Potential big spenders in NFL Free Agency
With NFL free agency kicking off this week, players are allowed to agree to contract terms starting today at noon, with the ability to sign their contracts on the first day of the new league year, March 16th. Some teams will be looking to boost their roster by using the cap space they possess, while others will be looking to create more cap space. With that being said, let's look into ten teams that are likely to be active and big spenders during the signing period.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts currently have the most cap space in the NFL with just under seventy million to use in free agency ($69.8M). General Manager Chris Ballard and the front office did a great job last off-season of re-signing multiple pieces from their roster and I’d expect them to do the same this year. However, with the massive cap freedom that they have, they’re in a great position to make a run at some of the top names in this signing period.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins were quiet during free agency in 2021, however with over fifty million in cap space this offseason ($51.2M$), they should be more aggressive. The Dolphins should prioritize re-signing defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah before pursuing other big-name players. With a plethora of talented receivers set to hit the market, the Dolphins could pursue another weapon for Tua Tagovailoa while letting receiver Will Fuller V sign elsewhere, as he’s struggled with injuries since joining Miami.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals were one of the more aggressive teams during free agency in 2021, using the majority of their cap space at the time to boost their defense with players like Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton. Cincinnati has around thirty-five million in cap space and after a season in which they made a run to the Super Bowl, the Bengals should be all-in on continuing to improve their roster. After being dominated up-front all season, the Bengals' main focus should be improving the offensive line.
4. New York Jets
Although the Jets are sitting at nearly forty-nine million in cap space, they have a ton of pending free agents, including Jamison Crowder, Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner, and Morgan Moses. With many of these players coming back from injuries that ended their 2021 campaign, the Jets are expected to let a number of their free agents walk. However, they should look to continue to build the offensive line and add weapons for second-year QB Zach Wilson, while improving the defense through the draft.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers made a lot of noise in 2021 free agency and used a large amount of their cap space on offensive linemen Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler. After recently extending wideout Mike Williams, the Chargers should consider resigning defensive tackle Linval Joseph, or finding other free agents to improve their run defense. The Chargers should also be looking into the Cornerback market, as Chris Harris Jr. is set to hit the market and there are plenty of talented corners available this off-season.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
With just under forty million in cap space, Jacksonville’s priority should be bringing back long-time Left Guard Andrew Norwell and then decide if they’ll be re-signing Right Guard A.J. Cann. The Jaguars should also make sure to retain receiver D.J. Chark Jr. to keep their best weapon for Trevor Lawrence. Regardless of if they’re able to bring back Norwell and Chark Jr., the Jags should continue to build their roster around second-year QB Trevor Lawrence by adding weapons in the passing game and boosting the offensive line.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Despite the numerous distractions, the Raiders dealt with last season, they still were able to win ten games and make the playoffs. With about thirty-one million in cap space, the Raiders have enough money to fill the multiple holes they still have within this roster. The Raiders especially should be looking to improve their receiving core and secondary with the numerous amounts of young talent in those areas in this signing period.
8. Seattle Seahawks
After trading nine-time pro-bowl QB Russell Wilson and releasing six-time first-team All-Pro Linebacker Bobby Wagner, it seems as if the Seahawks could be deciding to start the rebuilding process. Seattle has the third-most cap space in the league ($49.9M), but it’s hard to predict what moves they’ll make after recently trading two of their best players.
9. Detroit Lions
The Lions have twenty-five million in cap space however, they arguably have the most holes in their roster out of any team in the league. The good news for the Lions though, is that most of their key players are under contract for next year. The Lions should explore all options in regards to adding receiving threats and boosting the defense in any area they can.
10. Carolina Panthers
Carolina has made it clear that their number one goal is to try and acquire Texans QB, Deshaun Watson. If they’re unable to pull off a trade for Watson, they could be very active in the QB market. However their roster still has some room for improvement and with twenty-six million in cap freedom, a lot of the improvement could come from re-signing their own pending free agents. Carolina should prioritize bringing back pass-rusher Haason Reddick, who recorded eleven sacks for the Panthers a season ago, as well as former defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore.
*Stats & Info. received from ESPN and overthecap.com