• Zach Pratt

Zachs Draft Corner: Free Agency Recap/Draft Implications

Image Credit: USA Today Sports


Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.

Most free agency periods are, ultimately, pretty boring. We already know where most of the players will sign even before the legal tampering begins. There may be one or two small trades, but nothing major. This year has been very different. Many teams have been making big moves, and many will have an impact on how those teams will approach the draft in April. This week, I will walk through the changes each team has made in the few days since the new league year began, in draft order, and how those moves will change what teams may do in the draft.

As a note, the players listed under “added” and “lost” only include those players who have officially signed with a new team or who have been traded.

Arizona Cardinals

Added: T Marcus Gilbert, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Robert Alford, LB Terrell Suggs, TE Charles Clay, QB Brett Hundley, DE Brooks Reid, G Max Garcia, G J.R. Sweezy

Lost: LB Deone Bucannon, G Oday Aboushi, DE Markus Golden, G Mike Iupati, S Antoine Bethea

Team Needs (h/t to The Draft Network): IDL, Edge, IOL, WR, CB, LB, OT, TE

Nothing that Arizona did should really change their plans in the draft. While they managed to get a lot of temporary help along the offensive and defensive line, none of these players are long-term solutions. Marcus Gilbert is the closest to being a long-term solution, but the Cardinals still need a second tackle. Whatever their plan was before free agency, it should remain unchanged.

San Francisco 49ers

Added: DE Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, RB Tevin Coleman, CB Jason Verrett, WR Jordan Matthews

Lost: P Bradley Pinion, LB Brock Coyle

Team Needs: CB, S, Edge, WR, IOL, IDL

The 49ers get some big help on defense with the additions of Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander. The addition of Alexander should remove off-ball linebacker from the draft board unless the value is just too good to pass on. Ford gives the 49ers a legitimate pass rusher, but there are two defensive end spots and Ford is but a single person. If the 49ers’ plan was to draft the top available pass rusher with the second overall pick, then the plan still is to draft the top available pass rusher with the second overall pick. Ford does enable the 49ers to trade back with a little less worry, but a pass rusher will still be high on their wish list.

New York Jets

Added: G Kelechi Osemele, LB C.J. Mosley, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Josh Bellamy

Lost: G James Carpenter, CB Buster Skrine, K Jason Myers, C Spencer Long, WR Andre Roberts, DE Mike Pennel, TE Clive Walford

Team Needs: Edge, CB, OT, IDL, IOL, WR, TE, LB, RB

The Jets added a lot of talent, but they did not have much talent to begin with. Le’Veon Bell may enable the Jets to look in the undrafted free agency list for a running back instead of drafting one. Otherwise, the Jets still need more offensive line help, more linebacker help, and more wide receiver help.

Oakland Raiders

Added: WR Antonio Brown, T Trenton Brown, WR Tyrell Williams, S LaMarcus Joyner

Lost: G Jon Feliciano, G Kelechi Osemele

Team Needs: Edge, CB, RB, LB, QB, TE, WR, IOL

The Raiders made one of the biggest splashes of the league year with the addition of Antonio Brown. Combined with Tyrell Williams, the Raiders shouldn’t need to spend too much draft capital on wide receivers. Trenton Brown will pair with Kolton Miller to solidify the tackles, but the Raiders still need to find blockers between them. The safety position is also taken care of with the addition of LaMarcus Joyner in the secondary to pair with Karl Joseph.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Added: WR Breshad Perriman, LB Deone Bucannon, P Bradley Pinion

Lost: LB Kwon Alexander, WR Adam Humphries, WR DeSean Jackson, LB Adarius Taylor, S Andrew Adams

Team Needs: LB, Edge, CB, RB, IOL, S, OT

The Buccaneers have lost a lot more than they have gained this offseason. Wide receiver and linebacker are now both needs for the Bucs when that position was pretty solid last year. Add that to a depleted roster elsewhere, and the Buccaneers are in for a rough season.

New York Giants

Added: S Jabrill Peppers, G Kevin Zeitler, WR Golden Tate, DE Markus Golden, S Antoine Bethea

Lost: S Landon Collins, WR Odell Beckham Jr., G Jamon Brown, CB B.W. Webb, DE Olivier Vernon

Team Needs: Edge, OT, CB, WR, QB, LB, IOL

I’ll leave the free agency analysis to others on this site. As far as the draft goes, the Giants picked up a lot of capital by trading Odell Beckham Jr. This is good, because the Giants have a lot of holes to fill, and none of them were filled during free agency. The Giants will be looking at every position except running back.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Added: QB Nick Foles

Lost: DT Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Donte Moncrief

Team Needs: Edge, OT, QB, TE, IOL, WR

Say what you will about Nick Foles, signing him to as massive a deal as the Jaguars did should remove quarterback from their team needs, at least in the first round. Jacksonville was a popular destination for Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, and Drew Lock, but Foles should stop that from being the case.

Detroit Lions

Added: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, G Oday Aboushi, S Andrew Adams

Lost: WR Bruce Ellington

Team Needs: CB, TE, Edge, IOL, WR, LB

The Lions did an excellent job in free agency. They signed winning players at positions of need. The Lions are now relatively average-to-above-average across the board, which is a great recipe for mediocrity. They should be in a strict best-player-available mindset for the draft after filling most of their holes.

Buffalo Bills

Added: C Mitch Morse, WR Cole Beasley, WR John Brown, TE Tyler Kroft, LT Ty Nsekhe, C Spencer Long, G Jon Feliciano, WR Andre Roberts, CB Kevin Johnson, RB Frank Gore

Lost: TE Charles Clay

Team Needs: IDL, Edge, OT, WR, CB, TE

The Bills are going all in with Josh Allen’s skillset after signing a few deep threats. They also helped solidify their interior offensive line with the signing of Morse and Feliciano. Tight end is now a need after they let go of Charles Clay, as Tyler Kroft is a backup tight end at best. The Bills are now less likely to draft D.K. Metcalf, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they still took a chance on his talent if he is still there at ninth overall.

Denver Broncos

Added: QB Joe Flacco, T Ja’Wuan James, S Kareem Jackson

Lost: C Matt Paradis, G Billy Turner, CB Bradley Roby, TE Matt LaCosse, G Max Garcia, QB Case Keenum

Team Needs: QB, LB, IDL, TE, CB, IOL

Joe Flacco is not enough to stop the Broncos from drafting a quarterback in the first round. Kareem Jackson will remove safety from Denver’s list of needs, and Ja’Wuan James is a starter on their offensive line. The Broncos should no longer be in the market for a top player at either of those positions.

Cincinnati Bengals

Added: CB B.W. Webb

Lost: TE Tyler Kroft

Team Needs: LB, OT, TE, QB, IOL, CB

These signings are inconsequential. No change here.

Green Bay Packers

Added: LB Za’Darius Smith, LB Preston Smith, S Adrian Amos, G Billy Turner

Lost: None

Team Needs: S, TE, OT, WR, LB, IOL

The Smith bros. are better than what Green Bay has, but I don’t think it will stop them from taking an edge rusher if the talent is there. Amos helps fill the free safety spot, but the Packers still need help at strong safety. Ultimately, not much will change outside of the Packers no longer looking at safety.

Miami Dolphins

Added: TE Dwayne Allen, CB Eric Rowe, TE Clive Walford

Lost: T Ja’Wuan James, DE Cameron Wake, WR Danny Amendola, RB Frank Gore, G Ted Larsen, RB Brandon Bolden

Team Needs: QB, OT, Edge, IOL, CB, WR, IDL, S

The Dolphins have a very bad roster. After free agency, they now need help all along the offensive line, in addition to the rest of their roster. The Dolphins should be in best-player-available mode, because they need help everywhere.

Atlanta Falcons

Added: G James Carpenter, G Jamon Brown, TE Luke Stocker

Lost: CB Robert Alford, RB Tevin Coleman, DE Brooks Reid

Team Needs: IDL, Edge, CB, LB, OT, RB

The Falcons needed help on the interior of their offensive line, and they got that help. They are unlikely to address that position early. The loss of Alford and Coleman hurt, and add cornerback and running back to the list of positions the Falcons are likely to address earlier rather than later.

Washington Redskins

Added: QB Case Keenum, S Landon Collins

Lost: OLB Preston Smith, WR Jamison Crowder, LT Ty Nsekhe, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, WR Maurice Harris

Team Needs: WR, IOL, S, Edge, QB, LB, CB, TE

Case Keenum will be a good bridge to whoever Washington brings in to replace Alex Smith, but is not a long-term answer and will not change their draft plans. Landon Collins is a big-time talent, but Washington will still need a safety who can cover. Not much has changed for Washginton.

Carolina Panthers

Added: C Matt Paradis

Lost: LB Thomas Davis, WR Devin Funchess, RB Kenjon Barner

Team Needs: Edge, OT, S, IOL, WR, LB, IDL, Edge

The Panthers will need another wide receiver to replace Funchess, but their talent on the outside wasn’t strong to begin with. No change of plan here.

Cleveland Browns

Added: WR Odell Beckham Jr., DE Olivier Vernon, DT Sheldon Richardson, TE Demetrius Harris, LB Adarius Taylor, RB Kareem Hunt

Lost: QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Breshad Perriman, OG Kevin Zeitler, S Jabrill Peppers

Team Needs: CB, S, IDL, LB, TE, OT, IOL

The Browns were busy! Cleveland added more talent than just about any team this offseason, which is good because their draft capital took a major hit. Beckham should remove wide receiver from their needs, and Vernon and Richardson will finalize that defensive line. The Browns will now look to strengthen the offensive line and secondary, almost exclusively.

Minnesota Vikings

Added: DT Shamar Stephen

Lost: DT Sheldon Richardson, RB Latavius Murray

Team Needs: IOL, OT, LB, WR, TE

Nothing to see here.

Tennessee Titans

Added: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron Wake

Lost: TE Luke Stocker

Team Needs: Edge, IOL, WR, TE, IDL, CB

The Titans tried to add some key pieces. Edge rusher may no longer be a need with the addition of Cameron Wake to Harold Landry and Derrick Morgan. Otherwise, they will still look to add more help on the interior offensive line and at wideout.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Added: CB Steven Nelson, WR Donte Moncrief

Lost: RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown, TE Jesse James, LB L.J. Fort

Team Needs: WR, LB, CB, Edge, S, TE

The Steelers might look to draft a receiver, but are likely to be confident with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, and Donte Moncrief. The loss of Jesse James may lead the Steelers to finding another backup tight end. Otherwise, the Steelers still need a lot of help on defense, and will likely focus the draft on that side of the ball.

Seattle Seahawks

Added: K Jason Myers, G Mike Iupati

Lost: S Earl Thomas, CB Justin Coleman, DT Shamar Stephen, RB Mike Davis, QB Brett Hundley, G J.R. Sweezy

Team Needs: S, Edge, CB, IOL, IDL, WR

Yet again, the Seahawks lost a ton of talent. The Legion of Boom is officially gone, and Pete Carroll will likely try to restock that defense as best he can.

Baltimore Ravens

Added: S Earl Thomas, RB Mark Ingram

Lost: LB C.J. Mosleym LB Za’Darius Smith, WR John Brown, S Eric Weddle, LB Terrell Suggs, QB Joe Flacco

Team Needs: WR, IOL, S, LB, Edge

The Ravens lost a lot of talent in their front seven, but picked up the prime free agent in Earl Thomas to solidify their secondary. Look for the Ravens to shift their focus to skill positions on offense and the front seven on defense.

Houston Texans

Added: S Tashaun Gipson, CB Bradley Roby

Lost: S Kareem Jackson, S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Kevin Johnson, DT Christian Covington

Team Needs: OT, IOL, CB, S, TE

The Texans need five offensive linemen. The Texans have signed zero offensive linemen. The Texans still need five offensive linemen. The Texans should draft only offensive linemen.

Plus, maybe another safety?

Chicago Bears

Added: WR Cordarelle Patterson, RB Mike Davis, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, G Ted Larsen

Lost: S Adrian Amos, WR Josh Bellamy

Team Needs: S, CB, Edge, OT, IOL

The Bears are barren for draft picks, so they needed to make a splash in free agency. The addition of Clinton-Dix should decently replace Adrian Amos, and Ted Larsen should remove interior offensive line from their needs. The Bears don’t need much, and don’t have the draft picks to be a factor in the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles

Added: WR DeSean Jackson, DT Malik Jackson, LB L.J. Fort

Lost: QB Nick Foles, WR Golden Tate, LB Jordan Hicks, WR Jordan Matthews

Team Needs: S, RB, OT, LB, IDL, Edge

The Eagles pretty much replaced who they lost in free agency. Their plan should stay pretty static, although Malik Jackson may make them hesitant to add another defensive tackle in the draft.

Indianapolis Colts

Added: WR Devin Funchess

Lost: None

Team Needs: IDL, WR, S, CB, Edge, LB

The Colts have done nothing. Devin Funchess does not change anything.

Dallas Cowboys

Added: DT Christian Covington

Lost: WR Cole Beasley, LB Damien Wilson

Team Needs: S, IDL, TE, WR, Edge, IDL, S

Dallas also hasn’t done much. Losing Cole Beasley should hurt, and may push Dallas to looking for a slot receiver. Otherwise, their plans are unchanged.

Los Angeles Chargers

Added: QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Thomas Davis

Lost: WR Tyrell Williams, CB Jason Verrett

Team Needs: OT, IDL, WR, CB, IOL, QB

The Chargers had a strong receiving corps before free agency, and that is hurt a little with the loss of Tyrell Williams. They may look to add some depth there now. Verrett is also a decent loss, but his injury history has made him unreliable anyways. The Chargers won’t change their plan much based on free agency.

Kansas City Chiefs

Added: S Tyrann Mathieu, DE Alex Okafor, LB Damien Wilson, RB Carlos Hyde

Lost: DE Dee Ford, C Mitch Morse, CB Steven Nelson, TE Demetrius Harris, RB Kareem Hunt

Team Needs: Edge, CB, LB, IOL, RB, IDL

The Chiefs have made it clear that they want to rebuild their secondary, focusing on acquiring players there and letting go of pass rushers. Look for them to switch their focus to the defensive line when the draft comes, as well as linebacker and running back.

New Orleans Saints

Added: DT Malcolm Brown, RB Latavius Murray

Lost: DE Alex Okafor, RB Mark Ingram

Team Needs: TE, WR, CB, LB, QB, IDL, WR

The Saints simply replaced who they lost. They should not be changing their draft plans.

Los Angeles Rams

Added: S Eric Weddle

Lost: G Rodger Saffold, S LaMarcus Joyner

Team Needs: Edge, CB, LB, S, IOL

The Rams will need some help to replace Saffold, but they have been pretty quiet thus far. No plans should change.

New England Patriots

Added: DE Michael Bennett, TE Matt LaCosse, DE Mike Pennel, WR Maurice Harris, RB Kenjon Barner, WR Bruce Ellington, RB Brandon Bolden

Lost: DE Trey Flowers, LT Trenton Brown, DT Malcolm Brown, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, TE Dwayne Allen, CB Eric Rowe

Team Needs: Edge, IDL, WR, TE, CB, LB

The Patriots look like they have done a ton, but really have just replaced the players they lost. They may look to the slot cornerback position now that they have lost Eric Rowe, but their overall plan is unlikely to change much.

If we have learned anything, it’s that teams are built through the draft. Free agency might help supplement the roster, but relying on free agency to completely change long-term plans is not wise. It rarely happens that way.


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