1 Move Every NFL Team Still Needs to Make in 2021 Offseason
The 2021 NFL offseason isn't over just yet. While the draft and the initial free-agent frenzy have come and gone, plenty of moves can be made between now and the start of the regular season.
Quality free agents like Justin Houston, Richard Sherman and Melvin Ingram are still out there. Some situations could be resolved in short order because of the June 1 designation, while July 15 is the deadline to extend franchise-tagged players.
Then, there's the trade market. We've seen players like Jamal Adams, Jadeveon Clowney and Laremy Tunsil dealt late in the offseason over the last couple of years as teams looked to finalize their regular-season rosters.
Injuries and needs that crop up during training camp could spark additional action too, but here, we'll be focusing on already-known factors, like 2020 production, roster projections, contract situations and cap space.
Arizona Cardinals: Determine Larry Fitzgerald's Future
If 37-year-old wideout Larry Fitzgerald decides to continue his career in 2021, the Arizona Cardinals will be happy to have him back.
"Leave it up to him. I think he’s earned that right and if he tells us at some point that he's ready to go, we’ll have a spot for him," general manager Steve Keim told SiriusXM Radio's Adam Schein (h/t Arizona Sports 98.7 FM).
Ultimately, Fitzgerald's decision will be his own. However, it would behoove the Cardinals to get an answer as soon as possible—ideally before training camp. If he wants to return, they can start working on how he fits in the offense. If he doesn't, they need to start considering how to replace his role.
Arizona isn't short on receiving talent. It has DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella and also added A.J. Green in free agency. However, as Keim pointed out, there will always be an opening for Fitzgerald in the desert.
Atlanta Falcons: Trade Julio Jones
June 1 is an important date for the Atlanta Falcons. They're open to trading star wideout Julio Jones, and Jones, it seems, is eager to move on.
"I'm outta there," Jones told Shannon Sharpe on FS1's Undisputed (h/t Bleacher Report's Timothy Rapp).
Jones has $40.6 million in dead money remaining on his contract. By trading Jones with a post-June 1 designation—which could already have been done, as ESPN's Bill Barnwell pointed out recently—Atlanta could spread out his remaining bonus money over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
If the Falcons are eager to dump Jones' salary and the receiver is ready for a change of scenery, getting a deal done before the regular season would be ideal. Any team trading for Jones will want as much time as possible to prepare him for 2021, while Atlanta needs to begin preparing for life after Jones.
Jones' trade value should be higher now than it will be in the weeks before the in-season trade deadline.
Baltimore Ravens: Extend Lamar Jackson
Unless the Baltimore Ravens aren't yet sold on Lamar Jackson being their franchise quarterback, they should work to extend him this offseason.
Jackson was a first-team All-Pro in 2019 and the league's regular-season MVP. However, he had a down year in 2020, throwing 10 fewer touchdowns than he did the previous season and rushing for 201 fewer yards. Jackson's contract demands may be a bit lower now than if, say, he wins another MVP or takes Baltimore to the Super Bowl this coming season.
With new weapons like Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace on the roster, Jackson may very well be in store for a bounce-back season.
Waiting on Jackson's extension will only end up costing Baltimore more money; quarterback salaries aren't going to suddenly decline.
While the argument against is that the Ravens don't have to extend Jackson now, they could always save current cap dollars by working Jackson's rookie contract into his extension. The Kansas City Chiefs made a similar move with Patrick Mahomes, who will carry a cap hit of just $7.4 million this season.
Buffalo Bills: Extend Josh Allen
The Buffalo Bills are in a situation similar to Baltimore's. Fellow 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen hasn't had an MVP season yet, but he did have a breakout campaign in 2020.
This past season, Allen hit career highs in passing yards (4,544), passing touchdowns (37) and passer rating (107.2). He also rushed for 421 yards and eight more scores. Perhaps more importantly, Allen helped Buffalo reach the AFC title game.
If Allen does have an MVP campaign in 2021, the Bills could be left with little leverage in contract negotiations. If the Bills are sold on Allen, they should pull the trigger on an extension now.
Again, Buffalo wouldn't necessarily have to hamstring itself financially over the next couple of seasons to get a deal done. Tacking an extension onto Allen's current deal would allow the team to maintain a rookie QB salary while eliminating a potential contract dispute and/or franchise-tag situation in two years.
Carolina Panthers: Lock Up Taylor Moton
The Carolina Panthers were one of several teams to utilize the franchise tag this offseason, giving it to starting right tackle Taylor Moton. If Carolina is interested in keeping the 26-year-old around for the long haul—and it should be—it would be wise to get an extension done before the July 15 deadline.
Moton has never been a Pro Bowler, but he has been a reliable starting tackle for the Panthers. He has appeared in all 64 possible games since being drafted in the second round in 2017 and has started every game over the past three seasons.
This past season, Moton was responsible for only two penalties and three sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Locking up Moton now would ensure that Carolina won't lose him next offseason. That could be particularly important if the Sam Darnold experiment works out at quarterback and Moton becomes a key cog in one of the league's better offenses.
Chicago Bears: Lock Up Allen Robinson II
The Chicago Bears have an elite wide receiver in Allen Robinson II. Despite playing with the underwhelming quarterback tandem of Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky last season, Robinson still racked up 1,250 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Chicago used the franchise tag on Robinson this offseason and should parlay that into a long-term deal. The Bears have a new franchise quarterback in Justin Fields, and it would be valuable for Fields to have a long-term No. 1 option of Robinson's caliber.
The problem with waiting on a new deal is that it could get extremely expensive for the Bears. Presumably, Chicago will get better quarterback play out of Fields and/or Andy Dalton than it got from Foles and Trubisky. This could lead to even better numbers for Robinson, who will already be one of the top free agents in next year's class.
Locking up Robinson now wouldn't be cheap, but if the 27-year-old has another fantastic season in 2021, his demands could move completely past what the Bears are willing to spend next year.
Robinson can be a franchise fixture for Chicago, and the Bears need to ensure that he is by getting a deal done before the July 15 deadline.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sign Russell Okung
The Cincinnati Bengals lost standout rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to a devastating knee injury after just 10 games last season. Burrow is expected to be back on the field for the start of 2021, but if Cincinnati wants to keep him there, it should explore all avenues of improving its offensive line.
After all, Burrow was sacked 32 times in those 10 appearances.
While the Bengals did sign tackle Riley Reiff and draft guard Jackson Carman, they passed on the chance to take a new franchise left tackle in the first round. This means Cincinnati will again rely on 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams on Burrow's blind side.
The problem there is that Williams has struggled to get and stay on the field himself. He missed his entire rookie campaign as well as another six games last season. Given the importance of keeping Burrow healthy and upright, the Bengals should take a flier on Russell Okung, arguably the best tackle remaining on the open market.
While Okung was only healthy for seven games last season, he is a two-time Pro Bowler with 131 career starts under his belt. Cincinnati has $24.9 million in cap space remaining and should use some of it to further its line depth by adding Okung.
Cleveland Browns: Sign Steven Nelson
The Cleveland Browns still have $21 million in cap space, and they should use some of it to further bolster their depth at cornerback. While Cleveland signed Troy Hill and used a first-round pick on Greg Newsome II, their depth is still questionable.
The problem is that Newsome, who played in just 21 games in three seasons, has an extensive injury history. So does Greedy Williams, who has played just 12 games in two NFL seasons. Even star cornerback Denzel Ward has missed four games in each of the past two seasons.
Free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson, on the other hand, has played at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons. He has 68 games as a starter and spent the last two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he got to know many of the AFC North's top receivers.
Nelson could be a valuable piece of cornerback depth for Cleveland, which will be important in a 17-game season. The Browns finally have realistic Super Bowl dreams, and it would be a shame to see their season derailed by a rash of injuries in the secondary.
Dallas Cowboys: Sign Sheldon Richardson
The Dallas Cowboys run defense was atrocious in 2020. Dallas ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed and 30th in yards per carry surrendered. While the Cowboys did take some steps to improve their run defense, including drafting linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa, they still have an opportunity to improve the unit.
The Cowboys still have $9.3 million in cap space and should take a long look at free-agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson spent the last two seasons in Cleveland and emerged as a valuable piece in the Browns' defensive line rotation. He played 74 percent of the defensive snaps last year and finished with 64 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and 22 quarterback pressures.
Not only could Richardson help boost Dallas' front-line run defense, but he could also help generate pressure from the interior. For a team that was so bad against the run and only logged 31 sacks as a team, his addition could be huge.
Denver Broncos: Sign Rick Wagner
Back in 2019, the Denver Broncos signed Ja'Wuan James to be their long-term starting right tackle. Unfortunately, James played only three games that year, opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, suffered a torn Achilles while working out away from the team this offseason and was released earlier this month.
While it's not fair to say that Denver needs to replace James seeing as how it didn't get much from him in the first place, the Broncos should still be on the hunt for a quality starter on the right side.
This is where veteran tackle Rick Wagner comes into play. Wagner appeared in 16 games for the Green Bay Packers last season, with nine starts. He was responsible for only one sack and zero penalties, according to Pro Football Focus.
Wagner would be, at worst, high-level depth for the Denver line. At best, he could be a great protector for either Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater—whichever quarterback emerges as the starter from the looming camp competition.
Detroit Lions: Sign Golden Tate
The Detroit Lions lost No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay in free agency, and their current receiver group—headlined by Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown—doesn't project as a top-shelf unit.
With the Lions looking to rehabilitate Jared Goff's quarterbacking career, they would be wise to continue adding to the receiver position before the start of the season. The problem is that the remaining free-agent pool isn't particularly deep.
One unsigned wideout Detroit can and should consider is former Lion Golden Tate. The 11-year veteran spent four-and-a-half seasons in Detroit before being traded in 2018. While he isn't the 1,000-yard pass-catcher he was earlier in his career, Tate can still be a valuable and experienced contributor.
Last season, Tate played in 12 games with four starts for the New York Giants, finishing with 35 receptions, 388 yards and two touchdowns.
While Tate wouldn't be familiar with much of the current roster or the coaching staff, he is familiar with the city and its fanbase. Bringing him back would be a great way to boost the receiving corps with some veteran talent before camp.
Green Bay Packers: Trade Aaron Rodgers...or Make Him Happy
Aaron Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP and a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. If the Green Bay Packers can make him happy and get him into camp, they should. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, however, that may be an impossibility.
"Some close to him remain adamant that he is stuck in and won't play for the Packers ever again," La Canfora wrote.
If Green Bay senses that Rodgers is indeed a Packer in name only, the time is now to pull the trigger on a trade. Rodgers is 37 years old, and any team trading him will want to maximize its time with him. Rodgers' trade value should be higher now than it is during the regular season or another year into his playing window.
Finding the right trade partner and the right return may not be easy for Green Bay, but virtually any team without a true franchise quarterback should be interested. The Packers should be able to get a king's ransom in return by dealing Rodgers in time for training camp.
Houston Texans: Trade Deshaun Watson
There's a hypothetical aspect to this potential move because trading Deshaun Watson before his civil and criminal cases for sexual assault are settled could be hard for the Houston Texans. Still, Watson has made it clear that he no longer wants to play in Houston, and the Texans are still open to moving him.
"With eight teams showing interest in Watson, the Texans were expected to grant his trade demand sometime before Thursday night's first round of the three-day draft," John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported in late April.
If a team is still willing to take on Watson, his contract and his ongoing situation, the Texans should be quick to make a move.
Yes, Watson's trade value is probably at an all-time low, but it's already clear that his future isn't in Houston. And depending on what happens with regard to those cases, Watson's future may not be in the NFL at all. At this point, the Texans would be wise to move on and get anything they can for their former franchise quarterback.
Indianapolis Colts: Trade for Zach Ertz
The Indianapolis Colts traded for quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason and will now try to rehabilitate the former Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback under the guidance of head coach and former Eagles coordinator Frank Reich.
The Colts would be wise to bring in another former Eagle in tight end Zach Ertz. While Indy does have some weapons Wentz can utilize—like Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton and Nyheim Hines—they don't have a ton of receiving talent at tight end. Mo Alie-Cox led Colts tight ends with just 394 receiving yards last season.
The 30-year-old Ertz is no longer the same Pro Bowler he was a few years ago, of course.
"Having talked to teams, and in part because of his health issues, most say Ertz looks heavier, stiffer and slower now than he did in his prime," Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated wrote.
Still, trading for Ertz would provide Wentz with a familiar target while injecting some additional receiving talent into the tight end room.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Re-Sign Tyler Eifert
The Jacksonville Jaguars grabbed their quarterback of the future when they took Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall. They also have some valuable weapons in place for the rookie to utilize, including wideouts DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and running back James Robinson.
However, Jacksonville doesn't have a proven, reliable tight end who can serve as Lawrence's safety valve in the passing game. They brought in Chris Manhertz, drafted blocking tight end Luke Farrell and are trying out former quarterback Tim Tebow at the position.
Tebow, it's worth noting, last played in 2012.
Re-signing Tyler Eifert, who was released earlier this offseason, would make a ton of sense for Jacksonville. He may not be the Pro Bowl-caliber pass-catcher that he was early in his career, but Eifert appeared in 15 games and led Jaguars tight ends with 349 receiving yards last season.
Eifert remains available, and the Jaguars lead the NFL in remaining cap space. There is almost no reason for this move to not happen.
Kansas City Chiefs: Re-Sign Alex Okafor
After reloading the offensive line with players like Orlando Brown Jr., Kyle Long and Joe Thuney, the Chiefs don't have many glaring needs. However, they didn't do a ton to revamp a defensive front that lost both Alex Okafor and Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Kpassagnon signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency, but Okafor remains available. With Kansas City entering another season with championship expectations, bringing him back would make a ton of sense.
While Okafor only played 26 percent of the defensive snaps in 2020, he was a valuable part of the defensive-line rotation. He appeared in 11 games and finished with 16 tackles, three sacks and 15 quarterback pressures. He added another five tackles in the postseason.
Okafor could again boost Kansas City's defense as a rotational edge-rusher. He has played a total of 21 regular-season games for the Chiefs, knows the defensive system well and could be a tremendous depth piece for the looming 17-game season.
Las Vegas Raiders: Sign K.J. Wright
The Las Vegas Raiders had a top-10 offense in both yards and points scored last season. Their defense, however, left plenty to be desired. Las Vegas ranked 26th in passing yards allowed and 24th in rushing yards allowed and logged just 21 sacks as a team.
Signing linebacker K.J. Wright could help on virtually all fronts defensively. The 10-year veteran appeared in all 16 games for Seattle last season and finished with 86 total tackles, 10 passes defended, an interception, two sacks and six quarterback pressures.
Wright also previously played under Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and happens to remain unsigned.
This move may take some financial finagling, as Las Vegas has just $5 million in cap space. However, it could be exactly the sort of late-offseason move that boosts the Raiders defense and helps get the Silver and Black back into the playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers: Re-Sign Melvin Ingram
The Los Angeles Chargers seem to have found their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. With a retooled offensive line and a year of seasoning on Herbert's resume, L.A. could be poised to have one of the better offenses in the NFL next season. If the Chargers hope to be a legitimate AFC contender, though, they'll need a defense that ranked 23rd in points allowed last season to be better.
Part of Los Angeles' problem in 2020 was a lack of a consistent pass rush. The Chargers totaled just 27 sacks as a team and did little this offseason to improve the unit.
Bringing back edge defender Melvin Ingram could help tremendously, even though he was hampered by injuries—he missed nine games—and didn't record a sack last season. When Ingram was healthy in 2019, he logged seven sacks and 23 quarterback pressures.
Ingram recently visited with the Miami Dolphins but remains unsigned. At this point in the offseason, the Chargers should be able to land him with a relatively low-risk contract since they clearly wouldn't be competing with a high demand. Signing him would be worth that risk because Ingram knows the Chargers system and personnel well, and L.A. knows exactly what it can get out of Ingram when he's at his best.
Los Angeles Rams: Extend Sebastian Joseph-Day
Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day is arguably the least appreciated member of the Los Angeles Rams defense. A sixth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2018, Joseph-Day has emerged as a valuable member of the defensive line rotation over the last two years.
In 2019 and 2020, Joseph-Day amassed 99 total tackles, three sacks, four passes defended and six tackles for loss—not Aaron Donald numbers, but impressive for an interior lineman.
Joseph-Day is also entering the final year of his rookie contract, and keeping him next offseason could prove difficult. The Rams are projected to be over the 2022 salary cap and could struggle to keep Joseph-Day in a bidding war.
Another strong season from Joseph-Day could make him one of the most coveted young defensive tackles on the market. Unless L.A. is convinced Joseph-Day's production is the result of playing alongside Donald, extending him would be advisable.
Miami Dolphins: Sign Duke Johnson Jr.
The Dolphins added a pair of wide receivers this offseason to support second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They signed speedster Will Fuller V and drafted Tagovailoa's former teammate Jaylen Waddle in the first round.
Miami's backfield, however, remains a questionable unit. Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed are fine complementary backs, and Miami appears content to take a committee approach this season.
Adding premier receiving back Duke Johnson Jr. to that committee would help supply versatility and potency to Miami's backfield.
A quality runner in his own right—with a 4.2 yards-per-carry career average—Johnson's biggest strength is his pass-catching ability. In six pro seasons, he has amassed 1,931 rushing yards, 2,829 receiving yards and 20 combined touchdowns.
Jackson could be the perfect backfield outlet option for Tagovailoa as the Alabama product enters his first full season as Miami's starter.
Minnesota Vikings: Sign Adrian Clayborn
Poor defense prevented the Minnesota Vikings from being a playoff contender in 2020. The team ranked 29th in points allowed, 25th in passing yards allowed and 27th in rushing yards allowed and generated just 23 sacks. While it brought in free agents Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson, it didn't draft a defender until the third round.
Minnesota is light on cap space with $6.7 million, so signing a marquee free agent is probably not in the cards. Signing a budget-friendly role player like Adrian Clayborn, however, would make a ton of sense.
Clayborn has played for three different teams over the last three seasons and last signed a two-year, $5.8 million deal. He was released by the Browns one year into that deal despite being a valuable rotational player.
In 2020, Clayborn played 38 percent of the defensive snaps but finished with 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 15 quarterback pressures. He could provide Minnesota with a nice piece of pass-rushing depth at a cap-friendly price. This wouldn't be a blockbuster move, but it's one the Vikings should make.
New England Patriots: Trade for Julio Jones
The New England Patriots have a new quarterback of the future in Mac Jones. However, they may not feature the pieces needed for him to find early success. While the Patriots went on a spending spree in free agency, their wide receiver room is headlined by Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry.
That's a big drop-off from what Jones had at Alabama.
However, trading for Julio Jones would give the quarterback a viable No. 1 target. Such a move could also put New England right back in the AFC playoff mix.
According to NFL Network's Mike Giardi (h/t NFL.com's Adam Maya), the Patriots have had "internal discussions" about dealing for Jones. While it's unclear how in-depth those discussions may have been, this would be a smart move for New England.
New England has shown it isn't afraid to open up the pocketbook. Trading for Jones would fit the team's spend-now, win-now mentality.
New Orleans Saints: Lock Up Marcus Williams
New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams is likely remembered by some fans for being on the wrong end of the Minneapolis Miracle three years ago. However, he has developed into a consistent and reliable starter for the Saints, who gave him the franchise tag this offseason.
Williams will be around for at least one more year in New Orleans, though it would be wise for the Saints to grant him a contract extension. He is set to carry a cap hit of $10.6 million in 2021, and no team is in a worse cap situation.
New Orleans has less than $700,000 in cap space with which to work.
The Saints seem to view Williams as a long-term piece of their defensive puzzle. Otherwise, why give him the franchise tag? In that case, there is little reason to wait on an extension, which could free up enough cap room to make another move or two before the regular season gets underway.
New York Giants: Sign Trai Turner
The New York Giants brought in new weapons for quarterback Daniel Jones in the form of free-agent receiver Kenny Golladay and first-round pick Kadarius Toney. However, if the Giants hope to see Jones succeed, they need to improve his offensive line.
Jones was sacked an alarming 45 times and had 11 fumbles in 14 games last season.
While the Giants get offensive tackle Nate Solder back after he opted out of the 2020 season, they also parted with starting guard Kevin Zeitler. Free agent Trai Turner could replace Zeitler and, ideally, help improve Jones' interior pass protection.
Turner was limited by injuries to nine games in 2020, but he is a five-time Pro Bowler and only 27 years old.
Adding Turner would require New York to free up cap space as it has only $4.9 million available. It would be worth it, however, as protecting and developing Jones must be the franchise's No. 1 goal in 2021.
New York Jets: Sign Nick Mullens
The New York Jets have a new franchise quarterback in rookie Zach Wilson. What they don't have is an experienced veteran to mentor the BYU product. Signing former San Francisco 49ers backup Nick Mullens could remedy the situation.
Mullens isn't an established starter who would threaten Wilson for the top job in New York. However, he does have 16 starts and 19 career appearances. Mullens also has experience playing offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who spent the last two seasons as San Francisco's passing game coordinator.
Assuming that LaFleur and head coach Robert Saleh bring schemes and terminology with them from San Francisco, Mullens could be the perfect mentor to help integrate Wilson.
Acquiring Mullens would give the Jets an experienced veteran who can guide Wilson through his rookie campaign. It would also provide insurance if Wilson isn't prepared to start from Day 1. New York's backups—Mike White and James Morgan—have no regular-season experience.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trade Zach Ertz
As we've noted, Zach Ertz doesn't appear to be the playmaking tight end he once was. Additionally, the Eagles have a new standout in tight end Dallas Goedert and could save nearly $5 million in cap space by cutting or trading Ertz.
While the savings would be the same whether Ertz is released or traded, it would make sense to get something for the three-time Pro Bowler if possible.
With Goedert's ascent, it's unlikely Ertz is in Philadelphia's plans. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ertz doesn't want to be.
"He isn't expected to report for the remainder of the offseason program or until his situation is resolved (read: he's traded or released)," McLane tweeted.
If Ertz's tenure in Philadelphia is indeed at an end, Philadelphia would be wise to trade him for anything it can get. Releasing him this late in the offseason won't impact Philadelphia's compensatory picks, so even a conditional seventh-rounder would be better than letting him walk and eating $7.8 million in dead money.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Sign Justin Houston
The Pittsburgh Steelers are going all-in on one last run with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They used a first-round pick on running back Najee Harris to help support Big Ben and bring balance back to the offense. They also re-signed wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
However, Pittsburgh didn't retain pass-rusher Bud Dupree, who departed in free agency. They have a need for a complementary pass-rusher opposite T.J. Watt, which is why signing veteran Justin Houston would make a ton of sense.
While Houston is 32 years old, he's the best pass-rusher still available. He had eight sacks and 25 quarterback pressures last season despite playing only 59 percent of the defensive snaps for the Colts. He would be a fantastic short-term option for a team with championship aspirations.
Pittsburgh should be an attractive destination for Houston too. While the team couldn't offer a massive contract—the Steelers have just $7.9 million in cap space—it could offer the four-time Pro Bowler a shot at a championship.
The Steelers stumbled late in 2020, but they won 12 games and return the bulk of last year's third-ranked defense.
San Francisco 49ers: Re-Sign Richard Sherman
The 49ers' 2020 season was derailed by injuries to players like Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, George Kittle and Richard Sherman. Two years ago, however, San Francisco was within minutes of winning the Super Bowl.
With the roster (hopefully) again healthy in 2021, San Francisco should prepare for a push toward the postseason. Developing rookie quarterback Trey Lance will be part of the equation, but the championship window is still open in the Bay Area.
Though he was injured for most of last season, Sherman can still be a big piece of the championship equation. When he was healthy two years ago, he was a Pro Bowl cornerback who allowed an opposing passer rating of 63.0. Sherman would also be happy with a San Francisco return.
Getting Sherman back in time for camp would be a smart move for San Francisco.
Seattle Seahawks: Extend Jamal Adams
Last offseason, the Seattle Seahawks gave up a pair of first-round picks, a third-rounder and safety Bradley McDougald to acquire Jamal Adams and a fourth-round pick. Adams is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and the Seahawks don't have a long-term deal in place.
According to former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, this is somewhat by design.
"Was it going to get done early in the process? No," he said in April on 710 ESPN Seattle.
As Heaps explained, the Seahawks typically wait until after the draft to address contract extensions. Now that the draft has come and gone, though, Seattle needs to complete a deal.
Adams was fantastic in his first season in Seattle, amassing 83 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 26 quarterback pressures and a forced fumble. The hybrid safety/linebacker/pass-rusher is a great fit in Seattle's defense, but he'll also be heavily coveted if he reaches free agency. To prevent that from happening—and/or to prevent the sort of contract dispute that pushed him out of New York—the Seahawks need to get a deal done.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lock Up Chris Godwin
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing back all 22 offensive and defensive starters from last year's Super Bowl run. Wideout Chris Godwin was one of those starters and is coming back on the franchise tag. Tampa needs to turn the tag into a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.
If the Bucs were gearing up for one last run, letting Godwin play out the season on the tag could make sense. If this was likely to be Tom Brady's final year at quarterback, the Buccaneers could face a rebuild next offseason. Brady signed an extension this offseason, though, and Tampa appears happy to let him hang around for the foreseeable future.
"If he wants to play until he's 50, and he feels like he can still play, he can play until he's 50," general manager Jason Licht told The Rich Eisen Show.
While Brady isn't likely to deliver the sort of lengthy dynasty he had in New England, he could help the Buccaneers go on a three-, four- or even five-year run at the top of the NFC. The Bucs should be eager to keep Godwin around for that run, and they shouldn't risk letting him hit free agency next offseason.
Tennessee Titans: Sign D.J. Hayden
The Tennessee Titans need an improved pass defense after ranking 29th in passing yards allowed last season. While Tennessee did sign Kevin Johnson and Janoris Jenkins in free agency—while using a first-round pick on Caleb Farley—it would make sense to continue throwing darts at the cornerback position.
D.J. Hayden is a potential budget option Tennessee should consider (the Titans have just $3.6 million in cap space). He's coming off an injury-plagued season in which he played only five games. However, he also has 41 career starts and three years of experience facing AFC South receivers with the Jaguars.
When healthy in 2019, Hayden allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 81.8.
After moving off and on injured reserve in 2020, Hayden may be willing to take a low-guarantee, incentive-laden deal to reestablish his value. If so, the Titans should be quick to add another option to their cornerback camp competition.
Washington Football Team: Lock Up Brandon Scherff
Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff is set to play on the franchise tag for the second consecutive season. Should Scherff play on the one-year deal in 2021, the Football Team could have a difficult time retaining him next offseason.
It won't be cheap, as Scherff is arguably the best guard in the NFL, but Washington would be wise to lock in an extension before the July 15 deadline.
Washington probably doesn't have its quarterback of the future on the roster. However, it will undoubtedly look to find him soon. Keeping a franchise-caliber lineman like Scherff would go a long way toward setting up that quarterback for success.
Scherff is a four-time Pro Bowler who made his first appearance on the All-Pro First Team last season. He won't turn 30 until December and can still be a building block for Washington.