2014 NFL Free Agency: Reviewing Every Team's Cap Space, Signing Possibilities
Let’s go shopping.
However, it is buyer beware at this time of the year when talking NFL free agency. That is hardly a knock on the quality of players getting ready to possibly be made available.
That’s because that doggie in the window may not be there when the 2014 fiscal season begins in less than two months.
So here’s a look at each of the 32 teams’ current salary cap situation, as well as some speculation as to who each club will choose to bring back or try to sign from another team. We’ll also dabble a little into team philosophy as well.
We are listing the number of potential unrestricted free agents and some of the key players that could hit the market for each team on March 11. Cap figures on each slide (as of February 21) are for 2014 and also include the rollover from 2013.
Arizona Cardinals: Under $5.7 Million
Potential UFAs: 15
Key UFAs: RB Rashard Mendenhall, ILB Karlos Dansby, S Yeremiah Bell
Raise your hand if you thought the Arizona Cardinals would win 10 games in 2013.
Yep, I thought so.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough to reach the playoffs this past season. The NFC West was in the spotlight this weekend as the Seattle Seahawks edged the San Francisco 49ers, 23-17, in the conference title game.
Bruce Arians’ hard-hitting club was a big surprise last season but if they are to do better next season, will it be with a whole new cast?
Keep in mind that Rashard Mendenhall led the Cardinals in rushing and inside linebacker Karlos Dansby totaled a team-high 122 tackles and both are set to hit the open market in March.
For now, the Cards don’t have a lot of money to deal with. There could be some tough decisions ahead in the desert.
Atlanta Falcons: Under $10.7 Million
Potential UFAs: 10
Key UFAs: DT Jonathan Babineaux, DT Peria Jerry
The Atlanta Falcons were coming off a 2012 season that saw them finish 13-3, tied for the best record in the NFL and owners of the top seed in their conference.
Then the calendar turned 2013 and it all went south for the defending NFC South champions. Mike Smith’s team plummeted to 4-12 and third place in the division.
The franchise thought they had fixed what did ail them in 2012 with the signings of running back Steve Jackson and defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
So much for that theory as the Falcons finished dead last in the league in rushing and next-to-last in the NFL in run defense in 2013. Injuries limited Jackson to 543 rushing yards and Umenyiora 7.5 of the club’s 32 sacks.
Will general manager Thomas Dimitroff do a little shopping this offseason for some help in the trenches? Defensive tackle Randy Starks (Miami Dolphins) and guard Jon Asamoah (Kansas City Chiefs) could be intriguing possibilities.
Baltimore Ravens: Under $14.8 Million
Potential UFAs: 13
Key UFAs: TE Dennis Pitta, WR Jacoby Jones, T Michael Oher
Consider that this past season, the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (8-8) lost two fewer games than they did in 2012. A year earlier, they went 10-6, got hot at the right time and came away with the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy.
But that two-game difference included a pair of losses to close the season. It marked the first time under head coach John Harbaugh, who arrived in 2008 that the team failed to have a winning campaign or reach the playoffs.
After numerous defections and departures prior to last season, the Ravens once again have some work to do if they are to retain some of their homegrown players such as tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, tackles Michael Oher and defensive tackle Terrence Cody.
Last season, general manager Ozzie Newsome used free agency to rebuild his defense. It would be surprising if the Ravens went in that direction again.
Buffalo Bills: Under $15.9 Million
Potential UFAs: 7
Key UFAs: FS Jairus Byrd, LB Arthur Moats
Yes, it was another disappointing season for the Buffalo Bills. Six straight years of finishing in the AFC East basement is hardly cause for celebration.
Still, there had to be some cheers when it came to the team’s first three draft choices last April in the form of Manuel, the only quarterback selected in the first round in 2013, as well as second-round picks in wide receiver Robert Woods and productive linebacker Kiko Alonso.
So will the team take what little money it has to bolster that defense? Somehow it would be a shame if the Bills allowed Pro Bowl free safety Jairus Byrd to get away. Buffalo ranked 10th overall in the NFL in yards allowed but were a disappointing 28th versus the run.
Look for the franchise to continue to bolster their roster via the draft and try their best to retain Byrd.
Carolina Panthers: Under $15.2 Million
Potential UFAs: 20
Key UFAs: DE Greg Hardy, T Jordan Gross, CB Captain Munnerlyn
It turned out that is wasn’t the year of the cat after all.
Not this year at least.
The Carolina Panthers overcame a 1-3 start in 2013 to win 11 of their final 12 games and capture the NFC South. Ron Rivera’s team bowed out quietly in a 23-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoffs but it was a learning year for this young team.
Now we’ll learn what the Panthers plan to do when keeping a pair of their treasured bookends. Left tackles Jordan Gross has been a mainstay for more than a decade and right defensive end Greg Hardy finished third in the NFL this past season with 15 sacks.
Given their current cap situation, you could see one player being franchised and the other addressed before free agency starts in March.
No doubt Rivera and the front office would like to see a tweak or two on the roster. However, keeping that heralded defense intact would be key if the Panthers hope to become the first team ever to win the NFC South a second straight year.
Chicago Bears: Under $14.8 Million
Potential UFAs: 22
Key UFAs: DT Henry Melton, S Major Wright, KR Devin Hester
The list of potential unrestricted free agents for the Chicago Bears became shorter earlier in January and with good reason.
The franchise re-upped with quarterback Jay Cutler via a seven-year deal. Considering all the work general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman did last offseason to assist his cause, it made perfect sense not to drag out the drama.
The Bears have a lot of decisions to make this offseason in terms of retaining players. Injuries were a huge part of the team’s defensive collapse in 2013 but will the team bring back veterans such as safety Major Wright and linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton, the designated franchise player in 2013, figures to draw interest in the open market depending on his health. The former Pro Bowler missed the final 13 games of the season.
Would the Bears let record-holding kick returner Devin Hester get away? Seeing the speedster run through them wearing a different uniform would be odd, to say the least.
Cincinnati Bengals: Under $24.1 Million
Potential UFAs: 13
Key UFAs: DE Michael Johnson, T Anthony Collins
Despite a division title and a team-record third straight playoff appearance in 2013, postseason success continues to elude the Cincinnati Bengals.
That’s unfortunate considering the strides the franchise has made under head coach Marvin Lewis. Unfortunately, he’s failed to win a playoff game in five tries.
Last offseason, Cincinnati had a dozen potential free agents on the defensive side of the ball alone. The team managed to get the majority re-signed and franchised defensive end Michael Johnson. That continuity, along with the leadership of Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, were a big reason only two teams in the league gave up fewer total yards than the Bengals this past season.
That continuity is being challenged in 2014 with the departure of not only Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings) but offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (Washington Redskins).
Getting Johnson back in the fold is very important. As for the remainder of the team’s potential free agents, the Bengals are a team that has drafted very well in recent years. Youth could be served at various positions.
Cleveland Browns: Under $35.3 Million
Potential UFAs: 7
Key UFAs: C Alex Mack, S T.J. Ward
It is somewhat ironic that the Cleveland Browns potentially have seven unrestricted free agents in 2014.
The franchise has already gone through seven head coaches since returning to the NFL in 1999.
We are all still waiting to see who head coach No. 8 will be.
As for the potential free agents, we are not going out on a limb to say that Pro Bowl center Alex Mack has to be a priority. Safety T.J. Ward is also one of the team’s top defensive players but the team may not be able to keep both should one get a huge offer.
In terms of who the team could target from another club, that’s a question easier answered once the new head coach is in place.
Dallas Cowboys: Over $20.9 Million
Potential UFAs: 11
Key UFAs: DE Anthony Spencer, DT Jason Hatcher
How fitting is it that a team that has gone 8-8 three straight seasons has a one next to a one when it comes to its potential free-agent total?
All numerical jokes aside, the Dallas Cowboys are far more concerned with another figure. That would be 32, as in the league’s bottom-ranked defense in 2013.
What to do about it? Injuries decimated the front seven this past season and defensive end Anthony Spencer was around for one game and two tackles. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher led the team with a career-high 11 sacks in 2013.
However, owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones has a lot of work to do considering the team’s current cap situation. And as for targeting other team’s free agents, there is that first things first thing.
Denver Broncos: Under $21.6 Million
Potential UFAs: 17
Key UFAs: RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Eric Decker, LB Wesley Woodyard
Of course, the Denver Broncos have bigger fish to fry the next two weeks.
Or is it bird to barbecue?
The franchise will meet the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium one week from Sunday.
Some of the key components on offense could play pivotal roles for the Broncos. Of course, they could also be playing their last game for the franchise.
Win or lose, running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Eric Decker could hit the open market in March.
Then again, the word open means something quite different to both Moreno and Decker these days.
As in open field for the runner and wide open for the receiver.
Detroit Lions: Over $1.6 Million
Potential UFAs: 18
Key UFAs: TE Brandon Pettigrew, C Dominic Raiola, DE Willie Young
Here we go again.
The Detroit Lions haven’t won an NFL title since 1957, a playoff game since 1991 and a division title since 1993.
They also have a new head coach once again. Jim Caldwell, lately the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens and formerly the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, is the new leader in the Motor City.
The Lions struck gold in free agency last season with additions such as running back Reggie Bush and safety Glover Quin. But being over the cap at the moment could prevent the franchise from dipping into the pool in 2014.
Veterans such as center Dominic Raiola and tight end Brandon Pettigrew appear to be priorities when it comes to the Lions retaining players. With a new head coach at the helm, could those looks be deceiving?
Green Bay Packers: Under $25.5 Million
Potential UFAs: 16
Key UFAs: DT B.J. Raji, WR James Jones, TE Jermichael Finley, CB Sam Shields
As most know, the Green Bay Packers aren’t one of those organizations that spends a lot of money on others teams’ talent. You could argue that in 20-plus years of free agency, the franchise broke the bank just twice; defensive end Reggie White and defensive back Charles Woodson.
That figures to be the case again in 2014. That’s because the team has plenty of its own talent to bring back to the team this offseason.
Standouts such as wideout James Jones, cornerback Sam Shields and defensive tackle B.J. Raji will see their contracts expire in March. Such is the case for Jermichael Finley as well. The talented tight end released a statement back in November via his agent in reference to his playing future.
Houston Texans: Under $6.7 Million
Potential UFAs: 12
Key UFAs: RB Ben Tate, DE Antonio Smith, DT Earl Mitchell
Wow. From two straight AFC South titles to an NFL-low two victories in 2013, the Houston Texans were arguably the league’s biggest disappointment a season ago. Head coach Gary Kubiak didn’t last the season.
Enter new head coach Bill O’Brien, who hopes to work with his quarterbacks while new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel hopes to make the Texans even better on that side of the football.
What about the team’s free-agent situation? Even though Arian Foster missed half of 2013, he’s still one of the best running backs in the league. And in today’s NFL of backfield-by-committee, it’s still tough to have a deep stable of veteran talent.
Backup running back Ben Tate led the team in rushing yards this past season but he doesn’t figure to return in 2014. When you consider Tate’s performance and potential as a workhorse back for a club, he expects to command a price that may be out of the Texans’ range.
As for the defense, let’s see how many of the team’s current starters will be around under Crennel’s watch this season.
Indianapolis Colts: Under $40.1 Million
Potential UFAs: 17
Key UFAs: S Antoine Bethea, RB Donald Brown, P Pat McAfee
Last offseason, general manager Ryan Grigson revamped a porous defensive unit with numerous free agent additions. The list included free safety LaRon Landry, outside linebacker Erik Walden, cornerback Greg Toler and defensive linemen Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean-Francois.
When it was all said and done, some improvement was made. However, a team that finished 29th in the league in rushing defense in 2012 ranked 26th in the same category this past season.
The Colts once again have money to spend. So will it be on the defensive side of the ball once again? Could a player like Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody will be reunited with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
Whatever the solution, Grigson has the means to fix a unit that allowed 150 yards rushing in the wild card win over the Kansas City Chiefs and 234 yards on the ground in the playoff loss to the New England Patriots.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Under $51.9 Million
Potential UFAs: 8
Key UFAs: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, QB Chad Henne
Despite another dismal showing this past season, perhaps things are looking up for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The team is a combined 6-26 the last two years but did overcome a 0-8 start in 2013 to split its final eight games.
Head coach Gus Bradley had his squad fighting from day one. While the Jaguars ended the season with three straight losses, they were a competitive club and much-improved after looking like arguably the league’s worst team in September.
However, what to do about the quarterback situation? Former first-rounder Blaine Gabbert has disappointed and veteran Chad Henne could hit the open market. Elsewhere, veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew had his moments in 2013. But will the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdowns scored get a chance to extend that record?
The Jaguars have some money to spend and both sides of the ball need to be addressed. Don’t be surprised if the team makes a run at Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who had 15 of his team’s 60 sacks in 2013.
Over the last two seasons, the Jaguars have totaled just 51 sacks in 32 games.
Kansas City Chiefs: Under $17.0 Million
Potential UFAs: 13
Key UFAs: T Branden Albert, WR Dexter McCluster, G Jon Asamoah
How did something that was going so right wind up going so wrong?
No team in the league stayed undefeated longer than the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. Following a 2014 finish the previous year, Andy Reid’s team won its first nine games this past season.
Despite an 11-5 finish and playoff appearance, the Chiefs dropped six of their last eight overall outings. The final setback was an epic collapse to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs when the Chiefs squandered a 28-point lead en route to a 45-44 setback.
That was 2013. Now what will the team do for an encore? First, they have to figure a way to retain a pair of starters on the offensive line in Pro Bowl tackle Branden Albert and guard Jon Asamoah.
Will the club get a chance to bring back wide receiver Dexter McCluster, who could get a nice offer from other teams due to his versatility?
The Chiefs took some big steps in 2013. They can least afford to moonwalk in 2014.
Miami Dolphins: Under $24.5 Million
Potential UFAs: 16
Key UFAs: CB Brent Grimes, DTs Randy Starks and Paul Soliai
It was there for the taking. And the Miami Dolphins were taken.
With a chance to grab their first playoff berth since 2008, Joe Philbin’s team scored a combined seven points in season-ending losses to the Buffalo Bills (19-0) and New York Jets (20-7).
This is a football team that desperately needs help on the offensive line. The Dolphins were 26th in the NFL in rushing and allowed a league-high 58 sacks. Could Carolina Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross r Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert be on Miami’s radar? What about Indianapolis Colts swingman Mike McGlynn.
The Dolphins did make their bones on the defensive side of the ball last season but there’s still room for improvement. Retaining Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes would be a wise move. However, are there massive changes coming for Philbin’s team on the defensive front?
Minnesota Vikings: Under $34.8 Million
Potential UFAs: 17
Key UFAs: DE Jared Allen, DT Kevin Williams, RB Toby Gerhart
There has been a changing of the guard for the Minnesota Vikings.
Now let’s see how many other changes there will be as this team now boasts first-time head coach Mike Zimmer, as well as new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
The defensive mastermind, late of the Cincinnati Bengals, inherits a club that gave up the most points and the second-most yards in the league in 2013.
The Vikings certainly have money to spend but how much of it (if any) will go to re-signing veteran defensive linemen such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams? Minnesota totaled 41 sacks last season, led by Allen’s 11.5 sacks.
Could Zimmer and his new team take a run at Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson? Stay tuned.
New England Patriots: Under $5.7 Million
Potential UFAs: 12
Key UFAs: WR Julian Edelman, CB Aqib Talib, LB Brandon Spikes
The consistency of the New England Patriots is astounding regardless of the era. But it is even more impressive when you consider the losses by the team both before and during the season.
However, it’s the Denver Broncos that will be representing the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII after Bill Belichick’s team came up short in Sunday’s conference title game, 26-16.
Trying to predict what this franchise will do in terms of personnel is always tough. Everyone saw the effect of not having Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, injured in the contest, had in the AFC title tilt. It will be intriguing to see how it all plays out.
What of wide receiver Julian Edelman and his 105 receptions in 2013? Can the Patriots afford to let him get away?
One thing is for sure. You can’t put a price tag on how well the Pats do business. It figures to be another interesting offseason in Foxborough.
New Orleans Saints: Over $11.8 Million
Potential UFAs: 17
Key UFAs: TE Jimmy Graham, S Malcolm Jenkins, T Zach Strief
The 2013 offseason was a quiet one for the New Orleans Saints in terms of free agency.
When it was all said and done, the cap-strapped franchise made very few moves when it came to bringing in the right personnel for Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense.
As it turned out, they wound up having most of what they needed already at their disposal. The Saints did give cornerback Keenan Lewis (Pittsburgh Steelers) big money and it paid off well, to say the least.
Speaking of big money, what kind of numbers will All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham command this offseason? Is he destined to get the franchise tag? Can the Saints get a long-term deal done sooner than later?
It will also be interesting to see if Sean Payton’s club opts to retain safety Malcolm Jenkins with second-year pro Kenny Vaccaro waiting in the wings?
New York Giants: Under $16.3 Million
Potential UFAs: 23
Key UFAs: WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Justin Tuck, LB Jon Beason
Last offseason, the New York Giants were busier than usual when it came to both arrivals and departures via free agency.
Last season, the teams suffered through its worst start (0-6) since 1976 and finished 7-9, the club’s first losing season since 2004.
So will we be seeing familiar faces such as wideout Hakeem Nicks, defensive end Justin Tuck and tackle David Diehl on the sidelines with Tom Coughlin in 2014?
It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be some notable departures, especially when it comes to Nicks. The Giants find themselves in a strange situation these days. It will be interesting to see if general manager Jerry Reese will once again invest heavily into the veteran market this offseason.
New York Jets: Under $27.6 Million
Potential UFAs: 19
Key UFAs: TE Jeff Cumberland, G Willie Colon
There’s been so much talk about the New York Jets and head coach Rex Ryan this offseason that it is sometimes forgotten that the franchise does employ players as well.
Now back to the players. The Jets could use some of their available money on finding some playmakers for quarterback Geno Smith, who had some good and numerous bad moments as a rookie in 2013.
Keeping tight end Jeff Cumberland around would be a good idea. He caught just 26 passes this past season but totaled a team-high four touchdown receptions.
It’s safe to say the league’s 31st-ranked passing offense in 2013 needs all the help he can get.
Oakland Raiders: Under $70.6 Million
Potential UFAs: 18
Key UFAs: RB Darren McFadden, DE Lamarr Houston, T Jared Veldheer
Apparently, the Oakland Raiders have money to spend this offseason.
Now if the franchise can only buy itself a winning campaign sometime soon.
It’s now been 11 years and counting since the Silver and Black finished in the black. The Raiders are coming off back-to-back 4-12 finishes under head coach Dennis Allen.
Last offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie was busy rebuilding the defense through free agency. Veterans such as safety Charles Woodson and cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter signed one-year deals and up for renewal in 2014.
But the burning question this offseason is whether the Raiders will re-sign former first-round pick Darren McFadden, who has yet to play all 16 games in any of his first six seasons? When on the field, the talented running back has made an impression. Unfortunately, it’s the “when” that has been the issue.
As for potential upgrades for their team, Buffalo Bills free safety Jarius Byrd will be on a lot of team’s shopping list. The Raiders could also bring in a veteran like defensive end Jared Allen, who McKenzie saw a lot of during his days in Green Bay. In any case, there’s some fixing needed for a team that has allowed 400 or more points three straight seasons.
And we haven’t even addressed the team’s quarterback situation.
Philadelphia Eagles: Under $30.4 Million
Potential UFAs: 10
There’s nothing like a Chip off a new block.
Bad pun or not, the Philadelphia Eagles not only overcame a 4-12 finish in 2012 but a 3-5 start this season and captured the NFC East title.
The offense was led by the NFL’s leading rusher (LeSean McCoy) and top-rated quarterback (Nick Foles). Could that unit be even better with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin healthy and in the lineup?
The former first-round wideout should be a priority for the Birds, as should the re-signing of wide receiver Riley Cooper. The Eagles attack was clicking on all cylinders during the second half of last season.
A year ago, the team used free agency to revamp the defensive back-seven, namely adding cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams and safety Patrick Chung, as well as outside linebacker Connor Barwin. The Eagles could look for some defensive line help in free agency this offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Over $9.6 Million
Potential UFAs: 21
Key UFAs: WR Emmanuel Sanders, LB Jason Worilds, DE Brett Keisel
When it was all said and done, the Pittsburgh Steelers finished 8-8 for the second straight season.
But the 2013 edition won six of its last eight games after a 2-6 start. A year earlier, Mike Tomlin’s team was 6-3 before dropping five of their final seven contests.
However, general manager Kevin Colbert still has to get this team under the salary cap before it can think about bringing back some of their own key players, namely wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and possibly outside linebacker Jaron Worilds.
The Steelers are rarely a big-time player when it comes to signing free agents. And this offseason they figured to be busy standing pat when it comes to their own talent.
St. Louis Rams: Under $3.1 Million
Potential UFAs: 8
Key UFAs: OL Rodger Saffold, G Chris Williams
Three years ago, the St. Louis Rams would have been in the running for the NFC West title with a 7-9 record.
Not anymore. The team finished last in the division with that mark in 2013 as every other club in the ground finished with at least 10 wins and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers wound up meeting in the NFC title game.
When it comes to making some financial decisions, the Rams have fewer than most. And if quarterback Sam Bradford is healthy for his fifth NFL season, this could be an interesting team in 2014.
Especially if the club continues to add rookies such as wide receiver Tavon Austin and outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, as was the case in the first round in April.
San Diego Chargers: Over $323,355
Potential UFAs: 13
Key UFAs: LB Donald Butler, LB Larry English
For the first time since 2009, the San Diego Chargers were a playoff team this past season and even managed to win a postseason for the first time since 2008.
While the team has some decisions to make when it comes to getting under the salary cap, this is a team that has been rebuilt through the draft, most notably on the defensive side of the football.
Meanwhile, the offensive line was also much improved last season and the Chargers will have to decide if they want to bring back guard Cha Rinehart, who they signed from the Buffalo Bills last spring. It was a bounce back campaign for quarterback Philip Rivers in 2013 and the team’s play up front was a big reason why.
Still, re-signing emerging linebacker Donald Butler would be advisable. The four-year veteran finished second on the team in tackles in 2013.
San Francisco 49ers: Under $6.9 Million
Potential UFAs: 11
Key UFAs: WR Anquan Boldin, S Donte Whitner, PK Phil Dawson
For the third straight season, the San Francisco 49ers wound up in the NFC Championship Game.
For the third straight season, the Niners didn’t wind up with an NFL championship.
So where does the organization go from here?
Will the team bring back veteran wideout Anquan Boldin, who wound up leading the team in catches and receiving yards in 2013? How does safety Donte Whitner fit into the team’s future? Does the team have a possibly replacement for 35 year old center Jonathan Goodwin?
Perhaps most importantly, will standout placekicker Phil Dawson return for a second season with the club?
The Niners have their share of questions but in recent seasons, they have usually had the answers.
Seattle Seahawks: Under 12.9 Million
Potential UFAs: 17
Key UFAs: WR Golden Tate, CB Brandon Browner, T Breno Giacomini
Obviously, the Seattle Seahawks organization has more on their mind these days than the long-term future.
Pete Carroll and his squad are far more concerned with the immediate future. That would be immediate as in Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2 and a date with the AFC champion Denver Broncos.
Win or lose in two weeks at MetLife Stadium, the Seahawks have some future concerns. Key offensive components such as wide receiver Golden Tate and right tackle Breno Giacomini could be unrestricted free agents come March 11. Placekicker Steven Hauschka falls under that category as well.
First things first, however, when it comes to this franchise. That means winning a first-ever NFL championship. And like a group of friends who go out to dinner but settle on one check, the Seahawks will figure out the money later.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Under $15.3 Million
Potential UFAs: 19
Key UFAs: FB Erik Lorig, DT Gary Gibson, LB Jonathan Casillas
Over the past five seasons we’ve seen two different approaches head coaching-wise when it comes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It would add up to four-last place finishes over a five-year span.
So following the contrasting styles of Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano, the Bucs decided to add some Lovie to the mix.
New head coach Lovie Smith, who once took the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl, looks to get the Bucs back on track. One of the team’s other hires is former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, who takes over at defensive coordinator.
Tampa does have some money to spend but will it be on its own veterans. Could Frazier and Smith raid their own teams in the form of defensive tackles such as Henry Melton and Kevin Williams and defensive end Jared Allen?
The Buccaneers are looking to head north after three straight seasons in the NFC South basement. Could they get an assist from a few talented veterans from the NFC North?
Tennessee Titans: Under $16.0 Million
Potential UFAs: 15
Key UFAs: CB Alterraun Verner, WR Kenny Britt, S Bernard Pollard
Many people question why new head coach Ken Whisenhunt would opt for the Tennessee Titans rather than take a job with the Detroit Lions.
When you look at his new team’s personnel, the Titans appear tailor-made for what the well-traveled coach likes to do.
Remember, last offseason saw Tennessee add guard Andy Levitre and running back Shonn Greene via free agency and guard Chance Warmack in the first round of the draft.
It adds up to power football, which was the intent last season but watch that philosophy increase under Whisenhunt.
The Titans don’t have a ton of cap room but preventing Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner from leaving is a big priority.
Washington Redskins: Under $38.0 Million
Potential UFAs: 18
Key UFAs: LB Brian Orakpo, LB Perry Riley, TE Fred Davis
In recent seasons under general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan, the Washington Redskins rebuilt the team via the draft rather than spending a lot of money on veteran free agents.
It’s safe to say we have seen the latter in Washington and with less-than-scintillating results.
There is once again a new head coach in town with the arrival of Jay Gruden, who comes over following his days as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals.
That doesn’t mean Gruden doesn’t know his former team’s defensive personnel. Only the Minnesota Vikings gave up more points than Washington last season. The Redskins allowed 52 offensive touchdowns, including 29 scores through the air.
With funds at their disposal, you could see the ‘Skins take a run at Cincinnati defenders such as safety Taylor Mays and cornerback Brandon Ghee. Could the team also take a flyer on kick returner Brandon Tate as well?
Regardless, there’s obviously a bad taste in the mouth of a franchise that went from NFC East champions to 3-13 in a single season.