2023 NFL offseason team needs: NFC West priorities for 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks ahead of free agency

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The 2023 NFL offseason is about to pick up with free agency just days away. Legal restrictions, when teams can begin talking to impending free agents, begin on March 13. Trades can become official two days later. All four teams in the NFC West division have made the playoffs in the past two seasons, meaning that none of the four could be just a few moves away from making real noise in 2023.

The Cardinals have a top-three pick and some room to retool their roster under their new system as head coach Jonathan Gannon, a former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, and general manager Monti Ossenfort, former director of personnel for the Tennessee. Titans. The Rams, although they lack a pick and a base spot, could return to form with good fortune for their stars. The Seahawks could make the biggest jump of any team, making the playoffs a year ago and now with two first-round picks as well as plenty of cap space. The 49ers should be one of the best teams in the division again with some cap space and one of the best records in football.

As we approach the frenzy of free agency, here’s where the four NFC West teams stand and what they can do to improve their roster before the 2023 NFL Draft.

Note: The projected cap space is according to Over the Cap.

Arizona Cardinals

A team must: OG, C, EDGE, CB, LB, RB, OT
Cap space: $28.6M (7th)
Top pick of version: Number 3, Number 34, Number 66

A regime change in the NFL, including a new general manager and head coach, usually means a team is in rebuilding mode. Not the Arizona Cardinals. It seems their approach is focused on winning now as some of Gannon’s first words to franchise quarterback Kyler Murray were “Let’s go, let’s go win!” If the intention was to move to more of a youth movement, Gannon would likely have stuck to low-key pleasantries with something like “Looking forward to working with you,” etc.

With that win-now approach in mind, the Cardinals are pursuing a top-rated CB1 as well as keeping Byron Murphy handy to bolster their 24th-ranked defense. ‘ make sense. Especially since Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, whose 44.5 passer rating in coverage was the best in the NFL in 2022 among 49 players with 75 or more passes thrown on the road, to hit the open market. The defense could also continue to improve quickly under Gannon by selecting one of the top rushers in the draft, Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson. Holding onto 25-year-old defensive end Zach Allen, who is coming off a career year, shouldn’t be too much of a financial burden.

Offensively, the same major needs are on the line and at the backup quarterback spot. Cardinals quarterbacks averaged 2.58 seconds to throw, third fastest in the NFL. That statistic can be indicative of quite a few things, positive and negative. It can be a good thing for the Cincinnati Bengals, whose average team time of 2.55 to throw shows the high confidence of Joe Burrow in his arm and the scheme of his team. The other two in the top three in 2022, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.44) and the Cardinals (2.58), feature a quarterback afraid to get hit and get the ball out of his hands so quickly as he can at age 45 (Tom Brady ) and mostly several fill-in quarterbacks locking in on their first read while trying to be sacked (Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley, and David Blough).

Arizona quarterbacks were still taken down 46 times, tied for the ninth most sacks allowed by any team. The priorities will be to strengthen his front and find a veteran who can hold things down until Murray can return from his torn ACL during the season.

Potential veteran targets: Arizona Cardinals DE Zach Allen, Philadelphia Eagles CB James Bradberry, Miami Dolphins QB Teddy Bridgewater, Philadelphia Eagles G Isaac Seumalo, New York Jets T George Fant, New York Jets Connor McGovern, Washington Commanders G Wes Schweitzer, Miami Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts

Los Angeles Rams

A team must: OG, TE, EDGE, CB, DT, QB
Captain’s Place:-$16.0M (28th)
Top pick of version: Number 36, Number 69

The good news for yesterday’s Super Bowl champions is that they still are head coach Sean McVay back in the fold after retirement questions swirled around. If so quarterback Matthew Stafford Yes no trade and is still a Los Angeles Ram, this could be a team back in the NFC playoff mix. The Rams also can’t have worse injury luck than they did in 2022 with Stafford missing eight games (neck), 2021 Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp missing eight games (ankle), All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald missing six games (ankle) and most of their offensive line missing a lot of time. An average level of injury luck could cause the 2023 Rams to look more like the teams McVay is used to, ones that consistently win at least 10 games and reach the postseason.

Restructuring some contracts could give Los Angeles enough room to be able to sign some veterans for one year, prove that he deals on the line and in the secondary. The draft will be tough because the Rams don’t have their own first-round pick until 2024. A mid-to-late quarterback pick could be key for McVay to start preparing a new long-term replacement for Stafford hurt.

Potential veteran targets: Tennessee Titans WR Robert Woods, Arizona Cardinals G Justin Pugh, New York Giants G Jon Feliciano, San Francisco 49ers G Daniel Brunskill, Green Bay Packers TE Robert Tonyan, Cincinnati Bengals TE Hayden Hurst, Baltimore Ravens CB Marcus Peters, Las Vegas Raiders CB Rock Yes-That

Seattle Seahawks

A team must: C, S, LB, DT, WR, OG
Cap space: $23.1M (8th)
Top pick of version: Number 5, Number 20, Number 37, Number 52

The 2022 Seattle Seahawks were like finding a crisp $20 in your jeans pocket after taking them out of the washing machine – a pleasant surprise. After trading Russell Wilson, once their longtime franchise quarterback, to the Denver Broncos in exchange for three players (QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant and DL Shelby Harris) along with five draft picks (two first, two seconds). and fifth), the team appeared to be hitting the 2022 season. However, with Wilson’s former backup, Geno Smith, producing Seattle’s only Super Bowl champion quarterback in Year 1 of the divorce, Seattle entered the seventh and final spot of the NFC playoffs at 9-8, becoming one of only two teams this season to reach the playoffs. playoffs and have several first-round picks, joining the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Acquiring the fifth overall pick and the 20th overall pick will give the Seahawks the opportunity to acquire two players with immediate impact in free agency. the success of their 2022 NFL Draft Class. Their treasure trove of tackles and the extra cap space that comes with it will likely go to one or two veteran starters who could be at wide receiver or defensive end. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have managed the salary cap so well that they still have just over $23 million in cap space to play with even after re-signing Smith to a new . three year contract. However, that may not stop them from selecting a top passing prospect with the fifth overall pick with Carroll saying the Seahawk “completely connected to the quarterbacks coming out” in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Adds 26-year-old wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, the Patriots’ leader in receiving in each of the last two seasons, as well as 30-year-old defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, coming off a career-high 11.0 sacks. -professional, to their locker a room would deal with one or two areas of need. These signings will allow Seattle to select the best player available early in the 2023 NFL Draft instead of drafting for need.

Potential veteran targets: Philadelphia Eagles DT Javon Hargrave, Cleveland Browns LB Deion Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers LB Devin Bush, New England Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers, Tennessee Titans WR Robert Woods, Detroit Lions WR DJ Chark

San Francisco 49 years old

A team must: C, OG, S, DT, WR
Cap space: $6.4M (19th)
Top pick of version: No. 99, No. 101, No. 102

The San Francisco 49ers almost made it to the Super Bowl with the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft – quarterback Brock Purdy – leading the charge after injuries to 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo as proof on the special shape of the Roster 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan magician as a announcer. If San Francisco is going to get any contributions from its 2023 draft class, that will start with players selected in the late third round at the earliest. That’s because the Niners traded away their first-round pick to select Lance in 2021, and the second-, third- and fourth-round picks were part of the cost to get a Pro Bowl running back running back Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers.

Fortunately for the 49ers, they don’t have too many gaping holes to deal with. Most of their offseason moves will likely be in-house: deciding who will be their franchise quarterback moving forward between Lance and Purdy, extending the 2022 defensive player of the year Nick Bosa and figuring out whether to extend or trade the 24-year-old wide receiver. Brandon Ayyuk. Acquiring the NFL’s top receiving defense in 2022 and replacing defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, now the head coach of the Houston Texans, with former Panthers interim coach and defensive announcer Steve Wilks it was a good move by Shanahan to keep the good times rolling on defense. If the 49ers can shore up the right side of their offensive line and keep their quarterbacks straight, there’s no reason they can’t once again reach as far as the NFC Championship Game for the fourth time in five seasons .

Potential veteran targets: Arizona Cardinals G Justin Pugh, New York Giants G Jon Feliciano, San Francisco 49ers G Daniel Brunskill, Pittsburgh Steelers CB Cameron Sutton, San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds, Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos

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