It’s finally March which means that there is a lot of college basketball and of course the Free Agency Frenzy. The salary caps were increased so teams will be out to spend their money! Here is the top player (or group of players from the same position) headed into free agency from each team in the NFC.
Arizona Cardinals:Defensive Backs
*Cornerbacks Tramon Williams,Justin Bethel, and safety Tyvon Branch are all headed into free agency this March.
*With Carson Palmer’s retirement and Drew Stanton hitting the free agency market, the Cardinals head into free agency without a quarterback signed on the roster. While quarterback is the first problem to fix, defensive backs are number two.
Atlanta Falcons:Defensive line
*Two of Atlanta’s top defensive linemen are headed for the free agency market this upcoming March: Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn.
*Clayborn’s season was highlighted by a five-sack game in week 10 to help beat Dallas. *After beginning his career with Kansas City, Poe signed a one-year deal last March with Atlanta.
*Atlanta only has about $14m in cap so retaining both players will be difficult.
Carolina Panthers:Star Lotulelei, DT
*Lotulelei, a first round pick by Carolina pack in 2013, has started 75 out of 80 games over a five year span for the team.
*The Panthers have been saving up money by releasing Jonathan Stewart and Kurt Coleman, so they have the money to retain Lotulelei if they want to.
*With all of the defensive lineman in this year’s free agency, Lotulelei can be replaced for a cheaper player such as former Eagle, Beau Allen, or former Raider, Denico Autry.
Chicago Bears:Kendall Wright, WR
*After Cameron Meredith suffered a torn ACL in preseason, Wright was the most reliable receiver for rookie Mitch Trubisky, leading the team with 614 receiving yards.
*Wright started his career playing for the Titans before signing a one-year contract with the Bears last year.
*Wright had 1,079 receiving yards for Tennessee back in 2013, so he’s shown that he can be a valuable receiver in this league.
*The Bears desperately need help at receiver, so it would be in their best interest to re-sign Wright.
Dallas Cowboys:Alfred Morris, RB
*Morris broke out for Washington as a sixth round pick back in 2012. In his first three seasons, he rushed for 3,962 during the RG3 era.
*However, his production has decreased the past two seasons when playing as a backup to Ezekiel Elliot. In two seasons for the Cowboys, Morris ran for just 790 yards.
*Morris’ best games came when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, so Morris will get a contract somewhere, but likely not as a Cowboy or a starting running back.
Detroit Lions:Haloti Ngata, DT
*After a long tenure with the Baltimore Ravens, Ngata signed a two-year contract with Detroit back in March of 2016.
*Ngata is a five-time Pro-Bowler, as he made it every season from 2009-10 through 2013-14. He was off to a good start this season before suffering a season-ending biceps injury in week 5.
* At 34, the window of playing time for Ngata is decreasing but he is likely to find a one or two year contract somewhere.
Green Bay Packers:Morgan Burnett, SS
*Burnett has been a large part of the Packers secondary since the team drafted him in the third round of the 2010 draft.
*The market for a safety is thin, so Burnett is looking at a large payday heading into next season.
*The Green Bay secondary hasn’t stayed healthy in either of the last two seasons, so it would be important for them to retain Burnett.
Los Angeles Rams:Sammy Watkins, WR
*After expecting to use the Franchise Tag on Watkins, the Rams chose to use the tag on Trumaine Johnson instead.
*Watkins was expected to be Jared Goff’s number one target but he was out-played for most of the season by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. He ranked fourth on the team in receiving yards.
*While Watkins will test free agency, the Rams are expected to offer him a new contract.
Minnesota Vikings:Quarterback situation
*Bradford. Keenum. Bridgewater. All are free agents and the Vikings are expected to pursue Kirk Cousins.
*Kyle Sloter is the only other QB on the roster so the Vikings may keep Bridgewater as a backup.
*Bradford and Keenum are gone and both will be out to prove that they deserve to be a starting QB for whomever they are playing in 2018.
New Orleans Saints:Kenny Vaccaro, SS
*Well, technically this is Drew Brees, but he is expected to re-sign with the Saints.
*After the Panthers released Kurt Coleman, the Saints locked him up on a 3-year $18m deal, so they are clearly not expecting to get Vaccaro back.
*Vaccaro has 8 interceptions to this point in his five-year career so he’ll receive some offers this offseason.
New York Giants:Orleans Darkwa, RB
*After he had a reduced role in his first three NFL seasons, Darkwa broke out as the Giants’ leading rusher in 2017.
*Fellow running back Shane Vereen is also a free agent, so the Giants have decisions to make at that position.
*The Jets and Giants have both showed interest in signing Darkwa, so he’ll receive a nice-looking contract this offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles:Nigel Bradham, LB
*Philly comes into the offseason $10m over the salary cap, so they won’t be looking to sign any large contracts.
*However, it’s in their best interest to re-sign Bradham because Mychal Kendricks has been inconsistent at linebacker and Jordan Hicks hasn’t been able to stay on the field. *Legarrette Blount will also become a free agent and is expected to leave Philly.
San Francisco 49ers:Carlos Hyde, HB
*Hyde has been the lead-man at running back the past two seasons as he has picked up 1,926 yards and 14 touchdowns since the start of the 2016 season.
*Matt Breida had an impressive rookie season, averaging 4.4 YPC and scoring three touchdowns. If Hyde leaves, Breida will be in line to take the starting job.
Seattle Seahawks:Jimmy Graham, TE
*Jimmy had an inconsistent tenure with Seattle: a disappointing 2015, then a revival in 2016 before another disappointing season in 2017.
*Graham is expected to part ways with Seattle, and possible landing spots include Denver, Chicago, and a reunion with New Orleans.
*For what it’s worth, if Graham signs with the Saints, an offense with Brees, Graham, the two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and Michael Thomas seems unstoppable.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Brent Grimes, CB
*Throughout his 11 year career, Grimes has been an interception machine. In 119 career games, Grimes has 33 interceptions and three were returned for a touchdown.
*Grimes will likely get a contract for a mid-tier cornerback.
Washington Redskins:Terrelle Pryor, WR
*The easy pick is Kirk Cousins. But, there’s already enough coverage on him so I’m choosing someone else.
*Terrelle Pryor was arguably the most disappointing player from the 2017-18 season. *After hauling in 77 catches for 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016 with the Browns, Pryor only had 20 catches for 240 yards last season while playing for a team that knew who its QB would be each week.
*Pryor ruined his chances of getting a long term deal, but there are many teams in need of a WR that would be happy to sign him.