Free Agency marks the beginning of a new league year and is often characterized by over-spending, buyer’s remorse and ultimately salary cap purgatory. Hopefully your favorite team gets it right and adds the missing link via free agency rather than trying to build their team through the annual NFL Off-season Sweepstakes.
Green Bay Packers
Estimated Cap Space: $22 million
Key Free Agents: Tramon Williams CB; Bryan Bulaga OT; John Kuhn FB; B. J. Raji DT; Letroy Guion DT
Team Needs: T, TE, DE, DT, ILB, CB
First Round Pick: 30th Overall
Synopsis: The Packers are another franchise that drafts well year-in, year-out and retains their own talent. Case-in-point Randall Cobb is locked up for the next 4 years. The Packers will have to replace some girth along their defensive line and we all saw what happened to Aaron Rodgers when the offensive line struggle early in the season. Replacing Bryan Bulaga may have taken priority over Randall Cobb if I was making the decisions but no one asked me. You may see a few free agent moves from Green Bay but they will stay true to the program and focus on replenishing their roster via the draft.
Estimated Cap Space: $17 million
Key Free Agents: Ndamukong Suh DT; C.J. Mosley DT; Nick Fairley DT; Rashean Mathis CB; Dominic Raiolo C
Team Needs: C, G, RB, DT, LB, CB
First Round Pick: 23rd Overall
Synopsis: The Lions did a spectacularly bad job of managing the cap and will no longer have the services of Ndamukong Suh. But their defensive tackle issue doesn’t stop there. C.J. Mosely and Nick Fairley could both end up as unrestricted free agents and before you know it the strength of the Lions’ defense could be a huge weakness. Re-signing Fairley and adding depth to the defensive line should be the priority. Rashean Mathis may return but he’s no spring chicken, a Chris Culliver type that can be trusted in man-to-man coverage fits the bill but may be too expensive for the Lions’ blood.
Estimated Cap Space: $24 million
Key Free Agents: Jasper Brinkley MLB; Vladimir Ducasse OG
Team Needs: WR, G, T, MLB, CB
First Round Pick: 11th Overall
Synopsis: The Vikings are still a year or two away from really threatening the Packers at the top of the division but they have to get Teddy Bridgewater more weapons and improve a below-average offensive line. Shrewd, cap friendly deals for young players other teams may have given up on too early are the types of targets the Vikings should be looking for in free agency. The splash signing isn’t in their best interest.
Estimated Cap Space: $32 million
Key Free Agents: Chris Conte S; D.J. Williams MLB; Lance Briggs OLB; Eben Britton OT/OG; Stephen Paea DT; Charles Tillman CB
Team Needs: WR, DE, DT, MLB, OLB, S, CB
First Round Pick: 7th Overall
Synopsis: First things first, get better defensively. Its been reported that the Bears and Pernell McPhee have agreed to a deal and it will be a terrific signing. McPhee’s best years are ahead of him and his positional flexibility is huge for a defense that simply needs more talent at each level. McPhee is a great start but the Bears should look to add a run stuffing defensive tackle to anchor their defense such as Dan Williams or Terrance Knighton. Frankly, they need 3-4 more new starters on defense. In a bit of a surprise the Bears traded away Brandon Marshall so they have a need at receiver as well which I believe is best addressed during the draft.