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 different 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:
Projected Cap Space: $18,335,193
Draft Picks: 10
- 1st (No. 10)
- 2nd (No. 44)
- 3rd (No. 75)
- 3rd (comp)
- 4th (No. 106)
- 4th (comp)
- 5th (comp)
- 6th (No. 168, from DET)
- 6th (comp)
- 7th (No. 202)
Notable Free Agents: QB Dak Prescott, OLB Aldon Smith, S Xavier Woods, CB Chidobe Awuzie, QB Andy Dalton, DL Tyrone Crawford, OL Cameron Erving, C Joe Looney, LB Sean Lee, CB Jourdan Lewis, CB C.J. Goodwin
Dallas was horrendous on defense and prolific on offense in 2020, so most of their needs are on that side of the ball. Last offseason they saw one starting corner leave in free agency and this offseason they’re poised to lose two more in Awuzie and Lewis. Neither were particularly good so there’s definitely room to upgrade. Dallas however will need to earmark most of its cap space for Prescott which makes the draft the most likely avenue to find improvement, and young corners can take time to develop. So it could take some time to turn this weakness into a strength.
The back end has been a big need for Dallas for a while, but you have to pick and choose where to invest resources when building a team and the Cowboys have de-emphasized safety. Given how weak their secondary was in 2020, though, Dallas might need to change that. Woods is a free agent and Dallas doesn’t have much else besides late-round picks and former UDFAs at the position.
- Offensive Tackle
With LT Tyron Smith and RT La’el Collins, tackle wouldn’t necessarily appear to be high on the Cowboys’ list of needs. But Dallas desperately missed both last year when neither were healthy, and if health is a long-term question for Smith or Collins, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement. At the very least, 2020 showed the depth behind them could use an upgrade, particularly with Erving possibly headed out the door.
Projected Cap Space: -$49,049,596
Draft Picks: 8
- 1st (No. 6)
- 2nd (No. 37)
- 3rd (No. 70)
- 5th (No. 134)
- 5th (No. 140, from DAL)
- 6th (No. 165)
- 6th (comp)
- 7th (No. 198)
Notable Free Agents: LT Jason Peters, S Jalen Mills, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, DE Vinny Curry, CB Cre’Von LeBlanc, LB Nathan Gerry, QB Nate Sudfeld, DT Hassan Ridgeway, TE Richard Rodgers, LB Duke Riley, RB Corey Clement, S Rudy Ford
Darius Slay is still a pretty good cornerback but he’s past the age of 30 and the cliff can come quickly for defensive backs after that. Avonte Maddox is limited due to his size, so that leaves a big hole at No. 2 corner for Philadelphia if Maddox moves back inside to nickel, plus the looming need of a long-term replacement for Slay. One positive is if new DC Jonathan Gannon runs a similar defense to what the Colts operate then they’ll be looking for zone corners, which can be easier to find.
- Wide Receiver
The Eagles have spent a fair amount of draft capital and dollars trying to fix their receiving corps the past couple of years and still have a unit that might rank among the league’s worst. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson will be cap cuts in the next couple of weeks, while 2020 first-round WR Jalen Reagor had flashes but didn’t hit the ground running as fast as the guy taken with the next pick, Vikings WR Justin Jefferson. As suddenly as he appeared as a midseason breakout, Travis Fulgham disappeared, and it’s uncertain if he’ll be back. In total, the Eagles definitely could make more moves here in search of an upgrade.
The only reason this isn’t higher is the Eagles pretty consistently devalue the linebacker position in the greater scope of their defense. Still, finding an impact playmaker on the second level of their defense could do wonders, especially as they transition into a new scheme. Whether or not the Eagles make a major investment here remains to be seen.
Projected Cap Space: $1,335,453
Draft Picks: 6
- 1st (No. 11)
- 2nd (No. 42)
- 3rd (No. 76)
- 4th (No. 107)
- 6th (No. 172)
- 6th (No. 177, from ARI)
Notable Free Agents: DT Leonard Williams, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, OLB Kyler Fackrell, OT Cameron Fleming, RB Devonta Freeman, DE Jabaal Sheard, OL Spencer Pulley, RB Wayne Gallman, RB Dion Lewis, S Nate Ebner, DT Austin Johnson, RB Alfred Morris
The Giants struck gold by adding Logan Ryan after he languished all offseason on the open market and he appears to still have a lot left. But there’s still a gaping hole at the other outside cornerback spot across from James Bradberry, who was a killer free-agent addition. With how much of an emphasis the Giants place on man coverage, though, one weak link can be all opponents need to pick on, which makes shoring that up a major priority.
- Wide Receiver
New York has made it known that it’s committed to QB Daniel Jones for 2021 and won’t throw its hat into any quarterback craziness this offseason, even if Deshaun Watson becomes available. But the Giants are about a year from potentially finding themselves in a similar situation to the cross-stadium rival Jets, who still don’t know if Sam Darnold can be a franchise quarterback after three years. Ensuring Jones has a healthy environment and can succeed or fail on his own merits is imperative, and to that end, the Giants could stand to add a true No. 1 receiver for Jones. Sterling Shepard is a fine possession guy, Darius Slayton can take the top off the defense and Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley are mismatch threats when healthy. But there’s some precedent for an elite receiver being a boon for a young developing quarterback and the Giants should try to tap into that.
- Outside Linebacker
One interesting feature of the Patriots-style defense that HC Joe Judge runs is that it de-emphasizes having to spend a premium investment on top pass rushers. Instead, they look for a specific mold of versatile linebackers with the size to hold up against the run and the athleticism to hold their own just enough in coverage to be able to create a wide array of blitzes and disguises. For that reason, a major free agent investment in someone like Bud Dupree or Matt Judon is probably unrealistic, especially if the Giants can re-sign Williams. New York does need more out of its pass rush and could use the second wave of free agency and the draft to replace Fackrell and add more strength to the unit.
Projected Cap Space: $38,812,074
Draft Picks: 8
- 1st (No. 19)
- 2nd (No. 51)
- 3rd (No. 74, from SF)
- 3rd (No. 83)
- 4th (No. 115)
- 5th (No. 137)
- 7th (No. 209, from LV)
- 7th (No. 211)
In new HC Ron Rivera’s first year, Washington outperformed just about everyone’s expectations and now looks to be a team on the rise. The biggest thing holding the Football Team back appears to be quarterback. Dwayne Haskins was a colossal bust, in Washington at least. Alex Smith is a terrific story but can’t be trusted to be healthy. Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke have flashed in starting stints but are just as likely to be career backups. Picking at No. 19 in the first round doesn’t really put Washington in an easy position to find a long-term answer, either.
- Wide Receiver
Regardless of who the quarterback is, Washington will need to continue to build the supporting cast around them. The team made a hard run at prying WR Amari Cooper away from the Cowboys last offseason and has the cap space to make a similar push for one of the top free agents in this year’s class of free agents. Perhaps the team takes a page out of the Field Of Dreams playbook. If you build it, a quarterback will come.
Despite how it looked on paper entering the season, Washington’s pass defense proved to be amazingly stout over the course of 2020. But with Darby and Moreau on expiring deals, Washington will need to address the position in either free agency or the draft, or both, to ensure this strength remains strong.