a premier free agent Running Back
Isaiah Crowell is a free agent, leaving Duke Johnson as the lone option. If Le'Veon Bell doesn't re-sign with Pittsburgh, Cleveland should do whatever it takes to pay him big time. Hell, they have $110 Million in cap space; they can afford it. If Bell is unavailable, either draft Saquon Barkley or draft a middle round sleeper (Rashaad Penny) and sign Carlos Hyde, Johnathan Stewart, Dion Lewis, Jeremy Hill or Doug Martin.
3. Sign Allen Robinson and draft another receiver on Day 2.
Whoever the new QB is, he doesn't have much to work with. Kenny Britt was cut mid-season, Caorey Coleman has missed 13 games in his first two season and drops far too many important passes, and Rashard Higgins was just okay as a third option. Cleveland and their abundance of cap space should sign Allen Robinson, or if he's not available, Sammy Watkins or Marquise Lee.Higgins, a premier free agent and a new young option on Day 2 should form a decent package for the new gunslinger.
4. Sign a starting Cornerback
Cleveland was 29th in pass defense and 31st in Interceptions in 2017. Neither Jason McCourty nor Jamar Taylor can seem to force a turnover. Adding a cornerback like Trumaine Johnson, E.J. Gaines or Malcolm Butler would finally give this secondary a spark.
5. Draft or sign a Free Safety so Jabrill Peppers can play like Jabrill Peppers
Cleveland didn't have a true Free Safety option in 2017, so Peppers filled in. While he did okay, his true abilities shine when he's a ball-hawk creeping into the box. Minkah Fitzpatrick will be available at #4, and if Saquon Barkley is already taken by New York or Indianapolis, Fitzpatrick is the obvious choice. They have decent Free Safety options in the second round as well, so they may not have to sign another Free Safety. However, they easily could with that drool-worthy salary cap space.
6. Draft a Left Tackle project on Day 2
Joe Thomas may be the best Left Tackle of our generation. The undeniable future Hall of Famer also tore his triceps and is now pondering retirement. Even if he does return, he can't play forever. A Day 2 option like 6'8" project Kolton Miller would be smart. Ohio State Jamarco Jones absolutely loves Joe Thomas, and he's also a project tackle to consider.
Significant free agents: DT Stephen Paea, LG Jonathan Cooper, ILB Anthony Hitchens, RT Byron Bell, OLB Kyle Wilber, RB Alfred Morris, G Joe Looney,
WR Brice Butler
NEEDS: 1) Defensive Tackle 2) Inside Linebacker 3) Wide Receiver 4) Left Guard 5) Defensive Back
1. Use pick #19 on Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne
Stephen Paea is a free agent, leaving no run stopping D-Tackles on this roster. With only $18 Million in cap space, they can't go after players like Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson. Instead, they must use their first rounder to literally fill the hole. Vita Vea and Da'Ron Payne are perfect options at #19.
2. Sign or draft an Inside Linebacker
Sean Lee is injury-prone and turning 32, and Jaylon Smith is just as injury-prone as Lee. Their other option, Anthony Hitchens, is set to leave in free agency. If they don't re-sign him, which given their cap situation is a strong possibility, they need to either draft another option in the second or third round, or sign a second-tier option like Todd Davis or Korey Toomer. If Leighton Vander Esch is available at #50, take him.
3. Restructure or cut Dez Bryant and draft a speed option on Day 2
Dez Bryant has underperformed the last three season. After raking up over 1,300 Yards and 16 Touchdowns in 2014, he hasn't reached 900 Yards or 9 Touchdowns in a single season since. He's 29, and there's a very good chance we've seen his ceiling. Cutting him after June 1st would save $12.5 Million, almost doubling their current cap space. If they can't restructure his contract for less money, he's not worth the eight-figure salary cap burden. Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley both were complacent in 2017, and depth option Brice Butler is a free agent. They should use a second or third round pick on a speedy deep threat receiver like D.J. Moore or Christian Kirk.
4. Draft a versatile offensive lineman
Jonathan Cooper was decent as the starting Left Guard, but many believe he's not the long-term solution for one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Swing Tackle Byron Bell and Guard Joe Looney are also both free agents. Even if they do bring back Cooper and one of the depth lineman, adding depth in the middle rounds is still necessary. Someone like Martinas Rankin could play both Guard and be a swing tackle.
5. Move Byron Jones to Cornerback full-time and draft or sign a cheap Safety
The Cowboys have openly talked about cutting Morris Claiborne, which would save $3 Million of coveted cap money. Byron Jones is traditionally a safety, but he was open to the idea of moving to cornerback when interviewed. If Jones moves from Safety to Corner, that would allow Chidobe Awuzie to be an outside corner and Jourdan Lewis can play as the slot corner. This also pushed Anthony Brown to a reserve role, which is where he belongs right now. There are a handful of Safety options on Day 2 of the draft, otherwise they can sign a cheap veteran like Jairus Byrd.
Significant free agents: TE Virgil Green, G Allen Barbre, ILB Todd Davis, WR Cody Latimer, G Billy Turner, RB Jamaal Charles, DE Jared Crick, LT Donald Stephenson
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Left Guard 3) Right Tackle 4) Tight End 5) Inside Linebacker
1. Trade Trevor Siemian and sign Kirk Cousins
It's no secret the Broncos are actively shopping Trevor Siemian. Denver should take whatever the best offer is for him. He's got one year left on his deal, they don't want him to be the starter and they have Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly as other backups. This would free up more money they can directly use to sign Kirk Cousins. Signing Cousins would turn a team with a Top 10 pick into playoff contenders immediately. Plus, signing the biggest free agent quarterback will show receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders that the front office isn't settling, thus make it more likely for both players to restructure their contracts. With pick #5, they have the flexibility to draft an NFL-ready quarterback, but that's also what they said about Paxton Lynch, and here he sits on the bench.
2. Draft Quenton Nelson with pick #5
This offensive line needs work, and Left Guard Allen Barbre is unrestricted, average and old. Assuming they sign Kirk Cousins or another free agent QB relatively close to his talent level, the O-Line becomes the biggest priority for pick #5. Quenton Nelson is the highest-rated Guard prospect in a long, long time. He would instantly become the best player on the line and a difference maker moving forward. It seems silly out of context to draft a Guard 5th overall, but it makes plenty of sense when it's Quenton Nelson.
3. Cut Menelik Watson and draft a new Right Tackle with pick #37
Menelik Watson has not earned his hefty salary, and cutting up post-June 1st would give Denver $5.8 Million more to work with. Prospects like Chukwuma Okorafor, Brian O'Neill, Martinas Rankin and Jamarco Jones should get long looks from the Broncos early in the second round. It's not often that teams use their first two picks on O-Linemen, but looking at Denver, they need it.
4. Draft or Sign an inexpensive Tight End
Virgil Green is a free agent and Jake Butt is coming off of Injured Reserve. Even if Butt is fully healthy, they need another two-set option with Green's departure looming. Drafting a sleeper like Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki or Troy Fumagali on Day 2 would be a smart choice. Either that or signing an inexpensive option like Green Bay's Richard Rodgers is the way to go.
5. Re-Sign Todd Davis
Davis provided an alternate look from fellow Inside Linebacker Brandon Marshall. With other needs being drafted in the first few rounds, it would be smart to re-sign the 26-year-old. If he's asking for much, they could sign a veteran on a cheap prove-me deal and use a fourth or fifth round pick on trying to find a sleeper.
6. Restructure Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and draft for depth in the middle rounds
Both Thomas and Sanders have cap hits of eight figures. If they're not willing to restructure their contract, even with the hypothetical arrival of Kirk Cousins, there's a good chance one of these players will be cut. Keeping that possible hole in mind, fellow receivers Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler are free agents. This means that even if they keep both star receivers, they should draft for depth in the middle rounds.
Significant free agents: DT Haloti Ngata, C Travis Swanson, LT Greg Robinson, DE Ezekiel Ansah, OLB Tahir Whitehead, CB DJ Hayden, OLB Paul Worrilow, TE Darren Fells, SS Tavon Wilson
NEEDS: 1) Running Back 2) Defensive End 3) Center 4) Defensive Tackle 5) Outside Linebacker
1. Draft Derrius Guice or sign an every-down Running Back
Fun fact: Matthew Stafford has never had an every-down Running Back to work with. It's so bad, the Lions were dead last in rushing yards. GM Bob Quinn said they'll bring in new options, so cutting Ameer Abdullah and saving the $1.3 Million of his final contract year would make sense. With the 20th pick, Derrius Guice may be a bit of a risk, but some teams see major upside in him. They do have a decent amount of cap space to work with, so they should try to sign Carlos Hyde or Isaiah Crowell and use their first-rounder on a different area of need.
2. Draft a Defensive End as an eventual replacement for Ziggy Ansah
The Lions have wisely placed the franchise tag on Ziggy Ansah. He'll get paid around $17 Million this year, but one of the best pass rushers in the league is now off the market. His injury history makes the front office nervous to offer him anything long-term, and rightfully so. Personally, I want to see more consistency. Yes, he had 12 Sacks, but 9 of the 12 came in just three games. Quick math tells you that's at least ten games in which he didn't have a sack. If he can stay healthy all of 2018 and produce numbers on a consistent basis, then by all means, give the man the extension he deserves. Until then, leave the extension off the table and use an early pick to draft a project pass rusher to develop behind Ansah for a year. Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry, Sam Hubbard and Arden Key would all qualify here.
3. Draft a new Center
Travis Swanson is an unrestricted free agent, and while it's likely he'd return, the Lions can do better. Billy Price and James Daniels are both legitimate options at #20, and if they use their first rounder on a different need, a player like Frank Ragnow would be a great find on Day 2.
4. Draft a 4-3 Defensive Tackle on Day 2
Haloti Ngata is a free agent, but at 34, his best days are far behind him. Akeem Spence and A'Shawn Robinson both have some degree of starting experience, but that may not be enough for an entire 16-game season. The best solution would be to use a second or third rounder on a D-Tackle with 4-3 experience, like Rasheem Green or Harrison Phillips. signing a cheap veteran on a prove-me deal would also work.
5. Re-sign Tahir Whitehead and draft a Linebacker for depth
Whitehead stepped into a starting role in 2017 and played in all 16 games, racking up 110 Tackles. It would make sense to both parties to bring him back. Paul Worrilow is unrestricted and the team needed more depth at Linebacker anyways, so drafting a solid options in rounds three through five would be perfect. Signing a veteran would also be an option, if they still have money left over after addressing higher priorities.
Green Bay Packers
Significant free agents: SS Morgan Burnett, CB Davon House, RG Jahri Evans, OLB Ahmad Brooks, TE Richard Rodgers
NEEDS: 1) Outside Linebacker 2) Cornerback 3) Right Tackle 4) Right Guard 5) Tight End 6) Strong Safety
1. Use pick #14 on Tremaine Edmunds or Marcus Davenport, and move Clay Matthews inside
One of the biggest areas this team struggling in during the 2017 campaign was the pass rush. Clay Matthews led the team with 7.5 Sacks, a number which shouldn't lead the team, and he personally hasn't hit double-digits in sacks since 2014. Nick Perry just signed a fat extension but he couldn't get to double-digit sacks again either. Matthews is better suited as a 3-4 Inside Linebackr moving forward, so they should move him inside (if they retain his eight-figure salary) and draft whoever the best edge rusher is at #14. There's a good chance Tremaine Edmunds will be gone by then, so Marcus Davenport currently stands as their best bet. Harold Landry would be the only other edge rusher worth pursuing this early.
2. Sign a starting Cornerback
Davon House was brought in for the 2017 to start, and that failed. Damarious Randall and Keving King both flashed starting potential when healthy, but neither player could stay healthy. House is a free agent and unlikely to return, and Quinten Rollins and Demetri Goodson are both mediocre and injury prone. They'll likely draft another sleeper option in the middle rounds in 2018, but Green Bay better sign a new starting option to go with Randall and King. There are about a dozen players who would fit the bill this offseason.
3. Cut Bryan Bulaga and draft a Right Tackle on Day 2
Bulaga is set to earn $8 Million in his final contract year, and he's never remained healthy nor better than average. It's time to cut the dead weight. Jason Spriggs didn't show much in his brief stint as the fill-in starter, and with his health, Green Bay needs to bring in fresh meat to give him a run for his job. There are about five or six Right Tackles close to being starter-ready on Day 2 of the draft.
4. Draft a Right Guard on Day 2
Jahri Evans came in on a one-year deal and played okay. He's old and unrestricted, so it's very likely he's out of Titletown. Justin McCray could be the new starter, but he was exposed frequently at both Right Guard and Right Tackle last season. Green Bay should plan on drafting whoever the beest Guard or Right Tackle is available with pick #46, and then address the other position with their third rounder. Will Hernandez and Braden Smith would both be solid options.
5. Extend Aaron Rodgers, cut Brett Hundley, and sign a veteran backup
Rodgers' value was on full display when the Packers absolutely tanked without him in 2017. By back-ending the contract, they can keep Mr. Titletown right where he is while saving cap money of the next couple of seasons. Brett Hundley showed his worth too, just in a bad way. He's got one more year on his rookie deal, but Green Bay might as well save the $700K and send him off. No fan wants to see him step on the field in Green and Gold ever again. If players like Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown are still vying for starting jobs, they'll have to turn to the Derek Anderson's and Kellen Clemens' of the world.
6. Sign a Tight End to give Lance Kendricks competition
The Martellus Bennett experience was an unfruitful one for Green Bay, and Lance Kendricks didn't show starting Tight End material once Bennett departed. The only other Tight End on the roster, Richard Rodgers, is an unrestricted free agent. I wouldn't mind seeing Rodgers brought back (as long as he isn't asking for a raise, he's a third-stringer), but they still need a starting option. They could draft a player like Wisconsin's own Troy Fumagali, but it would make more sense to sign the likes of Trey Burton, Luke Willson or Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Man, if only Jared Cook stayed around...
7. Only re-sign Morgan Burnett if he's reasonable
Out of all the impending free agents, Morgan Burnett the most significant. He's spent his entire career in Green Bay. However, there are no reports on Green Bay putting together an offer to bring him back. Rumor has it, he'd be asking for a deal in the $10 Million range, which is over half of the Packers' current cap space. Josh Jones, the 2017 second-round pick, plays a similar in-the-box Strong Safety role and demonstrated starting-worthy talent in his relatively large playing time for a rookie. If Burnett walked away, it wouldn't be the worse case scenario. They'd definitely have to sign another veteran Strong Safety, of which there aren't too many, or draft another Strong Safety for depth and trust the process with Jones at the helm.
8. Restructure the contracts of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb
Both receivers had a downward trend in production in 2017, and both players are eight-figure cap burdens on their final contract year. While Nelson and Cobb would both benefit from a full season of Aaron Rodgers at full health, Green Bay can't afford to have $25 Million of cap space taken up by their second and third-string receivers. Assuming they both want to stay around with their buddy Rodgers, there's a good chance they'll restructure their contracts in the effort of "going for it."
Significant free agents: ILB Brian Cushing, CB Johnathan Joseph, RT Breno Giacomini, SS Marcus Gilchrist, LT Chris Clark, G Xavier Su’a-Filo, CB Marcus Williams, FS Eddie Pleasant, P Shane Lechler, RB Andre Ellington
NEEDS: 1) Right Tackle 2) Right Guard 3) Left Guard 4) Quarterback 5) Wide Receiver
1. Sign a Right Tackle
Houston's offensive line gave up the second-most sacks in 2017. With the first potential franchise quarterback since Matt Schaub at the helm, that can't happen again. Deshaun Watson needs to be protected. Right Tackle Derek Newton is injury prone, and even when healthy, he's mediocre. Fill-in starter Breno Giacomini is a free agent. They may as well cut Newton and save $2.2 Million, and put that extra cash towards signing a new starter. A player like San Diego's Michael Schofield would be ideal.
2. Sign a Guard and draft another in the third round
Right Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is a free agent who they could definitely bring back. Left Guard Jeff Allen isn't worth his contract, and cutting him post-June 1st would open up another $6.1 Million in cap space. If they don't retain Su'a-Filo, they'll have to go out and sign another starting guard. In addition to Su'a-Filo/Free ageny, they should use one of their two third rounders on another Guard. If Braden Smith is still on the board, that's ideal.
3. Use their other third-rounder on a Tight End or Wide Receiver
First and foremost, DeAndre Hopkins needs more help. Will Fuller looks to develop nicely into a WR2, but they need an underneath player. They could use oneheir two third-round picks on a slot option like Anthony Miller or DaeSean Hamilton. If Houston is ever so inclined, they could add a receiving Tight End like Mike Gesicki to the mix in the third round as well.
4. Sign whichever of the above positions they don't draft
Both Tight end and Wide Receiver have bountiful options in free agency. Players like Luke Willson and Trey Burton should be considered at Tight End, while receivers like Jordan Matthews, Tyrell Williams and Taylor Gabriel would provide the exact kind of underneath options Deshaun Watson and the passing attack needs. If Houston is feeling ballsy, don't be surprised if they make a run for Jimmy Graham.
5. Sign an experienced backup Quarterback
Tom Savage, T.J. Yates and Josh Jackson are all free agents. All things considered, none of them should return in 2018. With a sophomore quarterback coming off of a nasty injury, signing a seasoned veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick to back him up is essential.
Significant free agents: RB Frank Gore, FS Darius Butler, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Kamar Aiken, OLB Barkevious Mingo, RG Jack Mewhort, ILB Jon Bostic
NEEDS: 1) Edge Rusher 2) Right Guard 3) Running Back 4) Inside Linebacker 5) Wide Receiver 6) Quarterback
1. Draft Bradley Chubb with pick #3
If Saquon Barkley isn't taken with the first two picks, this makes this decision much more difficult. Even with Barkley available, it would still be in the Colts' best interest to draft Bradley Chubb. He's an NFL-ready edge rusher with freak athleticism, and the Colts were 30th in sacks. With plenty of cap space, they should also make an effort to try and sign newly-released Muhammad Wilkerson.
2. Use pick #35 to draft a new Right Guard
2017 starter Jack Mewhort is unrestricted, and they need an upgrade over him anyways. Out of Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez, one of these prospects should be available at #35.
3. Sign a Running Back
Frank Gore is unrestricted and the Colts already said they're moving on, and neither Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin nor Matt Jones deserve to be starters. While they could try to draft a sleeper with a mid-round pick, they have the cap space to go out and buy the likes of Doug Martin, Carlos Hyde or Isaiah Crowell. A better running back would ease the pressure off of whoever is throwing the ball for Indy in 2018.
4. Sign a new Inside Linebacker option
John Simon was mediocre when he lined up inside, and Jon Bostic is a free agent. They could draft an Inside Linebacker like Leighton Vander Esch early, but it's more likely that they use picks #3 and #35 to address the pass rush and the offensive line. Yes, they should use a middle rounder on a fresh Linebacker, but fortunately Indy has the money to buy a free agent. If Dallas doesn't retain Anthony Hitchens, he could very well suit up in a Colts jersey in 2018.
5. Draft a Receiver with pick #67 and sign a cheap veteran
While T.Y. Hilton is still a solid option under contract, Donte Moncrief struggled and isn't coming back in free agency. Kamar Aiken replaced him as the WR2 halfway through the season, and he's a free agent as well. They don't need the next ace, so using pick #67 makes sense given how ridiculously deep this receiver draft class is. D.J. Chark, D.J. Moore, DaeSean Hamilton and Anthony Miller would all make sense. Given their lack of depth, signing an veteran like Eric Decker is also necessary.
6. Sign a better insurance policy for Andrew Luck
First off, nobody knows what's going on with Andrew Luck. His shoulder is the biggest injury question mark in a long time. He hasn't thrown a football in half a year, yet Indianapolis assures everyone that he's absolutely fine. If he's limited at all in 2018, that leaves Jacoby Brissett as the fill-in starter. He's not bad, but they've seen the results with him behind center and if he's the option in 2018, the results won't be any better. Indi, as much as any other team, need to sign a better insurance policy, preferably one with experience in winning.
Significant free agents: WR Allen Robinson, WR Marquise Lee, RB Chris Ivory, OLB Paul Posluszny, QB Chade Henne, CB Aaron Colvin, TE Mychal Rivera,
OLB Lerentee McCray
NEEDS: 1) Wide Receiver 2) Tight End 3) Outside Linebacker 4) Right Tackle
5) Quarterback 6) Slot Cornerback
1. Cut Allen Hurns and re-sign Allen Robinson
The wide receiver depth chart will look at lot different in 2018 for Jacksonville. Both Allen Robinson and Maruqise Lee are free agents. Lee was the leading receiver in 2017, but many think he's hit his ceiling as a WR2. Allen Robinson missed 2017 with an ACL tear, but he was an elite receiver when healthy in 2016. The Jags should look at both player's ceilings and bring back the player who can be the ace. Their other big option, Allen Hurns, should be cut to save $7 Million on the cap.
2. Sign a second-tier Receiver and draft another option on Day 2
With the $7 Million saved by cutting Hurns, they can buy a cheaper option in free agency like Kamar Aiken, Albert Wilson or Michael Floyd. Drafting an underneath option in the second or third round like Anthony Miller or DeaSean Hamilton would be ideal. Blake Bortles should be happy with this setup.
3. Draft a new receiving Tight End early
Blake Bortles need a short-game target. Marcedes Lewis is 34 and isn't the red zone threat he used to be. With pick #29, they could draft Dallas Goedert, Harden Hurst or Mark Andrews. If they use their first rounder on another need, one or two of those names (as well as Mike Gesicki and Troy Fumagali) would be legitimate options on Day 2.
4. Move Myles Jack inside and draft a weak side Outside Linebacker early
Paul Posluszny is unrestricted, and considering his age and recent production, he isn't a priority to re-sign. Myles Jack is better suited on the inside, so drafting a 4-3 weak side Linebacker like Rashann Evans or Malik Jefferson would be perfect alongside Jack and Telvin Smith.
5. Draft Mike McGlinchey at #30 and a project Left Tackle later
Jacksonville's offensive line has most of the pieces put together. Cam Robinson showed flashes of talent, but he may be better suited moving elsewhere on the line. Unfortunately, Left Tackles are expensive in free agency and hard to come by in the draft. They can afford to keep him there for another season and use a middle round pick on a project backup. On the other side of the line, Jeremy Parnell need to choose between Right Guard and Right Tackle. Jacksonville should use an early pick addressing whichever one Parnell doesn't play, and currently Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey seems like a perfect fit at Right Tackle.
6. Sign a solid insurance policy behind Blake Bortles
Is Blake Bortles really the Quarterback of the future? With his $19 Million salary guaranteed, he's at least the quarterback in 2018. They need a seasoned veteran to back up Bortles, and free agent Chad Henne isn't the man for the job. Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to get a lot of attention this offseason.
7. Draft or sign a Slot Cornerback
Aaron Colvin made significant strides as the slot corner in 2017, but he's unrestricted and will get plenty of attention in free agency. They could sign a new slot corner for relatively cheap, or if a good slot option is available in the first four or five rounds, they could address the hole there too.
Kansas City Chiefs
Significant free agents: ILB Derrick Johnson, DT Bennie Logan, RG Zach Fulton, WR Albert Wilson, CB Darrelle Revis, FS Ron ParkerWR De’Anthony Thomas, P Dustin Colquitt
NEEDS: 1) Defensive Tackle 2) Wide Receiver 3) Inside Linebacker 4) Free Safety 5) Cornerback 6) Defensive End 7) Right Guard 8) Outside Linebacker
1. Re-sign Bennie Logan
Bennie Logan had a good 2017 campaign, and as long as he isn't asking for too much money, Kansas City should try and re-sign him. There aren't many true 3-4 Defensive Tackle options in the draft or in free agency. They could go after Dontari Poe, but he'll likely ask for around the same money Logan will demand. Maybe they can wager a hometown discount?
2. Cut Allen Bailey and draft a 3-4 Defensive End
One of the biggest issues Kansas City is facing is a limited salary cap. Cutting Allen Bailey would add $6 Million more in cap space. Chris Jones is a stud on the D-Line, but Allen Bailey was comlacent and didn't earn his salary. Behind him, Tanoh Kpassagnon has the potential to be the next starter, but he's still raw. Using a middle round pick on competition for Kpassagnon after cutting Bailey loose is the ideal scenario.
3. Draft a tall Receiver on Day 2
Kansas City should try to make life easier on new starter Pat Mahomes. At receiver, Albert Wilson and De'Anthony Thomas are both free agents, and Chris Conley is coming off of an Achilles tear. Jehu Chesson would make a good third option, but he's still very raw. The Chiefs should use a Day 2 pick on a tall target to pair with Tyreek Hill. Florida State's Auden Tate measured in at 6'5" with 10" hands, so look for Kansas City to give him attention. Notre Dame's Equanimeous St. Brown is another tall option, and Courtland Sutton could now fall to Day 2.
4. Sign an Inside Linebacker
Derrick Johnson spent over a decade as a rock in Kansas City's defense, but 2018 is the year he'll move on. Backup Kevin Pierre-Louis is a free agent, and while Reggie Ragland has one strating spot locked up, they need another starter to compliment him. The Chiefs will use their early picks on other needs, so signing an Inside Linebacker like Karlos Dansby or Demario Davis is necessary.
5. Draft competition for Daniel Sorensen at Safety
Kansas City saved $5 Million by cutting Ron Parker, but Daniel Sorensen isn't enough to start alongside Eric Berry at Safety. Drafting a Safety in rounds two through four would ease the gap left by cutting Parker.
6. Cut Tamba Hali and draft his eventual replacement
Justin Houston is making bank, but the explosive edge rusher has also earned his pay cut. In contrast, Tamba Hali's best days are behind himEven with some dead cap left on his final contract year, Kansas City would save $7.7 Million by cutting Tamba Hali. They have Dee Ford, and his $8.7 Million salary is a burden as well. However, Ford is 26 and when healthy, he's the perfect pairing with Houston. They have backup Frank Zombo for one more season, so the Chiefs can find an eventual replacement for both Ford and Hali by drafting a project Outside Linebacker in rounds three through five.
7. Draft or sign a Cornerback
Marcus Peters was traded, which is probably good for both parties. Darrelle Revis was cut, which leaves new arrival Kendall Fuller and Steven Nelson as the top two options. They'll need to sign a second-tier corner and/or draft an NFL-ready options. Depending on how much trust they have in Steven Nelson, they may need to do both.
8. Re-sign Zach Fulton
With plenty of other needs standing as draft priorities, it would be in Kansas City's best interest to re-sign Fulton. They can't find a better option for less money than what re-signing Fulton will command, and keeping familiar faces around Mahomes might make it easier for the young Quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers
Significant free agents: TE Antonio Gates, RT Michael Schofield, FS Tre Boston, RG Matt Slauson, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, QB Kellen Clemens, ILB Korey Toomer, LT Chris Hairston, RB Branden Oliver
NEEDS: 1) Defensive Tackle 2) Guard/Center 3) Free Safety 4) Right Tackle
5) Inside Linebacker 6) Quarterback
1. Cut Corey Liuget and Draft Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne with pick #17
The Chargers were dead last in run defense in 2017. A huge reason behind this was the lack of play on the interior. Corey Liuget is overpaid and stands to make over $29 Million over the next three years. Cutting him post-June 1st would save $8 Million, which they can use to fix other needs. With the 17th pick, they can nab one of two incredible run-stopping D-Tackle prospects in Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. If the Bolts are feeling ambitious, they could go after Sheldon Richardson.
2. Draft a Guard on Day 2
While it's an often overlooked position, the interior O-line draft class is deeper than recent years. Dan Feeney will start again in 2018 and a healthy Forrest Lamp will likely move over to Center, leaving a Guard hole open. A player like Will Hernandez could instantly fill that gap on Draft Day 2.
3. Draft a Free Safety on Day 2
Tre Boston and Adrian Phillips are both free agents, leaving a big hole in the Chargers' secondary. While Desmond King can shift over and play pretty well, he's played well at corner and they need the depth outside. It helps that there's three or four quality Free Safeties available in rounds two and three.
4. Cut Joe Barksdale and re-sign Michael Schofield
Russell Okung, Dan Feeney, Forrest Lamp, and a Day 2 Guard have the rest of the starting spots locked up. At Right Tackle, Joe Barksdale hasn't been good enough and cutting him would save $4.7 Million. That's money they can use immediately to re-sign impending free agent Michael Schofield. If he's demanding a good amount of money, which he shouldn't, then any other Right Tackle veteran who isn't asking for too much will do.
5. Sign an Inside Linebacker
This is a position where the Bolts should consider shedding some serious cash. Denzel Perryman was decent when healthy, but he couldn't stay healthy and he only has one more year left on his contract. Signing an impact player like Navorro Bowman or Zach Brown (who Washington probably won't let him leave scot-free) could make a major difference in 2018
6. Draft and develop their next Quarterback under Phillip Rivers
Phillip Rivers is mortal and he can't be this good forever. If Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson are around in the second round, it's a no brainer to take one of them. Otherwise, a player like Luke Falk could be developed nicely over a year or two behind Mr. Charger.
Los Angeles Rams
Significant Free Agents: CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Sammy Watkins, FS Lamarcus Joyner, C John Sulivan, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, OLB Connor Barwin, DT Dominique Easley, FS Cody Davis
NEEDS: 1) Outside Linebacker 2) Center 3) Free Safety 4) Slot Cornerback
5) Right Guard
1. Sign an Outside Linebacker
Robert Quinn and his-mega salary are off to Miami, and Connor Barwin on the other side is a free agent. On a team with many puzzle pieces put together, Outside Linebacker needs a rework. A veteran 3-4 pass rusher like Julius Peppers or Aaron Lynch would be ideal. They'll still need another option, so drafting an edge playmaker in the first three rounds is also necessary.
2. Draft James Daniels or Billy Price with pick #23
John Sullivan did a decent job as a fill-in starter, but moving forward, Jared Goff could use a trustworthy long-term Center option. Both Billy Price ad James Daniels would be excellent options with pick #23. They could also wait until Day 2 and take Frank Ragnow.
3. Re-Sign Lamarcus Joyner. Franchise tag him if you have to.
Trumaine Johnson has received the franchise tag back-to-back years, but with the acquisition of Marcus Peters, who undeniably will be demanding an extension, Johnson is departing. Lamarcus Joyner is unrestricted and by far the best Free Safety on the market. Re-signing Joyner is a no-brainer, and if he's demanding a lot of money, place the franchise tag on him. He's worth it.
4. Draft a Slot Cornerback on Day 2
The Rams traded for Marcus Peters, which was crucial given the impending departures of Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman. CB2 Kayvon Webster is coming off an Achilles tear, and Taurean Nixon isn't good enough enough to be the main slot corner. They ought to draft an athletic option on Day 2.
5. Draft competition for Jamon Brown at Right Guard
The offensive line is a couple pieces away from being really good. Andrew Whitworth was a huge asset in protecting Jared Goff at Left Tackle, and RT Rodger Saffold and LG Rob Havenstein are other lock-down starters. They'll draft a new Center in the first round, and they should also add competition for Jamon Brown at the other weak spot: Right Guard. Brown showed some starting potential, but he was still the weak spot in 2017. Using a middle-round pick to add depth and competition at Right Guard is ideal.
6. Extend Aaron Donald and Marcus Peters
Aaron Donald is one of the best defenders in the league, and he's currently sitting on his fifth-year option in 2018. GM Les Snead has shown he likes using the franchise tag, and Donald is an ideal candidate in 2019. However, he's already held out once and the Defensive MVP deserves his money. To avoid a Le'Veon Bell fianco in 2019, just extend your best defender. Marcus Peters is a fresh face on the team, but he'll be a restricted free agent in 2019 already and he's already proven to be a shutdown corner. With Trumaine Johnson and Robert Quinn suiting up for other teams in 2018, keep some continuity moving forward and extend these two defensive playmakers.
7. Trade Tavon Austin, and if there are no suitors, cut him
Tavon Austin was the highest-paid receiver in 2017, but Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods earned more targets. One of Austin's specialties was returning, but Pharoh Cooper replaced Austin after a couple fumbles, and Cooper put up All-Pro returning numbers. Shedding Austin would save $3 Million this season, and over $9 Million in 2019, 2020 and 2021. It's a no-brainer.
Significant free agents: QB Jay Cutler, DE William Hayes, OLB Koa Misi, FS Nate Allen, LG Jermon Bushrod, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Alterraun Verner, QB matt Moore, FS Michael Thomas
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Left Tackle 3) Tight End 4) Running Back 5) Free Safety
1. Trade Jarvis Landry to Chicago and take Calvin Ridley with pick #11
This may seem like a very specific game plan, but it makes sense. Shipping Landry off would save over $16 Million in cap space the Dolphins are desperate for, and Chicago is the most likely spot Calvin Ridley would land before falling to #11. Give the Bears Landry, and Calvin Ridley falls right into Miami's lap. A trio of Ridley, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills is worth saving $16 Million for.
2. Draft competition for Ryan Tannehill
Jay Cutler was the emergency start in 2017 after Tannehill's season-ending injury. Both Cutler and backup Matt Moore are old free agents, neither likely to return. Tannehill hardly seems like a formidable long-term option, and if a top-four quarterback is left on the board at #11, I'd say cut Tannehill and start over with the Rookie. Cutting Tannehill would save $15.2 Million from the cap, and only Ndamukong Suh is a bigger cap burden. The only reason he shouldn't be cut immediately is Miami's lack of other options AND lack of cap space to do much about it. Using pick #43 on Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson may be perfect.
3. Restructure any combination of Ndamukong Suh, Andre Branch and Kiko Alonso
Miami's cap situation has them screwed this offseason. Suh, Branch and Alonso are all significantly overpaid, but the dead cap involved in cutting any of them makes their release pointless. Miami could save $8 Million by cutting
Cameron Wake, but he was their best edge rusher, so they'd be shooting themselves in the foot. If Miami wants to add any impact players in free agency, restructuring contracts is vital.
4. Draft a Left Tackle on Day 2
The O-line wasn't awful in 2017, but Jermon Bushrod was mediocre at Left Guard. He's a free agent, which leaves a hole left of center. Laremy Tunsil was a decent Left Tackle, but he was even better as a Guard during his rookie campaign of 2016. Isaac Asiata and Ted Larsen would be okay as starting guards, but drafting a Left Tackle would allow Tunsil to shift back over to Guard in the near future.
5. Cut Julius Thomas and draft a Tight End early
Whoever the quarterback is in 2018, they need a solid pass-catching Tight End as a red zone option. Julius Thomas is turning 30 and he's suffered a production drop off in the past couple of years. Cutting him would save $4.6 Million, money the Dolphins desperately need. Anthony Fasano is also unrestricted, so drafting an NFL-ready pass-catching Tight End like Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst or Mike Gesicki is ideal.
6. Draft a mid-round sleeper at Running Back
After trading Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, Kenyan Drake became the primary back. While he wasn't poor as the starter, Miami could use another option behind Drake. Nabbing a Running Back in the middle rounds like Rashaad Penny would really bolster this abysmal offense.
Significant free agents: QB1 Case Keenum, QB2 Teddy Bridgewater, QB3 Sam Bradford, G Joe Berger, RB2 Jerick McKinnon, CB3 Terence Newman, DT3 Tom Johnson, WR3 Michael Floyd, CB4 Marcus Sherels, K1 Kai Forbath
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Right Guard/Tackle 3) Defensive Tackle 4) Cornerback 5) Wide Receiver
1. Re-sign Case Keenum and Sam Bradford
The biggest question mark surrounding any single position league-wide this offseason is the Vikings' quarterback depth chart. Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are all free agents. While Kirk Cousins seems to be in the mix, it seems more likely to me that he'd sign with the Jets or Broncos first. Plus, Keenum owes a lot to Minnesota for giving him a starting opportunity, so it's likely that he'd come back for less than what it would cost to sign Cousins. Keenum also single-handedly proved how valuable it is to have a quality back-up, and a healthy Sam Bradford (if he can accept he's not going to start elsewhere) would be perfect as the QB2.
2. Re-sign Nick Easton and draft a new Right Guard or Right Tackle with pick #30
Riley Reiff, Pat Elfein and Mike Remmers are all absolute locks on the O-Line. Nick Easton is a restricted free agent, but re-signing him for cheap to compete with Danny Isidora at Left Guard fixes another hole. Mike Remmers can play both Right Guard and Right Tackle, so with Joe Berger leaving in free agency, they'll have to address one of the two spots. With pick #30, Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels and Will Hernandez are all legitimate Guard options, and Connor Williams and Mike McGlinchey are in play at Right Tackle. Whoever Minnesota prefers will be the newest starter to the line.
3. Cut Sharrif Floyd and sign a new Defensive Tackle
Minnesota had one of the NFL's best defenses in 2017, but D-Tackle is a position to address this offseason. Linval Joseph is a quality starter, but next to him, Tom Johnson is a 33-year-old free agent and Sharrif Floyd's career looks to be over. A botched knee surgery severed a nerve, preventing his quad muscle from firing. His release frees up $6.7 Million, money they can use right away in signing the likes of Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei or Haloti Ngata.
4. Draft a Cornerback on Day 2
Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are both solid starters at Cornerback, but Terrence Newman, Marcus Sherels and Tramaine Brock are all free agents. Mackenzie Alexander has potential, but he may not be ready nor deserving yet of CB3 reps. Drafting a Corner in this very deep draft class on Day 2 fills this gap immediately.
5. Trade Laquon Treadwell and draft one or two new Receivers
The former first-rounder was a fourth-string option in 2017, hardly seeing any targets since being drafted. He could be flipped for a middle round pick, and with Michael Floyd leaving in free agency, they could grab two new options to develop behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
New England Patriots
Significant free agents: LT Nate Solder, RB Dion Lewis, CB Malcolm Butler, WR Danny Amendola, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Matthew Slater, LT Cameron Fleming, DT Rick Jean Francois
NEEDS: 1) Running Back 2) Left Tackle 3) Cornerback 4) Edge Rusher 5) Defensive Tackle
1. Re-sign Dion Lewis, cut Mike Gillislee and draa middle-round Running Back
2017 freaturing an interesting revolving door on Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White at Running Back. White is under contract, but Lewis and Burkhead are both free to leave. Lewis' value in the passing game and on special teams gives him the edge to be re-signed over Burkhead, and they could gain $2.2 Million more in space by cutting free agent bust Mike Gillislee. Seeing how Bill Belichick likes to rotate with different option, finding a power back with a middle-round pick would compete New England's backfield depth chart.
2. Re-sign Nate Solder and draft a swing Tackle
Solder has consistently been one of the best O-Linemen for New England, and he'd be the top Lfet Tackle in free agency if they let him leave. They shouldn't. Solder is invaluable in protecting Tom Brady, something they can't afford to risk. Backup Camerin Fleming is a free agent, so drafting a swing tackle in rounds three through five would add the perfect amount of youth and depth to this O-Line.
3. Draft Cornerbacks who can play in the slot
Malcolm Butler is leaving on a sour note, and their lack of depth after benched him for the Super Bowl was on display for the entire world to witness. Without Butler, that leaves Eric Rowe as the second-best corner behind Stephon Gilmore, and no true slot option. They should use pick #31 or #41 on a new slot corner option, with Mike Hughes, Jaire Alexander, Carlton Davis and Donte Jackson as realistic options. For depth's sake, they should use a middle-rounder on another corner option.
4. Draft an Edge Rusher on Day 2
Trey Flowers provided decent backfield pressure in 2017, but he didn't get much help from Lawrence Guy or Shea McClellin. Old Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia used a hybrid defense that could line up in a 3-4 or 4-3, but with his departure, there's a lot of confusion as to what New England's base defense will look like. Whether it's a 3-4 Outside Linebacker or 4-3 Defensive End, using a second or third round pick on a new pass rushing option makes complete
5. Cut Alan Branch and draft a Defensive Tackle in the first two rounds
Alan Branch is 33, and his drop-off included falling to fourth on the depth chart and being inactive for the entire playoffs, including the Super Bowl. If he doesn't retire, which he's still not clear on, cutting him would save around $3.55 Million, something the Patriots need given their current $15 Million cap space. Rickey Jean Francois is a free agent who's likely to leave. Selecting a pass-rushing D-Tackle option like Rasheem Green or Harrison Phillips would instantly boost the caliber of New England's pass defense.
New Orleans Saints
Significant free agents: QB Drew Brees, SS Kenny Vaccaro, DE Alex Okafor, DT Nick Fairley, G Senio Kelemete, DT Tony McDaniel, QB Chase Daniel, CB Sterling Moore, TE Clay Harbor, TE John Phillips
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) Defensive End 3) Outside Linebacker 4) Defensive Tackle 5) Tight End
1. Re-sign Drew Brees and draft a Quarterback to develop behind him
Bringing Drew Brees back is a no-brainer. He's the best player in franchise history, he loves New Orleans, and he'll only play for another season or two. It wouldn't make sense to go any other route. Drafting Brees' future replacement in rounds two through five would be smart, and with Chase Daniel leaving in free agency, they have a spot to fill anyways.
2. Re-sign Alex Okafor
New Orleans probably won't have a ton of cash to use after re-signing Drew Brees, but whatever they have left, Alex Okafor is worth it. He's and explosive edge rusher that, when paired with Cam Jordan, make one of the best Defensive End pairings in the league. They have other needs to address through the draft, so bringing back a talented pass rusher in Okafor is a priority.
3. Draft a 4-3 Outside Linebacker with pick #27
At Linebacker, Manti Te'o has locked up the inside spot, but after trading Stephone Anthony to Miami, A.J. Klein and Craig Robertson gained starting reps. While both showed some level of starting potential, those two can't bear starting reps at both Outside Linebacker spots for all of 2018 if they want to be successful. Re-signing Drew Brees and Alex Okafor will take up almost all of their free cap space, so they'll have to turn to the draft to address this issue. Using their first-rounder on a 4-3-familiar linebacker like Rashaan Evans or Malik Jefferson would add talent and relieve pressure on one of New Orleans' weaker spots on defense.
4. Draft a Defensive Tackle in the third or fourth round
Sheldon Rankins is a lock to start at D-Tackle, but Nick Fairley and Tony McDaniel are both free agents. Unless Fairley will accept a fometown discount, they need another option to compete with Tyeler Davison for the job. With no second round pick, that leaves the third or fourth round to find that player.
5. Draft a Tight End in rounds three through five
Coby Fleener isn't playing up to his contract, but cutting him would only save $3 Million. That whatever's left over after re-signing Drew Brees and Alex Okafor isn't enough to find a better replacement for Fleener. If they don't use pick #27 on a new Outside Linebacker, Dallas Goedert and Hayden Hurst are realistic Tight End selections. Assuming they use their first-rounder on a larger need, the Saints will turn to the likes of Mike Gesicki and Troy Fumagali in rounds three through five to provide another weapon for Brees.
New York Giants
Significant free agents: RG Justin Pugh, LG DJ Fluker, RB Orleans Darkwa, RB Shane Vereen, OLB Devon Kennard, C Weston Richburg, OLB Keenan Robinson, OLB Jonathan Casillas, OLB Mark Herzlich, DE Kerry Wynn, QB Geno Smith, CB Ross Cockrell, WR Tavarres King
NEEDS: 1) Running Back 2) Outside Linebacker 3) Guard 4) Quarterback 5) Center 6) Cornerback
1. Draft Saquon Barkley with the #2 pick
The Giants haven't had an every-down impact running back, since, well, probably Tiki Barber. Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen, the two top back, are both free agents. While they can probably bring back one of them for cheap, they could get a 1,000-yard rusher right away by drafting Saquan Barkley at #2. There's a chance Cleveland will take him #1 after his incredible combine, but if they go the Quarterback route, Barkley should be a Giant. Otherwise, the Giants could trade down or take the Quarterback of the future in a guy like Josh Allen.
2. Draft and sign new Outside Linebackers
At linebacker, B.J. Goodson is the only returning starter with Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas both unrestricted. New York could use upgrades over both of those players anyways, and they should pursue experienced 4-3 Outside Linebackers like Pernell McPhee and Paul Posluszny. They should also use a Day 2 pick on a player like Malik Jefferson or Jerome Baker. Re-signing Devon Kennard wouldn't be the worst decision either.
3. Cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Brandon Marshall
Both veterans have been outshined by other players on the depth chart, and cutting both players would save almost $12 Million in cap space. New York begins this offseason with only $23 Million in cap space, far from enough for the second-worst record team to rebuild.
4. Re-Sign Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and Brett Jones
The Giants have work to do all over this offensive line. The only two returning starters are LT Ereck Flowers and G John Jerry. Neither player is even that good. Justin Pugh, D.J. Fluker and Weston Richburg are all free agents, which doesn't help the situation. Pugh is a versatile starter who, after his back injury, would likely re-sign for a reasonable price. Weston Richburg should also come back for cheap, and Brett Jones should be retained from his Restricted Free Agent status. Re-signing those three players leaves just one hole on this mediocre line.
5. Draft a Guard on Day 2
After the previous re-signings, D.J. Fluker is the only departing starter. Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels, Will Hernandez and Braden Smith are all Guard prospects the Giants could take with picks #34 or #66.
6. Draft a Quarterback to develop under Eli Manning
Eli Manning is near the end of his career, but he also hasn't given us a reason to believe a drop-off is immenent. With pick #2, they could draft Josh Allen, Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. However, if they use it on Saquon Barkley (which would be a smart decision), a prospect like Luke Falk could develop nicely after a year behind Eli.
7. Trade Eli Apple, re-sign Ross Cockrell and draft a new Cornerback
Eli Apple got suspended, benched and pissed off pretty much everyone in the organization. It would be best for him to play with any of the other 31 franchises. Cutting him would cost a net cap of $4.8 Million, so New York would much prefer trading him. If teams can look past the character issues, he's a 22-year-old corner with plenty of room to grow, and trading him could be beneficial for all parties involved. Ross Cockrell was, at times, the most reliable cornerback. Re-signing him for a reasonable price and drafting another option in rounds two through four in this deep draft class would complete the corner spot moving forward.
New York Jets
Significant free agents: DT Muhammad Wilkerson, QB Josh McCown, CB Morris Claiborne, RT Ben Ijalana, C Wesley Johnson, ILB Demario Davis, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DE Kony Ealy, DE Mike Pennel, ILB Bruce Carter
NEEDS: 1) Quarterback 2) 3-4 Defensive End 3) Cornerback 4) Center 5) Tackle 6) 3-4 Outside Linebacker
1. Sign Kirk Cousins. If he chooses Minnesota, then sign Case Keenum
The Jets need a Quarterback, and they are apparently "willing to do whatever it takes" to get Kirk Cousins. New York has over $70 Million in cap space, so financially it's realistic. However, Cousins may not want to play for one of the worst teams in the AFC. A move to Denver or Minnesota might make more sense competition-wise, so if Cousins shuts them down, they could go for a NFL-ready quarterback in the draft with the 6th overall pick. Otherwise, if Cousins chooses Minnesota, Case Keenum could be the next Jets starter.
2. Draft Minkah Fitzpatrick with pick #6
Morris Claiborne is a free agent, and he has a big market awaiting him. Buster Skrine is the other starter, and he only has one more year on his contract. Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams have the safety spots locked down, so the versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick will shift directly into being a lock-down corner. They should also draft another corner in the middle rounds for depth's sake.
3. Sign and draft new Defensive Ends
Muhammad Wilkerson, Kony Ealy and Mike Pennel are all unrstricted free agents. Leonard Williams can't do the role of four players, so drafting a 3-4 Defensive end like Harrison Phillips or Rasheem Green is ideal with picks #38 or #50. They should also look to nab a second-tier 3-4 End like Denico Autry in free agency.
4. Draft Frank Ragnow with pick #50
Wesley Johnson and Jonotthan Harrison were the two Centers under contract in 2017, but they're both free agents. Billy Price and James Daniels will both be gone by the time #38 rolls around, but Frank Ragnow is an NFL-ready center that they could sit back and take at #50. The Center market is weak in free agency, but if players like Ryan Jensen or John Sullivan don't get re-signed, they're also viable options for the Jets.
5. Sign a new Tackle
Center isn't the only issue on the Jets' O-Line. Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter and Brian Winters are all complacent, but they're at least starting material. Beachum may actually be better as a Right Tackle, and if the Jets are open-minded enough to realize that too, then a new Left Tackle is what they should sign. However, there's a good chance New York has more faith in Beachum on the left side, and the market is better for Right Tackles, so that may be the best route. Either way, a new Tackle ought to be signed by the Jets.
6. Re-sign Demario Davis and sign an elite pass-rushing Outside Linebacker
Linebacker may be the biggest positional shakeup on the Jets' defense. Darron Lee is under contract, and fellow Inside Linebacker played well and should be re-signed. Josh Martin is a mediocre starterand they don't have a true pass rushing option on the outside. With the cap space they have, if Alex Okafor or Adrian Clayborn don't get re-signed by their respective teams, New York has a legit shot at a true defensive disruptor. They should also consider using a middle-round pick to add depth behind Martin and the new guy.
Significant free agents: ILB Navorro Bowman, FS Reggie Nelson, CB David Amerson, K Sebastian Janikowski, TE Lee Smith, QB E.J. Manuel, DE Denico Autry
NEEDS: 1) Cornerback 2) Inside Linebacker 3) Wide Receiver 4) Right Tackle 5) Running Back
1. Cut Sean Smith, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree
The Raiders current sit with about $20 Million in cap space. They could more than double that by cutting three overpaid veterans: Sean Smith, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree. Sean Smith isn't a bad corner, but he doesn't deserve $17.5 Million over the next two years. Marshawn Lynch just doesn't have the same motor as he used to, and his $6 Million salary is hard to swallow. Michael Crabtree still has good football left in the tank, but he could use a change of scenery. Cutting the three adds over $22 Million in cap space. That's $42+ Million available to add some serious talent.
2. Draft Denzel Ward with pick #10. If he's gone, take Roquan Smith
After cutting Sean Smith, Gareon Conley is left as the only starting-level corner. Denzel Ward would be an ideal choice at #10, but there's a good chance Chicago or San Francisco take him before Oakland's on the clock. Roquan Smith would be an instant playmaker who could fill the void left by letting Navorro Bowman go, so if Ward's gone, Smith is the man at #10.
3. If they draft Denzel Ward, Re-sign Navorro Bowman. If they draft Roquan Smith, sign a new Cornerback
With Denzel Ward taken, that leaves Inside Linebacker as a hole. Navorro Bowman is an injury concern, but he was a major difference maker when he became the veteran leader of this defense halfway through the 2017 campaign. If Roquan Smith is the pick, Cornerback is a gaping hole. They'd need to sign a young starting corner in free agency like Darqueze Dennard or Kyle Fuller. Regardless of who the pick is, they need to use a middle-rounder on another Corner for depth.
4. Sign Carlos Hyde or Isaiah Crowell
After cutting Marshawn Lynch, there's a major hole behind the Quarterback. They now have the money to buy Carlos Hyde or Isaiah Crowell, two of the top free agent Running Backs. Both players are under 27 and have the capacity to be an every-down back, unlike Rex Burkhead or Dion Lewis. Using a middle-rounder on a project Running Back to sit behind the new starter would also be ideal.
5. Draft competition for Right Tackle Marshall Newhouse on Day 2
Marshall Newhouse should not be a starter on a playoff-level O-Line. They could save the cash necessary to sign an Right Tackle at the level of the other starters, so using a second or third round pick on a new Right Tackle like Chukwuma Okorafor, Martinas Rankin or Brian O'Neill works perfectly for Oakland.
6. Draft a Wide Receiver in the third or fourth round
Cutting Michael Crabtree opens a hole along with Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts. Cordarrelle Patterson doesn't seem to want to step up, so drafting another option in the third or fourth round is necessary.
Significant free agents: OLB1 Nigel Bradham, TE2 Trey Burton, RB2 LeGarrette Blount, RB3 Darren Sproles, CB3 Patrick Robinson, FS3 Corey Graham
NEEDS: 1) Inside Linebacker 2) Tackle 3) Tight End 4) Wide Receiver 5) Cornerback 6) Outside Linebacker
1. Cut Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks, and Jason Peters
Philadelphia is current $9.3 Million OVER the cap. They can literally do abosultely nothing this offseason if that doiesn't immediately change. Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks both dropped off in 2017, and Jason Peters in 36 and coming off of two torn ligaments. Cutting the combination of the three would save over $15.3 Million, covering Philly for a little while. They could cut Lane Johnson, but with the way his contract is structured, they'd only gain loose change in net cap space. If they get desperate, trading Nick Foles or cutting Brent Celek may be required to free up more space.
2. Draft a Tackle
Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in after Jason Peters went down with injury, and he did a sloid job protecting throughout the playoffs. He's earned starting reps in 2018, and if they retain Lane Johnson, they won't need to draft a new Tackle until the middle rounds. If they decide to cut Johnson to add more cap space as well, look for #32 to possibly be a new starter right away.
3. Draft a blocking Tight End in the middle rounds
Zach Ertz was an absolute hero down the stretch, but behind him at Tight End, Brent Celek could become a cap casualty and Trey Burton is a free agent. Drafting a Tight End who can block in the middle rounds could fill the void left by Burton immediately.
4. Draft a deep threat Wide Receiver on Day 2
Torrey Smith is a free agent, leaving Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor as the primary targets. Adding a deep threat third option on Day 2 of the draft like James Washington or Christian Kirk would be ideal.
5. Draft a Cornerback to replace Patrick Robinson
Patrick Robinson led the team in Interceptions in 2017, but with very little cap space to work with, it's highly unlikely he's re-signed unless major cuts are made elsewhere. Drafting a Cornerback in the first two or three rounds could really ease the burden on Sidney Jones and Ronald Darby, the two next best Corners. Look for Mike Hughes, Isaiah Oliver, Jaire Alexander, Calton Davis and Donte Jackson to come into play.
6. Re-sign Nigel Bradham
Nigel Bradham is unrestricted, and the market is light on replacements for him. They'll really have to push for a hometown discount, and guys like Lane Johnson and Brent Celek might see the door, but to re-sign the most productive linebacker on the NFL's Super Bowl-winning defense is absolutely worth it.
7. Draft a new Edge Rusher
Yes, I realize that most of these need rely heavily on the draft, but with Philly's cap situation, that's exactly what they'll have to do. Cutting Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks are both sensible solutions to the cap problem, which means they need another pass rusher either at 4-3 Defensive End or Outside Linebacker. The edge rushing class is deep this year, so a second or third rounder could realistically fight for a starting spot right away.
RB Le’Veon Bell, ILB Sean Spence, WR Justin Hunter, OLB Arthur Moats, SS Daimion Stafford, RB3 Stevan Ridley, G Chris Hubbard
NEEDS: 1) Running Back 2)Middle Linebacker 3) Outside Linebacker 4) Quarterback 5) Safety
1. Franchise Tag Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell demands to get paid like an elite Running Back AND Wide Receiver, but that's just not going to happen. He's threatened to retire or sit out an entire season if tagged again, but a tag would eight figures is impossible to pass up, right? Plus, Bell is statistically set to drop off after his massive recent workload, so a mega-extension would be a gamble.
2. Cut Ryan Shazier, Vance McDonald, and either J.J. Wilcox or Mike Mitchell
Pittsburgh absolutely NEEDS to clear cap space. They only have $7.6 Million, and Le’Veon Bell’s franchise tag alone would push them over the cap limit. Ryan Shazier isn’t going to play in 2018, and his $8.7 Million ought to be used elsewhere. Vance McDonald is a backup behind Jesse James at Tight End and his $4.3 Million is unnecessary. J.J. Wilcox ($3.1 Mil) was relegated to special teams duty instead of complimenting Mike Mitchell ($6.4 Mil) at Free Safety, but either one (or both, if need be) could be on the chopping block.
3. Draft Leighton Vander Esch with pick #28
Ryan Shazier, despite wanting the heroic comeback story, isn’t going to play in 2018. Sean Spence is also unrestricted, leaving a hole next to Vince Williams. Leighton Vander Esch has that gritty mentality and suits well as a 3-4 Inside player. Rashaan Evans and Malik Jefferson are other options here.
4. Draft Marcus Allen on Day 2
J.J. Wilcox and Mike Mitchell are both on the chopping block, making it extremely unlikely that both Free Safety options will return. There are five or six safeties that could fight for starting reps available on Day 2, with Penn State’s Marcus Allen standing out as the best fit. Plus, he gets to stay in state. Everyone’s happy.
5. Draft an Outside Linebacker in rounds three through five
T.J. Watt had a great rookie year last season, but aside from him James Harrison is gone and Bud Dupree was just average on the edge. Drafting another young talent as a third pass rushing option should help the overall pass attack significantly.
6. Draft a long-term option at Quarterback
Ben Roethlisberger isn’t mulling retirement again, and it’s unlikely he’ll significantly drop off during next season’s campaign. However, he isn’t getting any younger, and we’ve already seen the ceiling of backup Landry Jones. Joshua Dobbs could eventually turn into a decent Quarterback, but his potential is still unknown. Drafting another long-term option behind Big Ben gives them better odds a replacing a franchise Quarterback with the next one.
San Francisco 49ers
Significant free agents: RB Carlos Hyde, DE Aaron Lynch, DE Tank Carradine, SS Eric Reid, ILB Brock Coyle, CB Leon Hall
NEEDS: 1) Cornerback 2) Running Back 3) Wide Receiver 4) Edge Rusher 5) Middle Linebacker
1. Draft Denzel Ward at #9
Leon Hall is a free agent and they could use a true #1 corner option with K’Waun Williams and Akhello Witherspoon as the current starters. They have almost $75 Million in cap space, so pursuing Trumaine Johnson and other top free agent corners is realistic. However, they could get an NFL-ready lockdown corner at #9 in Denzel Ward and use the cash elsewhere.
2. Sign Jimmy Graham and Taylor Gabriel
For how much money San Fran gave Jimmy Garoppolo, he should have better weapons to work with. Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin are solid, but they have no true passing Tight End option after trading Vance McDonald to Pittsburgh. With almost $75 Million in cap space, they could and should sign Jimmy Graham. He’s an elite red zone option who can stay on the West coast and in the division by signing with the 49ers. Taylor Gabriel is a speedy underneath option that spent quality time with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta. Imagine a red zone offense with Garcon, Goodwin, Graham and Gabriel. Scary.
3. Draft Rashaad Penny on Day 2
Carlos Hyde is unrestricted and not a good fit, leaving an open hole at Running Back. They have the money to buy a better fitting back, but San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny is a perfect fit who could stay in state by getting picked by San Fran on Day 2. They could sign another veteran like Jamaal Charles to give Jimmy G multiple options behind him.
4. Sign or draft a Middle Linebacker
Reuben Foster has already gotten himself in legal trouble twice in 2018, and a lengthy suspension might be on its way. They don’t need to necessarily replace him, but they do need another option during his potential suspension. They could use a Day 2 Inside Linebacker like Leighton Vander Esch or Jerome Baker, or sign a veteran option like Karlos Dansby to be an interim starter. If San Fran doesn’t want to keep Foster and hurt their image, they have the cap space to trade Foster and sign a bigger name Inside Linebacker like Brian Cushing or Derrick Johnson.
5. Draft an Edge Rusher on Day 2
Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine are free agents, and even with them on the roster, the 49ers had one of the worst pass attacks. Tremaine Edmunds is an option at #9, otherwise they have plenty of options on Day 2.
Significant free agents: TE Jimmy Graham, RG Luke Joeckel, DT Sheldon Richardson, RB Eddie Lacy, TE Luke Willson, WR Paul Richardson, CB Byron Maxwell, QB Austin Davis
NEEDS: 1) Tight End 2) Guard 3) Right Tackle 4) Cornerback 5) Wide Receiver 6) Safety
1. Trade Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett for draft picks
Seattle reportedly doesn’t want “distractions” in 2018, which means they don’t want Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman. Shipping them both away would save $21.5 Million, they could get some valuable draft picks, as Seattle currently has no second or third round pick.
2. Sign and draft Tight Ends
Two of Russell Wilson’s favorite target, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, are both free agents. They don’t have a ton of cap space, so both are likely leaving. Signing a second-tier veteran Tight End like Virgil Green or Anthony Fasano, in addition to using a middle-round pick on a receiving option, will be Seattle’s best bet to cover their losses.
3. Sign a veteran Guard and Right Tackle on prove-me deals
This offensive line is bad. Only LT Duane Brown and C Justin Britt were consistent starters. At Guard, Luke Joeckel was mediocre and is unrestricted, and Ethan Pocic is still raw. Right Tackle Germain Ifedi led the entire league in penalties. With limited cap space, they should sign a veteran option at Guard (Jahri Evans or Joe Berger) and Right Tackle (Breno Giacomini or Eric Winston) to provide experience and depth protecting Russell Wilson.
4. Draft Josh Jackson with pick #18
Shedding Richard Sherman and letting Byron Maxwell walk leaves Jeremy Lane, Neiko Thorpe and Shaquill Griffin as the top three options. That’s not good. Josh Jackson is a lengthy turnover machine that Pete Carroll would drool over. He literally looks like a Seahawks-prototype Corner.
5. Draft a deep threat Wide Receiver
Paul Richardson is unrestricted, and after having a career year in 2017, many teams will bid for his services. Luckily, Seattle still has Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and and Tyler Lockett. Drafting a deep threat Receiver in this talented class should cover the loss.
6. Sign a cheap veteran Running Back
Eddie Lacy is unrestricted, and Mike DAvis and Thomas Rawls are restricted free agents. C.J. Prosis and Chris Carson are still under contract, so Seattle has a plethora of options. What they don’t have is an experienced back behind Russell Wilson. Signing a player like Jamaal Charles could work wonders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Significant free agents: RB Doug Martin, CB Brent Grimes, DT Chris Baker, SS TJ Ward, C Evan Smith, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, DT Clinton McDonald, C Joe Hawley, CB Robert McClain
NEEDS: 1) Running Back 2) Cornerback 3) Edge Rusher 4) Guard 5) Left Tackle
1. Draft Tremaine Edmunds with pick #7
Tampa finished dead last in sacks last season. With few elite pass rushing options in free agency, it would be wise to draft Tremaine Edmunds, a true difference-maker on the edge.
2. Sign Trumaine Johnson
They allowed the most passing yards per game last season, showing the desperation for quality in the secondary. Brent Grimes is a free agent, but at 34, his best days are behind him. With a ton of cap space, they can and should pursue the top free agent, Trumaine Johnson. He’d instantly be the best defender on the Bucs and Vernon Hargreaves could shine as a full-time CB2. Tampa will also look to draft a middle-round Corner for depth.
3. Sign or draft a Running Back
Tampa Bay rightfully cut Doug Martin, leaving Jacquizz Rodgers as the top option. That’s not good. Drafting a Running Back on Day 2 is a strong possibility, otherwise they can look at second-tier options like Rex Burkhead, Jeremy Hill and LeGarrette Blount in free agency.
4. Re-sign Clinton McDonald
Chris Baker pissed off his teammates down the stretch in 2017, and he lost his job to Clinton McDonald. Both players are free agents, but McDonald should be rewarded with a new contract. He wouldn’t ask for much, and if they want a different look, Tampa can easily sign or draft a replacement.
5. Draft a Guard on Day 2
If Jameis Winston truly is their franchise Quarterback, they should protect him like one. Ali Marpet has the Center position on lock, and while JR Sweezy struggled at times, he still has the talent to be a starter. There’s still a hole with Evan Smith and Joe Hawley set to leave. This Guard class is unusually talented, so drafting a Guard like Braden Smith or Will Hernandez is ideal.
6. Draft a project Left Tackle
Demar Dotson is a solid Right Tackle, but Donovan Smith struggled on the left side. A Left Tackle with room to grow should be taken to alleviate the pressure.
Significant free agents: WR Eric Decker, ILB Avery Williamson, DE DaQuan Jones, OLB Erik Walden, CB Brice McCain, QB Brandon Weeden, G Josh Kline, DE David King
NEEDS: 1) Guard 2) Outside Linebacker 3) Inside Linebacker 4) Defensive End 5) Slot Cornerback 6) Running Back
1. Draft an Outside Linebacker early
Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are both aging and going into their contract year. 2016 second-rounder Kevin Dodd has been a bust so far, so they need another young option to succeed their two current starters. There’s confusion as to what Tennessee’s base defense will look like with Dick LeBeau gone, so whoever fits their system in the first few rounds is the way to go.
2. Draft or sign a third down Running Back
DeMarco Murray and his $6.5 Million aren’t expected to return in 2018, leaving Derrick Henry as the lone back. New Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur loves a passing back option, so drafting a guy like Ronald Jones or signing a free agent like Darren Sproles would bolster this offense.
3. Re-sign Avery Williamson
Tennessee will have over $50 Million in cap space after cutting DeMarco Murray, so they have money to spend. However, the middle linebacker position is relatively weak in free agency and Avery Williamson has started in 59 of Tennessee’s last 64 games. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4. Draft and sign Guards
Josh Kline is unrestricted, leaving two wide open spots at Guard. They could draft Isaiah Wynn or Billy Price at #25, otherwise there will be legit options like Will Hernandez and Braden Smith on Day 2. There’s still another spot open, so signing a Guard like Luke Joeckel is also necessary.
5. Re-sign DaQuan Jones and draft another Defensive End
DaQuan Jones emerged on the scene with 4 sacks in 12 games, and with few 3-4 Defensive Ends in free agency, bringing the 26-year-old back makes a lot of sense. Backup David King is also a free agent, but drafting a raw option to sit behind Jones in the middle rounds will cover that loss.
6. Draft or sign a Slot Cornerback
Tennessee needs another corner to play with with Adoree Jackson and Logan Ryan. A solid slot option could be taken in rounds two through four, but they have a decent amount of cap space, so they could sign a player like Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Significant free agents: QB Kirk Cousins, WR Terrelle Pryor, CB DeAngelo Hall, ILB Zach Brown, G Shawn Lauvao, TE Niles Paul, ILB Will Compton, ILB Chris Carter, OLB Junior Galette, DT Phil Taylor
NEEDS: 1) Wide Receiver 2) Inside Linebacker 3) Running Back 4) Defensive Tackle 5) Cornerback 6) Edge Rusher
1. Sign a top-level Wide Receiver
Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant are unrestricted, with Pryor likely to leave. Josh Doctson flashed potential as a deep threat, but that was it. Jamison Crowder has likely hit is ceiling as an average slot receiver. With $49M to spend, they can pay for an Allen Robinson-type receiver, and if Michael Crabtree or Emmanual Sanders get cut by their respective teams, they’ll get hard looks from Washington.
2. Draft Vita Vea with pick #13
Let’s face it, Stacy McGee couldn’t stop the run. Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis are locks to be D-Line starters, but Washington still needs a trench warrior. After his combine performance, Vita Vea is the stand-alone best Defensive Tackle in the draft.
3. Re-Sign Zach Brown
Brown was one of the best Middle Linebacker in the league last season, and if he hit the open market, he’d be one of the most sought-after defenders. Washington couldn’t fill that hole, and with money to spend, re-signing Brown is the only sensible option.
4. Draft for depth at both Linebacker positions
On the outside, Washington could use an option to compete with Preston Smith. Ryan Kerrigan is a lock, but another pass rusher wouldn’t hurt. Inside, Zach Brown will be retained, but Will Compton and Chris Carter are free agents, leaving Mason Foster as the automatic starter. Drafting in rounds three through five for both Linebacker positions would round out this corps.
5. Sign a Running Back with starting experience
Chris Thompson is an mediocre starter and Samaje Perine may be just a depth option. Adding a Day 2 back like Kerryon Johnson, Robert Jones or Sony Michel would make sense, but with they available cap space, signing a back with starting experience like LeGarrette Blount, Rex Burkhead, Frank Gore or Jeremy Hill would make even more sense. Rob Kelley will also fight for a roster spot again in 2018.
6. Trade Su’a Cravens and sign or draft a new Strong Safety
Su’a Cravens has made himself a question mark, and Washington should let go of the worrying and uncertainty surrounding Cravens’ commitment to the team and the game of football itself. He carries trade value, and flipping him could get another valuable draft pick for a Washington team with no second or third round pick. They could look at Derwin James with pick #13, but with their cap space, they could definitely be in the mix for Morgan Burnett, T.J. Ward, and Kenny Vaccaro in free agency.
7. Re-sign Bashaud Breeland and draft a middle-rounder for depth
Washington traded Kendall Fuller and 34-year-old DeAngelo Hall is unrestricted and over the hump, leaving Josh Norman as the only reliable returning starter. Bashaud Breeland was productive in 2017 and should be rewarded with a new contract. Given their lack of depth behind Norman, Breeland and Fabian Moreau, Washington should also draft a middle round sleeper, possibly a returner option.