NFC free agency capsules
ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Tyvon Branch; CB Justin Bethel and Tramon Williams; QBs Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley; DT Frostee Rucker; WRs John Brown, Brittan Golden and Jaron Brown; OLBs Karlos Dansby and Kareem Martin; RB Kerwyn Williams; G Alex Boone; ILB Josh Bynes, OT Khalif Barnes; OL Earl Watford; TE Troy Niklas; LS Aaron Brewer.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Xavier Williams.
NEEDS: With no QB on roster, team’s No. 1 need is obvious. General manager Steve Keim seems to want to sign veteran, with Cardinals in Kirk Cousins sweepstakes despite salary cap challenges, especially considering large number of departing free agents, some of whom could be re-signed. Expect Cardinals also to address QB in draft. Other needs are at WR, where ranks are thin to nonexistent behind Larry Fitzgerald. With big contracts of aging, oft-injured G Mike Iupati and T Jared Veldeer, Cardinals will be looking at OL help as well as in secondary. With entire new coaching regime and system, team might look for someone to play FB.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $21 million.
ATLANTA FALCONS (11-7)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Adrian Clayborn; FB Derrick Coleman; WRs Taylor Gabriel, Andre Roberts and Nick Williams; LBs Jordan Tripp, Sean Weatherspoon and Kemal Ishmael; DTs Dontari Poe, Courtney Upshaw and Ahtyba Rubin; CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
NEEDS: Tight end is priority following release of Levine Toilolo. Veteran could be signed to challenge Austin Hooper. Team cut Derrick Shelby and could lose Clayborn, so more pass rush help at defensive end may be needed. If team loses Poe and Upshaw in free agency, another veteran defensive tackle may be signed. Guard is another priority that may be addressed high in draft or in free agency. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said at NFL scouting combine that Gabriel would not be re-signed
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $9 million.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (11-6)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Gs Andrew Norwell and Amini Silatolu; DEs Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson; DT Star Lotulelei; QB Derek Anderson; TE Ed Dickson, Ss Jairus Byrd and Kurt Coleman; CB Teddy Williams; LB Andrew Gachkar; WR Brenton Bersin; RB Jonathan Stewart.
NEEDS: Panthers need thumper at safety after releasing Coleman, as well as pass rushing defensive ends after release of Johnson and with 37-year-old Peppers’ future uncertain. Team allowed All-Pro guard Norwell to walk, but believes last year’s draft pick Taylor Moton can step into that spot. Center Ryan Kalil and outside linebacker Thomas Davis said they will retire after season, so it’s time to address those areas. Carolina cut Stewart, its all-time leading rusher; team needs complement to Christian McCaffrey in backfield. Finding speedy wide receiver remains priority. Don’t be surprised if Carolina drafts quarterback at some point and parts with Anderson.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $24 million.
CHICAGO BEARS (5-11)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Kyle Fuller (transition tag), Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan and Sherrick McManis; WRs Josh Bellamy, Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright; QB Mark Sanchez; RB Benny Cunningham; TE Zach Miller; G Josh Sitton; DE Mitch Unrein; LBs Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston and Christian Jones.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Cameron Meredith.
NEEDS: Bears have glaring need for playmaking receivers and could make run at Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson and Rams’ Sammy Watkins in free agency. Chicago needs help on offensive line after declining option on Sitton and with Kyle Long recovering from multiple surgeries. On defense, Bears could use more pass rushers to go with LB Leonard Floyd. Chicago placed transition tag on Fuller, giving them right to match any offer he receives in free agency.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $64 million.
DALLAS COWBOYS (9-7)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE DeMarcus Lawrence; RB Alfred Morris; WR Brice Butler; T Byron Bell; G Jonathan Cooper; LBs Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber; LS L.P. LaDouceur; C Joe Looney; CB Bene Benwikere.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE David Irving; FB Keith Smith.
NEEDS: Lawrence will be back after signing for $17.1 million under franchise tag as sides work on long-term deal. Team plans to tender Irving and wants him back. Dallas also wants Hitchens back but likely won’t overpay in scenario that could be similar to last year, when S Barry Church left for Jacksonville. Morris and Butler probably not coming back, and Cowboys could target LG in draft if Cooper doesn’t return. Days of headline-grabbing free agents mostly over with owner Jerry Jones’ son, executive VP Stephen Jones, having strong influence and preferring to avoid big-money deals with players outside organization.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $3.2 million.
DETROIT LIONS (9-7)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DTs Haloti Ngata and Jordan Hill; LBs Tahir Whitehead, Nick Bellore, Dwight Freeney and LB Paul Worrilow; CBs D.J. Hayden and Nevin Lawson; C Travis Swanson; S Don Carey; TE Darren Fells; OTs Greg Robinson and Don Barclay; RB Mike James.
NEEDS: Lions’ weakness is defensive line and improving it will be priority under first-year coach Matt Patricia. Former New England Patriots defensive coordinator also might want to bolster offensive line to protect QB Matthew Stafford and help boost poorly performing running game.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $27 million.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-9)
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Joe Thomas; P Jake Schum.
NEEDS: Defense needs edge rush infusion, while veteran cornerback – or two – would also help, especially after Packers agreed to deal CB Damarious Randall to Browns for QB DeShone Kizer. He arrives to potentially bring more competition for backup quarterback job following Brett Hundley’s inconsistent performance while Aaron Rodgers was hurt. Tight end could be target again after Martellus Bennett was cut at midseason. Right side of offensive line is unsettled at guard with Evans hitting free agency and tackle Bryan Bulaga recovering from knee injury, though utility lineman Justin McCray could be in-house solution. New GM Brian Gutekunst could be more active in free agency than predecessor Ted Thompson.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $16.5 million
LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-6)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Lamarcus Joyner (franchise tag; CBs Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman; WR Sammy Watkins; C John Sullivan; LB Connor Barwin; DTs Dominique Easley and Tyrunn Walker; LS Jake McQuaide; S Cody Davis; RB Lance Dunbar; TE Derek Carrier; OL Cornelius Lucas.
NEEDS: Rams have few pressing needs on offense aside from solidifying center spot, but defense is getting overhaul and they have cap room to make splash. They’ve agreed to trade starting linebackers Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn, so they’ll want LBs who fit Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. They’re unlikely to match Trumaine Johnson’s top offers from other teams, so while cornerback Marcus Peters is on his way, Rams still need more depth in secondary. Los Angeles also must decide whether to re-sign Watkins after decent first season with club, or to sign replacement.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $27.65 million.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (14-4)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater; RB Jerick McKinnon; WR Michael Floyd; RG Joe Berger; DTs Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen; LB Emmanuel Lamur; CBs Terence Newman, Marcus Sherels and Tramaine Brock; PK Kai Forbath.
NEEDS: With trio of QBs set to hit market, priority for Vikings this month is obvious. Affordability under salary cap and durability for long run will factor as heavily into decision who to pursue as will past and projected performance. Vikings could always start over, too, and go after former Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, though he’ll get heavy interest that will make him most expensive option. Next in queue is starting offensive lineman, either tackle that could allow Mike Remmers to move inside or new guard. Defense remains strong, with several standouts recently secured to long-term contracts. But Pro Bowl DT Linval Joseph could use interior sidekick. Another quality CB would help, too, with Newman’s status at age 39 uncertain.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $48 million.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-6)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Drew Brees and Chase Daniel; Ss Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush; DEs Alex Okafor and Kasim Edebali, OLs Senio Kelemete and Josh LeRibeus; FBs John Kuhn and Zach Line; LBs Jonathan Freeny, Gerald Hodges, and Michael Mauti; DTs Tony McDaniel and John Hughes; CB Sterling Moore; TEs Clay Harbor and John Phillips.
NEEDS: Team and Drew Brees expressed mutual interest in extending star QB’s contract. Any other outcome on that front would be surprise. Not same case for Kenny Vaccaro, whose likelihood of going elsewhere increased after addition of free agent safety Kurt Coleman following his release from Carolina. Team also could be in market for cornerback if it decides to move on from Breaux, who has struggled with injuries. More formidable defensive end opposite All-Pro Cam Jordan could make pass rush into game changer. If Kelemete gets starter money elsewhere, team will seek similar versatile lineman to fill in when starters are out, as Kelemete often did last season. Upgrade at tight end is not urgent for what is already elite offense, but production from that spot was lacking last season.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $22 million.
NEW YORK GIANTS (3-13)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OL Justin Pugh; C Weston Richburg; G D.J. Fluker; RBs Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen; QB Geno Smith; WR Tavarres King; DT Jay Bromley; DE Kerry Wynn; LBs Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard, Akeem Ayers and Deontae Skinner; S Nat Berhe; CB Darryl Morris.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: C Brett Jones.
NEEDS: Name it and Giants probably need it. Biggest void remains offensive line, especially if they lose Pugh. Standout running back, quarterback of future, another safety to play with Landon Collins, linebackers who can cover running backs, placekicker and even punter are needs. That’s what happens when you win three games and fire coach and leave new coach Pat Shurmur with little. Good news is No. 2 draft pick should fill one of those needs. Would be interesting how Shurmur and Eli Manning get along, especially if new general manager Dave Gettleman takes QB heir apparent. Giants have potential to be explosive offense if WR Odell Backham Jr. shows no lingering effects from broken ankle; couple him with tight end Evan Engram and WR Sterling Shepard. With former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher taking over same role, how will he try to incorporate some 3-4 fronts. Giants don’t have fast linebackers, although they picked up Alec Ogletree from Rams.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $14 million.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (16-3)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LBs Nigel Bradham, Dannell Ellerbe and Najee Goode; RBs Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner; TE Trey Burton; CB Patrick Robinson; DT Beau Allen; DE Bryan Braman; S Corey Graham; K Caleb Sturgis; OT Will Beatty.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DB Jaylen Watkins.
NEEDS: Super Bowl champions will be thin at linebacker if Bradham leaves. Burton, Blount, Allen and Robinson are valuable contributors who would need to be replaced. Personnel boss Howie Roseman is quite creative and found way to add WRs Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith along with backup QB Nick Foles – Super Bowl MVP – even though team had little cap space entering free agency last year. Several veterans could be released to save money. Eagles might target running back and receiver along with linebacker, but probably won’t be major players in free agency. Most of their key players are returning and some recent draft picks are expected to fill holes.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $9 million over.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Carlos Hyde; Ss Eric Reid and Antone Exum, DE Aaron Lynch; DLs Chris Jones, Tank Carradine and Leger Douzable; LB Brock Coyle; G Brandon Fusco; CBs Leon Hall, Dontae Johnson, and Asa Jackson; WR Louis Murphy; TE Logan Paulsen; C Tim Barnes.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
NEEDS: 49ers answered biggest question last month when they signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to $137.5 million contract after he led them to five straight wins following midseason trade with New England. Then San Francisco got a head start on free agency by signing former nemesis Richard Sherman to upgrade at cornerback following his release from Seattle. The task this spring will be to get Garoppolo help and improve the pass rush on defense. San Francisco could use big target at either receiver or tight end to help in red zone, as well as improvement on interior of offensive line. Biggest question on offense comes at running back where San Francisco must decide whether to try to re-sign Hyde or look for someone else as lead back.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $64 million.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-7)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TEs Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson; Gs Luke Joeckel, Matt Tobin and Oday Aboushi; RB Eddie Lacy; DT Sheldon Richardson; Ss Bradley McDougald and DeShawn Shead; LBs Michael Wilhoite, Terence Garvin and Dewey McDonald; WR Paul Richardson; K Blair Walsh; DE Marcus Smith; CB Byron Maxwell; QB Austin Davis.
NEEDS: What Seahawks need in free agency largely depends on what they do with some high-priced players still under contract. Are moves made with Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman? What about Michael Bennett? Expect offensive and defensive lines to be focuses in free agency, along with more options at running back.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $12 million.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-11)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Brent Grimes and Robert McClain; Ss T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy; C Evan Smith; QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; DTs Clinton McDonald and DT Sealver Siliga; LS Garrison Sanborn; DEs Justin Trattou and Will Clarke; Gs Adam Gettis and Kevin Pamphile; RB Charles Sims.
NEEDS: After finishing last in league with 22 sacks, annual pursuit of help for anemic pass rush continues. Offensive line needs bolstering, too, and running back is priority following release of Doug Martin. With Brent Grimes becoming free agent, cornerback – or two – would be welcome addition to defense that was liability last season.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $71.1 million
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (7-9)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Kirk Cousins; WRs Terrelle Pryor, WR Brian Quick and Ryan Grant; LBs Zach Brown, Will Compton, Junior Galette, Trent Murphy and Chris Carter; CB Bashaud Breeland; G Shawn Lauvao; S DeAngelo Hall; TE Niles Paul; C Tony Bergstrom; DTs Arthur Jones and Phil Taylor.
NEEDS: With Cousins gone, new QB Alex Smith needs offensive targets, especially speed at wide receiver to complement third-year WR Josh Doctson and possession guy Jamison Crowder. Allen Robinson would be perfect, if expensive fit, though top priority is still replacing contributions of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, who departed in free agency last spring. Running back must be addressed in free agency or draft. Trading CB Kendall Fuller to Kansas City in deal for Smith, expected departure of Breeland and lack of depth at safety make secondary area of concern. Left guard and linebacker could be crucial spots depending on statuses of Lauvao, Brown and Compton.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $31 million.
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