The NFC West is the best division in football. The Rams are officially back and their renaissance in LA is real with Sean McVay. Seattle can never be counted out with Russell Wilson and a talented defense. The 49ers are even my darkhorse team to make the playoffs. Arizona is also a good team with a solid roster, they just need a quarterback.
February 20th is the first day teams can use the franchise tag. Free Agency opens shortly after in the early days of March. What can we expect from each team in the NFC West during free agency?
Free Agents: Justin Bethel, Tyvon Branch, Drew Stanton, Karlos Dansby, Tramon Williams, Jaron Brown, Frostee Rucker, Troy Niklas, Alex Boone, Blaine Gabbert, Earl Watford, John Brown, Kerwynn Williams
The Cardinals have a lot of impending free agents but not one of those guys are difference makers. That means Arizona can still sign players and rack up the comp picks. The red birds will have about $22 million to spend which is not a ton considering they don’t have a quarterback on the roster. To keep this strong roster intact, it would be wise for the Cards to take a signal caller in the draft.
Outside of quarterback, wide receiver should also be a location to look at. Larry Fitzgerald is at the end of the road. Both Brown’s will hit the market. With David Johnson coming back, he really is the only building block on offense. Arizona needs a whole group of weapons and overhauled offensive line to go with it.
Los Angeles Rams:
Free Agents: Sammy Watkins, Trumaine Johnson, Connor Barwin, LaMarcus Joyner, Jonathan Sullivan, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Tyrunn Walker
A team that wins the division isn’t supposed to have $45 million in cap space. With Jared Goff on a rookie deal, the Rams are going to have money to continue to improve the roster. Considering the Rams gave up a second-round pick to acquire Watkins, it’s safe to assume that the Rams intent on keeping him. Watkins didn’t have a great year but was a constant deep threat for the team.
The biggest concern for the Rams would be fixing up that secondary. Three key members are impending free agents. In a division with Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo, having a deep secondary is a must. I expect the Rams to bolster it one way or another.
San Francisco 49ers:
Free Agents: Tank Carradine, Eric Reid, Leon Hall, Carlos Hyde, Aaron Lynch
The 49ers made Jimmy Garoppolo the highest paid player in NFL history. They also have $71 million in cap space to really do some damage out on the market. When you’re in this sort of position, San Fran can really corner anyone they desire. Really the only player I would keep is Eric Reid, Carlos Hyde is a bad scheme fit for Kyle Shanahan. If you are one of those people that thinks Jimmy G got overpaid, then you’re not very smart.
Free Agents: Jimmy Graham, Luke Joeckel, Eddie Lacy, Sheldon Richardson, Bradley McDougald, Luke Willson, Michael Wilhoite, Deshawn Shead, Paul Richardson, Blair Walsh, Marcus Smith, Byron Maxwell
With just $13 million to spend, Seattle can essentially say goodbye to all of their impending free agents. This roster is starting to get really old and expensive. The offensive line still stinks and now this defense isn’t nearly as dominant. Seattle is going to fall apart in this division pretty quickly unless they have some sort of unforeseen rebuild. Russell Wilson really is the glue that’s holding this franchise together. He scored 95 percent of the offensive touchdowns this year. They have their work cut out for them.