1 Free Agent Still on the Market Who Can Help Each NFL Team in 2021

Alex KayContributor IApril 9, 2021

1 Free Agent Still on the Market Who Can Help Each NFL Team in 2021

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The first wave of free agency came and went with a flurry of transactions. While the market has cooled down significantly, there are still a surprising number of veterans available to be signed.

    Few teams should feel comfortable going into the 2021 campaign with the players they currently have under contract, and almost every club will continue tinkering with their rosters as the offseason goes on. This second wave will see many of the free agents who have yet to be signed for various reasons—an injury history is the most common thread linking them—start to come to terms with organizations looking to patch some glaring holes going into the draft.

    While most of the remaining free agents are not be the biggest names or most flashy players, they can still help their next team win games in 2021. With that in mind, here is the top player each team should be targeting.

AFC East

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    Buffalo Bills: Edge Jadeveon Clowney

    The Bills lost a pair of defensive ends in Trent Murphy and Quinton Jefferson in free agency and desperately need to replace that production. Two of the more impactful pass-rushers on the roster right now are aging, with Jerry Hughes (32) and Mario Addison (33) both well past the wrong side of 30.

    Jadeveon Clowney represents the best chance for this squad to add a younger, disruptive force on the defensive line for the 2021 season. The 28-year-old should still have plenty left in the tank despite amassing just three sacks over his last 21 games with the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks.

    Locking him up on a multiyear deal would secure Buffalo's edge-rushing capabilities for a while, especially with 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa appearing poised to make a leap.

    One prohibitive factor here would be cost, as Spotrac estimates the Bills have a shade under $5 million in cap space, with Clowney projected to ink a contract worth around $6.5 million per year. If Buffalo can find a way to free up some finances, putting them toward a pass-rusher of Clowney's caliber would be the best move to help build on last year's AFC Championship Game appearance.

        

    Miami Dolphins: WR Marquise Goodwin

    The Dolphins look committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after trading down from the No. 3 pick and not acquiring a signal-caller expected to seriously battle him for starting reps. They got their quarterback a top-tier target in free agency as well, signing wideout Will Fuller V to a one-year deal to significantly upgrade the receiver corps.

    Fuller was a great pickup on a value contract given his production, but the team still needs to provide more weapons for Tagovailoa. One of Fuller's issues during his career has been reliability, as the receiver hasn't played more than 11 games in a single season since his rookie year in 2016 and will already miss the first contest of the 2021 campaign due to a PED suspension that cut his incredible 2020 outing short.

    Signing Marquise Goodwin is a great way to add another quality WR to the stable on a budget deal. He hasn't been seen since 2019 after he opted out of last season but should still be one of the league's faster players at the position.

    Goodwin is only a few years removed from a 56-catch, 962-yard season with the San Francisco 49ers and would be a quality veteran option for Tagovailoa to target on the deep ball. Pairing him with Fuller—or using him in Fuller's stead if inactive—is exactly what the 'Phins need to take a step forward in 2021.

         

    New England Patriots: LB Kwon Alexander

    The Patriots have been working tirelessly to overhaul a roster that disappointed last year. The linebacker corps has seen plenty of change during this free-agency frenzy, as the club inked both Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy to bolster the pass rush. They still have to shore up the interior linebacker position, however, and no unsigned player at that spot seems better suited to take New England to the next level than Kwon Alexander.

    Alexander was recently let go by the New Orleans Saints after a short stint with them. He suffered a torn Achilles late in the 2020 season, the latest in a string of injuries that have kept him off the field. While the 26-year-old has failed to play a full 16-game campaign since 2016, he has been one of the more dynamic interior linebackers when he is on the field.

    This signing would represent the type of rehabilitation project that head coach Bill Belichick hasn't been scared to take on during his longstanding tenure in New England. It's far from guaranteed that Alexander will be able to return to the form that made him one of the league's more athletic and skilled linebackers, but if he can do so, he would be an amazing pickup for a Pats defense that would make great use of his abilities.

        

    New York Jets: OG Trai Turner

    The Jets came into the offseason needing to upgrade the offensive line and had plenty of cash available to do so, but they have so far whiffed on all the top linemen to hit the open market. In addition to the lack of marquee signings, Gang Green also lost Pat Elflein to the Carolina Panthers and have more work to do to get their line in shape before the season begins.

    While New York did come to terms with guard Dan Feeney, it could use some more support in the trenches. Trai Turner is one of the better interior linemen still unsigned, with teams perhaps wary of his ugly 2020 campaign. According to PFF, Turner graded out at just a 34.8 last year, a significant drop from a 63.9 in 2019.

    Despite this down year, Turner is still a proven veteran that deserves a chance to show last year was an anomaly. He is worth kicking the tires on for what would likely be around the veteran's minimum, providing a decent depth option at worst for a bargain-bin price.

AFC North

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    Baltimore Ravens: WR Golden Tate

    The worst team in the league in terms of reception numbers last year simply must make a move to acquire more receiver help. Baltimore's most notable wideout signing this offseason was Sammy Watkins, a player who didn't live up to expectations during his tenure with the Chiefs and is a huge injury risk.

    While the Ravens could opt to use an early draft pick on a wideout to help Lamar Jackson, there are some serviceable veterans still unsigned. Golden Tate is one of the notable ones available and should still have something left to offer at this late stage of his career.

    Tate isn't qualified to be a legitimate No. 1 WR anymore, but the 32-year-old has the skill set to at least work as a reliable slot option for Baltimore. He had a down 2020 campaign with the Giants—catching just 35 passes for 388 yards and a pair of touchdowns—but those numbers would still be quite beneficial in a run-heavy Ravens attack.

        

    Cincinnati Bengals: OT Russell Okung

    The Bengals are desperate for offensive line help after they missed out on all the top free agents. They struggled with pass protection last year and need to keep Joe Burrow—2020's No. 1 pick—upright and healthy after a torn ACL cut his rookie campaign short.

    Russell Okung is the best tackle available and would provide sturdy blind-side protection for Burrow if they decide to go into 2021 with him as a starter. Cincinnati may also be mulling a left tackle with the No. 5 overall pick, but Okung would still fit in as one of the league's best swing tackles and depth options if the organization goes that route.

    With a projected $27 million in cap space, the Bengals have the funds to splurge for Okung. Even if he doesn't end up starting for them in the long term, the 32-year-old would be instrumental in turning this patchwork unit around.

          

    Cleveland Browns: Edge Melvin Ingram

    The Browns must get a pass-rusher to complement Myles Garrett this offseason. They cut ties with Olivier Vernon, leaving a gaping hole on their defense that has to be addressed before Garrett faces a nonstop barrage of double-teams in 2021.

    Melvin Ingram could take the heat off Garrett and get after the quarterback relentlessly. While Ingram had an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, he was a major contributor for the Chargers when healthy and would be an upgrade over Vernon at full strength.

    The other question mark with this signing would be Ingram's ability to transition from a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4 base defense to a hand-down defensive end in Cleveland's 4-3. It's a gamble well worth the risk for the Browns, as Ingram is a smart, proven player and should be able to make the adjustment without much fuss.

       

    Pittsburgh Steelers: C Austin Reiter

    It's not an easy job to replace Maurkice Pouncey—the longtime Steelers center who retired in February after 11 seasons—but Pittsburgh must find a way to do exactly that this offseason.

    There are only two players on the Steelers roster at the position right now, and both leave quite a bit to be desired. B.J. Finney returned to Pittsburgh this offseason after failing to play a single snap last year for either the Seahawks or Bengals and would be tough to rely on at this point. J.C. Hassenauer had an unproductive four-game stint with Steelers last year playing both guard and center and does not appear to be a realistic solution at the position.

    Instead of risking having a giant hole at an important position, the Steelers can acquire a steady contributor by simply signing Austin Reiter. Reiter would immediately slot in as the team's top center and bring a wealth of experience to the roster.

    Reiter made 32 starts and played in a pair of Super Bowls with the Chiefs, performing more than adequately during his tenure with them. Even if Pittsburgh decides to take a late-round flier on a center in the draft, he would be a great veteran option to complement whichever rookie the club selects and would help make the transition easier and smoother for a team that wants to contend in 2021.

AFC South

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    Houston Texans: WR Alshon Jeffery

    The Texans direly need to bolster their receiving corps with a free-agent signing after losing a legitimate No. 1 receiver in each of the last two seasons. They traded away DeAndre Hopkins—their top receiver in 2019—and let Will Fuller V—their No. 1 wideout in 2020—walk in free agency in back-to-back years.

    One player Houston can target to fill this gap in the offense is Alshon Jeffery, a talented but injury-plagued wideout who was released by the Eagles this offseason. Jeffery is a veteran that can help out a team in a transition stage as long as he's healthy. He's only appeared in 30 games over the last three years but still chipped in 843 yards and six touchdowns on 65 catches as recently as 2018.

    The Texans aren't likely to be playing for much in 2021, so they can afford to roll the dice on Jeffery's health. Whether they stick with Deshaun Watson or move on from the franchise signal-caller and acquire a rookie, having a 6'3", 218-pound target on the roster will make life easier for the staring quarterback. 

         

    Indianapolis Colts: Edge Ryan Kerrigan

    The Colts had one of the better defenses in football last year, but they will have trouble in 2021 if they still lack a quality edge-rusher by the time the season starts. Indianapolis simply has no playmakers at the defensive end position under contract and must fix that soon to stay competitive.

    This squad is positioned to make another playoff run—even with an uncertain situation under center—but needs to bolster the defense with a player of Ryan Kerrigan's caliber to get it done. The team already had to overcome an inconsistent pass rush last year, as it totaled a respectable 40 sacks but had seven games in which it recorded one or fewer. Kerrigan, who has 5.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, can still get after the quarterback at a high level and immediately adds a dimension to the defense that's lacking.

    Kerrigan, a 10-year veteran who has played his entire career with Washington, still wants to be a starter, and Indianapolis would provide that opportunity for him. He may not have too many years left at the age of 32, but he should still give the Colts plenty of pass-rushing firepower for the life of his deal.

         

    Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Trey Burton

    Jacksonville is openly pining for a pass-catching tight end after struggling to get production from last year's crop of talent. The team already made a move at the position by signing a blocking "Y" tight end in Chris Manhertz, but new head coach Urban Meyer acknowledged his team still needs to find an "F" tight end to haul in passes.

    While James O'Shaughnessy could fill the role when healthy, acquiring another veteran would only help this rebuilding squad get better. Trey Burton is arguably the best pass-catcher of the unsigned bunch, even if he wasn't a big part of Colts offense last year. The Jags would likely use him more and allow him to be a more consistent contributor. If Burton sees usage along the lines of his 2018 campaign with Chicago—where he caught 54 passes on 76 targets for 569 yards and six touchdowns—he would be a great pickup.

    Burton also has the added bonus of being capable of running gadget plays—he was instrumental in the famous "Philly Special" play that helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl—stemming from his time as a collegiate quarterback at Florida, where he played under Meyer. Given his great hands, versatility and familiarity with Jacksonville's new head coach, Burton would be a great fit in Jacksonville.

        

    Tennessee Titans: Edge Jadeveon Clowney

    The Titans defense was subpar almost across the board last year. Team brass started addressing it by signing Bud Dupree.

    Dupree is a massive upgrade to the Titans' pass-rushing capability, but they now must find a player to complement him to truly unlock his potential. Tennessee should take note of how well Dupree played alongside T.J. Watt in Pittsburgh and bring in another high-quality pass-rusher to open things up and allow for the 28-year-old to shine.

    While the Titans won't be getting an All-Pro like Watt on the open market right now, Jadeveon Clowney is arguably the most disruptive force available. Clowney's presence would help take the opposition's focus off Dupree and make it easier for the player who just signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal to live up to high expectations.

    Although Clowney had a down year in 2020 after participating in just eight games because of injury, he has shown he can be a real asset when not being held back by ailments. He posted an impressive 87.3 Pro Football Focus grade in 2019—his most recent healthy campaign—and he could set himself up for a solid payday next year by excelling on a second "prove-it" deal from Tennessee.

    It's understandable if the club doesn't want to roll the dice two years in a row on the edge-rusher's upside, but that risk would pay off in a big way if Clowney can stay healthy in 2021.

AFC West

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    Denver Broncos: QB Alex Smith

    The Broncos are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now, as they have a team that appears good enough to not bottom out but doesn't possess the talent or consistency to become a real contender. The main reason is the quarterback position, as Drew Lock has struggled to prove he's the long-term solution after two years.

    While Denver hasn't fallen off enough to earn a high selection in the draft, the squad also isn't anywhere close to ready to compete for a Super Bowl. The team is picking No. 9 this year and would likely have to trade up—a move that would surely require surrendering a heavy number of picks—to acquire one of the better prospects on the board.

    If the Broncos decide against moving up and want to continue forward with Lock, they should consider bringing in another quarterback who can push him for the starting job. Alex Smith is the one veteran still available who is capable of beating out Lock for the starting gig next year if he can stay healthy.

    Having a veteran like Smith around can only help this team, even if he's not on the field directly making an impact on the game. If Lock wins the competition in training camp or the Broncos end up with a quarterback in the draft, Smith is still an ideal guy to hold a clipboard and help develop the younger players in the quarterback room.

         

    Kansas City Chiefs: OT Alejandro Villanueva

    The Chiefs watched their chances of repeating as champions evaporate when their offensive line collapsed in the Super Bowl. The front office elected to do a complete overhaul of the trenches following this disappointing showing, notably cutting ties with a pair of starting tackles in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher and splurging to sign guard Joe Thuney in free agency (even though Schwartz and Fisher missed the Super Bowl).

    While Kansas City ended up with the top interior lineman on the open market in Thuney—plus came to terms with Kyle Long after the veteran guard decided to return to the NFL—the tackle spot still needs to be addressed.

    Many expect the Chiefs to use one of their early-round selections on a tackle prospect, a sensible choice given how deep this draft class is at the position. While that could bring at least one 2021 starter, the club should still sign at least one quality veteran to put the finishing touches on revamping the offensive line.

    Alejandro Villanueva is the type of veteran who puts this team over the edge, providing the Chiefs with a quality tackle for what likely won't be a hefty price. It would not be unreasonable to expect Villanueva—who will be entering his eighth NFL season in 2021—to give Kansas City a Super bowl contender discount. The two-time Pro Bowler could slot in as a starter at best and is one of the league's better depth options at worst, making this a can't-miss move for a Chiefs team that recently learned just how important having quality offensive line backups is.

        

    Las Vegas Raiders: OT Mitchell Schwartz

    The Raiders blew up their offensive line this offseason, shipping off a trio of starters in Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown. While they brought back Denzelle Good and Richie Incognito on new deals and acquired Nick Martin to plug the hole at center, Las Vegas still needs more help in the trenches.

    Mitchell Schwartz would give the Raiders a proven offensive lineman who has the talent to start and keep this line playing like one of the league's better units. While Schwartz dealt with injuries that cost him most of the 2020 season, he's well worth kicking the tires on and would be an immense asset for Vegas if healthy.

        

    Los Angeles Chargers: WR Cordarrelle Patterson

    The Bolts came into the offseason with some heavy needs along their offensive line and aptly addressed those by signing Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler on the open market. Los Angeles could still benefit from a left tackle, but given the players still available, the squad would be better served acquiring one via the draft to develop alongside franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

    With Herbert adequately protected, the Chargers should begin focusing on acquiring more weapons for their young QB. While there aren't any elite wideouts left unsigned, there are still some intriguing options.

    Cordarrelle Patterson fits the bill as a speedy big-play threat who also brings special teams versatility to the table. He hasn't seen heavy volume as a receiver since 2016—when he caught 52 passes for 453 yards during his last year with the Vikings—but the 30-year-old could still stretch the field and open things up for the L.A. offense. He's also a return specialist, providing a great return on the little investment it would take to get him in a Bolts uniform.

NFC East

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    Dallas Cowboys: CB Richard Sherman

    While the Cowboys knocked out the most pressing item on their offseason to-do list by re-signing Dak Prescott, the club was criticized for failing to make any big splashes in free agency. Given how poor the Dallas defense performed in 2020, the team should be willing to splurge on one of the better players still left on the open market.

    Richard Sherman would not only give the Cowboys a big name at the cornerback position but also a player who can still make a huge impact despite his fading athleticism. The 33-year-old may have lost a step, but he has an incredible football IQ, reads quarterbacks well and positions himself to not get beat by faster opponents.

    Sherman is arguably the best corner yet to be signed at a position Dallas must address before the 2021 campaign starts. Trevon Diggs earned a starting corner job as a rookie last year but was burned several times and gave up a number of big plays. Sherman won't get beat nearly as often, so Dallas must prioritize getting him in the lineup and shoring up a major area of concern.

         

    New York Giants: Edge Olivier Vernon

    The Giants have had a quality offseason, picking up receiver Kenny Golladay and corner Adoree' Jackson and re-signing Leonard Williams to address some of their most glaring holes. They can punctuate it by inking one more pass-rusher to round out a defense that looks to be much improved for the upcoming campaign.

    Olivier Vernon would be a solid addition to the Big Blue roster as a productive edge-rusher with a strong motor. He is coming off a torn Achilles he suffered late in the 2020 season but once healthy should get right back to attacking the quarterback at a high level.

    Vernon had some of his best years as a pro with the G-Men, racking up 22 sacks in three seasons with the club before he was dealt to Cleveland as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The Giants should welcome him back with open arms, upgrading the defense with a key veteran piece in the process.  

        

    Philadelphia Eagles: CB Brian Poole

    The Eagles came into the offseason knowing it would be a struggle to sign players because of salary-cap constraints but have so far done a decent job picking up guys on a budget. They helped offset the loss of Jalen Mills in free agency by signing Anthony Harris to a cheap contract and should try to make at least one more move to patch up the secondary.

    Brian Poole would be the ideal signing for Philadelphia, which needs to upgrade the cornerback spot across from Darius Slay. Poole was reliable over the last two seasons with the Jets and would provide the type of steady presence that this Eagles team desperately needs.

         

    Washington Football Team: LB K.J. Wright

    Washington's most glaring hole after the first wave of free agency is at the linebacker spot. The team parted ways with Kevin Pierre-Louis in free agency after just one season, opening the door for the squad to sign a replacement.

    The Football Team likely won't find a better coverage linebacker to fill the void than K.J. Wright. The long-time Seahawks linebacker appears to be on his way out of the Pacific Northwest after a decade with the club but still seems to have plenty left in the tank.

    The 31-year-old Wright appeared in all 32 games over the last two seasons. There's little reason to believe he won't be a contributor at his next stop, but the market for aging interior linebackers hasn't exactly been a strong one. Washington should jump at the chance to acquire a player with Wright's talent and experience at a bargain-bin price.

NFC North

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    Chicago Bears: CB Bashaud Breeland

    If the 2021 campaign began today, the Bears would be even thinner at the cornerback position than they were last season. The team cut Kyle Fuller and signed Desmond Trufant as his replacement, a clear downgrade and a sign that Chicago should be targeting at least one more veteran on the open market.

    Even if the Bears look to shore up their secondary in the draft, the team shouldn't discount the option of adding an experienced cornerback to the roster. Bashaud Breeland is the type of player who can step in and immediately take on one of the starting jobs for the club. He's been a starter for seven consecutive seasons, including going to a pair of Super Bowls and winning one with the Chiefs.

    Breeland, 29, may not be considered an elite cornerback, but his stats have been rather impressive over the last three years. He conceded just a 50 percent completion rate and 72.3 percent passer rating when targeted in that span, numbers that would make him a real asset for the Bears.

        

    Detroit Lions: WR Dede Westbrook

    The Lions have a massive hole at slot receiver. The club is also entering a full-blown rebuild as part of a regime change in the Motor City, which means it should be targeting a younger player.

    Dede Westbrook would be a sensible signing for this rebuilding organization, as the former Jaguars wideout didn't exactly pan out at his first stop in the league. Things looked promising after he averaged 101 targets, 66 receptions, 688 yards and four touchdowns between 2018-19, but he suffered a torn ACL just two games into the 2020 campaign and finished the year with just a single catch for four yards.

    Westbrook is only 27 years old but shouldn't garner more than budget, "prove-it" offers for his next contract because of the injury. He still possesses some significant upside and never really had a chance to reach his ceiling because of the unstable quarterback situation in Jacksonville.

    The Lions, who are transitioning from Matthew Stafford to Jared Goff under center, would be a great landing spot for Westbrook. Detroit would afford him the chance to take on a full-time slot role and grow with the team during its rebuilding efforts.

        

    Green Bay Packers: DL Jurrell Casey

    The Packers have been one of the quietest teams during the 2021 offseason. Outside of re-signing running back Aaron Jones to a respectably sized contract, the team hasn't done anything too notable in free agency besides letting veteran center Corey Linsley walk.

    While this franchise prefers to build its roster through the draft, it shouldn't discount signing at least one impact free agent still on the open market. Jurrell Casey would be an ideal pickup for the Packers, giving them one of the most reliable defensive linemen in football over the past decade.

    Although Casey missed more than two games for the first time in his career last season, he could bounce back in a big way with his next team. The 31-year-old is quite versatile as well, having played multiple positions on both the interior and edge of the line during his tenures with the Titans and Broncos.

    That type of flexibility is perfect for a cash-strapped Green Bay organization that would be able to find ways to creatively employ Casey along its line and fill in gaps as needed during a long season.

         

    Minnesota Vikings: OG Lane Taylor

    The Vikings parted ways with one of the league's more underrated offensive linemen when Riley Reiff joined Cincinnati in free agency. The club should not be against bringing in at least one proven player to help offset that loss this offseason.

    Minnesota needs to address more than just the tackle spot, so signing a player who can play multiple positions would be a huge benefit. Lane Taylor fits the bill as a versatile lineman and has been a fantastic player when healthy but is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in the 2020 season opener.

    Taylor started 50 games since he was drafted in 2013 and played all over the offensive line in that span, performing well regardless of where he was asked to line up. It remains to be seen if he can stay on the field—he also saw his 2019 campaign cut short because of a torn biceps muscle—but it's worth a low-risk investment with plenty of potential reward for the Vikings.

NFC South

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    Atlanta Falcons: CB Dre Kirkpatrick

    The Falcons secondary was one of the league's worst in 2020, largely because of their susceptibility to the big play. Atlanta gave up more passing plays of 20 or more yards than any team in the NFL last year and has to find a way to get that issue under control if it wants to turn things around next season.

    Dre Kirkpatrick is one of the better cornerbacks still looking for a new team at this juncture of the offseason. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience to the table as he prepares for his 10th season as a pro. He'd be a welcome addition to a Falcons defense that has some talented players to build around outside the secondary but still sorely needs to get better at the cornerback position.

    Kirkpatrick had some ugly moments involving penalties and missed tackles during his lone season in Arizona but was mostly reliable as an 11-game starter for the club. He claims he wants to be paid after playing for the veteran's minimum last year, but he isn't likely to earn much more than that at this juncture. Given that the Falcons aren't exactly flush with cash and Kirkpatrick fills a big need, getting him on another cheap deal would be a strong move.

        

    Carolina Panthers: TE Jordan Reed

    Panthers head coach Matt Rhule claimed that a playmaking tight end was the biggest piece missing from last year's offense. Ian Thomas was the top receiving tight end for the club in 2020, but he recorded a mere 20 receptions for 145 yards and a score in 16 games.

    With Carolina swinging a deal for quarterback Sam Darnold, the team could look to the draft to address the tight end need but likely will not find a prospect worth selecting at No. 8 if Kyle Pitts is off the board as expected. The team may instead dip into the open market to find production at the position, with Jordan Reed looking like the most viable weapon still without a contract for 2021.

    Signing Reed isn't without drawbacks, however, as he has notoriously struggled to stay on the field during his career. He did see action in 10 games for the 49ers last year, though, hauling in 26 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

    It's unlikely Reed will play his first full season next year, but when the 30-year-old is active, he will serve as a clear upgrade over any incumbent tight end on the roster and can make the type of big plays Rhule is hoping for from the position.

          

    New Orleans Saints: S Malik Hooker

    New Orleans is another cash-strapped organization that had to gut its roster following the 2020 campaign because of the shrinking salary cap. The squad has barely made a peep in free agency so far but could begin to capitalize on the weak markets surrounding some impactful veterans.

    Safety is one of the many needs for the Saints, who may wish to avoid wasting a draft pick on a prospect in a weak class for the position. Malik Hooker would potentially provide some big bang for the buck after he played in just two games before suffering a torn Achilles last year.

    Hooker has been a ball hawk during his first few seasons in the league, recording an impressive seven interceptions over 36 career games. Given this secondary lost Janoris Jenkins early in the offseason, New Orleans could do far worse than signing a replacement playmaker for cheap.

          

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Antonio Brown

    The Buccaneers have been approaching the offseason with a focus on retaining the players that brought them a Super Bowl championship. The team hasn't made any marquee additions from outside the organization, instead opting to re-sign Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and other contributors.

    To keep in line with that process, Tampa's next move should be to bring back wideout Antonio Brown. The 32-year-old showed he was far from washed up during his first season with the organization, catching 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in just eight games.

    While this is a bit of a luxury signing given how deep the receiving corps is in Tampa, Brown is one of Tom Brady's favorite targets—one he recruited to join him when he signed with the club after two decades in New England—and keeping the future Hall of Famer happy should be a top priority for the Bucs.

NFC West

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    Arizona Cardinals: RB James Conner

    The Cardinals said goodbye to Kenyan Drake in free agency, and while Chase Edmonds has been an asset out of the backfield, he showed he isn't capable of being a lead guy when given the opportunity.

    Arizona needs a workhorse to pair with Edmonds, someone who can shoulder the early-down load and keep the playmaker fresh. James Conner fits the bill nicely, providing the team with a sturdy back who does just about everything at an adequate or better level.

    Conner is a great downhill runner and improved on his yards-per-carry average over the last two seasons with the Steelers, jumping up to 4.3 YPC in 2020.

    The 25-year-old is also an underrated pass-catcher, having his best campaign in 2018 when he hauled in 55 receptions for 497 yards. There should be plenty of tread left on the tires here as well, as Conner has only recorded 532 totes since coming into the league in 2017.

        

    Los Angeles Rams: LB B.J. Goodson

    The Rams were the best defense in the league last year, but even the top defenses aren't immune from having holes to plug. L.A.'s biggest gap to fill is at the linebacker position, where there is no shortage of veteran options available.

    Of the players still unsigned, B.J. Goodson may be the most beneficial for the Rams. He's a plus defender in coverage and has been consistent in that department over the first half-decade of his career. He started 14 games last year and recorded 91 tackles and two interceptions.

    Goodson is not great at getting after the quarterback, recording just a half-sack in 2020, but he wouldn't be asked to do much of that in Los Angeles. The team is loaded with pass-rushers and simply needs a quality linebacker who can cover and avoid giving up big gains on the ground.  

        

    San Francisco 49ers: S Tashaun Gipson

    The 49ers are in line for a bounce-back season after suffering a Super Bowl hangover in 2020. The injury-plagued team could be right in the playoff hunt by getting healthy, but the defense could use an injection of talent, especially in the secondary.

    San Francisco should consider addressing both the cornerback and safety positions, and with a weak safety draft class, a veteran such as Tashaun Gipson would make a lot of sense.

    Although Gipson is now on the wrong side of 30, he still played well for the Bears last year. While a long-term deal wouldn't be advisable, getting Gipson for 2021 could help push San Francisco over the edge.

         

    Seattle Seahawks: CB Casey Hayward

    The Legion of Boom days are long gone in Seattle, but the Seahawks secondary has been steadily improving after a rough start to last season. The team inked one of the better cornerbacks on the open market in Ahkello Witherspoon and now needs to augment the current crop of talent on the roster with at least one more veteran signing.

    Casey Hayward was one of the league's top corners for much of his career but has been regressing during his last few seasons with the Chargers. While he is no longer a shutdown corner at this stage, Hayward could revitalize his career with a change of scenery.

    The Seahawks have become known for maximizing the talents of its secondary members under head coach Pete Carroll and could benefit significantly from a player like Hayward in the lineup. His presence would help form a rather formidable cornerback corps alongside Witherspoon, DJ Reed and Tre Flowers.

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