Forecasting the Most Active Teams in NFL Free Agency 2015

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IMarch 8, 2015

Forecasting the Most Active Teams in NFL Free Agency 2015

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    No team has more salary-cap room this offseason than general manager David Caldwell's Jacksonville Jaguars.
    No team has more salary-cap room this offseason than general manager David Caldwell's Jacksonville Jaguars.USA TODAY Sports

    When it comes to the National Football League, all 32 teams are a little busy these days.

    We are just two day away from the start of the NFL free-agency period for 2015, and if you’re keeping up, you know the moves around the league have been aplenty.

    Once free agency begins on Tuesday, March 10, which franchises will be the busy of the busiest over the next few weeks and/or months?

    So how did we come up with these clubs on our short list? It’s a very logical combination of teams with money to spend, new regimes in terms of coaching and/or front office personnel and an abundance of needs on one or both sides of the ball.

    Also keep in mind the recent history of some of these organizations, which show they prefer the free-agent route a bit more than rebuilding through the draft.

    Finally, the teams are listed alphabetically, not in the order of which club will be the busiest during free agency.

    Let the fun begin.

Atlanta Falcons

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    It’s been a dismal two years for the Atlanta Falcons.

    A franchise that went from being the NFC’s No. 1 seed in both 2010 and 2012—part of a stretch that saw the club post five-straight winning seasons and make four playoff appearances—has won a total of 10 games the past two years.

    That’s why you can expect general manager Thomas Dimitroff and new head coach Dan Quinn to be busy in the next few weeks, especially when it comes to the defensive side of the football.

    The Falcons have numerous potential unrestricted free agents on defense, including defensive ends Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora, defensive tackle Corey Peters, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and safety Dwight Lowery. But how many of those veterans will be back in Atlanta?

    In 2014, no team in the league gave up more total yards and more passing yards than the Falcons, who also ranked 21st in the NFL against the run. Last offseason, Atlanta gave big money to bolster its defensive front with the signings of defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai, and the results were mixed.

    There's no doubt this team will address this side of the ball during the draft. But the Falcons figure to be active next week as well, especially with nearly $33 million in cap space at their disposal.

Buffalo Bills

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Talk about getting the offseason off to a rousing start.

    Although the deals don’t become official until Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills already have some significant news faces in town, and we’re not talking about head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

    The team has already orchestrated trades that will bring three-time Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy (for linebacker Kiko Alonso) and veteran signal-caller Matt Cassel to Orchard Park from Philadelphia and Minnesota, respectively. Keep in mind that the Bills are the only team at the moment that does not have a first-round draft choice in the upcoming draft.

    As for McCoy, Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (h/t Matthew Fairburn of reports that the Bills and the former Eagle are close on a new contract. Buffalo has a pair of prominent defensive players in defensive end Jerry Hughes and free safety Da’Norris Searcy that it would likely want to retain. This past season the Bills ranked fourth in the league in fewest yards allowed and totaled an NFL-high 54 sacks.

    With Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley around, don’t expect the Bills to sit still over the next few days as well. The additions of McCoy and Cassel may be just a small preview of things to come.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    At the moment, no team has more cap room to play with than the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    But does that mean they will break the bank to bring in some high-priced free agents?

    Not necessarily. However, it also doesn’t mean that general manager David Caldwell won’t be active in the market. Jacksonville has scored the fewest points in the league in each of the last two seasons.

    During last year’s draft, the Jaguars added quarterback Blake Bortles, wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson and guard Brandon Linder (who made 15 starts as a rookie) in the first three rounds.  They also added rookie free-agent wide receiver Allen Hurns. Last season’s passing attack produced only 15 scores—six of those by Hurns.

    The Jaguars would be wise to supplement that young talent with some veteran additions, particularly on the offensive line. Jacksonville allowed an NFL-high 71 sacks this past season, some of that due to Bortles’ obvious lack of experience. If the team opts not to re-sign Cecil Shorts, a veteran wide receiver to help groom the young players may be in order. And is former college quarterback Denard Robinson truly the answer at running back?

    Defensively, the team made strides a year ago but needs more help. So don’t be surprised if the Jaguars are busy over the next few weeks despite the fact they might not run up a big tab.

New York Jets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If you have been watching what the New York Jets have been doing in the last few days, you already know it’s been a busy time for a team that fell hard in 2014.

    In a deal originally reported by ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, the team will obtain wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears for what has been reported as a fifth-round draft choice. Rich Cimini of discussed the ramification of the trade.

    Late last week, the team retained underrated and productive inside linebacker David Harris—one of the team’s best defensive players over the last eight seasons—and prevented him from hitting the open market.

    With new head coach Todd Bowles and new general manager Mike Maccagnan, this team bears watching during free agency. It’s a club with a lot of needs on the offensive side of the ball (the Jets ranked dead last in the NFL in passing in 2014), and it features a defensive unit in dire need of assistance at the cornerback position. This past season, the Jets allowed 31 touchdown passes while totaling only six interceptions.

    Bowles was the league’s NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals. Could he and Maccagnan add to the roster by signing some of his former pupils in the desert?

Oakland Raiders

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    This is a no-brainer, especially if you consider what general manager Reggie McKenzie has done since joining the silver and black.

    In each of the past two offseasons, the Oakland Raiders have attempted to fix what ails this ailing franchise for more than a decade.

    Most of that work has been done on defense in the form of veterans who have been hit-or-miss. This offseason, the Raiders have already parted ways with former free-agent pickups such as defensive end LaMarr Woodley, linebacker Nick Roach and safety Usama Young—all three were signed over the last two offseasons.

    Roach and Young were let go due to medical issues, as outlined by Scott Bair of For good measure, the team also released strong safety Tyvon Branch, who had played in a total of five games the past two seasons.

    While ageless Charles Woodson re-upped with the club this offseason, veteran cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, added last year via free agency, are set to hit the market once again.

    While the Raiders’ anemic offense finished dead last in the league in total yards and rushing this past season, the defense was perhaps even more disappointing considering the money spent. Adding Woodley, Rogers, Brown and defensive linemen Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith resulted in 22 sacks and 14 takeaways by the club.

    New head coach Jack Del Rio aims to fix that. And McKenzie, with plenty of money at his disposal per usual, once again figures to be active, starting Tuesday.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia…Ducks? Now that sounds like it’s really for the Birds.

    The City of Brotherly Love has waved goodbye to several familiar Eagles in the past week—and some more familiar than others. Cornerback Cary Williams was a member of the team for just two seasons after signing as a free agent from Baltimore.

    However, two-time Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Cole and three-time Pro Bowl and 2013 NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy spent 10 and six years with the franchise, respectively. The team released after he totaled 85.5 sacks during his tenure. Philly shuffled off McCoy to Buffalo in a deal that becomes official this Tuesday and reunites Chip Kelly with linebacker Kiko Alonso, who played for the coach at the University of Oregon.

    But what else can we expect from these new-look Birds, who have a somewhat different shade of color to them these days? Call it "Kelly green" as the current roster has its share of former Oregon Ducks. And with the head coach in charge of personnel these days, how many more of his former players could wind up in Philadelphia?

    Of course, that doesn’t mean the Eagles won’t be looking at talent from all over the NFL. The team obviously has some work to do when the defense ranked 28th in the league in yards allowed and gave up 30 touchdown passes despite racking up 49 sacks.

    Free agency is about to get a little “chippy.”

Washington Redskins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last offseason, the Washington Redskins made one of the biggest splashes during free agency with the addition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The former Pro Bowler was cut loose by the Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington was more than happy to scoop up a division rival. The team also added wide receiver Andre Roberts and guard Shawn Lauvao.

    Washington did those moves to assist quarterback Robert Griffin III. Of course, things didn’t turn out well for the third-year quarterback and the offense in general.

    Defensively, the team added pieces such as defensive lineman Jason Hatcher and free safety Ryan Clark; however, the latter has announced his retirement after just one season in Washington.

    When it was all said and done, the Redskins had just four wins—giving them a total of seven victories in two seasons since finishing 10-6 and winning the NFC East in 2012.

    Head coach Jay Gruden hopes to do better in his second year at the helm. For the first time since 2012, the team will have a first-round draft choice. The defense has a new leader in coordinator Joe Barry, who takes over for Jim Haslett.

    This past season, Washington ranked 20th in total yards allowed and over the past two seasons has allowed 28.6 points per game and an astounding 98 offensive touchdowns in 32 games.

    We have already seen changes with the release of defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen and the addition of defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, late of the Indianapolis Colts. New general manager Scot McCloughan, who once toiled for the San Francisco 49ers, figures to be active for a club that has close to $25 million in salary-cap space.

    All free-agent informationsalary-cap numbers (which change daily) and team transactions courtesy of Spotrac. Current team depth charts are courtesy of Ourlads.