Number 1: Seattle Seahawks
Coming off of their impressive Super Bowl victory, the Seattle Seahawks sit a top of my Pre-Free Agency Power Rankings. The Seahawks are a team that will be heading into free agency with some work to do. They must figure out what they’re going to do with tight end Zach Miller. Miller is one of Seattle’s highest paid players. He is taking up a good part of cap space that is going to be used on Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and possibly Golden Tate. Seattle was able to retain the services of Michael Bennett, as the two sides were able to agree on a four-year contract. Bennett helped Seattle’s cap space by agreeing to take less money. In all reality, Seattle will be fine heading into next season.
Number 2: San Francisco 49′ers
The San Francisco 49′ers gave the Seattle Seahawks everything they had when the two teams met back in January in the championship game. Although the 49′ers fell just short, I think it is obvious that we were watching the two best teams in the National Football League. With all the speculation about Jim Harbaugh leaving finally settling down, the San Francisco 49′ers can turn their heads back to football. The team cleverly brought back Anquan Boldin on a two-year deal. This keeps the main receiving group of Boldin and Davis in tact. Out of Kaepernick’s twenty-one touchdown passes, twenty of them went to Boldin and Davis. The top priority for San Francisco is to add some youth in the secondary, which they can do in this year’s draft.
Number 3: Denver Broncos
Despite being dominated by Seattle in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos are my third best team. After all, they were able to make it to the Super Bowl. With Eric Decker hitting the open market, Peyton Manning will lose one of his top targets from the 2013′ season. It isn’t a huge blow to this offense, however, as Manning makes just about everybody look good. Like the 49′ers, the Broncos could benefit from bolstering their secondary, although, it isn’t youth they need. The Broncos must sign a veteran cornerback. There is no telling how long Manning will continue to play. The reality is, their window is closing. They can not afford to take the chance on a younger player. They must win now and to do that, they need to fix parts of the defense.
Number 4: New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the Patriots fell just short of making yet another Super Bowl appearance. Every season, this team is always able to find different ways to win. Whether its beating by passing the football or by running the ball down your throats, this offense is always clicking. As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are together, we all know what we are going to get. This coaching staff will have some holes to fix this offseason, as they are potentially losing both LeGarrette Blount and Julian Edelmen. It isn’t a problem for them, though. They were able to rebuild the offense when they lost Welker, Hernandez and Llyod, so I am positive they will be just fine.
Number 5: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are a team heading into this offseason with the need to fill one major position, the cornerback spot. They recently resigned Sam Shields, however, the team still might look to add another veteran corner. The Packers have also shown interest in improving the defensive line. NFL Insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Packers have expressed interest in Oakland’s Lamarr Houston and Baltimore’s Arthur Jones. They have the cap space to do it. I like this team heading into next year. They finally have a balanced offense. They just need to make a few adjustments defensively, other than that, this is a team to look out for next season
Number 6: Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have already made some questionable moves heading into this year’s free agency. They gave D’Qwell Jackson a pretty sizable deal and they resigned their punter for the next five years. Ryan Grigson might want to slow down on giving out these contracts. The moves don’t seem too surprising, however, as Grigson has made some poor moves in the past. He busted on most of his signings last offseason and has whiffed on the Trent Richardson trade. The Colts top priority needs to be getting Vontae Davis a new contract.
Number 7: Arizona Cardinals
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals were the best team to not make the playoffs. It very unfortunate, because they really played their hearts out towards the end of the season. They are in very good hands with Bruce Arians as their head coach. That guy is something else, isn’t he? Arizona needs to patch up their offensive line and add a veteran tight end. The Cardinals could potentially be big time buyers this free agency if offensive tackle Jared Veldheer from Oakland becomes available. They should also try to snag a developmental quarterback in this year’s draft. Zack Mettenberger is a real good name that pops up in my mind.
Number 8: Carolina Panthers
Coming off of a breakout season, many eyes will be on the Carolina Panthers heading into this year. Were they just one-hit wonders, or are they for real? The problem with the Panthers is that they have twenty-six free agents and almost no cap space. Not to mention, they are possibly losing their most consistent receiver in Steve Smith. I’m not sure how I feel about the Panthers heading into this season. I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out.
Number 9: New Orleans Saints
Last season, the New Orleans Saints showed that they can beat some pretty good teams. They were able to defeat the Eagles in the playoffs and they did play Seattle pretty well in the divisional round. But lets be real here, unless they can secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, this team will most likely not be able to get to the Super Bowl. The team has already made some roster moves, letting go of Darren Sproles, Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer. New Orleans definitely has some work to do this offseason, and with a tight budget, too. They must pay star tight end Jimmy Graham, who expressed his disappointment with the team, via Twitter.
Number 10: St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are a team that is really close to making the playoffs. They finished 7-9 last season, however, for the most part, quarterback Sam Bradford was sidelined due to injury. Despite the major blow, the Rams were still able to defeat the Saints and the Colts. They also came up just short against Seattle in a Monday night thriller. If Bradford can stay healthy, then the Rams are a dangerous team heading into next season. They need to find some better protection for Bradford in order for that to happen. Look for them to target a tackle with one of their two first round picks.
Number 11: Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles really surprised a lot of people last year when they won the NFC East. Nick Foles looks as if he is the second coming off Peyton Manning, and LeSean McCoy is an absolute beast. This offense is going to be a tough one to stop. The Eagles can improve their team by working on their defense this free agency period. They finished dead last last season in the passing game, allowing just under 290 yards per game. They also need to get a bit bigger up front. Being $24 million under the cap space, the Eagles will be buyers during this free agent process. They are expected to try to sign either Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward and have shown “some interest” in defensive end Michael Johnson. Due to the mediocrity of the NFC East, the Ealges should be able to defend their division crown.
Number 12: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs really choked in the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts. They were up four touchdowns and somehow blew the lead. Now, they are letting Branden Albert walk and Pro-Bowl returner Dexter McCluster will also be in a different uniform next season. They are pretty tight on money, so Andy Reid will have to continue to work with what he has.
Number 13: Cincinnatti Bengals
I am very skeptical about the Cincinnati Bengals heading into next season. Not only did they disappointed a lot of people by their first-round loss in this year’s playoffs, but they also lost offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. The team might want to consider bringing in some more help at both the offensive line position and the cornerback position.
Number 14:Chicago Bears
I am not so sure that signing Jay Cutler to a seven-year extension was the best thing that the Chicago Bears could do. Sure, they locked up the quarterback positoin, but, seven years? That’s an awful long time to commit to a player. Especially a player like Cutler. Now, it appears as if the team is trying to deal Julius Peppers. The Bears need to get younger up front, so trading Peppers makes a lot of sense. It gives them the opportunity to get younger, by clearing up his massive contract. Chicago also might want to bring in a safety if they decide to part ways with Major Wright.
Number 15: Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens were able to resign Dennis Pitta. This was a huge move for Baltimore, as they have very limited options on the offensive side of the ball. They still need to figure out what they can do with Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher. The Ravens have made it clear that Oher is not a top priority, however, bringing back Monroe is essential. They recently gave Flacco a huge contract. They need to go out and find him some protection. General Manager Ozzie Newsome also said that he wants to add “a more athletic safety”. Since they just drafted Matt Elam in the first round of last year’s draft, look for them to target a veteran safety. Names like Chris Clemmons and Antoine Bethea are names that Baltimore should show some interest in.
Number 16: Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are the perfect model for consistency. For years, everyone has put all the blame on Tony Romo. Sure, he is the quarterback and the most valuable part of this franchise. But, last season, things were a bit different in the “Big D”. Tony Romo played exceptional throughout the season. He wasn’t the problem. In fact, the defense was one of, if not the worst unit that Dallas has ever put out. Week in and week out, this secondary and front-seven were shredded. The Cowboys must upgrade the entire defense. It is being reported that the Boys’ have shown interest in Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard. They’re going to have to do a lot more than bringing in just Woodyard. The offense isn’t the problem. Although they could use another running back, they still have Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. It’s not on Romo anymore, it’s on the defense.