Offensive and Defensive Targets for Every NFL Team in 2017 Free Agency

Sean Tomlinson@@SeanGTomlinsonNFL AnalystFebruary 15, 2017

Offensive and Defensive Targets for Every NFL Team in 2017 Free Agency

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    Jason-Paul Pierre
    Jason-Paul PierreJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    On March 9 at 4 p.m. ET, NFL teams will crawl out of their tents outside the giant imaginary free-agency department store. Think of the annual Black Friday scene—just with more money.

    They'll anxiously wait for the doors to open while huddled in shivering masses. When they do, some teams will be left trampled as the few stars available in free agency are snatched up by front offices rich with salary-cap space.

    Many of those massive-money signings will be regretted—and soon. The teams that miss out don't know that future yet, though, and they can't care right away either. They still have needs to fill.

    That's why we've compiled this handy list of the top three offensive and defensive free-agency options for each team. There's always a Plan B and then an emergency glass case.

    Each team's offense and defense are evaluated in the lists that follow, and then the top three free-agent possibilities on each side of the ball are explored. The names listed were determined according to team fits and, often more importantly, the amount of cap space available.

Arizona Cardinals

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    DeSean Jackson
    DeSean JacksonRich Schultz/Getty Images


    The Arizona Cardinals will get likely one more season out of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. But it's still time to start thinking about the future at the wide receiver position and beyond 2017.

    Fitzgerald finished the 2016 regular season with 1,023 receiving yards, an impressive total at the age of 33. But J.J. Nelson, the next closest Cardinals wide receiver, was far behind at 568 yards. Fitzgerald needs help now, and the Cardinals need help at his position in the future.

    DeSean Jackson: The Cardinals have plenty of their own high-priced free agents to retain, most notably outside linebacker Chandler Jones and defensive end Calais Campbell. Signing even one of those two will put a serious dent in the Cardinals' $35.5 million of available cap space, and head coach Bruce Arians has already said Jones isn't going anywhere and could be franchise-tagged.

    Jackson will turn 31 years old late in the 2017 season, so there's reason to think that his advancing age lowers his price. He recorded his fifth career 1,000-plus yard season in 2016.

    Pierre Garcon: Jackson's possibly soon-to-be former teammate will also turn 31 later in 2017 and could be an even more cost-efficient target for a cap-conscious team. 

    Jack Doyle: Tight ends often aren't featured prominently in Arians' offense. Still, both Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham are pending free agents, and in 2016 Doyle finished with 584 receiving yards.


    The Cardinals will focus on keeping their own defensive talent that powered the league's second-ranked unit in 2016. But there are fallback options if the likes of Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson are lured elsewhere.

    Barry Church: Church is one of the best all-around safeties available if Jefferson escapes the Cardinals' grasp. He's a thumper against the run and allowed an opposing passer rating in coverage of only 67.8 in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

    Micah Hyde: Hyde has versatility with experience after playing both safety and slot corner in 2016. He's also a solid all-around defender and has snatched six interceptions over the past two years.

    Sam Shields: The Cardinals are still trying to find the right fit at the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson. That could be Shields, and he'll come at a discount after an injury-filled season.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Nick Fairley
    Nick FairleyJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    The most concerning subtraction from a lethal Atlanta Falcons offense isn't on the field. No, the loss of Kyle Shanahan's mind is troubling after the former offensive coordinator moved on to be the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

    Most of the core pieces of an offense that averaged 415.8 yards per game will stay in place. But key reinforcements and depth are still needed.

    Jared Cook: Two of the three top tight ends on the Falcons' depth chart (Levine Toilolo and Jacob Tamme) are pending free agents. Cook recorded 407 yards over the final six games of his 2016 season with the Green Bay Packers.

    Kyle Juszczyk: Patrick DiMarco is one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in the league. He's a free agent, though, and if DiMarco walks away from the Falcons, there's an easy replacement available: Juszczyk, the only fullback better than DiMarco when asked to open holes.

    Jahri Evans: At 34 years old, Evans will be a quality low-cost option to replace Chris Chester at guard if he leaves.


    There's suddenly a whole lot a youthful promise around the Falcons defense, especially after defensive tackle Grady Jarrett finished with three sacks in Super Bowl LI. The focus now should be on sprinkling in key veteran leadership.

    Julius Peppers: The Falcons would be trading one aging legend for another if they pursued Peppers, which is exactly what a young pass rush powered by 24-year-old Vic Beasley needs. Defensive end Dwight Freeney is a pending free agent, and even at the age of 37, Peppers finished 2016 with 7.5 sacks for the Packers.

    Nick Fairley: Fairley can upgrade the Falcons' interior pass rush after his 6.5 sacks in 2016 with the New Orleans Saints.

    T.J. McDonald: McDonald is a solid replacement at safety for Ricardo Allen if he departs as a free agent. McDonald is also still in his prime at 26 years old, which will add more youth to the Falcons defensive backfield if the Ram slides in alongside the quickly emerging Keanu Neal.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Kenny Britt
    Kenny BrittLeon Halip/Getty Images


    Sadly, Steve Smith has retired, which means both his physically punishing playing style and Hall of Fame-level smack talk is riding off into the sunset. It also means wide receiver is a glaring need and concern for the Baltimore Ravens, and they don't have much cap space ($15.3 million) to throw at one of the league's more expensive positions.

    Kenny Britt: You always have to look past injury concerns with Britt, as his knees are held together with Scotch tape at this point. But he's played at least 15 games in three straight years now.

    Michael Floyd: Britt is the better target for a cap-crunched team that has spending priorities on defense. But Floyd has promise if dollars get really tight, though you have to squint enough and have a good memory. He's still young at the age of 27 and has a history of production whenever his head is aligned properly (three straight 800-plus yard seasons between 2013 and 2015). 

    Patrick DiMarco: The Falcons and Ravens could pretty much trade their difference-making fullbacks.


    A defense that gave up an average of 20.1 points per game in 2016 (ninth) is possibly set to lose a key run-stuffer in defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

    Dontari Poe: Again, the Ravens aren't exactly overflowing with cash, and Poe's price has likely taken a hit because of a nagging back injury that slowed his production in 2016 for the Chiefs.

    Johnathan Hankins: Hankins could come at an even greater bargain price due to injury. He wasn't quite his normal run-stuffing self in 2016 for the Giants after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. But the 25-year-old isn't far removed from a 2014 season with seven sacks and 51 tackles prior to that injury.

    Dre Kirkpatrick: An upgrade at cornerback is the Ravens' next defensive need beyond a tackle if Williams walks. They need better support across from Jimmy Smith, and Kirkpatrick has recorded 26 passes defensed over the past two seasons for the Bengals.

Buffalo Bills

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    Kenny Stills
    Kenny StillsSean M. Haffey/Getty Images


    The Buffalo Bills' entire offseason approach hinges on quarterback Tyrod Taylor and whether they deem him worthy of over $30.8 million guaranteed. That's the chunk of Taylor's contract that locks in on March 11.

    Between now and then, other quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick (likely a free-agent mirage) could hit the open market. But largely the quarterback cupboard will remain bare, leaving the Bills to focus their attention elsewhere, which starts with finding a better complementary option at wide receiver across from Sammy Watkins.

    Kenny Stills: The Bills have four wide receivers set to become free agents, which gives their need at wide receiver even more urgency. Pairing Stills with Watkins and potentially also Taylor's cannon arm would turn the field into a launch pad.

    Brandon LaFell: If the Bills decide to keep Taylor and need to go the cheaper route while addressing their wide receiver need, then LaFell could be their guy. He'll turn 31 midway through the 2017 season and is a reliable veteran who caught 64 passes for 862 yards in 2016. 

    Ricky Wagner: The Bills' pass protection could also use a swift kick in the rear, and Wagner allowed only three sacks in 2016 over 926 snaps, per PFF.


    The Bills are picking up the pieces defensively and were gashed on the ground in 2016 while giving up 133.1 rushing yards per game. That's a clear concern, but so is the possible departure of cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

    Prince Amukamara: Amukamara's services will be expensive but still not bank-busting, which is key for a franchise that has only $26 million in cap space to work with.

    Kiko Alonso: There's always been a magnetizing appeal tied to Alonso, with teams imagining the steal they would get when he's actually healthy. He missed only one game in 2016 while recording 115 tackles. Now he can return to where his career began to help the Bills' struggling run defense.

    DeMarcus Ware: The Bills are playing with veteran pass-rusher house money after 33-year-old Lorenzo Alexander notched a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2016. Alexander is a pending free agent, and if he moves on, Ware can be the far more established veteran who replaces him.

Carolina Panthers

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    Andrew Whitworth
    Andrew WhitworthGeorge Gojkovich/Getty Images


    Quality pass protection in front of quarterback Cam Newton has eluded the Carolina Panthers for a few seasons now. Newton was sacked on 17.1 percent of his dropbacks in 2016, per PFF, and right tackle Mike Remmers is a pending free agent.

    Andrew Whitworth: Whitworth is still one of the league's best left tackles, even at the age of 35. That age will put a ceiling on his payday if he hits the open market, though the Panthers aren't too concerned about penny-pinching with their $50.5 million in cap space.

    Riley Reiff: If the Panthers would rather pursue a longer-term solution at tackle, then the 28-year-old Reiff could be their guy.

    Terrelle Pryor: The Panthers can throw plenty of money at Pryor to get a still young and rapidly rising receiver who easily has the skill set to replace Ted Ginn.


    The Panthers will probably have to spend a good chunk of their cap space on franchise-tagging defensive tackle Kawann Short. They know it, too, and head coach Ron Rivera said as much to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    But they still stand to potentially lose defensive end Charles Johnson as well, along with fellow end Mario Addison. That's possibly 12.5 sacks walking out the door, making the defensive line a priority beyond Short.

    Jason Pierre-Paul: The Panthers need to maintain their juggernaut pass rush that finished with 47 sacks in 2016. Reeling in arguably the best 4-3 defensive end available would certainly accomplish that.

    Jabaal Sheard: If the Panthers want to go the slightly cheaper route after dedicating so much of the salary-cap pie to Short, they could shift their attention to Jabaal Sheard. The Patriot was paid a base salary of $4 million in 2016.

    Stephon Gilmore: Cornerback is a primary need for Carolina after the Panthers were torched repeatedly through the air in 2016, giving up 268.2 passing yards per game. 

Chicago Bears

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    Victor Cruz
    Victor CruzRich Barnes/Getty Images


    The Bears could be ready to move on from Alshon Jeffery as the franchise rebuilds, which will likely include finding a new quarterback somehow. But that new quarterback still needs a well-rounded wide receiver depth chart and preferably a cheaper one, too, as the Bears get set to spend most of their $58.8 million in cap space on defense.

    Kenny StillsThe Bears didn't have a 1,000-plus-yard receiver in 2016, and despetately need Still's deep speed.

    Victor Cruz: If wide receiver Kevin White can manage to stay healthy, then Cruz can be added as a quality secondary option. 

    Robert Woods: The Bears really can't add enough wide receiver talent. They could target Stills and then grab someone like Woods in the second wave of free agency. Woods has averaged a steady though unspectacular 612.8 receiving yards per year over his four NFL seasons.


    The Bears gave up 24.9 points per game and fielded the league's sixth-worst rushing defense. They need more meat up front and especially at the linebacker position after Danny Trevathan suffered a torn patellar tendon.

    Zach Brown: Brown would quickly provide an infusion of sideline-to-sideline speed against the run and insurance if Trevathan either doesn't return in 2017 or—worse—doesn't return as the same player ever again.

    Gerald Hodges: Hodges would be the route to go if there's optimism around Trevathan's recovery, and the Bears need a cheaper short-term solution.

    Calais Campbell: The Bears have the cap space to chase after one of the league's premier 3-4 defensive ends. Adding Campbell would bring their pass rush to another level, as opposing offensive lines already have to worry about outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Lamarr Houston coming off the edge.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Chris Baker
    Chris BakerMitchell Layton/Getty Images


    Two of the best offensive linemen set to walk as free agents are coming from the Cincinnati Bengals, per's Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski: guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Andrew Whitworth. The latter will be easier to retain because he's 35 years old, while the former is the sort of player who deserves top-market money at the age of 27.

    If Zeitler walks, there are more cost-effective replacements, but they're mostly of the short-term variety.

    Jahri Evans: Evans isn't the dominant mauler he once was earlier in his career. But even in his mid-30s, he's still effective and could be a money-conscious signing for a team that will likely pay Whitworth; Cincy also has defensive needs to address.

    Larry Warford: If the Bengals want to throw some financial weight around at guard, then the 25-year-old Warford is their guy.

    Pierre Garcon: The eternal search for a quality complementary option next to wide receiver A.J. Green could bring the Bengals to Garcon, whose payday will be lowered by his age (31 before the start of the 2017 season).


    The Bengals' primary concern defensively is addressing a weak front seven against the run. Nose tackle Demata Peko is a pending free agent, which will force the Bengals into finding a better anchor for their run defense. 

    Brandon Williams: Williams would jolt a run defense that allowed 113.2 rushing yards per game in 2016. He finished the season with 31 stops, per PFF.

    Chris Baker: With his 9.5 sacks over the past two years, Baker would offer an interior pocket push to support defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

    Trumaine Johnson: The sting of losing cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick won't last long if the Bengals grab a more talented and complete corner like Johnson.

Cleveland Browns

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    A.J. Bouye
    A.J. BouyeWesley Hitt/Getty Images


    The Cleveland Browns can buy two of everything with their league-high $108.8 million in cap room. But will any marquee free agents actually want to play in Cleveland? Answering that question will start on offense, and with the effort to re-sign wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.

    Alshon Jeffery: If Pryor is lured elsewhere by the promise of competent quarterback play, then the Browns will have no choice but to push pallets of money at Jeffery.

    Riley Reiff: Browns quarterbacks became human speed bags for opposing pass-rushers in 2016. Cleveland gave up 66 sacks, which was 17 more than any other team. Absolutely anyone is an upgrade.

    Mike Glennon: The Browns will look to finally and mercifully solve their longstanding quarterback issue through the draft. But they may need a bridge option as a young quarterback develops. Glennon is arguably the best such quarterback on the market with the 18 starts he's logged at the age of 27.


    Pass defense often just wasn't a thing in Cleveland at all in 2016. The Browns gave up a league-worst 36 touchdowns through the air.

    Eric Berry: Berry hitting the open market still feels unlikely, though his agent recently said contract talks with the Kansas City Chiefs aren't exactly progressing positively. If Berry does leave, then a Browns defense that recorded only 10 interceptions in 2016 would be upgraded significantly by his presence.

    Barry Church: The Dallas Cowboys will push hard to retain Church, but they're in a tight salary-cap situation. In 2016 he allowed only 189 yards when targeted in coverage, per PFF

    A.J. Bouye: Bouye is one of the league's fastest-rising cornerbacks after his 14 passes defensed in 2016, and at 25 years old, youth is on his side, too. He would immediately give the Browns a shutdown cornerback, which they used to have until Joe Haden's career started to sputter.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Kendall Wright
    Kendall WrightWesley Hitt/Getty Images


    The Dallas Cowboys' entire offseason rests on the Tony Romo question.

    Will they be able to get anything for the aging and injury-prone quarterback in a trade? Maybe, but probably not, meaning they'll likely have to release Romo (who turns 37 in April) and stomach the cap hit. That will leave them with little cap space to either retain or replace wide receivers Terrance Williams and Brice Butler, both of whom are pending free agents.

    Kendall Wright: The Cowboys will have to explore cheap bottom-of-the-barrel options. Wright fits that description after he fell out of favor with the Tennessee Titans and was benched to end the season. He's still young at 27 years old, though, and could still tap into the talent that led to success early in his career.

    Kamar Aiken: Aiken is another quality low-cost option for a team that doesn't have much money to spend. He's only one year removed from 944 receiving yards on 75 catches.

    Brian Hoyer: Romo is leaving, and Mark Sanchez is a free agent, too. The Cowboys need a reliable veteran to slot in behind young quarterback Dak Prescott, and Hoyer has shown he can be effective in spot-start duty.


    The 26th-ranked Cowboys pass defense recorded only nine interceptions in 2016. It needs to create more turnovers, a quest that's made more complicated by the fact that three starting defensive backs could be leaving as free agents (safety Barry Church, and cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne).

    D.J. Swearinger: Even if Church is retained, the Cowboys will still have a need at safety with J.J. Wilcox potentially gone, too.

    Quintin Demps: Swearinger should be an affordable option at safety after his one bounce-back season with the Arizona Cardinals. But failing that, the cost for Quintin Demps should also be manageable as he enters his age-32 season. Demps finished 2016 with a career-high six interceptions.

    DeMarcus Ware: The Cowboys also need pass-rushing help. Their lack of financial flexibility could lead to bringing Ware back in a rotational role.

Denver Broncos

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    Dontari Poe
    Dontari PoeJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    The Denver Broncos' 2017 offseason will primarily be focused on retooling their defense that took a step back in 2016. There's still work to be done offensively, though, and it'll be centered around the large men up front who try to keep other massive men off their quarterback. 

    Matt Kalil: The Broncos need to upgrade at right tackle but do it on a budget because they only have $33 million to work with in free agency. Matt Kalil is the guy for that, although the 27-year-old missed all but two games of 2016 due to labrum surgery. He'll still likely be an improvement over Donald Stephenson, who ranked 54th among all tackles while giving up 51 pressures in 2016, per PFF.

    Sebastian Vollmer: Vollmer would come at a discount due to injury after he missed the entire 2016 season with a hip problem. However, that could play into the Broncos' budget-conscious ways this offseason, as a healthy Vollmer can still be one of the league's best right tackles.

    Will Beatty: Beatty's age (32) knocks him a peg down the pecking order. But he's recently managed to stay healthy and is still a fundamentally sound tackle on the right side.


    The Broncos had a run defense in 2015 that consistently delivered a firm gut punch to opposing backfields while allowing only 83.6 yards per game. Then in 2016 that unit fell off a cliff, allowing 130.3 yards per game. Restoring the beef up front is at the top of Denver's shopping list.

    Calais Campbell: The Broncos could get aggressive and dedicate a large chunk of their available funds to grabbing a quality 3-4 edge setter at defensive end.

    Dontari Poe: Poe, or someone similar, is the better and more likely route to go for affordable potential and stability along the defensive line. The two-time Pro Bowler will be looking to restore his value after a few injury-plagued seasons.

    Lawrence Timmons: Timmons will turn 31 in May, which should keep his price lower. He's still effective, and has posted five straight seasons with 100-plus tackles.

Detroit Lions

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    Mario Addison
    Mario AddisonGeorge Gojkovich/Getty Images


    The Detroit Lions are potentially losing two starting offensive linemen: guard Larry Warford and right tackle Riley Reiff. Both will be at or near the top of their free-agency position group, leaving the Lions to fill two glowing holes with a modest $37.4 million in cap room.

    Ricky Wagner: Wagner will likely cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million in cap space. That's a hit the Lions can afford, especially since Wagner is an upgrade over Reiff at right tackle. The Lions will also have to pay Matthew Stafford soon, and their franchise quarterback has an injury history. Investing in his protection is smart spending.

    Ronald Leary: If Warford prices himself out of the Lions' reach, then Leary, the one-time weak link in Dallas whom PFF graded as a top-20 guard in 2016, would be a fine replacement.

    Mike Remmers: This is the cheap-though-still-somewhat-effective alternative at right tackle. Remmers is the equivalent of jamming several packs of gum into your gushing leak. It'll hold, but the same need will pop up again one year from now or sooner.


    The Lions pass defense was torched far too often, giving up 7.5 yards per attempt. They also allowed 33 passing touchdowns, the second-worst total in 2016. The secondary was left exposed by a nearly nonexistent pass rush.

    Melvin Ingram: If the Lions want to get aggressive to improve a pass rush that ranked second last with 26 sacks, then Ingram is the pass-rusher they crave.

    Mario Addison: If Addison escapes the Panthers, he'll be a valuable commodity to a team like Detroit after logging 22 sacks over the past three seasons.

    Jabaal Sheard: If they want to go the slightly more affordable route while still getting a versatile defender, the Lions can plug Sheard in.

Green Bay Packers

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    Terrance Williams
    Terrance WilliamsJim McIsaac/Getty Images


    The Green Bay Packers will surely try to retain guard T.J. Lang because retaining star players the team has drafted and groomed is in the Packers' DNA. But if those contract talks aren't successful, then a red-alert need is created, especially with Don Barclay also a pending free agent.

    Larry Warford: Warford is arguably the best guard set to hit the open market not named Lang or Kevin Zeitler.

    Kevin Zeitler: Speaking of Kevin Zeitler...

    Terrance Williams: The Packers could also give quarterback Aaron Rodgers another secondary weapon and wide receiver Jordy Nelson more support. Williams can check off both of those boxes, and while he won't be cheap, the 27-year-old also won't demand top-market money. 


    Ted Thompson is entering his 12th season as the Packers general manager, and he's not known for tossing around cash in free agency. That is smart, as the real team-building process takes place about six weeks later in the draft.

    But periodically the time is right for selective spending. And the time is now defensively for a Packers team that needs to capitalize on quarterback Aaron Rodgers' prime years.

    A.J. Bouye: Sam Shields has been released, and the Packers have ample cap room to solidify their defense for years by adding one final young piece to the secondary puzzle.

    Dre Kirkpatrick: The Packers secondary largely struggled due to injuries in 2016. But the team learned that young depth is key, and Kirkpatrick will be a tier lower on the price scale behind Bouye.

    DeMarcus Ware: Alternatively the Packers could look to fortify their pass rush with three outside linebackers potentially set to leave: Datone Jones, Julius Peppers and Nick Perry. Peppers was already highly effective as an aging veteran in a situational role (25 sacks over three seasons). Ware can slide into the roster space Peppers may be about to vacate.

Houston Texans

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    Mike Glennon
    Mike GlennonRich Schultz/Getty Images


    The Houston Texans are a team rooted in defense and a grinding offense centered around running back Lamar Miller. But the offense still needs someone who can be trusted to make plays at critical moments. That someone isn't Brock Osweiler, and now Houston needs to throw as many quarterbacks at the wall to see what sticks.

    Kirk Cousins: Cousins is listed here and elsewhere for a few other teams merely out of wishful thinking. There's still a chance he could hit the open market, though it's a very slim one. If that wishing comes true, then the Texans will throw every available dollar at him.

    Mike Glennon: Glennon has been somewhat competent in the past as a starting quarterback, which is much more than we can say about Osweiler at any point in his career.

    Brian Hoyer: The Texans defense is great, and that's true even if it loses cornerback A.J. Bouye. But is it great enough to float Hoyer as a starter? Probably not, but Hoyer showed with the Texans in 2015 and with the Chicago Bears in 2016 that he can still perform well over a short period. Which, again, is much more than we can say about Osweiler.


    The Texans are bracing to lose both Bouye and safety Quintin Demps. Bouye's departure will rightfully receive plenty of attention because he's one of the top free agents available. But Demps is an emerging veteran who recorded six interceptions in 2016.

    Trumaine Johnson: Johnson likely won't demand quite the same dollars as Bouye, though he's still one of the top cornerbacks in free agency and won't be cheap either.

    Dre Kirkpatrick: This is the path to travel down if the Texans want to spend their cap space elsewhere. They'd still get a young cornerback with promise who recently started to live up to his first-round draft pedigree.

    Barry Church: Church's age should keep his price tag somewhat manageable, and the 29-year-old would be an upgrade over the journeyman Demps at safety.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Lorenzo Alexander
    Lorenzo AlexanderJohn Grieshop/Getty Images


    The Indianapolis Colts have a familiar problem: an inability to keep quarterback Andrew Luck standing in the proper upright position. Luck faced pressure on 44.4 percent of his dropbacks in 2016, the league's highest percentage, per PFF.

    The Colts paid Luck to be a franchise quarterback. Now they have to protect him like one, too.

    Kevin Zeitler: The Colts will likely focus much of their with $60.9 million in salary cap on the other side of the ball. But they'll still have plenty left to toss at Zeitler to put much-needed interior muscle in front of Luck.

    T.J. Lang: Lang is the automatic secondary option for any team that misses on Zeitler and still needs a versatile blocker up front.

    Latavius Murray: Frank Gore is still a remarkable ageless wonder. But he'll be 34 at the start of the 2017 season, and both Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman are free agents.


    The Colts secondary is a fiery mess, with safety Mike Adams leaving from a unit that gave up an average of 262.5 passing yards in 2016. Indy needs help both there and up front to generate something resembling a consistent pass rush.

    A.J. Bouye: Bouye allowed over 40 yards in coverage just once in 2016, per PFF. He'd give the Colts a quality cornerback duo alongside Vontae Davis.

    Lorenzo Alexander: The Colts are the ideal team to land the 34-year-old on a short-term "prove it" deal. They have three outside linebackers who are either retiring (Robert Mathis) or potentially leaving as free agents (Erik Walden and Trent Cole). An aging but highly effective pass-rusher like Alexander is best suited for a roster that needs just a few more pieces to make a deep playoff run possible. That could be the Colts.

    Tony Jefferson: The Colts finished 2016 with only eight interceptions and need someone who can swarm to the ball.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Larry Warford
    Larry WarfordGeorge Gojkovich/Getty Images


    The Luke Joeckel era is about to finally end after he became one of the worst offensive line draft busts in recent memory. The future at both guard and tackle has to be brighter for the cap-rich Jacksonville Jaguars ($65 million available).

    Larry Warford: Warford is only 26 years old, making him one of the most appealing interior lineman set to became an unrestricted free agent. He would do a whole lot more than just plug the hole left by Joeckel.

    Ricky Wagner: Wagner is young as well at 27 years old and would be a substantial upgrade over Kelvin Beachum, the Jaguars' current left tackle. Beachum allowed 47 pressures in 2016, per PFF, which ranked 11th-worst out of all offensive tackles.

    Latavius Murray: The Jaguars scored only eight rushing touchdowns in 2016. Murray didn't get his first career start until late in the 2014 season, but he's still scored 20 times since then, with 12 of those touchdowns coming in 2016.


    The Jaguars are potentially losing safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Prince Amukamara in free agency. That means that defensively their aim is twofold: making sure the defensive backfield doesn't take a step back and making sure the pass rush takes a step forward.

    Stephon Gilmore: The Jaguars allowed only 6.6 yards per pass attempt in 2016. Gilmore would help to maintain that suffocating secondary. He'd also form a great duo across from impressive rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

    Tony Jefferson: Much like Cyprien, Jefferson, 25, is a young but quickly maturing safety.

    Jason Pierre-Paul: The Jaguars didn't have anyone with double-digit sacks in 2016. Pierre-Paul finished with seven sacks even while missing four games and without all of his fingers. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    D.J. Swearinger
    D.J. SwearingerElsa/Getty Images


    The Kansas City Chiefs have only $2 million in cap room, and if they clear any space, most of it will be dedicated to making a run at keeping safety Eric Berry. But far down the list of free agents, there are still potential bargains and role players who can help the league's 20th-ranked offense in 2016.

    Matt Kalil: The Chiefs need depth and options at tackle with Eric Fisher's play still inconsistent. Fisher allowed six sacks during the 2016 regular season, per PFF, which tied for 43rd among all tackles.

    Mike Remmers: Remmers struggled in 2016 with the Panthers but has been a serviceable tackle in the past.

    Marshall Newhouse: He's another Remmers essentially in that Newhouse is at best an average tackle. And being average can still have a whole lot of value.


    The Chiefs will dump every dollar they have on Berry. If that effort fails, they'll be filling a black hole at safety and doing it on a tight budget.

    Quintin Demps: The 31-year-old didn't play like a 31-year-old in 2016 and had four interceptions in just the final month of the season.

    D.J. Swearinger: Swearinger resurrected his career with the Arizona Cardinals. He's a hard hitter with 50-plus tackles in three of his four NFL seasons.

    J.J. Wilcox: Wilcox is likely the cheapest veteran who will be available and is still passable as a starter.

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Nick Perry
    Nick PerryDylan Buell/Getty Images


    There's some promise scattered around the Los Angeles Chargers offense. Running back Melvin Gordon has shed the bust label with authority. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL, according to Eric D. Williams of, and tight end Hunter Henry finished with eight touchdown receptions as a rookie.

    Now the Chargers just need a respectable offensive line for the first time in forever.

    Andrew Whitworth: Just as he is for many cap-crunched teams searching for quality pass-blocking, Whitworth is ideally suited for the Chargers. They have only $21.9 million to spend, but Whitworth's age (35) should keep his payday in check.

    T.J. Lang: Philip Rivers has been sacked 35-plus times in each of the past three seasons. The Chargers need a boot in the pass-blocking rear any way they can get it, and Lang would push either Orlando Franklin or D.J. Fluker aside at guard.

    Ronald Leary: Leary represents the slightly cheaper solution for a team that may have to watch its pennies.


    The Chargers unleashed Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa on the NFL, and he promptly embarrassed opposing offensive linemen with 10.5 sacks over only 12 games. Still, potentially losing pending free agent outside linebacker Melvin Ingram would sting.

    Nick Perry: Perry emerged during a contract year with 11 sacks in 2016. He doesn't have an established history of pass-rushing production at outside linebacker and could therefore be an affordable option to replace Ingram.

    Jabaal Sheard: Sheard is a versatile edge-rusher who totaled 13 sacks over two seasons with the Patriots.

    Malcolm Smith: Smith is an experienced six-year veteran who has recorded 100-plus tackles in two straight seasons. He can be a solid value signing to replace free-agent middle linebacker Manti Te'o.

Los Angeles Rams

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    Brandon Carr
    Brandon CarrTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images


    If the Los Angeles Rams are ever going to see what they really have in quarterback Jared Goff, they need to give him a deep threat who is at least a fleeting thought for opposing defenses. The Rams risk stunting Goff's development if they don't supply him with an arsenal of some kind this offseason, which is why they're set to shower money on at least one receiver.

    Alshon Jeffery: With their $39 million in cap space, the Rams will be one of the leading pursuers of Jeffery, and they likely won't mind overpaying if that's what it takes.

    Terrelle Pryor: Pryor might be an even better fit due to his youth and the lack of wear on his body.

    DeSean Jackson: Goff averaged a tiny 5.3 yards per attempt as a rookie. Meanwhile, Jackson has averaged 17-plus yards per catch in three straight seasons.


    The Rams could lose two core members of a defensive backfield that allowed opposing quarterbacks only 6.7 yards per attempt. Their direction defensively in the offseason is clear if one or both of cornerback Trumaine Johnson or safety T.J. McDonald depart.

    Logan Ryan: The Rams will surely spend much of their cap room helping out Goff, which will put the top of the cornerback market out of reach. Enter Ryan, the New England Patriots corner who allowed a passer rating of 85.9 in 2016, per PFF.

    Brandon Carr: The 6'0" and 207-pound Carr would bring a physical presence to the Rams secondary that will be missed if both Johnson and McDonald leave.

    Johnathan Cyprien: Cyprien would be an upgrade at safety over McDonald. He's a hammering hitter who has four career forced fumbles.

Miami Dolphins

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    Martellus Bennett
    Martellus BennettMaddie Meyer/Getty Images


    The Miami Dolphins aren't exactly overflowing with cash and have $29.4 million in cap room. That could become painful because wide receiver Kenny Stills will likely soar out of the Dolphins' budgetary comfort zone and they have three tight ends set to become free agents, too.

    Martellus Bennett: Bennett thrived in a startling role previously. He finished 2016 with 701 receiving yards and seven touchdowns even while hobbling through injuries and spending part of the season in Rob Gronkowski's shadow.

    Jared Cook: Can Cook keep fulfilling his athletic potential without Rodgers as his quarterback? The Dolphins need to find out while managing their risk accordingly.

    Vernon Davis: If the Dolphins don't want to invest heavily in a tight end, then Davis is a solid veteran option on a short-term deal. The 33-year-old showed in 2016 that he has something left with his 581 receiving yards for the Washington Redskins, even while playing behind Jordan Reed for much of the year.


    To the surprise of pretty much no one, defensive end Mario Williams wasn't able to rediscover the 2014 version of himself, and the Dolphins pass rush struggled. Williams recorded only 1.5 sacks over 13 games and will likely be released, making defensive end a priority again in Miami. The Dolphins finished with just 33 sacks in 2016.

    Jason Pierre-Paul: The Dolphins would be wise to take another mighty home run swing at defensive end on the open market, but this time do it on a much younger and still thriving pass-rusher.

    Mario Addison: Addison is a more talented guy with the first name Mario. At the age of 30 shortly after the 2017 season begins, he'll also come with a more conservative financial commitment for a franchise that may be a little gun-shy when pursuing pass-rushers.

    Lorenzo Alexander: Yes, Alexander is aging, much like Williams. But his age (34 in May) and lack of long-term production will make him affordable, and he could still be a fine contributor on, say, a two-year contract.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Andrew Whitworth
    Andrew WhitworthJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    The Minnesota Vikings offensive line resembled a rickety door on an old 1970s Gremlin in 2016. Injuries exposed a complete lack of depth, and as a result, quarterback Sam Bradford was repeatedly pummeled. Sure, Bradford has plenty of flaws, but he wasn't given a chance to succeed while getting sacked 37 times over his 15 starts.

    The Vikings don't have a ton of cap room ($23.2 million), but every available dollar needs to be dedicated to the offensive line. 

    Andrew Whitworth: The Vikings have to become one of the likely many teams in the Whitworth sweepstakes, even if it eats up close to half of their cap space.

    Ricky Wagner: Wagner is the second-place prize for every tackle-needy team.

    Riley Reiff: Reiff isn't on the same level as Wagner or Whitworth, but he's still a fine fallback option if dollars become tight.


    The Vikings will remain a defense-oriented team after finishing sixth in points allowed in 2016 (19.2). Cornerback is the area they need to fortify with Terence Newman possibly retiring and Captain Munnerlyn a pending free agent.

    Morris Claiborne: The Vikings are surely hoping that Mackensie Alexander, a second-round pick in 2016, is ready to take on a larger role in 2016. And they'll do the same with Trae Waynes, who finally started to slowly creep toward his talent ceiling late in the year after fears he'd be a first-round draft bust. Either behind or beside those two, they now need starting experience, which Claiborne offers lots at a reasonable price.

    Sam Shields: Shields fits the same description as Claiborne, and injury concerns may knock his price down even lower.

    Darius Butler: Butler is another affordable option, and he provides positional versatility after adapting well to playing safety.

New England Patriots

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    Zach Brown
    Zach BrownJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    There are 31 NFL teams that surely think the universe is evil. Why? Because the New England Patriots just won their fifth Super Bowl during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, and now they're entering the offseason with the seventh-most cap room ($62.9 million).

    How they spend that money will be determined largely by their own free agents and who can be retained.

    Jared Cook: The Patriots have a generational talent at tight end, and his name is Rob Gronkowski. But Gronkowski is also one of the league's most injury-prone megastars and Martellus Bennett is a pending free agent. If Bennett demands more than what the Patriots are willing to pay, then Cook is the best solution to plug in. 

    Jordan Cameron: If Cameron decides to continue playing after suffering multiple concussions, then he'll fit Belichick's standard scrap-heap-digging profile. The injury risk tied to Cameron is obvious with his four documented concussions. But he would cost next to nothing in guaranteed money and would be well worth the minimal investment for a team that needs depth at tight end.

    Darren McFadden: The Patriots will likely bring pending free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount back on another short-term deal. But Brandon Bolden and James Develin are set to become free agents too, prompting the need for depth. McFadden might be turning 30 years old before the 2017 season. But he's only one year removed from a 1,000-plus-yard rushing year.


    The Patriots will set a price on middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower. If his market rises above said price, then Belichick will move on with his shrewd and sometimes cold cap calculations; that is when the Patriots' primary defensive need this offseason will become obvious.

    Zach Brown: Brown is still young at the age of 27 and finished fourth among all inside linebackers in 2016 with 38 run stops, per PFF.

    Kiko Alonso: Alonso struggled with injuries for two straight seasons but then played 15 games in 2016. He logged an also solid 26 run stops in 2016.

    DeMarcus Ware: Ware would also be firmly in Belichick's crosshairs as a declining-though-still-potentially-effective pass-rusher best suited for a situational role. He'll be 35 before the 2017 season, but managed four sacks in 2016 over only 10 injury-plagued games.

New Orleans Saints

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    Prince Amukamara
    Prince AmukamaraRich Schultz/Getty Images


    For the first time in what feels like the history of their franchise, the New Orleans Saints have more than zero cap room ($28.7 million). Their spending focus will be on an atrocious defense, but offensive depth is still needed at key spots.

    Chief among them is running back, where two players immediately behind starter Mark Ingram (Tim Hightower and Tarvaris Cadet) are pending free agents.

    Christine Michael: Michael can't stick on a roster for very long, mostly because he fails when asked to take on a larger role. But he won't have to do that in New Orleans while playing behind Ingram. Michael can excel in a secondary change-of-pace role, just as he did with the Packers in 2016.

    LeGarrette Blount: Blount is a thundering thumper and can absorb some punishment for Ingram, who has played only two full 16-game seasons over six years in the NFL.

    Darren McFadden: Sure, McFadden isn't getting younger, because that's not how time works. But he's just one season removed from averaging 4.6 yards per carry.


    The Saints allowed the second-most points per game in 2016 (28.4) and the most passing yards per game (273.8). They need to re-energize a defense that's been a punching bag for too long.

    Stephon Gilmore: The Saints have the cap space to make one substantial investment at cornerback, which is a glaring positional weakness. Gilmore will be expensive, though likely not A.J. Bouye-level expensive.

    Prince Amukamara: Same goes for Amukumara, a cornerback who rebuilt his value on a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Jason Pierre-Paul: Alternatively, upgrading a pass rush that generated a meager 30 sacks is another dire need, and another place where the Saints could make their one free-agency splash.

New York Giants

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    Ted Ginn
    Ted GinnJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    The New York Giants have already started some significant offseason shuffling with their offense, releasing wide receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings. Now finding a complementary outside receiving option opposite Odell Beckham Jr. is a priority. Sterling Shepard had a promising rookie season with 683 yards and eight touchdowns, but he played primarily in the slot.

    DeSean Jackson: Putting Jackson and Beckham in the same huddle and split out wide in the same offense is the definition of burying the needle.

    Ted Ginn: Ginn is the cheaper version of Jackson—and with more drops.

    Martellus Bennett: Bringing Bennett to the Giants makes sense with Larry Donnell a free agent and after Will Tye led all Giants tight ends in 2016 with a mediocre 395 receiving yards.


    The Giants' defensive priorities are clear, with much of their $34.6 million in cap room reserved for making a run at retaining free-agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. If he leaves, though, they'll have seven sacks and 54 pressures to replace.

    Melvin Ingram: The Giants would immediately go after Ingram, the second-best pass-rusher likely to be available if Pierre-Paul leaves.

    Brandon Williams: Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins may have played his last snap for the Giants if he leaves as a free agent, so they could be hungry for an interior run-stuffer.

    Nick Fairley: Injury concerns always seem to keep Fairley's price down. But the defensive tackle has played at least 15 games in two straight years and finished with 6.5 sacks in 2016.

New York Jets

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    Brian Hoyer
    Brian HoyerRonald Martinez/Getty Images


    The New York Jets went with the quantity over quality approach on their quarterback depth chart in 2016. The result: Ryan Fitzpatrick turned back into the real Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty wasn't qualified to be an NFL passer, and Christian Hackenberg couldn't get off the sideline.

    I would suggest to keep trying with that until they finally find competence. But the Jets have less than zero cap room and are over $6 million in the hole. Signing anyone of significance will be a challenge—and especially a quarterback.

    Brian Hoyer: Yes, it's come to this. Hoyer recorded four 300-plus-yard passing games in 2016 and could probably beat out Geno Smith to become the Jets starter. 

    Mike Glennon: There was at least a brief time when Glennon had starting-quarterback promise. That alone makes him better than any other quarterback currently on the Jets roster.

    Latavius Murray: Matt Forte has predictably slammed into an age wall at 31 years old. He averaged only 3.7 yards per carry in 2016. 


    The Jets defense was exposed by an offense that couldn't sustain drives, bringing a weary unit back onto the field far too soon. The defense overall is still filled with talent, though there's one notable exception.

    Darius Butler: There are whispers of moving Darrelle Revis to safety. Instead the Jets should get a defensive back whose play hasn't fallen into a black hole and one who has also already started his transition to safety.

    D.J. Hayden: Hayden has allowed a career passer rating in coverage of 104.5, per PFF. Still, he's young enough (26) to warrant a low-risk flier.

    Leon Hall: Hall's best days are behind him. But those days did happen, and the 32-year-old would provide quality depth at a cost of slightly more than nothing.

Oakland Raiders

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    Jack Doyle
    Jack DoyleDylan Buell/Getty Images


    The Oakland Raiders have one of the league's best offensive lines and talented scattered everywhere throughout a rising offense. Well, almost everywhere.

    Martellus Bennett: Tight end is the only area of the Raiders' octane-fueled offense that was lacking in 2016, with Clive Warford the highest producer at the position with only 359 receiving yards. That would change with the addition of Bennett. 

    Jared Cook: Or Jared Cook could serve the same purpose. That is, of course, if we assume the Cook we saw in 2016 can stick around.

    Jack Doyle: Or the Raiders could go with the high upside of Jack Doyle instead after he scored five touchdowns in 2016.


    The Raiders have a growing defense with promising young talent everywhere. There will still be growing pains as that youth matures and veteran depth will smooth things over.

    Dont'a Hightower: If the Raiders are going to make a splash, this should be it. Malcolm Smith could depart as a free agent at linebacker, and Ben Heeney missed most of 2016 with an ankle injury. Hightower would quickly improve the league's 23rd-ranked run defense. 

    Zach Brown: The standard second choice for teams with plenty of cap room and middle linebacker shopping to do.

    Manti Te'o: This is the bargain route, and the thinking would be that Te'o could replace Smith on early downs.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Alshon Jeffery
    Alshon JefferyJonathan Daniel/Getty Images


    There's a simple two-step process for overspending on a wide receiver in free agency. A team needs to a) be really desperate for any respectable weapon at the position and b) have lots of cash. The Philadelphia Eagles can put oversized red check marks in both boxes. 

    Alshon Jeffery: Plenty of teams are already tied to Jeffery, and plenty more will fall in line too as we get deeper into February. But the Eagles are top contenders after their wide receivers dropped what felt like every other pass thrown at them in 2016. Eagles receivers Jordan Mathews, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham combined for 20 drops, per PFF.

    DeSean Jackson: The Eagles have been widely connected to Jeffery, most recently by a report from's Jason La Canfora. But Jackson returning to the team that drafted him is a strong possibility if the Eagles want to go the slightly cheaper route.

    Kendall Wright: Wright will come even cheaper for a team with limited cap space ($11.6 million). Physically Wright is still gifted and still young at 27, though his 2013 season with 1,079 receiving yards is getting further away in the rear-view mirror.


    Offense and getting weapons in place for quarterback Carson Wentz will be the Eagles' offseason focus and where they'll spend most of their little cap room available. They could still pursue some depth options defensively, though.

    Lawrence Timmons: Timmons should be reasonably affordable while getting set to turn 31 years old.

    D.J. Hayden: Hayden has been a colossal bust. But he has a strong draft pedigree and is worth a low-cost flier that would surely come with almost zero risk.

    Tramon Williams: If the Eagles are seeking low-cost depth in their defensive backfield, then a veteran who at least has a history of success may be the better route. Williams is fading at nearly 34 years old, but he provides position versatility after playing safety, nickelback and on the outside. He's no longer a reliable starter but could be a valuable piece lower on the depth chart.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Darren McFadden
    Darren McFaddenJoe Robbins/Getty Images


    A sizable slice of the Steelers' 2017 salary cap will be dedicated to retaining running back Le'Veon Bell. Whether that happens with a long-term deal or the franchise tag remains to be seen. What's concerning is that even if we assume Bell comes back behind him is DeAngelo Williams, who is also a free agent and set to turn 34 in April.

    Jacquizz Rodgers: The Steelers offense needs running back depth. Rodgers recorded two 100-plus yard rushing games in 2016.

    Darren McFadden: When healthy, McFadden can fit well into a backup role.

    Mike Glennon: Ben Roethlisberger is a 34-year-old quarterback who has finished a 16-game season only twice in his 13 NFL years. The Steelers need the league's best backup.


    Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison keeps reminding us that he's a science experiment, and not an actual human. At the age of 38 he was one of the league's most dominant outside linebackers.

    But he'll fade eventually, and for now he's a pending free agent along with fellow linebackers Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons.

    Nick Perry: Perry is 26 years old, so inserting him would suddenly fill the Steelers' linebacking corps with youth when he lines up alongside Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier, who are both 24. 

    Mario Addison: Like Perry, Addison would add another layer to the Steelers' pass rush. But he'd do it in a more cap-conscious way after having his breakout year at the age of 29.

    A.J. Bouye: Alternatively, the Steelers could use their cap-room clout ($36.9 million) to reel in Bouye and address a secondary that allowed 242.6 passing yards per game in 2016.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Kirk Cousins
    Kirk CousinsRob Carr/Getty Images


    The San Francisco 49ers pretty much need one of everything on both sides of the ball. They've won all of seven games over the past two seasons, so there's no instant cure for what ails a front office now being run by a rookie general manager in John Lynch.

    Sitting atop his wish list is the most important position in football.

    Kirk Cousins: At most, there's a 2 percent chance Cousins hits the open market, so this feels like some deep daydreaming. But if that tiny chance comes through, the 49ers need to throw a bank at him.

    Alshon Jeffery: With their $81.9 million in cap space (second-highest in the league), the 49ers could afford to build and send out a fleet of Autobots at wide receiver. But grabbing the best wide receiver available instead is just fine.

    Terrelle Pryor: Getting a quickly blossoming young wide receiver would be a fine fit, too, with Pryor also set to command a lot of dough if he hits the open market. Jeremy Kerley sadly led the 49ers wide receivers in 2016 with his 667 yards on 64 receptions.


    An injury to middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman didn't exactly help matters for the 49ers defense in 2016. But even with Bowman, the unit overall was a flailing mess against the run, giving up 165.9 rushing yards per game. Incredibly, that was 23.9 yards per game more than any other defense.

    Dont'a Hightower: Signing one of the NFL's best inside linebackers would sure be a fine start toward fixing that struggling run defense.

    Zach Brown: Brown is a consolation prize at inside linebacker if the 49ers swing and miss on Hightower. He finished second in the league in 2016 with 149 tackles.

    Melvin Ingram: Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is rapidly aging and will turn 33 years old in March. His ineffectiveness is largely why the 49ers finished with only 33 sacks in 2016 and why Ingram would be a welcome asset as an edge-rusher.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Johnathan Hankins
    Johnathan HankinsMichael Reaves/Getty Images


    The Seattle Seahawks offensive line slowly improved as the 2016 regular season went along. But overall it's still a patchwork mess, and the Seahawks risk wasting another prime year of quarterback Russell Wilson's career.

    Wilson has been sacked 40-plus times in three straight seasons. His body will wear down eventually if he keeps taking that physical abuse.

    Andrew Whitworth: The Seahawks have a modest $27.3 million in cap room and will surely get outbid if Whitworth is available. But they have to give it the ol' college try because trotting out George Fant at left tackle isn't viable long-term.

    Matt Kalil: Kalil and Riley Reiff are the consistent second-place prizes for teams that miss out on Whitworth.

    Larry Warford: The Seahawks could use interior pass-blocking help, too, and Warford would also fit well in a run-centered offense.


    The Seahawks once again fielded a top-tier defense in 2016, finishing third in points allowed per game (18.2). The core pieces of that unit are under contract and still in their prime years.

    They could use some depth along the defensive interior, especially with defensive tackle Tony McDaniel possibly leaving.

    Johnathan Hankins: At 25 years old, Hankins is one of the league's best interior run-stuffers. According to PFF, he recorded 23 run stops in 2016, which ranked 10th among defensive tackles.

    Chris Baker: Baker could slide inside for the Seahawks, which would make for a downright terrifying defensive front when he's lined up alongside defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

    Dontari Poe: The Seahawks could buy low on Poe, hoping he reverts back to his 2014 form.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Terrelle Pryor
    Terrelle PryorWesley Hitt/Getty Images


    You know those carnival gimmick machines with all the cash blowing around? With their $72.8 million in cap room, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can toss anyone they want into one of those things.

    Offensively their primary concern is clear: finding a reliable wide receiver on the outside who isn't named Mike Evans.

    Alshon Jeffery: The Bucs could be among the crowded field of suitors for Jeffery as they look for an upgrade over Vincent Jackson.

    Terrelle Pryor: Tampa could also easily afford to lure Pryor away from the Browns.

    Eddie Lacy: The Buccaneers also have a need at running back with Doug Martin floundering. Lacy averaged 5.1 yards per carry over five games in 2016 before his season ended early due to an ankle injury.


    The league's 22nd-ranked secondary could lose both of its starting safeties.

    Johnathan Cyprien: Cyprien is a hard hitter who recorded five games with double-digit tackles in 2016.

    Tony Jefferson: Jefferson has grown to become one of the league's best coverage safeties, and he's only 25 years old.

    Chris Long: The Bucs could also use a veteran pass-rusher, especially with some uncertainty around what's ahead for young Noah Spence in 2017 as he recovers from labrum surgery. Long finished eighth among all 4-3 defensive ends in 2016 with 57 pressures, per PFF.

Tennessee Titans

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    Trumaine Johnson
    Trumaine JohnsonChristian Petersen/Getty Images


    Alshon Jeffery's name will be attached to any team with a glaring need at wide receiver and even modest cap room. Go ahead and scroll back through these slides and count how many times his name pops up.

    That's what we could be in store for during the March free-agent frenzy, and with their $67.6 million to spend, the Titans will be major players.

    Alshon Jeffery: The Titans will likely let Kendall Wright walk, which will weaken their wide receiver depth. And although Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe are both promising, they're also still unproven.

    DeSean Jackson: Jackson would provide the vertical speed the Titans crave, and he'd pair nicely with quarterback Marcus Mariota's booming arm.

    T.J. Lang: The Titans could fortify a strength and address the only weakness along an otherwise formidable offensive line by sliding Lang in at guard. 


    The Titans pushed for a playoff spot in 2017 but eventually fell short while finishing a still solid 9-7. There's promise for the immediate future, but only if they address the reason why the bottom dropped out: a secondary that allowed 269.2 passing yards per game.

    Trumaine Johnson: Johnson would quickly give the Titans a cornerback who can be trusted in one-on-one coverage while creating turnovers. He recorded seven interceptions in 2015.

    Stephon Gilmore: The Titans need someone who can seal off half the field. Gilmore is their guy after logging 30 passes defensed over his past two seasons.

    Sam Shields: If the Titans prefer to spend their money elsewhere (like at wide receiver), then Shields is a still talented and still young option who should come at a lower price.

Washington Redskins

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    Calais Campbell
    Calais CampbellChristian Petersen/Getty Images


    Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has been listed elsewhere as a possible target for other QB-needy teams. But that's more so a reflection of wishful thinking, as the chances of Cousins leaving Washington are slim.

    He's going to get buried in sweet, sweet cash either through a long-term deal or another franchise tag, meaning the Redskins' $64.6 million available in cap room isn't as large as it seems. They have two wide receivers who are pending free agents (DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon), which means the Redskins could become a player in that market fast.

    Kenny Stills: The team will lean heavily on 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson to fill the voids possibly left by Jackson and Garcon. But his recovery from an Achilles injury has been slow, so getting more raw speed in the form of Stills would be a fine insurance policy.

    Kenny Britt: The Redskins could think they have plenty of speed at wide receiver between a hopefully healthy Doctson and Jamison Crowder. Instead they could want someone to make acrobatic catches in traffic, and Britt fits that label.

    Eddie Lacy: The Redskins' 21st-ranked rushing offense struggled to find a lead back in 2016 who could be leaned on to carry the load.


    The Redskins solidified their secondary by landing cornerback Josh Norman during the 2016 offseason. But then they were vulnerable against the run while allowing 4.5 yards per carry.

    Calais Campbell: Campbell has been an All-Pro in two of the last three seasons and is consistently one of the league's best 3-4 defensive ends. He would both replace and be an upgrade over the departing Chris Baker.

    Brandon Williams: Williams likely won't escape the Baltimore Ravens' grasp. But if he does, the Redskins should pounce and slot in a nose tackle who has recorded 50-plus tackles in two straight seasons.

    Dontari Poe: The Redskins will need to invest heavily in Cousins and then may look to bring either Garcon or Jackson back. If that happens, Poe represents the cheaper alternative along the defensive front. Poe's play has declined over the past two seasons, but he's still young at 26 years old.


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