Keep: Blaine Gabbert QB
- The Cardinals currently have zero quarterbacks remaining on the roster once the league year begins. I know they will likely look to fixing this problem through the draft or free agency. For the sake of continuity they should bring back either Blaine Gabbert or Drew Stanton who understands the locker room. I would lean towards Gabbert who actually did not look terrible in his time playing for the Cardinals. He is not ideal, but I would trust him to start for a season if they do decide to tank for a year and land the top pick next season. That's not an ideal scenario, but it is a plausible one.
Cut: Jared Veldheer OT, Phil Dawson K, and Adrian Peterson RB
- Veldheer has hinted to retiring even though he is only 30. However, his play has been on a steady decline for the past few seasons and culimnated with a very inconsistent season for him. The Cards would be better off without him. Another player who is a tad too old and should be let go is Phil Dawson. He has had a terrific career, but he is way too inconsistent this season and missed way too many lay up kicks. They should look for a new younger kicker. Lastly, they tried to reestablish a run game with Peterson and it looked great for a hot second. Until he ended the year with a mysterious neck injury throughout the year. I never bought into him as that great of a player. Sure he is a great back, but he has never made his teams any better where ever he has gone. In fact, the first year without him the Vikings looked unstoppable. He requires an offense to dedicate a lot of touches to him and turns it into a one dimensional offense. Plus, he has never developed into a quality pass catcher or blocker. I am sure someone will give him another shot, but I would doubt he is ever going to be a go to back again. With these cuts they could save about $12 million giving them $40 million to use elsewhere.
Sign: Cameron Fleming OT New England Patriots
- The Cardinals I think should go and do small deals until they draft a new nucleus to begin to build around. In possibly, the toughest division in football where all three teams have a good to great quarterback and smart advanced coaches the Cardinals lag behind majorly in both categories right now. However, if they do lose Jared Veldheer to either retirment or being cut they should bring in a new capable blocker. This is one of the worst blocking units in the league in general. Fleming is a solid versatile blocker who can move inside or outside. At only 25 and with limited starting opportunities thus far he can be a cheap pick up. Maybe he can develop into a talented blocker down the line as the team starts going on the upswing.
Ideal Draft Pick: Josh Allen QB Wyoming
- I highly doubt he slides there, but the Cardinals if they stay there will cross their fingers praying he slides for some reason. They could get Baker Mayfield, but if I were them I would lean towards Allen in who you want more. He would give them a possible franchise quarterback to build around. I doubt he lights the world on fire as he gets his feet wet, but he gives them a starting block for the future. I know this is a pipe dream however, and they most likely will need to trade up for him. If they do not get a shot at him they could land a new corner to pair with Patrick Peterson in Denzel Ward or Josh Jackson who could help their defense moving forward.
Los Angeles Rams:
Keep: LaMarcus Joyner S
- I can see the Rams being one of the teams that could come back to the pack next season. For one they will be playing a first place schedule instead of the fourth place one they have been facing. Another reason is how many quality players they could lose this off season. Many will point to Trumaine Johnson as the bigger player to get due to his name being more recognized. However, LaMarcus Joyner was the MVP of their secondary last season at safety. Not only was he more health than Johnson he has also gotten steadily better each year as Johnson has been much more inconsistent. If I were them he would be my priority franchise tag candidate if they cannot sign him long term.
- Tavon Austin could be a candidate, but cutting him only saves $3 million in cap space. Plus, he never really got a fair shake at fitting in Sean McVay's offense. If they fail to keep Sammy Watkins then having Austin there could be nice depth. Plus he and this year's star returner Pharoh Cooper could give them a dynamic duo in the return game.
Sign: Patrick Robinson CB Philadelphia Eagles
- The Rams have a ton of players hitting free agency at the corner and safety positions. I already have them keeping Joyner so that means they could lose both Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman to free agency. I say they could actually upgrade it through the draft and finding better veterans. Patrick Robinson has bounced around a bit to start his career and now at 30 has looked really good for the Eagles this season. He has certainly made himself some money and could be a nice pick up for a team like the Rams. Robinson brings some veteran leadership on a relatively young roster and provides nice versatility in the secondary. He certainly will not cost as much as Johnson could and will allow them to maybe pick up one or two new cheap corners.
Ideal Draft Pick: Denzel Ward CB Ohio St
- At pick 23 it is kind of hard to predict who could slide to them. However, whoever the top corner available is they should scoop him up. That very well could be Ward who is a terrific cover corner, but his size has teams wondering if he can actually stay outside. That issue could cause him to slide since being an outside corner is obviously a better value. The Rams need new talent at corner regardless and Ward can fit perfectly in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips scheme. He has similar size to Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib to where he could maybe overcome his size issues.
- The Seahawks have limited cap space thanks to their great young players finally needing to be resigned to bigger contracts. Plus, not many of their free agents are good enough to be brought back except maybe Jimmy Graham or Sheldon Richardson. Both I think will be seeking the biggest contract available and that's not in Seattle.
Cut: Earl Thomas S, Michael Bennett DE, and Cliff Avril DE
- These may be surprising since these three have been so good for the Seahawks, but I think they need to go through a bit of a culture change. Guys like Thomas, and Bennett are not the most team oriented guys. Especially, Thomas who has hinted to retiring to holding out to already telling Dallas to sign him this off season. I think he sees the writing on the wall for his time there and cutting him saves $8.5 million dollars. His play has also declined recently from injuries and age to the point where they will be fine without him. Bennett is another headache who talks too much about everything, but his play dropping off each season since their Super Bowl runs. When the team is good he plays hard, but when it's not he takes plays off just ask Tampa who cut him. Letting him go saves another $3 million. Avril really is not going to get cut for other issues other than his health that makes his playing future a murky picture. He is a bit of an older player and could retire this off season taking off $7 million from the books.
Sign: Cameron Fleming OT New England Patriots
- The Seahawks are another team in the NFC West that could be looking at Fleming or another blocker of his caliber. I think the Seahawks are going to go defense heavy like they normally do in the draft. It is what they know and are good at developing compared to offensive players. Fleming can come in as a steady right tackle allowing them to kick Germain Ifedi to one of the guard spots where he is a better fit. This is not a splashy pick what so ever, but it's a better savvy move than when they tried out Luke Joeckel who is continuing to look like one of the bigger busts we have had in awhile.
Ideal Draft Pick: Arden Key DE LSU
- The Seahawks have already hinted at cutting Avril and Bennett so it really is not just my own opinions there. Meaning they will probably be looking to bring in new edge rushing talent in the draft. Key is just the type of player they can maximize after he scares away a lot of teams. He has some off field issues, but none are really serious. The biggest issue is the nicks he has gotten throughout college that has caused him to miss time. When right he is a terrific pass rusher with a lot of athleticism and speed. He is a big boom or bust prospect and a risk the Seahawks would likely take the gamble on.
San Francisco 49ers:
Keep: Jimmy Garoppolo QB
- No free agent is more important to any team than Jimmy G is to the 49ers right now. Except maybe Drew Brees, but there is no chance he leaves. I doubt Jimmy does either with the 49ers massive salary cap space. If they cannot strike a long term deal they can easily just franchise tag him as they keep working at it. He has the looks of being the next great young quarterback and with the right moves could help the 49ers have a Rams sort of turn around with a full off season under his belt.
- The 49ers have the most cap space with $114 million free to be used. They really have no veterans of note being paid more than they should.
Sign: Jarvis Landry WR Miami Dolphins
- The 49ers have a ton of cap space to use outside of Jimmy G and should use it to equip him with better talent to work with next year. With this being a weaker receiver class they would be best off signing a few available veterans until next year when the draft should be more receiver friendly. Jarvis Landry will be a highly sought after receiver if he hits the open market for many teams with a young up and coming quarterback. He is very friendly to them due to his sure hands, routes, and ability to work the slot to give quarterbacks an easy short target to go to. The 49ers have the space to maybe over spend on him and still have enough to land a few other big names as well.
Ideal Draft Pick: Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
- I hope he does not make it there since as a Bears fan I think he would be great there, but if he does make it past them to San Fran I doubt he slides any further. They need to improve the blocking in front of Garoppolo and why not do it with the best blocker in the draft. Nelson is a sure fire Pro Bowler in many analysts opinion and has very little bust ability at the next level. He should be an immediate upgrade over their other former first round guards Laken Tomlinson and Joshua Garnett who have both been incredibly disappointing. In my opinion, Nelson is one of the safest prospects in the draft and should be one of the best picks from this class in just a few years. Possibly being even one of the best guards in the league overall.