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?