The dust may have long since settled on Super Bowl 53, but there will plenty of NFL activity over the coming days as the new league year, and with it free agency, begins.
Teams are permitted to begin negotiating with out-of-contract players from Monday as the so-called “legal-tampering period” opens.
As the salary cap continues to increase each year, more teams have more money to play with and as such numerous teams have the ammunition to make multiple marquee signings.
Here we look at five teams likely to be making the most of their deep pockets as they look to improve their respective rosters.
Where will some of the biggest names end up?
Free Agency Frenzy starts tomorrow at 1pm ET!
: NFL Network pic.twitter.com/ZOj8gp54Ht
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 9, 2019
There has been plenty of talk of the Colts being quiet in free agency, but they lead the league in cap space with $102 million that will have to be spent somehow. The Colts could use another receiver to complement T.Y. Hilton after Andrew Luck took a cast of also-rans to the playoffs in 2018, as well as an edge rusher to a defense that made a huge leap last term to the next level. Look for Indianapolis to be much busier than most expect and join the bidding for high-ticket free agents such as pass rusher Trey Flowers and wideout Tyrell Williams.
New York Jets
Beyond quarterback, the Jets have holes at almost every position. Thankfully they have $93 million in cap room with which to address them. A fanbase desperate for success needs something to get excited about after the appointment of Adam Gase as head coach, which many found underwhelming, and more weapons are required for young quarterback Sam Darnold. General manager Mike Maccagnan likely enters the year on thin ice, and his desperation could well lead to a big swing for star running back Le’Veon Bell, who has long since been linked with the Jets.
so where do I go? pic.twitter.com/XiwEh5zdFm
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 23, 2019
You want to talk desperate? The Raiders may very well be the definition of the word in 2019. Jon Gruden will need no motivation to turn things around after a dreadful 4-12 season in 2018, and he and new general manager Mike Mayock will badly want to put an exciting team on the field for their final year in Oakland. The Raiders have three first-round picks to help them do that, and have seemingly already pulled off a blockbuster trade for Antonio Brown. This is a franchise unafraid to make bold moves, such as trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper last year, and the Raiders could well have their eyes on numerous splashes with $64 million in cap space as they look to rebuild a defense that struggled mightily following Mack’s departure.
San Francisco 49ers
Though year two of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era was effectively wiped out by Jimmy Garoppolo’s ACL injury, there will still be pressure on this regime to deliver in year three. Paramount to doing that will be addressing the glaring need for outside pass rush, though — with defensive end Nick Bosa perhaps within their grasp with the second pick in the draft — they may look for value at that spot rather than paying big money for the likes of Flowers or Dante Fowler. The splash move is more likely to come at safety, with much talk of Earl Thomas rejoining Richard Sherman, his fellow former member of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom, in a secondary that badly needs his experience and athletic range. Wide receiver and linebacker are also positions where the 49ers may look to use their $66 million in cap room as they bid to make the leap to playoff contention.
Expected to sign quarterback Nick Foles when the new league year begins, the Jags are not as flush with cap space as the other four teams on the list, but have made a series of cuts to engineer some extra room for maneuver. That hints at a busy few days for a Jacksonville team that crumbled badly in 2018 after going agonizingly close to a first Super Bowl appearance a year earlier. The Jags would be well served by upgrading a cast of pass-catchers that looks decidedly mediocre and giving prospective arrival Foles more to work with. A defense much vaunted in 2017 faded down the stretch in 2018, and another edge rusher to complement the excellent Yannick Ngakoue should be a priority.