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NFL free agency 2017: Evaluating the moves of the NFC West

The NFC West has been fairly active in free agency, and it wasn’t just the 49ers.

Free agency has been going on for quite a bit now and though things have slowed down for the San Francisco 49ers. They started free agency off with a bang, signing their entire class (or most of it, anyway) with relative quickness. Now they’re essentially hanging on until the NFL Draft.

It’s a class that, overall, I’m fairly pleased with. I’m not sure I like everyone individually, but it’s clear Kyle Shanahan has enough pull to put his team together, and that’s what the 49ers need. They need to succeed or fail on the merits of Shanahan and Lynch together, and nothing else. We’ll never know the specifics, but the last few years have certainly been tainted by meddling from the wrong places.

As far as the NFC West goes, I think all the teams involved have improved to an extent. I think there are some serious needs still unaddressed, but I think there have been some very smart moves. Below, we take a look at what each team has done thus far.

Seattle Seahawks

Going into free agency, the biggest needs for the Seahawks were along the offensive line, at running back and at defensive tackle. They have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and starting running back Thomas Rawls is great when healthy but has dealt with injuries early on in his career. On defense, they don’t get penetration from the interior of their line and they need to fix it.

Luke Joeckel was brought in to help the offensive line, and they flirted with signing T.J. Lang. The latter would have been an upgrade, but Joeckel isn’t going to change things in any significant way. At running back, they signed the constantly-ballooning Eddie Lacy to a one-year deal and it could be a great move if he gets in shape.

So far there’s no signing at defensive tackle. They lost Steven Hauschka, which is significant, but they brought in Blair Walsh as a replacement.

Offseason Happenings

  • Signed RB Eddie Lacy, OL Luke Joeckel, K Blair Walsh
  • Lost K Steven Hauschka, LB Brock Coyle, DE Damontre Moore

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have a real big need at the quarterback position, but they were never seriously going to look to free agency to address the position this year. But there were also issues at cornerback, guard and defensive end and haven’t done much to address any of those positions.

That isn’t to say they didn’t do anything, those are just the positions of need as I defined them prior to free agency. They also needed linebacker help, and signed both Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones. They also needed a kicker as Chandler Catanzaro left for greener pastures. So they took Phil Dawson from the 49ers, and Antoine Bethea hitched a ride. Both players should be good pickups for the Cardinals.

They still need some help at the aforementioned positions, especially with all of Evan Mathis, Earl Watford, Marcus Cooper and Tony Jefferson departing. I’m surprised they let Calais Campbell go, as well.

Offseason Happenings

  • Signed K Phil Dawson, LB Karlos Dansby, S Antoine Bethea, LB Jarvis Jones
  • Re-signed RB Andre Ellington, C A.Q. Shipley, TE Jermaine Gresham, WR Jeremy Ross, LB Chandler Jones, DT Josh Mauro, QB Zac Dysert, LB Gabe Martin
  • Lost OL Earl Watford, DT Calais Campbell, LB Alex Okafor, CB Marcus Cooper, S Tony Jefferson, S D.J. Swearinger, K Chandler Catanzaro, TE Darren Fells, G Evan Mathis

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams needed an offensive tackle above all else, and I think they made a good signing with Andrew Whitworth. He should bolster the offensive line in a big way and help protect second-year quarterback Jared Goff. On offense, they made two value signings with Robert Woods and Lance Dunbar. I like Dunbar as a change-of-pace back, and Woods is a reliable target.

They also kept Trumaine Johnson around, which is significant. I don’t think Kenny Britt is a great receiver or anything, but he did give them something a season ago and both Britt and Woods in town would have been nice. The signing of Connor Barwin could be a good one if he lives up to his potential. He’s been inconsistent, but I can see Barwin doing some very good things in Los Angeles.

Offseason Happenings

  • Signed WR Robert Woods, OT Andrew Whitworth, CB Kayvon Webster, RB Lance Dunbar, LB Connor Barwin
  • Re-signed CB Trumaine Johnson
  • Lost TE Lance Kendricks, DE Eugene Sims, C Tim Barnes, WR Kenny Britt
  • Traded DE William Hayes