2020 NFL Free Agent Team/Fantasy Preview Division-by-Division (NFC South)
The free agent period is percolating and will be in full swing in mid-March. Prior to free agency, we’re going to take a quick overview look at each team and some of the player/fantasy ramifications looming.
We’ll look division-by-division at the various team CAP and contract and free agent situations…
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Overview: The Saints are in the bottom 5 of the NFL in current cap space…around $10M in space available. The good news is – they have a Super Bowl contending roster. The bad news…this the it – the last year for Drew Brees, most likely. It’s win now or start rebuilding/retooling…they need to spend money to get stronger for the 2020 title and they don’t have a ton of space. The other bad news is Taysom Hill re-signed as a 1st-round tender RFA will take about half their current cap space away as it is (and if someone extends a bigger contract, then it will take even more away from the cap to keep him).
Big UFA names: The Saints will want to try to keep Andrus Peat and Vonn Bell but may have to settle for one or the other.
The Saints will let Teddy Bridgewater go, and I think they will place a 1st-round tender on Taysom Hill and be inclined to match any deal unless a team is prepared to go all-in with a big contract for Hill…which is possible, but less likely if they have to give up a 1st-round pick.
Eli Apple and A.J. Klein are likely moving on in free agency as well.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: The Saints have some contract moves they can make to free up a good amount of cap space…
Janoris Jenkins and Kiko Alonso getting released saves nearly $19M in space.
The Saints should cut Jenkins and Alonso and use that money to keep Peat and maybe Bell, and thus keep the team pretty much intact for one more run at things.
TAMPA BAY BUCS
Overview: The Bucs are in the top 3 in available cap space right now…approx. $85M to spend, but they do have some big-name free agents to deal with as well – leading with the Jameis question.
Big UFA names: Jameis Winston is the big question – to keep or not? He would take about 25% of the cap space for a short-term deal. But if not him then it would be some other veteran QB like Philip Rivers taking up the cap space. One way or the other, big money is going to a QB.
Shaquil Barrett is going to command a huge deal, and I think he gets it and stays in Tampa.
The Bucs likely let Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Peyton Barber walk…and probably Breshad Perriman as well, because they have plenty of WR firepower and Perriman is going to get some good money.
Carl Nassib is the one to watch out for – whether he wants to stay in TB, or bolt from it. I think he’ll want to leave, even if TB wants to keep him.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: The Bucs have a lot of money, so they don’t need to cut anyone just to raise cap space and the Bucs don’t have any egregious contracts to dump either way.
Cam Brate is set to make $6M this year or they could cut him for $0 hit, but he’s a reasonable cost…or he’d be attractive to trade for like a 5th-round draft pick or something if desired.
Overview: Atlanta is in a weird spot…$5M approx. salary cap space available…bottom 5 in the league – but they have an older, veteran team that time is running out on…and not a lot of fat/contracts to dump. They’re kinda stuck with what they got almost…
Dan Quinn has life for another season...he has no room for error. The Falcons must go to the playoffs this season or they need to blow this whole thing up.
Big UFA names: The big names are Vic Beasley…who the team has no interest in, and who has been a massive disappointment and Austin Hooper, who they will sign for sure…which means they really don’t have a ton of space to do anything in free agency.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: This team is so deep with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones costs/contracts it can hardly see straight. Those two are obviously going nowhere…which is a reason to keep Dan Quinn around for 2020 – if you’re all-in on Ryan-Julio, the old regime, then might as well keep the coach they like.
The Falcons do not have a lot of obvious cuts to pick up big bucks…
If they cut Devonta Freeman, they add +$3.5M in space…nice but not a ‘wow’ amount.
Desmond Trufant would add +$5M in cap space if they cut him, but he’s a pretty good player to have to ditch.
Keanu Neal may have to go because of his two injuries…$6.5M cap space added if he’s cut because he is due no cap money/he can be cut for no cap cost.
More likely the Falcons will restructure Devonta Freeman and maybe Desmond Trufant, to keep them but make their cap picture better for 2020.
Overview: The Panthers are right at the bottom 10 of the league in available cap space at $31M approx. available today. It really doesn’t matter what situation they are in are how they go there or what they might do to improve – they are going to totally gut this thing and start from scratch because that’s how Matt Rhule operates, as he should. He’s not playing for 2020 or 2021…he’s looking at 2022+.
Matt Rhule’s average wins each year with his two takeovers – Temple and Baylor:
Year One = 1.5 wins
Year Two = 6.5 wins
Year Three = 10.5 wins
Carolina could be the Dolphins of 2019, to start the season and then get better as they go with no name players and veteran gutting.
Big UFA names: Many names here -- Greg Olsen (already gone), Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, Mario Addison, Darryl Williams, Bruce Irvin, James Bradberry – not one of them will be re-signed, in my opinion. Goodbye to the Ron Rivera era in glorious fashion.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: Cam Newton will be gone too, I don’t care what they say at the NFL Combine/publicly, but it will be via trade – and that can free up $19M of space right there.
Dontari Poe is a club option, he’s gone for +$10M pickup.
Jarius Wright gone picks up $3M.
There’s about $40M in space that can be gutted quite easily on the roster, and when they do…Carolina goes from bottom 10 to top 10…and not really looking for any players in free agency otherwise. They won’t spend much intentionally, and then they trade for bad contracts to take on with their space in exchange for picks like Miami and others have done in the past.
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