2020 NFL Free Agent Team/Fantasy Preview Division-by-Division (NFC West)
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…
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Overview: Good news, bad news, good news, bad news…
Bad news…the 49ers are bottom 10 in the league in CAP space today…$13M approx. projected.
Good news…the 49ers don’t have a ton of holes or major free agent ordeals to deal with.
Bad news…the 49ers don’t have a bunch of deals to drop and save a bunch of CAP space.
Good news…they don’t have a lot of bad deals that are killing them. They are in a good place and were 8+ minutes away from a Super Bowl title…and most of that team is in place/back for 2020.
Big UFA names: Erik Armstead is a free agent and he’s a player they’d like not to lose but they can probably squeeze him in…or live without him. They might be tempted to move on with the heavy flow of DT prospects to pick from in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent but is not needed at all, and near the end of his NFL road.
They’d like to keep Jimmy Ward, but I bet he moves on…they’ve had an up and down relationship with Ward.
If the 49ers lost all three of these free agents…they’d still be fine/threats to win the NFC again.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: Some of the cuttable contracts are with key players they will have to deal with extending now or letting walk in 2021. For 2020, they’re fine/not overpaid.
They should cut Solomon Thomas, Jerick McKinnon, Marquise Goodwin to create about $13M in CAP space. They might dump Jaquiski Tartt and add another $4M+.
My guess would be they will cut the four players listed above to create space because they’ll be able to lure veteran, experienced free agents at reasonable prices because players will want to come to win a title.
Overview: Seattle is in pretty good shape – top half in the league in CAP space with approx. $53M in space today. Were in the top 10 in CAP space a week ago but then they pissed away/spent $7M on Greg Olsen this week. It could’ve been worse, I suspect.
Seattle has some free agents to deal with, but not a critical level. They are fairly well positioned to add talent for a run at the 49ers in 2020.
Big UFA names: Seattle has Jadeveon Clowney, Quinton Jefferson, and Jarran Reed as key defensive UFA players to deal with…and they could get all three back/signed if they want them, I suspect. It will be interesting if they’ve seen enough on Clowney to know – once he’s paid, it’s like flushing money down a drain.
Ziggy Ansah is also a free agent, but his ship sailed a few years ago.
They have some various O-Lineman to deal with/consider but they may let them all walk – George Fant, Mike Iupati, and Germain Ifedi…’names’ but not as key as their notoriety.
I’m betting Clowney-Jefferson-Reed all come back.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: No real shockers. There are a few lesser paid guys like Ed Dickson, Brad McDougald that they may save a few million cutting.
K.J. Wright is the big question -- $10M to pay to play 2020 or cut for $2.5M hit, a $7.5M space creator if they cut him, but it’s probably better to hold him after all these years and make another run with him in place and let him go next year if needed.
Overview: The Rams are bottom 10 in the league in available cap space right now, approx. $22M space available…but the kicker is they have several key free agents to deal with and not many contracts to cut to make more space because they have a bunch of heavy deals that are currently upside down (Goff, Donald, Cooks).
Big UFA names: The Rams have Dante Fowler, Andrew Whitworth, Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton, Greg Zuerlein as key UFAs to deal with.
Whitworth is 38+ yards old and may be past his usefulness but he’s the leader of the O-Line group and would be another void left to fill if not brought back.
Cory Littleton has been great and very likely to go elsewhere because he’ll get more money elsewhere…leaving another big void.
Could they lose their kicker? Big Z was great in 2018 but not so hot in 2019…are the Rams willing to push some of what little space they have towards a kicker? The Rams seems to be undergoing a renovation not a title run, so they might just let all these guys walk – then we’ll know it’s a full rebuild and Todd Gurley might really be going too.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: Todd Gurley is a contract they can trade/cut and add $5M in cap space. If the Rams are rebuilding their coaching staff and losing more big-name free agents this offseason, and thus really rebuilding their team – why would they need Gurley? I think he might have to go, but they might keep him to try to sell tickets (which is stupid premise).
The Rams are lucky if they have $7-8M in contracts to cut this offseason outside of Gurley. Clay Matthews is for sure gone to save $3.8M.
The Rams are in a very precarious position – they were a Super Bowl team, a team of the future just a year ago…now, they are all gummed up with all their money going to big name stars…and many of them are not worth it now. They can’t cut them all and start over…but that’s probably coming in 2021, a big overhaul and then the Rams are in a 1-2+ year rebuilding state. Team of the future, no more. 2020 might be their last shot for a while if they can keep a lot of the free agents on savvy backloaded deals that will haunt them years from now.
Overview: The Cardinals are middle of the pack, in the upper half, of cap space available right now with approx. $51M in space. And the good news is that they don’t have any major free agents to deal with and they do have contracts they can cut and move on from to create more space.
The bad news is they need to sign a defense and offensive line…with the O-Line the priority, so the money is going to go fast.
Big UFA names: Kenyan Drake is the real focus for them right now, inexplicably. You’d think they discovered they acquired Gail Sayers when they added Drake and he had a few nice games late last year (and forgotten terrible ones). The team that DESPERATELY needs an O-Line and a defense will spend big money on keeping a free agent running back and eating some of David Johnson’s big contract at the same time.
Shock CAP-reasoned Cuts: The Cardinals need to raise money and overpay for an O-Line for 2020, or this whole management team might be in trouble come December 2020.
I think Kliff Kingsbury is going to lead GM Steve Keim off a cliff of ditching all the old Cardinals he can…getting rid of the past. Patrick Peterson will be gone to save $12.5M CAP space. There’s another $10M in lower level players they can drop to add more space.
If the Cards trade or cut Peterson and the other fringe guys – Arizona could be a top 5-7 CAP space team for a moment going into free agency. Keim is no dummy, but he can get pushed around by the head coach all too easily…we’ll see how this plays out. Arizona could become a contender or seal more of their doom depending upon free agency and the NFL Draft in 2020.
Why do I feel like Patrick Peterson is going to be a Patriot?
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