We’ve almost seen each of the free agents find new homes, and mostly figured out where each team is at going into the NFL Draft. We’ve got a roundup for each division after almost two full weeks (and most of the big signings in the books), and we’ll be putting them out over the next week or so. According to the NFL’s “Top 101 Free Agents” chart, 83% have found new homes, so we’ve got a solid look at who is going where.
Last up we’ve got the NFC West, which saw a down year in terms of competition, with the Seahawks running off with the division. This year, the teams around them look to take a jump toward competing, while the Seahawks look to maintain their stranglehold on the division.
The Cardinals were a big disappointment this year, failing to even make the postseason after a trip to the NFC Championship game a year ago. Now, they’re looking to get back to prominence as the roster around them ages fast. They suffered some big losses in free agency, particularly on defense with Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger gone from the secondary, Kevin Minter leaving the linebackers, and their top pass rusher in Calais Campbell off the line. For an already struggling defense, that isn’t great.
In terms of addition, it’s not great. Jarvis Jones and Karlos Dansby are solid linebackers, but nothing to move the needle. Antoine Bethea has also seen better days, and won’t replace Jefferson’s production. Andre Ellington re-signing is great, but the oft-injured back is moving over to receiver to give them some added pop. For a team looking to compete, it’s looking more like a rebuild may be more in order.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams aren’t kidding anyone: they know they’re in a rebuild, and are acting like it. They shot for the moon to draft Jared Goff, and it looks like they’ll be giving him the reigns next year with Case Keenum gone. Around him, they brought in Lance Dunbar from Dallas, who played well in relief and will be a nice compliment for Todd Gurley. Robert Woods will also come in to be another weapon as a replacement for the departed Kenny Britt, and we should see some better targets this year. Bringing in Andrew Whitworth will help one of the worst lines in football from a year ago.
On defense, they lost TJ McDonald, which is a big loss. To replace that, the added Nickell Robey-Coleman, who has seen some time at almost every level of the secondary. Connor Barwin was solid in his time in Philly, and will be a nice addition to an already stacked defensive line. The defense is loaded up, and will now just look for the offense to take that next step to get them back toward competing for the playoffs after a long drought.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were abysmal last year, and kicked up their rebuild by going out and spending some money at almost every level this time around. They got rid of some age, letting Antoine Bethea walk, and their longtime kicker Phil Dawson. The receivers will also see a face lift, with Torrey Smith gone. And the big departure of Colin Kaepernick means a restart at the QB position.
Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer will take the reigns on the QB depth chart, with the Niners indicating that Hoyer will be the starter going forward. Robbie Gould takes over kicking duties, and Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin are the new target, with both getting sizeable money to be the new pair. Logan Paulsen and Kyle Juszczyk are also solid blockers, and could help open some holes for the line. It’s a step toward getting quality players at positions they’ll need going forward.
The Seahawks are looking to lock in their stranglehold on the NFC West this year with some upgrades at some positions going forward. They’ve been active in this free agency period, and saw a few departures in kicker Stephen Hauschka, and Damontre Moore and John Jenkins off the line.
But they’ve added a slew of guys to the roster, signing Blair Walsh (pictured) to take over kicking duties, and taking a flier on guys like Dion Jordon at DE and Bradley McDougald in the secondary. Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi are also both heading in to beef up the offensive line, and Eddie Lacy got a one year deal to prove himself in the Seattle backfield. I don’t think the Seahawks are done, however, with Marshawn Lynch reportedly returning only to be traded, and Adrian Peterson and Jamal Charles showing interest.