There are a handful of teams each spring that approach free agency with a swashbuckling attitude. We’ve gotten into the habit, thanks to the damned Nnamdi Asomugha and Vince Young Eagles of 2011, of calling these “dream teams” even if such a thing is largely impossible to create in the NFL. Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, a club that benefited greatly from a handful of high-profile free agents, had a wealth of talent on the roster. prior to the arrival of big-name stars like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and LeSean McCoy. His is the most accurate model for free agency success.
Despite a depressed capitalization situation and less available cap space, teams that are equally prepared, and see their window to compete for a Super Bowl as finite, will cause quite a stir in the open market next week when the free agency window opens. Similarly, you might see some players bunching up in vantage points if they can’t reap the financial benefits of an open market (and you can bet that teams will use the pandemic and cap situation as an excuse for why they are offering deals). ridiculously small compared to a player’s fair market value).
So after ranking the top 200 free agents available on Tuesday, and before a more comprehensive assessment of the needs of teams in the league later in the week, let’s take a look at six teams that will make some noise once. Let the new league year begin. .
New England Patriots
Capitalization space: $ 66.5 million
Draft Picks: 1st (15), 2nd (46), 4th (111), 5th (142), 6th (171), 6th (173), 7th (207)
Big moves already made: Trade for Trent Brown, who left the Patriots for the Raiders through free agency in 2019 but played just two seasons (16 games total) with Oakland / Las Vegas.
Why They Try: This is Bill Belichick’s opportunity to build a competitive roster in the post-Brady era. His quarterback options are better than they were a year ago when they signed Cam Newton, he returns to several key defensive starters, has one of the highest draft picks he has ever had, and he claimed former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia at the coaching staff. The Patriots will be better than last year by default. A depressed market will be an advantage for Belichick, who has successfully squeezed veterans in the past for the privilege of playing on his system. You could find similar success in this climate.
At the very least, New England will have to make noise as a quarterback. It could be as (relatively) banal as signing Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Fitzpatrick, or it could be as clamorous as meeting Jimmy Garoppolo. Either way, the Patriots will almost certainly spend some money.
Capitalization space: $ 12.5 million
Draft Picks: 1st (16), 2nd (49), 3rd (80), 5th (144), 7th (208)
Big moves already made: signing JJ Watt to a two-year, $ 31 million deal.
Why They Try: The Cardinals, like some teams on this list, will recognize the waning years on their rookie quarterback’s affordable contract. Perhaps they, too, feel a bit of weakness among their divisional opponents. The Seahawks appear to be fractured and their defense is beyond the value of an offseason repair. The 49ers may end up caught again with Jimmy Garoppolo. The Rams are going to be better with Matt Stafford, but they are that better? LA beat the Cardinals twice last season and for the Cardinals to better position themselves for a playoff spot, they will have to improve the roster on several key points. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them active in the cornerback, inside defensive line and wide receiver / pass receiver markets.
Capitalization space: $ 1.9 million
Draft Picks: 1st (30), 2nd (61), 3rd (94), 5th (145), 5th (158), 6th (189), 7th (200)
Big moves already made: nothing yet, but keep an eye out for Buffalo crawling across the commercial market. Zach Ertz is a name that makes some sense, and the Eagles are likely willing to let him go.
Why they go for it: With Dak Prescott hitting the $ 40 million mark, essentially reestablishing a quarterback market that was accelerated by the Jared Goff / Carson Wentz deals, the Bills know it’s a matter of time before for Josh Allen to reach $ 42 million APY with more than $ 100 million in guarantees. Before that happens, Buffalo hopes to mount a Super Bowl run, building on a 2020 season that saw them take a quantum leap on offense. However, Buffalo might need some help inside their offensive line, they could lose a valuable linebacker in free agency and there is no shame in, beyond Ertz, looking for ways to improve Allen’s weapons.
New York Jets
Capitalization space: $ 67.3 million
Draft Picks: 1 (2), 1 (23), 2 (34), 3 (66), 3 (87), 4 (98), 5 (130), 5 (138), 6 (162)
Big moves already made: the safety of the Marcus Maye franchise
Why they are looking for it: Going for it it can have different meanings. For the Jets that it signifies a return to relevance and respectability. Hiring Robert Saleh was the first step in a makeover that has been necessary for years. The salary-cap space will go toward building an offensive line, the likes of which no Jets quarterback has had at or near an elite level since the days of Nick Mangold, Damien Woody, Matt. Slauson and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. They can solve a lot of problems with this kind of free agent and the upcoming draft, or they can use their draft capital to solve one or two very pressing problems through the trade (hello, Deshaun Watson!).
Capitalization space: $ 44,681 million
Draft Picks: 1 (21), 2 (54), 4 (118), 5 (149), 6 (182), 7 (213)
Big moves already made: Trade for Carson Wentz
Why They Try: This was supposed to be the Colts’ golden window with Andrew Luck, but plans need to be made on the fly when their generational quarterback retires. The Wentz deal is only to the Colts’ advantage if they are good right away, which means pairing Wentz with a handful of better pass-catching options (TY Hilton is a free agent). I think they are in the running for Zach Ertz as much as the Bills would be. This division is collapsing around you. Texans are falling apart. The Titans will attempt to recreate a run-first offense behind a generational back for the third straight season. The Jaguars will start as a rookie quarterback. All of this, combined with the fact that Chris Ballard is one of the smartest executives in the NFL and knows this is the time to maximize his cap space, leads us to believe that Indy will have plenty of free agent options.
New Orleans Saints
Capitalization space: minus $ 58.7 million
Draft Picks: 1 (28), 2 (60), 4 (124)
Big moves already made: Franchise tagged safety Marcus Williams
Why they go for it: The Saints have no salary cap concerns and are likely planning some sort of Zorp-ian acquisition in the near future, so why not spend what you can and get some players interesting? They’ll likely let some key free agents like Sheldon Rankins go, but with the fine chips of cap space they’ll be able to create, it’s not out of the question to expect Sean Payton to recruit some veterans. Maybe Drew Brees will return. Perhaps there is something else up his sleeve on the quarterback front. Either way, Payton isn’t going to let an arbitrary set of financial guidelines keep you out of the way.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.