Two playoff teams and two of the worst squads in the NFL. No division was more lopsided than the NFC West last season. The opposite could be true in 2019, as a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and the first-overall pick in the draft could resurrect both the 49ers and Cardinals. Here’s a free agency preview for the entire division.
Los Angeles Rams
Free Agents: Last year’s Super Bowl loser has three of the most impactful free agents set to leave their roster. The Rams are unlikely to bring back Ndamukong Suh, LaMarcus Joyner or Mark Barron. That would leave a few big holes in the team’s defense, but it also frees up nearly $35 million in cap space. Were the Rams impressed enough by Dante Fowler, Jr. to bring him back for another year? What about the RB position? Both C.J. Anderson and Malcolm Brown are scheduled to hit the free agent market.
Possible Targets: The health of Todd Gurley should be Los Angeles’ focus of the offseason. Can Gurley regain the form that made him the NFL’s most feared back for the past two seasons? Either way, re-signing Anderson and/or Brown could be in the cards. Both players performed well in relief of Gurley. Brown is the younger option, at 26 years old. The Rams could find help on the defensive line in the form of DE Trey Flowers or DT Sheldon Richardson.
Free Agents: The Seattle Seahawks surprised a lot of experts by storming out to a 10-6 record and playoff berth. They did it all without S Earl Thomas, who missed the majority of the season with an injury. Thomas likely left the field as a Seahawk for the last time in 2018. He’s a free agent who has expressed a desire to leave, and should have plenty of suitors on the open market. Another 30-year-old veteran, K.J. Wright, appears to be on his way out as well. Seattle should attempt to keep Guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker.
Possible Targets: If the Seahawks want to replace Thomas in free agency, they have a perfect option staring at them: Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu had a terrific stop in Houston, recording 89 tackles, three sacks and two INTs. Seattle may be able to get him on a short-term deal, just like Houston did last offseason. This team should be on the lookout for one more receiving option. And what do you know, old friend Golden Tate is a free agent. Could Tate reunite with the team he won a Super Bowl with back in 2013?
San Francisco 49ers
Free Agents: WR Pierre Garcon was once a coveted free agent signing by the 49ers. Now, at 33 years old, the veteran wideout will test the market, looking for possibly his final NFL contract. DT Earl Mitchell will join Garcon as a free agent as well. The team has two RBs in need of new contracts, Raheem Mostert and Alfred Morris, but the emergence of Matt Breida and return to health for Jerick McKinnon, should make both players expendable.
Possible Targets: Of course, San Fran was the first team to be rumored in the Antonio Brown sweepstakes. But those talks have cooled off considerably since the season ended. With Garcon likely on the move, perhaps the team looks at the free agent market for possible replacements. Tyrell Williams or Jamison Crowder would make sense in this offense. The 49ers could be looking for help at safety. FB Kyle Juszczyk has already taken to Twitter in hopes of recruiting veteran Eric Weddle, recently released by the Baltimore Ravens.
Free Agents: The Cardinals have been more active than any team prior to the league’s free agency period. Not only did they hire a new coach, they also re-signed WR Larry Fitzgerald, while making a couple impactful signings in CB Robert Alford and TE Charles Clay. But there is a still a lot of heavy lifting to be done here. The team has to make decisions on impending free agents, including G Mike Iupati, WR J.J. Nelson and TE Ricky Seals-Jones.
Possible Targets: The world is the Arizona Cardinals’ oyster. With a complete roster rebuild already in motion, Arizona is expected to draft QB Kyler Murray, and trade Josh Rosen. If the team can land a first or second-round pick for Rosen, they could draft another impactful player right away. The Cards’ biggest weakness is the offensive line. There are several quality offensive linemen that will be available. Assuming Antonio Brown doesn’t come over via trade, look for Arizona to target a WR in free agency as well.
Check back for more NFL division previews as free agency approaches!