2021 Offseason Team Needs: Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, Seahawks

     

Thanks for checking out our 2021 Offseason Team Needs previews. Consider this a primer for the goals each team has to accomplish this offseason and the resources they have to work with. 

A couple of notes. Salary cap projections are from Over The Cap and based on a cap of $180.5 million. That number could ultimately be higher depending on what the NFL and NFLPA figure out before free agency. Compensatory picks are also from OTC’s projections, which are historically the most accurate in the industry. Their methodology is outlined here.

With that, let’s get into it:

Cardinals

Projected Cap Space: $12,383,440 

Draft Picks: 5

  • 1st (No. 16)
  • 2nd (No. 449)
  • 3rd (No. 80)
  • 5th (No. 144)
  • 7th (No. 208)

Notable Free Agents: CB Patrick Peterson, RB Kenyan Drake, LB Haason Reddick, LB De’Vondre Campbell, WR Larry Fitzgerald, OLB Markus Golden, OT Kelvin Beachum, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Corey Peters, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, K Zane Gonzalez, P Andy Lee, TE Dan Arnold, DT Domata Peko, S Chris Banjo, CB Johnathan Joseph, QB Brett Hundley, DT Angelo Blackson, CB Kevin Peterson, TE Darrell Daniels

  1. Cornerback

The Cardinals appear poised to start over almost from scratch at corner. Peterson is a pending free agent and while there technically remains time for the two sides to find an agreement, it’s looking more and more unlikely. Arizona had high hopes for Robert Alford but back-to-back season-ending injuries means he’s a likely cut. Veterans Kirkpatrick and Joseph are also set to walk, leaving just Kevin Peterson and nickel back Byron Murphy. Two more starters here are needed, likely using both free agency and the draft. 

  1. Linebacker

A number of linebackers are set to be unrestricted free agents for the Cardinals, including Campbell, whose deal is about to void, Golden and Reddick. Golden could be re-signed but Arizona is also poised to lose OLB Devon Kennard as a potential cap casualty. And Reddick could find a far more lucrative offer on the open market after a breakout 12.5 sack season. Adding more reinforcements here to team up with Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks and Isaiah Simmons is necessary for the Cardinals to take another step toward improving on defense. 

  1. Tight End

The offense is in pretty good shape, though running back might also be a need depending on what happens with Drake. Tight end is a position that could help the Cardinals’ offense get over the hump, however. They need another impact pass catcher, and while HC Kliff Kingsbury was known for his receiver-heavy formations coming into the league, he’s shown a lot of adaptability to his current personnel. A strong tight end could add some additional layers to help keep the offense fresh and difficult to prepare for. 

49ers

Projected Cap Space: $13,359,654

Draft Picks: 10

  • 1st (No. 12)
  • 2nd (No. 43)
  • 3rd (comp)
  • 4th (No. 108)
  • 5th (No. 139)
  • 5th (No. 156, from NO)
  • 5th (comp)
  • 6th (No. 170)
  • 7th (No. 194, from NYJ)
  • 7th (No. 204)

Notable Free Agents: LT Trent Williams, CB Richard Sherman, CB K’Waun Williams, DL Solomon Thomas, FB Kyle Juszczyk, S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Jason Verrett, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, RB Tevin Coleman, WR Kendrick Bourne, DT D.J. Jones, TE Jordan Reed, DE Ronald Blair, C Ben Garland, DE Kerry Hyder, DE Ezekiel Ansah, DE Dion Jordan, G Tom Compton, CB Jamar Taylor, DE Jordan Willis

  1. Cornerback

San Francisco is poised to have massive turnover on the back end of its defense with Sherman, Williams, Verrett and Witherspoon all poised to hit unrestricted free agency. Due to the 49ers’ cap woes and other priorities, Sherman has basically already said his goodbyes. The presence of former DC Robert Saleh with the Jets provides a strong potential landing spot for Sherman and additional competition for guys like Williams and Verrett. If the 49ers can’t keep anyone, they’re looking like they’ll need to make several additions to the position this offseason. 

  1. Defensive End

You might be thinking, “defensive line again for the 49ers??” But San Francisco has shown a commitment to trying to do whatever it takes to keep its front four one of the strongest units on the team and in the league. Getting back DE Nick Bosa after a torn ACL should do wonders to get the 49ers pass rush back to where it was in 2019. But between injuries and departing free agents, San Francisco could use some more help at defensive end, specifically a speed rusher to replace Dee Ford who might be done for good with the team due to health concerns. 

  1. Center

49ers C Weston Richburg has also been unable to stay healthy the past two seasons and it appears likely that San Francisco will move on this offseason. His two primary fill-ins this past season, Garland and Hroniss Grasu, are set to be free agents and are replacement-level players at any rate. The 49er could turn to free agency or the draft to find a replacement but either way they’ll need to bring in someone. 

Rams

Projected Cap Space: -$26,736,331

Draft Picks: 6

  • 2nd (No. 57)
  • 3rd (comp)
  • 3rd (comp)
  • 4th (comp)
  • 6th (No. 185)
  • 7th (No. 217)

Notable Free Agents: S John Johnson, OLB Leonard Floyd, C Austin Blythe, CB Troy Hill, TE Gerald Everett, WR Josh Reynolds, OLB Samson Ebukam, RB Malcolm Brown, DE Derek Rivers, DL Morgan Fox

  1. Outside Linebacker

With both starting outside linebackers headed for free agency, the most glaring need on the Rams’ roster that’s otherwise pretty well-positioned to push for a Super Bowl is an upper-tier edge rusher. Retaining Floyd would go a long way toward fixing that but he’d likely have to turn down more money from another team in free agency to stay in Los Angeles. Hitting here with one of their precious few draft picks would be a boon for the Rams to try and lock in some stability at the position, as they’ve cycled through a couple of different options the past few years. They have hopes that 2020 third-round OLB Terrell Lewis can be that guy. He has the talent but also a long injury history that showed up his rookie season as well. 

  1. Cornerback

The Rams have one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Jalen Ramsey but the rest of their depth chart is a little shakier. Los Angeles plans to retain restricted free agent CB Darious Williams but their other starting corner, Hill, is an unrestricted free agent. Former third-round CB David Long is the next man up but you can never have too many quality cornerbacks. 

  1. Offensive Line

The starting five is pretty set for the Rams with the exception of Blythe who is scheduled to be a free agent. He shouldn’t be too difficult for Los Angeles to re-sign, however. Where they do have a need is potentially long-term at tackle. Andrew Whitworth is 39 and has been taking things one year at a time for a few seasons now. Right tackle Rob Havenstein has been speculated as a potential cap casualty. There are some internal options at either position that Los Angeles has been developing but there’s an opportunity to potentially get younger and cheaper at a key position. 

Seahawks

Projected Cap Space: $4,391,354

Draft Picks: 4

  • 2nd (No. 56)
  • 4th (No. 120)
  • 5th (No. 151)
  • 6th (No. 184)

Notable Free Agents: CB Shaquill Griffin, RB Chris Carson, LB K.J. Wright, CB Quinton Dunbar, DE Benson Mayowa, G Mike Iupati, C Ethan Pocic, TE Jacob Hollister, RB Carlos Hyde, DE Bruce Irvin, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, QB Geno Smith, WR Phillip Dorsett, S Damarious Randall, WR David Moore, DE Branden Jackson, TE Luke Willson, WR Josh Gordon

  1. Defensive End

Seattle’s pass rush struggled mightily throughout 2020 until adding DE Carlos Dunlap at the trade deadline from the Bengals. Though Dunlap battled an injury, he also had a clear positive impact on the Seahawks’ pass-rushing productivity. He’s set to count more than $14 million against the cap but the Seahawks will surely try to make things work to bring him back. Outside of Dunlap, there are some young players like L.J. Collier, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson who the team is hopeful for but hasn’t seen real results out of yet. Adding another proven pass rusher if they keep Dunlap is important to preserve the Seahawks’ status as Super Bowl contenders. 

  1. Cornerback

The Seahawks have been known for secondary play the past 10 years, but they actually haven’t given major second contracts to many cornerbacks in that time frame, cycling through just about everyone aside from Sherman. Griffin might be the next one out the door as there’s a high demand for competent corner play and Seattle isn’t flush with cap space right now. Even with Griffin, the Seahawks secondary was often ripped apart in 2020, so finding additional upgrades besides a new No. 1 corner are on the shopping list. 

  1. Running Back

Like it or not, as long as HC Pete Carroll is in charge, running the ball will be a significant part of how the Seahawks do things. That might be more of a challenge in 2021 given their starter the past few seasons, Carson, is set to hit free agency. Seattle still has former first-round RB Rashaad Penny, but he’s coming off an injury and hasn’t really established himself as a legit player yet. If the Seahawks can’t bring back Carson, they’ll need to add someone else capable of being a starter. 

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