NFL Free Agency: The Most Important Moves for Each NFC South Team
It’s silly season for the NFL currently. The draft is less than two months away. Stars and major contributors are looking to get paid. With the limitations of salary caps, it is more beneficial at times to allow major contributors to walk away. Let us have a look at each NFC South team’s most important moves in free agency to keep at home.
1. New Orleans Saints
- Re-Signing Andrus Peat. The Saints drafted him as a tackle. He has instead become one of the top guards in the division despite dealing with numerous injuries. New Orleans faces a $9.6 million dollar cap hit in the 5th year of Andrus’ rookie contract. It will be important to restructure and open some space for other signings. With only $7 million in cap space coming into the 2019 season, New Orleans needs to work a deal that will allow them to keep Peat as well as bring in a dominant pass rusher.
While Peat may not be an impending free agent this year, picking up his fifth-year option and structuring a new contract to reduce his cap hit for 2019 is a must. The Saints can also release veteran wide-out Cameron Meredith, as well as the $7 million dollar, hit they would endure by keeping veteran Kurt Coleman. Making these moves would raise the bar from the Saints $7 million in cap space to somewhere in the ballpark of $18-$20 mil. Veteran tailback Mark Ingram is going to test the waters of free agency this year as well. While it would be a luxury to keep the tandem of Ingram and Kamara, if the price gets too high New Orleans can afford to let him walk.
2. Atlanta Falcons
- Re-sign Andy Levitre. The guard position has been one of Atlanta’s series of unfortunate circumstances over the last couple of seasons. The Falcons created over $15 million in cap room with the releases of Matt Bryant, Robert Alford, and Brooks Reed. They can open even more room by negotiating a pay cut or release of the underwhelming Vic Beasley. His $12.8 million cap hit for 2019 has not been justified by his level of performance. Franchising Grady Jarrett would take up around half of the $29 million cap space with a projected tag of $15.4 million for defensive tackles this year.
Levitre is a proven commodity at the left guard spot when healthy. J.R. Sweezy would be an affordable fit if he would be willing to chance another round with former Head Coach Dirk Koetter. The top available guard Rodger Saffold would probably be outside of Atlanta’s price range, which makes re-signing a healthy Andy Levitre the most sensible solution. The Falcons face a number of offseason decisions that could make a huge difference in their success or failure in the 2019 season and moving forward.
3. Carolina Panthers
- Trade Matt Kalil and re-sign Daryl Williams. It’s the best case scenario to escape a huge dead money hit that would come by cutting Kalil. It doesn’t come without its share of risk, however. Taylor Moton also becomes a free agent after 2020. To sign both Williams and Morton while keeping Kalil would be a perfect scenario, given both Kalil and Williams injury history. It may be a challenge to trade Kalil though after him having spent the better part of the last two seasons out with knee injuries. Carolina needs to address the pass rush, or lack thereof, as well as finding Eric Reid a partner at Free Safety.
One plausible option would be to keep Kalil in hopes he gets back to form and resign Williams, letting Morton walk. This should be interesting to watch play out.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Bring back Adam Humphries. It’s no secret that the Bucs are in a precarious state this off-season. With a gaggle of free agents, it will be important to make the right choices to fit with Bruce Arians scheme. Likely gone due to cap issues will be the veteran receiver, DeSean Jackson. No surprise there as Jackson has dealt with injuries as well as expressing his desire to exit Tampa Bay. Bringing in the likes of John Brown to replace him wouldn’t be a big shock. There is a guy already on the roster however that proved his worth last season in Adam Humphries.
Humphries was second on the team in 2018 in receptions, hauling in 76 passes for 816 yards and 5 touchdowns. The guy has earned his payday and will be a nice slot fit in Arians’ downfield passing attack.
How do you feel about the NFC South in free agency? Leave a comment below.
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