NFL Teams Free Agent and Draft Needs – NFC Version

National Football League

NFL free agency and the draft is right around the corner and we take a look today at wants and needs of every NFL NFL team. You can find the AFC free agency and NFL draft needs here.

It’s also important to remember that just because a team is listed with a “need” at a certain position, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically address it. Why? Well, because some teams have glaring needs while others have what we call convenience needs. Each team’s estimated cap space comes from Spotrac.com.

Arizona Cardinals (Estimated Cap Space: $51.5 million, 15th-most)
After taking Kyler Murray in last year’s draft, the Cardinals remain in a deep hole on their offensive line. They really have no strengths on it, though left guard Justin Pugh is average. Offensive tackle is clearly a problem for them, and if they want Kyler Murray to remain upright, they should consider one in the first round. They invested so much at wide receiver last year that it’s hard to say they’ll snag any with early-round picks, as they do need to find out if Hakeem Butler is a long-term solution. They have tons of players on the front seven hitting free agency, but having Chandler Jones and Corey Peters does help make edge/defensive tackle a bit less of a priority. Linebacker has been and will continue to be a problem for them, though they can likely upgrade in the middle rounds of the draft. They have to let Byron Murphy grow into a starter role, which comes with aches and pains, but cornerback depth is another area of need. The Cardinals are not short on team needs.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, LB, CB

Atlanta Falcons (Estimated Cap Space: $4.9 million, 29th-most)
The Falcons have put off their right tackle position for much longer than they should’ve, as Kaleb McGary is one of the worst in football. They’ve already declared they’re moving on from Vic Beasley, while Adrian Clayborn is an unrestricted free agent. They will draft an edge rusher; the only question is when. They also must address the cornerback room, as Desmond Trufant isn’t getting any younger, and Isaiah Oliver hasn’t flashed shutdown potential in a division that’s littered with stud wide receivers. There’s a rumor that the Falcons may move on from Devonta Freeman, which would create an obvious need at running back. They’re one of the teams who should be looking to upgrade the depth at the position, regardless, but cutting Freeman would put them in Day 1-2 territory of the draft. They do have three picks in the first two rounds.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, EDGE, CB

Carolina Panthers (Estimated Cap Space: $32.1 million, 21st-most)
The retirement of Luke Kuechly is going to hurt. They need to find a linebacker, obviously. Quarterback has to be a concern for them as well, as Cam Newton is entering the final year of his deal, his legs are going to fade at 31 years old, and is 0-8 in his last eight games as a starter. Will Grier didn’t look very good towards the end of the year, either. Their front four is hurting as well. Gerald McCoy, Kyle Love, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, and Bruce Irvin are all slated to be free agents. Keep in mind this is a defense that allowed a touchdown every 14.0 carries to running backs in 2019, so they weren’t good with them on the roster. They need defensive linemen, really bad. The only cornerback on the roster who saw real playing time and is under contract heading into free agency is Donte Jackson, so that appears to be another area of importance. There are more holes on the back end of the defense, but they’re not as pressing as the ones listed. New head coach Matt Rhule has walked into a tough spot with a team with tons of holes.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: LB, IDL, QB

Chicago Bears (Estimated Cap Space: $26.3 million, 23rd-most)
Let the debate begin on whether the Bears will draft a quarterback. It’s not a strength, but Ryan Pace isn’t going to forfeit his job, which is what would likely happen considering I believe Pace’s job is tied to Mitch Trubisky. They certainly need to address the offensive line, as Kyle Long’s release/retirement created a big need at guard, while left tackle Charles Leno was horrendous in 2019. The fact that they have so much money tied in Trey Burton makes it difficult to spend at tight end, but it’s one of their weaknesses. They could also upgrade their wide receiver depth, but Riley Ridley is likely going to be shoved into more playing time after releasing Taylor Gabriel, so it’s a position they’ll likely wait until later in the draft to address. Their defense is very strong, with the only notable free agents being linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety Haha Clinton-Dix. We can’t assume they don’t retain them right now, but if either were to leave, it would create a need. Releasing Prince Amukamara last week also didn’t help their cornerback depth, which needs to be addressed.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OG, CB

Dallas Cowboys (Estimated Cap Space: $74.0 million, 5th-most)
The Cowboys are a team that have a unique situation on their hands, as both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are slated to be unrestricted free agents. They’re obviously going to use the franchise tag on one of them (most likely Prescott), but it’s something to monitor. Even if they retain Cooper, wide receiver is a need for them, as Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin are also free agents this year. Their top four interior defensive linemen are all free agents next month, though Antwaun Woods is restricted. They also have Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett hitting free agency, so getting some bodies on the edge is another need. Clearly, their front four is going to have some holes once free agency hits. It’s no secret that the Cowboys have been attached to multiple safeties as a suitor over the last few years, but now that Jeff Heath, Darian Thompson, and Kavon Frazier are slated to be free agents, they will be addressing the position, and likely early-on in the draft or free agency. The Cowboys have some money to spend, but they also have a ton of players hitting the open market.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: S, WR, IDL

Detroit Lions (Estimated Cap Space: $52.0 million, 16th-most)
With the talks that the Lions are shopping Darius Slay, it’s clear they’re going to need a cornerback, as it was already a position of need for them. After trading away Quandre Diggs last year and seeing Tavon Wilson about to hit free agency, safety seems to be another area of need for them. But maybe even more importantly, do they replace Jarrad Davis at linebacker? Sure, they drafted him in the first-round back in 2017, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations. The defense is where this team has the most needs, which is odd considering Matt Patricia was supposed to raise their level of play. They also announced last week that they were going to release defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison on the defensive line. This defense has a lot of holes. They can use some depth at wide receiver behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones (who’s entering the final year of his contract), as Danny Amendola filled the gap for one year, but is once again a free agent. And no, I don’t believe quarterback should be on their list of priorities right now.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, S

Green Bay Packers (Estimated Cap Space: $22.0 million, 25th-most)
If the Packers don’t add a wide receiver in free agency or in the first few rounds of the draft, Aaron Rodgers should refuse to report to training camp. They need to add some talent to the wide receiver room, as Davante Adams is on an island. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is set to be an unrestricted free agent, but may be retained, so it’s not a need just yet. They should still add depth at the position, as Bulaga has dealt with plenty of injuries over his career. Linebacker is almost as needy as wide receiver, as Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson weren’t great to begin with, but both are headed to the open market. The Packers don’t have many needs, but the ones they do are easily identifiable.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, LB, OT

Los Angeles Rams (Estimated Cap Space: $23.3 million, 24th-most)
If you watched the Rams in 2019, you know the offensive line is a complete mess. Not just that, but Andrew Whitworth is an unrestricted free agent, and just might retire. Offensive tackle is the top priority for them. They could also upgrade the interior of their line, but the anchors are more important. Eric Weddle decided to retire this offseason, but they do have John Johnson to insert into the starting lineup. Linebacker Cory Littleton is a big question mark, as he’s headed towards free agency, and that would leave a big hole at linebacker, but we can’t assume he won’t be retained. The same can be said about edge rusher Donte Fowler. With no first-round picks over the next two years, the Rams have some challenges ahead, particularly on the offensive line.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, OG, LB

Minnesota Vikings (Estimated Cap Space: $0.7 million, 30th-most)
This is a team that’s had a dominant defense for quite some time, though they started to slip in 2019 and have plenty of guys hitting free agency. Safety is going to be a big need of theirs, as Anthony Harris, Andrew Sendejo, and Jayron Kearse are all going to be unrestricted free agents. The secondary as a whole has problems, as the cornerback unit wasn’t particularly strong in 2019, and the two players who were arguably the best (Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes) are free agents. Will Xavier Rhodes bounce back? Will Mike Hughes live up to expectations? Meanwhile, Everson Griffin declined his option and will become a free agent. Behind him and Danielle Hunter, they don’t have much depth on the edge. They’ve been slowly trying to rebuild the offensive line, and it can still use some work, as Pat Elflein and Josh Kline could both be upgraded on the interior. Adding another receiver could be on the priority list as well, as they could use a solid No. 3 and Adam Thielen is going to turn 30 years old in August.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: S, CB, EDGE

New Orleans Saints (Estimated Cap Space: $12.3 million, 28th-most)
With Drew Brees back for another year, the Saints aren’t going to be looking at quarterbacks. They’re a team who’s going to try and win now. They could really use a wide receiver to play alongside Michael Thomas, as Ted Ginn should not be a full-time player anymore, while Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t lived up to his draft stock. Left guard Andrus Peat was the weakest link on the offensive line last year and is going to be a free agent, but they may move Will Clapp into the starting lineup this year, though it’s possible they draft an interior lineman. The biggest name to watch in free agency for them is defensive tackle David Onyemata, as he’s one of the centerpieces on the defense. Depending on what they do with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, they could use a safety or cornerback, as he’s able to play both. Ideally, they snag a cornerback who can play in the slot and keep Gardner-Johnson at safety considering they may lose Vonn Bell in free agency. This is a complete team with very few holes.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, CB, OG

New York Giants (Estimated Cap Space: $61.3 million, 8th-most)
The offensive tackle position has been an issue for the Giants for some time and the issue compounds when right tackle Mike Remmers hits free agency. Nate Solder hasn’t been great, but they’re likely sticking with him at left tackle. They should be looking to add a road-grater at right tackle. The other obvious need for them is at cornerback, as it was bad before they released Janoris Jenkins. DeAndre Baker seemed to get a little better as the year went on, but they need to add multiple cornerbacks to this unit. With both linebackers David Mayo and Deone Bucannon slated to be unrestricted free agents, they need to add a linebacker to play alongside Alec Ogletree. They have some solid rotational edge rushers but could use a difference-maker at the position.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, LB

Philadelphia Eagles (Estimated Cap Space: $48.6 million, 17th-most)
We saw a lack of depth out of the wide receiver unit for the Eagles last year, though it didn’t help that both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery were injured. The biggest question is: have they already declared JJ Arcega-Whiteside a bust? That would definitely create a need at wide receiver. The biggest glaring hole for them is at cornerback, as Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are both set to be free agents, and really weren’t even that good in the first place. They also need upgrades at linebacker. They declined the club option on Nigel Bradham, leaving them with Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards on the depth chart. They also have Timmy Jernigan hitting free agency, which would leave a void next to Fletcher Cox on the defensive line, though that’s not realized just yet. The same can be said about pending free agent safety Rodney McLeod.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, WR

San Francisco 49ers (Estimated Cap Space: $17.9 million, 26th-most)
The first priority for the 49ers should be locking up free agent Jimmie Ward, as they have no clear solution to replace him at safety. They could also use a cornerback or two, as Richard Sherman isn’t getting any younger, while Ahkello Witherspoon is who we thought he was. Emmanuel Moseley looked solid in relief, but he’s a restricted free agent this year. Edge rusher Arik Armstead is also coming off a career year, though he’s likely going to command a lot of money on the open market. They have solid depth at the position, but Ronald Blair and Damontre Moore are also unrestricted free agents. As far as the offense goes, they should look to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, especially when you consider how often they run the ball. They also need to consider adding a top-tier wide receiver, as Emmanuel Sanders and Kendrick Bourne are both free agents. While Deebo Samuel played fantastic, he really emerged once Sanders came to the team.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OG, WR, CB

Seattle Seahawks (Estimated Cap Space: $59.7 million, 8th-most)
Every year, we talk about how bad the Seahawks need to upgrade their offensive line. This year is no different. Replacing Germain Ifedi at right tackle should be a top priority. The interior of the line could use some work as well, as Mike Iupati wasn’t the answer and was on a one-year deal. The front four has so many important players hitting free agency, it’s kind of ridiculous. Here’s the list: DT Quinton Jefferson, DT Al Woods, DT Jarran Reed, EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE Mychal Kendricks, and EDGE Ezekiel Ansah. That very well may be their top six players available on the defensive line. Meanwhile, their cornerback situation is a disaster behind Shaquill Griffin. So, in short, the offensive line is the only problem on the offense, but the defense has holes all over depending on who leaves via free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, EDGE

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Estimated Cap Space: $85.0 million, 3rd-most)
Will Jameis Winston come back, or will he leave via free agency? That would create a large need for them but we can’t assume he’s gone just yet. They have said edge rusher Shaquill Barrett will be retained somehow, but it’s not just him who’s headed towards free agency, as Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and Sam Acho are also headed to the open market. Edge rusher is going to be a need, as they won’t retain everyone. They also have Ndamukong Suh hitting free agency, so there’s still a lot to be determined with this defensive unit. While the cornerbacks (Carlton Davis, in particular) played better down the stretch, they could still use more talent at the position. They also need to upgrade at safety, as Jordan Whitehead is among the worst in football. The offense is in great shape compared to the defense, especially when you factor in free agency and how it can affect the roster.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: EDGE, S, CB

Washington Redskins (Estimated Cap Space: $62.1 million, 7th-most)
The Redskins already let us know about some of their needs when they released cornerback Josh Norman and wide receiver Paul Richardson. Those are two positions that they’ll need to address, though cornerback is more of a priority. The biggest question surrounding their team right now is Trent Williams, who doesn’t want to play for the Redskins. They inserted Donald Penn last year, who is now a free agent, and possibly done playing football altogether. They’ll be drafting an offensive tackle at some point, unless they can get Williams back on board. Snagging an offensive guard would make sense, too, as Ereck Flowers isn’t the answer at left guard. They have talent on defense, but they can use a difference-making edge rusher to pair with Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan, which is why many have mocked Chase Young to them at No. 2 overall. They have plenty of needs on the roster right now, but it’s clear which ones are most important.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, CB, EDGE

What do you think?

NFL Teams Free Agent and Draft Needs – AFC Version

National Football League

NFL free agency and the draft is right around the corner and we take a look today at wants and needs of every NFL team, starting with the AFC.

It’s also important to remember that just because a team is listed with a “need” at a certain position, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically address it. Why? Well, because some teams have glaring needs while others have what we call convenience needs. Each team’s estimated cap space comes from Spotrac.com.

Baltimore Ravens (Estimated Cap Space: $31.0 million, 22nd-most)
This is a team that had very few holes towards the end of the season, though they opened up the offseason by releasing safety Tony Jefferson. They have Chuck Clark to insert into the lineup, as he did late in the year, so it’s not a need. Edge rusher is a huge need, especially if they lose both Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee in free agency, as it leaves Jaylon Ferguson as their top option. That’s just the beginning when it comes to free agency on their front seven, though. They have both linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor, as well as defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Domata Peko hitting free agency. If everyone were retained, they wouldn’t have many needs at all, though edge rusher has to be a priority. There will be some who suggest wide receiver, though it’s not a massive need after they took both Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin with early-round picks last year.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: EDGE, LB, WR

Buffalo Bills (Estimated Cap Space: $83.1 million, 4th-most)
Those who believed Robert Foster was the answer coming into 2019 were quickly shut-down as he caught just 3-of-18 targets this year. Sure, John Brown played extremely well, but he’s going to be 30 years old in April and isn’t a true No. 1 receiver. They need to get Josh Allen a big-bodied wide receiver with a high ceiling. Last year’s first-round pick Cody Ford wasn’t great at right tackle this year, but they need to give him time. Meanwhile, replacing Quinton Spain at left guard should be a high priority. They could slide Ford into the guard position and draft a tackle if they choose. If they can retain Shaq Lawson in free agency, it would keep their top-tier edge rushing unit intact. Outside of Tre’Davious White, they don’t have another cornerback teams hesitate throwing at, though Levi Wallace played much better in 2019. He’s a restricted free agent, but regardless, they should add another starting-caliber cornerback in the draft or free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OG, WR, CB

Cincinnati Bengals (Estimated Cap Space: $47.6 million, 19th-most)
We aren’t even going to think twice about it, the Bengals are drafting Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall, which will take care of the quarterback need. Everyone knows the Bengals need to address the offensive line, right? It’ll help when last year’s first-round pick Jonah Williams gets on the field, but it doesn’t clear up their needs on the interior. The question becomes: will they draft an offensive lineman early in the draft considering they spent a first on Williams last year, a fourth on guard Michael Jordan (who was horrendous) last year, and a first-round pick on center Billy Price in 2018 (who’s also struggled). Knowing they’re almost certainly going to cut Cordy Glenn, there’s a need at tackle. They desperately need to find a linebacker, as Nick Vigil, Preston Brown, and Germaine Pratt aren’t going to cut it. There are many other holes we can pick at with the Bengals but upgrading cornerback should be near the top of the list, too.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OT, LB

Cleveland Browns (Estimated Cap Space: $58.3 million, 10th-most)
Despite what the product on the field was in 2019, the Browns are a team that doesn’t have a lot of holes. The most obvious holes are at the offensive tackle position, as Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard may have been the worst anchor duo in the league. That’s the position they should be attacking in the first round. They have linebacker Joe Schobert hitting free agency and they just released Adarius Taylor, so linebacker has to be a priority as well. They brought in Morgan Burnett to help at safety last year, but they knew he wasn’t the long-term solution, and neither is Jermaine Whitehead. Not just that, but Damarious Randall is slated to be an unrestricted free agent, so safety is clearly a need for this team. They also need to address the depth at wide receiver, but that’s not a must at the top of the draft/free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, LB, S

Denver Broncos (Estimated Cap Space: $58.0 million, 11th-most)
While Courtland Sutton emerged as the No. 1 receiver they hoped he’d be, they still have a big need opposite him. They’ve slowly invested in their offensive line, which is sturdy, but replacing Elijah Wilkinson should be a priority, especially for a team that wants to run the ball. He’s a free agent, so they’ll most likely be looking for his replacement in the draft. They have their top three interior defensive linemen about to hit free agency, so that’s going to be a major need, especially if they don’t retain Mike Purcell, who’s a restricted free agent. Cornerback is going to be a massive need even if they retain Chris Harris Jr., though he’s expected to move on. That would leave them with Isaac Yiadom as their No. 1 cornerback, someone who was benched in 2019. We can’t assume they’ll be without Justin Simmons, who’s slated to be a free agent, but if he were to leave, safety would be another massive need.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, IDL, OT

Houston Texans (Estimated Cap Space: $63.0 million, 6th-most)
The Texans have more holes than they’d like, especially when you consider they’ve traded away future picks. They have a void to fill at running back with both Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller hitting free agency, even though they did trade a third-round pick for Duke Johnson. They need help on the interior of their offensive line, as both Max Scharping and Zach Fulton are far below average. Defensive tackle D.J. Reader is supposed to be a free agent but has stated he’d like to remain with the team. They need to add edge rushers, as J.J. Watt’s gone through his fair share of injuries, and they don’t have much depth behind him. And then onto the biggest issue, which is the cornerback position. Forget the fact that Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby are free agents… they weren’t good with them on the roster. For a team lacking draft picks, the Texans have some big needs to fill in free agency.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, OG, RB

Indianapolis Colts (Estimated Cap Space: $86.1 million, 2nd-most)
After Andrew Luck retired, the Colts had hoped Jacoby Brissett would be the long-term answer, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. They’re the ones who should be expected to court Philip Rivers in free agency. While they did draft Parris Campbell last year, they need wide receivers, as T.Y. Hilton is on the final year of his deal and should start the decline of his career soon (will turn 31 years old this year). We don’t know if they’ll try to retain Eric Ebron, but if they don’t, his position is very important in this offense. On the defensive side of the ball, most of their issues are in the secondary, as strong safety Clayton Geathers is slated to be a free agent and has dealt with nagging injuries his entire career. Meanwhile, cornerback Pierre Desir didn’t live up to his contract extension and they don’t have that top-tier cornerback you’d like. They could use more experienced edge rushers but have some young guys they’re likely hoping can make a difference in 2020. All in all, the Colts aren’t really desperate at any position.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, TE, S

Jacksonville Jaguars (Estimated Cap Space: -$1.5 million, 31st-most)
We could argue that quarterback is a need, but they’ll be fine sticking with Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew for another year to see if either can make positive strides. It appears the Cam Robinson isn’t the player they’d hoped when they took him in the second-round of the 2017 draft, but will they admit defeat and move on? Highly unlikely. They should upgrade at right guard, as A.J. Cann isn’t doing anything to help the run-game, which is what they’d like to be their bread and butter. The Jags spent some equity on an edge rusher last year with Josh Allen, but will likely do the same this year considering Yannick Ngakoue is a pending free agent and they have little depth behind him. The Jaguars have no idea whether or not linebacker Telvin Smith will return to them after taking the year off football, while Myles Jack struggled to hold down the fort. Linebacker has to be a priority, unless they hear something new from Smith. Trading away Jalen Ramsey created an obvious need at cornerback, which is a position they’ll most likely in the draft with their additional picks.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, OG, LB

Kansas City Chiefs (Estimated Cap Space: $16.5 million, 27th-most)
As the Super Bowl champs, there shouldn’t be many holes to pick apart on their roster. The glaring one is cornerback, as they were not a top-tier unit in 2019, but now face unrestricted free agency on three of their top four on the depth chart, as Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, and Morris Claiborne are all going to the open market. Linebacker is another position that could use an upgrade, as Anthony Hitchens has been well below average since signing his big contract prior to the 2018 season. The Chiefs should be finding a way to lock Chris Jones up long term, as he’s headed to free agency, though the franchise tag is likely with him. Edge rusher should be upgraded, as Frank Clark is the only one who’s above average, and the reason they snagged Terrell Suggs down the stretch. Their offense doesn’t have much to improve outside of upgrading the interior of their offensive line, though the defense should get priority.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, LB, EDGE

Las Vegas Raiders (Estimated Cap Space: $51.6 million, 14th-most)
They tried to clear up the need for wide receivers last offseason, but we all know that didn’t work. It’s still a need, and a very clear one. While their offensive line took great strides last year, Kolton Miller is still a sore at left tackle, as he was graded by PFF as the third-worst tackle in all of football last year. They have linebackers Nicholas Morrow, Will Compton, and Vontaze Burfict slated to become free agents, and they’re not a particularly good group now, so linebacker should be a high priority for them. Cornerback is an area where they can certainly improve, though Lamarcus Joyner grew into his role as the slot cornerback as the year went on, while Trayvon Mullen was solid. I still believe the Raiders are debating a quarterback upgrade, though we could still be another year away from that.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: WR, LB, OT

Los Angeles Chargers (Estimated Cap Space: $51.8 million, 13th-most)
After letting the world know they’re moving on from Philip Rivers, quarterback is the most obvious need for the team. They have Melvin Gordon becoming an unrestricted free agent while Austin Ekeler is a restricted one. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle those two, but my guess is that Rivers/Gordon are gone. They need a few wide receviers behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as their depth chart is depleted. Will Russell Okung keep playing football with his health scare? If not, they need two offensive tackles. No matter what, they need at least one. Their defense is solid and one that won’t be very affected by free agency, either. If there’s a position that could use an upgrade, it’s cornerback, as they should search for a perimeter cornerback to play opposite Casey Hayward while Desmond King covers the slot. This offense will look much different in 2020.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, OT, CB

Miami Dolphins (Estimated Cap Space: $93.7 million, most in NFL)
Yes, they need a quarterback for the long-term, but will that be atop the list of needs this year with the lack of talent everywhere else? The running back position is the ugliest in football, as is the offensive line. You can make the case that there’s not one salvageable piece on the entire unit. Seriously, it’s bad. Getting an edge rusher should also be high on the list of priorities, as they have no game-changer (or even above average talent) at the position. They were starting cornerbacks that no one had heard of towards the end of the year, and then had Xavien Howard arrested on domestic charges. Will he be on the roster? This is a roster with so many holes that it might make sense to wait on filling their quarterback need with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen on the roster. The last thing you want to do is crush a young quarterback’s confidence and being behind this offensive line would do that.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: Entire Offensive Line, EDGE, CB

New England Patriots (Estimated Cap Space: $44.1 million, 20th-most)
Will Tom Brady leave? That would change a lot, though I’m assuming he returns. They drafted N’Keal Harry in the first-round last year and traded for Mohamed Sanu (they can cut with no dead cap), but they still have a big need at wide receiver. Since losing Rob Gronkowski, tight end has been a mess. They could also be looking for an interior lineman, as Ted Karras played 1,102-of-1,145 of their snaps at center and is an unrestricted free agent. Another player who’s slated to hit free agency is defensive tackle Danny Shelton, which would create a need for them. Not just him, but Adam Butler is a restricted free agent, so this is a situation worth monitoring. Bill Belichick’s defense likes versatility, so watch for someone who can play anywhere on the defensive line. Lastly, will safety Devin McCourty remain with the team, or leave via free agency? His departure would move safety up the list.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: TE, IDL, IOL

New York Jets (Estimated Cap Space: $56.3 million, 12th-most)
When it comes to the Jets offensive side of the ball, there are a lot more holes than there are positions solidified. They don’t have a single offensive lineman who’s above average and have both of their starting tackles (Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell) hitting free agency. It seems Robby Anderson is all but gone, as he’s not taking a discount to stay with the team. The only starting wide receiver likely to remain after free agency is Jamison Crowder, who’s essentially slot-only. The Jets defense actually has a lot of good pieces in place, though their cornerback unit is among the worst in the league. Not just that, but Brian Poole, the one cornerback who was solid for them, is now an unrestricted free agent after just one year with the team.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: OT, WR, CB

Pittsburgh Steelers (Estimated Cap Space: -$2.2 million, 32nd-most)
The Steelers trading away their first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick may have seemed odd at the time, but this is a team with very few holes. They could really use a tight end, as Vance McDonald isn’t the answer, and with his escalating contract, it’s almost guaranteed they don’t pick up his option. Left guard Ramon Foster is getting up there in age and didn’t have a particularly great season in 2019, so adding a piece on the offensive line should also be a priority. Edge rusher Bud Dupree is hitting free agency and they have little depth behind T.J. Watt, so edge rusher should also be on their list. All in all, this is a very sound team that can compete if Ben Roethlisberger can return to form. If he can’t, well, quarterback would be at the top of this list. They do need to prepare for life without him, and it wasn’t pretty last year.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: TE, EDGE, OG

Tennessee Titans (Estimated Cap Space: $47.9 million, 18th-most)
The Titans have quite a few big names heading towards free agency, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry, right tackle Jack Conklin, and cornerback Logan Ryan top the list. We can’t assume they all leave right now, but cornerback would be a need even if Ryan was re-signed. They invested in Harold Landry on the edge in the 2018 draft and snagged Cameron Wake in free agency last year, but the depth behind them isn’t great. Wake is also 38 years old. Edge rusher should be considered one of their needs. Lastly, they would ideally swap out Nate Davis at right guard. Sure, they drafted him in the third-round last year, but he was horrendous. Free agency is going to be bigger for them than most teams, as it can create many more needs.
Pre-Free Agency Needs: CB, EDGE, OG

What do you think?

Winners And Losers From 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL Trade Deadline

A busy day of movement around the NHL has come to an end. There were plenty of big names who were dealt today, as well as a number of draft picks heading to teams hoping to be a club adding pieces at this time of year in the future.

It was a record day of trades, according to the NHL. There were 32 deals made on Monday involving 55 players, breaking the record of 31 trades set at the 2010 deadline. The 2018 and 2019 deadlines combined only saw a total of 38 trades.

So now that the trade deadline has passed, who are the winners and losers?

WINNER: Rob Blake

Already with a strong prospect pool, the Kings GM added to it with a bevy of deals as the franchise retools for the future. Blake turned Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford, Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez, and Derek Forbort into two 2020 second-rounders, a 2020 third-rounder, a 2021 second-round pick, a conditional 2021 third-rounder, a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick, Trevor Moore, and the rights to Tyler Madden. Let’s also not forget he sent Martinez to the Golden Knights and managed to not have to retain any salary for a player whose contract expires after next season.

LOSER: Joe Thornton

Maybe he didn’t want a trade, or maybe there wasn’t an option that intrigued GM Doug Wilson enough. But while long-time teammate Patrick Marleau gets to chase after a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh, Thornton remains in San Jose on a team that is going nowhere, wasting what might be one of his last chances at a championship. — Gretz

LOSER: Calgary Flames

With a banged up defense group, GM Brad Treliving added Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort. But when you see how wide open the Pacific Division is and how the Oilers attacked the deadline, wouldn’t it have been wise for Calgary to bolster up front as well?

WINNER: Don Waddell

Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei will strengthen their center position and blue line. The Skjei addition, however, is a curious one when you remember that he’s signed for four more years with a $5.25M cap hit and the Hurricanes will need space to re-sign Dougie Hamilton and Andre Svechnikov in the summer of 2022. But for a team that wants to build off last year’s run, they’re certainly better than they were on Sunday.

LOSER: Dale Tallon

Florida is chasing a playoff spot and they send Trocheck out and bring in Haula, Lucas Wallmark and two prospects. Oh, and they made the deal with a team also in the wild card mix. Haula can be a UFA this summer, while Trocheck still has term on his deal. If this was an attempt at a wake-up call by Tallon it’s a weird one. We won’t know if the two prospects will make an impact for years, but for the now there’s a lot of hope that Haula can stay healthy and be productive as he once was.

WINNER: Ilya Kovalchuk and Marc Bergevin

It’s been quite a few months for the Russian forward. After a failed stint in LA, Kovalchuk landed in Montreal, found his passion again and played well and now goes to a Cup contender. Due to that, the Habs GM brought him in for practically nothing and flipped him for a third-round pick. Nice bit of business.

NFL Warming Up To Gambling Money

Money

According Via Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily, the NFL will now allow teams to sell sell sportsbook sponsorships. The word came to the franchises on Friday, following an extended study by the league’s Sports Betting Committee.

Under the policy shift, which is seismic in comparison to where the league was fewer than two years ago, teams will be allowed to accept sportsbook advertising on their websites and to sell signage to sportsbooks at stadiums. Teams also can sell to a sportsbook the ability to call itself the team’s official sportsbook partner.

But there will be no betting windows, betting parlors, or betting kiosks in stadiums. Likewise, sportsbooks will not be allowed to buy naming rights for stadiums or practice facilities. And in a move that underscores the clumsy nature of the league’s embrace of gambling money, lower-bowl signage won’t be permitted, to prevent the signs from being seen on TV. Likewise, active coaches and players are prohibited from appearing in sportsbook ads.

Active coaches and players should be upset about that. The league has given teams a procedure for cashing in on the sportbook billions, but coaches and players can’t?

The double standard may not last long. There is so much money to made in legalized sports gambling, especially on football. For now, the NFL is dipping its toe in the water. Beginning next season (2020-2021 season), in states where sports gambling is legal, teams can offer betting lounges within the stadium. There will be no betting windows, but all the signage will direct fans on how they can bet directly via their mobile phone.

I would stunned if within five season there is not an NFL Official betting line and app, with the NFL owners getting a cut of every bet made.

Steelers Happy As Ben Roethlisberger Throwing Again

Ben Roethlisberger Pitttsburgh Steelers

Big bearded Ben is back to throwing five months after he was shut down for the season due to an elbow injury.

The Pittsburgh Steelers shared a short clip of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — though it’s easy to miss the identity at first — throwing a football at the Pittsburgh Sports Performance Center on Saturday.

Roethlisberger had surgery on his right elbow in late September after suffering a non-contact injury to it during a Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, he was scheduled to have a “significant check-up” on the elbow Friday in Los Angeles.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said on ESPN’s “First Take” last week he has “no hesitation” the veteran would be ready to return to his starting role in 2020.

“This guy is the ultimate competitor,” Tomlin said on First Take. “He’s dropped the gauntlet down, he’s made a statement that he’s coming back — and I look forward to watching him answer that challenge.”

General manager Kevin Colbert has also been optimistic. Via ESPN:

We’re just really focused on where Ben is at this point,” Colbert told local media recently. “Unfortunately, he had a season-ending injury that we think he can and will recover from moving forward. It’s just a wait-and-see.

“He had an injury to his right arm, but other than that, he’s relatively healthy. We’re not minimizing the right arm injury to a right arm quarterback, but we don’t think he’s at the end of the road.”

It will be Roethlisberger’s 17th season in Pittsburgh. The Steelers remained in playoff contention for the entire season while going back and forth between quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. The Black and Yellow will be happy to have their star back.

MLB 2020 Projected Win Totals

2020 MLB Predictions

Spring training is underway and there’s plenty to be excited about actual baseball being played for the first time in over three months.

With the regular season beginning in only six weeks, it is time to take a look at the latest Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) rankings and see how each time will do in 2020.

AL East
AL East Projected MLB 2020 StandingsWhat does $324 million buy these days? Not a single extra win for the Yankees, who brought Gerrit Cole to the Bronx for October, not regular season window dressing. Chalk up a third consecutive 87+-win season for the Rays, who have made believers of us all. Too much talent in Boston to dismiss the Red Sox, but trade winds, pitcher health and attrition elsewhere will all have to work in their favor if they’re to contend. Hyun-Jin Ryu buys the Blue Jays some stability, but it will take one more year for their core of legacy players to make them a contender for the division.  A handful of keepers are trickling toward Baltimore, where the Orioles may be worse than last year, but a year closer to 2022, when the ugliness may finally subside.

AL Central
AL Central Projected MLB 2020 StandingsThe Twins will drop from a quiet 101 wins to a noisier total in the low-90s, with Josh Donaldson giving the Bomba Squad an MVP-caliber presence. So long as the Indians hold Francisco Lindor, they will contend, but shipping out he or Mike Clevinger will send them tumbling toward the second division. “Winning the winter” usually doesn’t matter, but beware the White Sox, who made impactful moves just as the Eloy Jimenez-Luis Robert core is ready to form. Can the Royals scare up a couple more viable players in the manner Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler stepped forward in ’19? That would make another inevitable losing campaign a little more palatable. It’s going to be another miserable year in Motown, but at least once every five days, the Tigers can hand the ball to Ivan Nova and see league-average performance, in all its glory.

AL West
AL West Projected MLB 2020 StandingsLike a 34-ounce hunk of ash repeatedly slamming into a plastic receptacle, we’re seeing just a few cracks in the Astros.  Bold of the Angels to keep firing even after missing out on Cole; $245 million for Anthony Rendon will make them a much better team, but stopgap starters Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy won’t push them much higher than .500. The Rangers finished second on Rendon but their goal this season will be to complicate the wild-card dreams of the division’s top three teams. Are Evan White and Kyle Lewis and Shed Long and J.P. Crawford building blocks in Seattle? Or churning pieces in the Mariners’ eternal five-year plan?

National League East
NL East Projected MLB 2020 StandingsThat’s right. The defending World Series champion Nationals aren’t even slated to win their own division, nor are the two-time defending division champion Braves, who have had one of the NL’s more productive offseasons. PECOTA suggests that the Mets will reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, and that they will do so as the division champion. The Nationals wouldn’t hate a second consecutive wild-card slot, if only because it meant they survived the post-championship body blows accrued by the six trusted members of their pitching staff – along with the gaping lineup hole Rendon leaves.  In any other division, the Marlins’ modest moves would move the wins needle a bit. In this one, they’ll be not quite good enough on a lot of nights.

National League Central
NL Central Projected MLB 2020 StandingsThe NL Central will have a new champion for the fourth straight year as the Reds are projected to win its first division title since 2012. Cincinnati’s resurgence also comes at the expense of St. Louis and Milwaukee, which are expected to take significant steps backward, with win projections of just 80 and 79, respectively, on the heels of very quiet winters. The Cubs are slated to sneak into the postseason with the second NL Wild Card spot, with a 51.5% projection of reaching October.

National League West
NL West Projected MLB 2020 StandingsThe Dodgers were already the class of the National League, even before acquiring Mookie Betts. But after trading for the former AL MVP Award winner, Los Angeles has climbed to a 103-win projection and postseason adjusted odds of 99.9% (well ahead of the second-highest Yankees, at 94%). PECOTA projects the Dodgers to win the NL West by 24 games over the would-be second-place Padres, which would be the largest margin from first to second in any division since the strike-shortened 1995 season. And it’s not just that the Dodgers should dominate their division: No other NL club is projected to win more than 88 games, and nine of the 15 NL clubs are projected to finish within five games of .500.

Do you agree or disagree with the predictions?

Chris Sale Believes Pitchers Will Retaliate Against Astros For Cheating

Chris Sale Boston Red Sox Pitcher

It’s the scandal that Major League baseball tried to sweep under the rugs, but with players returning to spring training, the impact of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal continues to reverberate throughout baseball.

While no Astro players were disciplined by Major League Baseball for their role in the team’s sign-stealing scheme, there is a growing sense that opposing pitchers may try to punish them this upcoming season.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale said on Sunday that believes Astros hitters could face an increased risk of being plunked in 2020.

Chris Sale Comments

Sale is not the first pitcher to broach this subject. LA Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling thought he was being traded to the Angels and started wrestling with whether he would intentionally throw at an Astros hitter to retaliate Stripling said he thought about how he would face the Astros in the NL West and thought about whether he would intentionally hit some hitter(s) with a pitch:

“I would lean toward yes.” Right time, right place.

Another Dodgers pitcher, Alex Wood, was asked on Friday about the possibility of pitchers plunking Astros hitters this season. Wood said he wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

“You would be hard pressed to say no. I mean, they messed with a lot of guys lives. I don’t condone that type of behavior. We certainly don’t play them. .

“But it wouldn’t surprise me if something like that happened, just to be honest. It’s funny because I’m pretty sure it probably will happen. Somebody will take it into their own hands.

“and they’ll get suspended more games than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years. It’ll be pretty ironic when that happens because I’m sure that’s how it will end up playing out.”

MLB’s version of Nero, commissioner Rob Manfred said in his interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravich on Sunday that he will send a memo to the league discouraging retaliation against the Astros. He cited that throwing at Astros hitters is inappropriate, and increased punishments will be in play.

NFL Free Agency Predictions

NFL Free Agency

On March 18th, free agency opens in the NFL, which should kick off the wildest off-season we’ve seen in recent memory. Some of the players who have shaped the past decade and a half of pro football, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and A.J. Green among many, many others, are set to hit the open market, some for the first time in their careers. We don’t profess to be fortune tellers as to where they’ll eventually end up, but we’ll try our best.

NFL Free Agency Predictions
Drew Brees Will Return for 2020, as a Saint

Since the new year dawned, the Saints’ future Hall of Fame quarterback has waffled on whether or not he will return for the 2020 season, with his stance shifting from “definitely returning” to “maybe returning”. The only thing he’s made crystal-clear is that he won’t be playing for any team other than the Saints. Even at age 41, Brees has more reasons to play than not to play. For one, even though he’s won a Super Bowl ring already and will likely go into the Hall with numerous records, his legacy isn’t entirely secure. Three straight grueling playoff exits have seen to this. Despite that, the Saints will still be a championship contender, and Brees would still have Michael Thomas to throw to. There’s no reason that #9 couldn’t go out on top next year.

Derrick Henry Will Get His Massive Payday
Even after leading the NFL in rushing and almost single-handedly carrying the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game, there are some who question whether free agent running back Derrick Henry is worth the $70 million he feels he is. If the Titans wish to remain contenders in the AFC playoff picture, however, they don’t have much of a choice. Ryan Tannehill played well in the latter half of the season, but only with Henry’s running as a cushion. He isn’t the kind of quarterback to which a coach can entrust an entire offense.

Dak Prescott Will Get the Tag
A recurring storyline throughout the 2019 NFL season was “Will Dak Prescott get his new contract?” As this storyline drags out into the following off-season, it has become clear that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is in no hurry to lock down his franchise quarterback for the amount of money that he is asking for, which is rumored to be $40 million per year – which would make him the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

The most likely scenario, given the Cowboys’ lackluster finish to the 2019 season, is that the Cowboys will apply the franchise tag to Prescott, extending the negotiating window while still increasing his pay from $2.02 million to $33 million. That way, Prescott will still get his much-overdue pay increase, while still being on the clock to prove he’s truly worthy of a long-term extension.

Philip Rivers Will Sign With the Colts
Philip Rivers’ time with the Chargers is officially over, and the 38-year-old quarterback will don another uniform next season. The news of his family’s move to “Florida” (though no specific town was named) caused speculation that Rivers would end up with the Buccaneers, as they may be ready to move on from the error-prone Jameis Winston.

However, the Bucs are not the only team linked to Rivers. As we explained last month, Rivers would make a better fit with the Indianapolis Colts, a team coached by his former offensive coordinator in San Diego, Frank Reich. Dan Patrick also floated this possibility during Super Bowl week.

Tom Brady Will Resign With the Patriots
Speaking of Rivers, his impending departure from the Chargers will leave them with a big hole to fill. While it would be more sensible to draft the quarterback of the future, it’s not every year that a quarterback as accomplished as Tom Brady comes up in free agency.

Brady wants to win another SuperBowl and he is not going to do that in Los Angeles where he has to go through Kansas City and their superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

While contract re-negotiations between Brady and the Patriots have reportedly hit a standstill, I still expect Brady to resign in New England. It is a system that he is comfortable in, and is a division that the Patriots will be expected to win next year, which means either a first-round bye, or at least one home page in the playoffs. two things he will not get if he goes to the Chargers.

What do you think of the predictions? Where do you think Brady, Zak, Brees, and Henry will playing next season?

Arizona Cardinals To Franchise Running back Kenyan Drake

Arizona Cardinals Stadium

The Arizona Cardinals are set to make running back Kenyan Drake the tenth player in club history to be slapped with the franchise tag

This past October, the Arizona Cardinals managed to pull off one of the trades of decade when they convinced the Miami Dolphins to trade Drake for a conditional sixth-round draft pick that become a fifth-rounder.

Drake was an instant hit with the Cardinals, picking up 643 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in just eight starts for his new squad. The 26-year old is obviously an excellent fit for the Cards “Air Raid” offense, but now general manager Steve Keim must find a way to re-sign the free agent ball-carrier.

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said Friday that he has already engaged in contract talks with free-agent-to-be Kenyan Drake, and ”

I made it clear we would like to have him back,” Keim said.

Signing Drake may prove to be a challenging task, but the Cardinals could apply the franchise tag if the two sides fail to come to an agreement. The tag gives the club the right to match any offer that the former Miami Dolphin may receive on the open market. If Arizona elects not to do so, the organization that Drake joins would have to send two first-round draft picks to Arizona as compensation, a steep price where running backs are undervalued at the moment.

If Arizona does resign Drake, what does that mean for the future of David Johnson, who lost his job to Drake and who carries a guaranteed salary of more than $10 million for 2020 (and a salary cap hit of more than $14M)?

“Cutting him is not an option,” Keim said. “Not only the cap hit, but you’re still paying him the cash as well, and it wouldn’t be responsible for me or the organization for me to do that.”

Keim declined to get into speculation about any potential Johnson trade (although that also would carry financial hurdles given that his new team would have to agree to absorb Johnson’s salary as is).

“If David Johnson isn’t the starter, he still has a significant role,” Keim said. “He still creates big-time mismatches in the passing game, he still brings kick return ability. There are a number of things, and you can’t just have one back. You have to have a platoon of backs. We’ve seen that. So there are enough carries to go around.”

Keim emphasized “I still have a lot of faith in David,” Keim said.

“He’s got tremendous skills, he’s a great person, he works extremely hard. I think it was one of those things, if you look at the big picture, Chase (Edmonds) got hurt, David got hurt, we made the trade (for Drake), and Kenyan Drake came in and he got the hot hand.”

What do you think Cardinals fans. Do you use the franchise tag on running back Kenyan Drake?

Philadelphia 76ers Jonah Bolden Joins Phoenix Suns

76ers and Suns Trade

During his rookie year last season, Jonah Bolden showed promise as a stretch big on the Philadelphia 76ers. However, he went from being a part of the rotation last season to being waived after the trade deadline this year. Luckily for him, another NBA franchise has given him a chance to prove he’s an NBA player.

The Phoenix Suns signed Bolden to a 10-day contract. Phoenix is an ideal franchise for Bolden to join. I even wrote about a potential trade that would send him there before the NBA Trade Deadline.

Outside of Deandre Ayton, Aron Baynes and former 76ers power forward Dario Saric, the depth chart at either big man spot is pretty uncertain for the Suns. He should be able to show if he’s really a player ready to play in the NBA.

He’s already played one game with the Suns and finished with six points, seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks, and four fouls, while converting 2-6 field goals. It wasn’t a bad showing, but it did reveal his one major flaw.

The biggest knock against Bolden isn’t his offense or his shot-blocking ability, but rather his defensive I.Q. For his career, he’s averaged 2.2 fouls in 13.9 minutes per game, which translates to 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes. To be honest, it shows a major lack of maturity and discipline on the defensive end.

It was his poor defensive decisions that prevented him from being a part of Sixers rotation in the playoffs last year despite the need for a defensive-minded big man to come off the bench. The additions of Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn this offseason made it virtually impossible for Bolden to get minutes this year.

Then came Norvel Pelle who began the season on a two-way contract and has proven to be a more capable defender than Bolden. As a result of all these new players who are better than him, Bolden was stuck getting playing time in the G-League with the Delaware Blue Coats, Philly’s G-League affiliate. The Sixers waived Bolden to make room to make room to sign Pelle to a regular contract because Pelle was a more capable backup at this point.

Bolden has gotten a second chance with the Suns. Hopefully, for his sake, he can make more of his time in Phoenix than he did when he was on the Philadelphia 76ers. If he doesn’t, then the Suns might be the last NBA team he plays for.