It’s been a busy three weeks in the NFL. The first phase of NFL free agency in the books and several veterans remain available on the open market.
Teams are still doing their due diligence on free agents, but the focus has primarily shifted to the 2021 NFL Draft, which is scheduled for three weeks from today.
The 49ers also re-signed several of their other key free agents, including Kyle Juszczyk, Emmanuel Moseley, Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, Jaquiski Tartt and D.J. Jones. Lynch also went outside the building to bring some pieces, signing pass-rusher Samson Ebukam and center Alex Mack.
But the biggest move the organization made was making a deal with the Miami Dolphins to trade up for the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. The Niners gave up the No. 12 pick this year, first-and-third round picks in 2022, and their 2023 first-rounder to move up and get their quarterback of the future.
San Francisco lost a few pieces as well. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon joined the Seattle Seahawks, along with pass-rusher Kerry Hyder Jr., while 2017 third-overall pick Solomon Thomas signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. The offense lost a pass-catcher with Kendrick Bourne agreeing to a three-year deal with the New England Patriots.
The 49ers’ NFC West rivals haven’t been as busy during the offseason, but each has made some significant decisions early in the offseason.
Cap space per Over the Cap’s calculator: $7.5 million.
General manager Les Snead had a tough hill to climb after trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Rams entered free agency roughly $33 million over the cap but have made several moves to become cap-compliant.
Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Andrew Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods all restructured their deals to help L.A. get under the cap. But the team has $30 million in dead money after trading Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions and releasing Todd Gurley after the 2019 season.
Additions: Stafford, DeSean Jackson, Travin Howard.
Retained: Leonard Floyd, Johnny Mundt.
Subtractions: Ebukam, John Johnson, Jake McQuaide, Michael Brockers, Gerald Everett, Morgan Fox, Troy Hill.
With Stafford’s contracts on the books, the Rams knew they would have to purge some talent this offseason. Still, they have some talented pieces around the new quarterback. Donald will anchor the defense once again, while Floyd gives L.A. another defender who can get after the quarterback. Kupp and Woods are a dynamic receiving tandem who provide Stafford with some much-needed weapons. Jackson’s best days are behind him, but he does give the club some depth at the position.
The secondary took a hit with Hill’s loss, but Ramsey gives the Rams a stud-corner on the backline of the defense.
L.A. has six picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, with three of those being compensatory selections. The Rams roster seems set and it looks like Sean McVay will finally go into training camp with a quarterback he wanted.
Cap space: $7.4 million (per Over the Cap)
It was a dramatic start to the offseason for the defending NFC West champs. Quarterback Russell Wilson is reportedly unhappy with his lack of say in the team’s offense and wants to get better protection from the offensive line. ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the Chicago Bears made a strong push to trade for Wilson, but the Seahawks rebuffed the offers.
Longtime linebacker K.J. Wright remains a free agent, but Seattle opened up some room to maneuver if it wants to re-sign him. The Dallas Cowboys were considered the frontrunners from Wright’s services, but it looks like they’re going to pass on signing the linebacker.
Additions: Witherspoon, Everett, Kerry Hyder Jr., Gabe Jackson, Benson Mayowa.
Retained; Poona Ford, Chris Carson, Carlos Dunlap Ethan Pocic, Nick Bellore, Cedric Ogbuehi.
Subtractions: Shaquill Griffin, Carlos Hyde, Quinton Dunbar, Phillip Dorsett, David Moore.
The Seahawks will need to have enough funds available to extend All-Pro safety, Jamal Adams, sooner than later. He’s slated to make $9.8 million this season but could elect to sit out until he gets a new deal.
Griffin and Dunbar’s departure leaves a massive hole in the secondary. General manager John Schneider and Pete Carroll brought in Witherspoon on a one-year deal. It will be fascinating to see how 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan attacks ‘Spoon during next season’s pair of games.
Everett provides a solid pass-catching option for Wilson, who still has D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as his receivers. Jackson will fill in for the retired Mike Iupati but might not be much of an upgrade. Pro Football Focus has Jackson as the 40th best guard in the NFL for the 2020 season.
The pass-rush remains a question mark, even after retaining Dunlap and signing Hyder. The Seahawks have a ton of holes they need to fill but are only slated to have three draft picks as of now. Still, with Wilson on the roster, Seattle can never be counted out.
Cap space: $13.3 million (per Over the Cap)
The Cardinals have quietly had a solid offseason. They added a big piece to the defensive line by inking future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt soon after the Houston Texans released him. The 31-year-old Watt played in all 16 games for a bad Texans squad last season, finishing with 52 tackles and 5 sacks.
Chandler Jones is expected to be fully healthy for the start of next season, and his return will help Arizona’s pass-rush that finished tied for the fourth-most sacks in the NFL in 2020.
Additions: Watt, A.J. Green, Malcolm Butler, Rodney Hudson, Matt Prater, Colt McCoy.
Retained: Kelvin Beachum, Tanner Vallejo, Markus Golden.
Subtractions: Patrick Peterson, Kenyan Drake, Hasson Reddick, Mason Cole.
After missing out on center Corey Linsley, general manager Steve Keim responded by fleecing the Las Vegas Raiders to land Rodney Hudson. Pro Football Focus had Hudson graded as the eighth-best center in the league last season. The 31-year-old hasn’t allowed a sack in 48 games and will give quarterback Kyler Murray a much-needed anchor in the middle of the line.
Green was a low-risk signing by Arizona. The 32-year-old signed a one-year deal with the team worth up to $8.5 million, and he should improve on the 47 receptions, 523 touchdowns, and two touchdowns he put up last season. De’Andre Hopkins’ presence will give Green some extra space to work with. But it does remain to be seen what happens with future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald.
It looks like head coach Kliff Kingsbury was comfortable letting Drake walk in free agency. The Cardinals still have Chase Edmonds on the roster and could add a veteran running back in free agency or select one at the 2021 NFL Draft.
Peterson’s departure leaves a big hole in Arizona’s secondary. The eight-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings. They signed veteran Malcolm Butler in free agency. He joins just Robert Alford, Jace Whittaker, and Picasso Nelson as the Cardinals’ contingent at corner.
Keim elected not to pick up Reddick’s fifth-year option before the 2020 campaign, a decision that could come back to bite him. Reddick had 63 tackles and 12.5 sacks (five came in one game) last season and signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Arizona is currently scheduled to have six picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, with none in the third or fourth round.
Which of the 49ers’ divisional rivals do you think has had the best offseason so far? Is there any move one of the teams made that is surprising to you?