The 2021 NFL free-agency period officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 17, but speculation about which players might be switching teams this offseason began months ago.
With more than half of the league’s 32 teams rumored to be considering a change at quarterback, with franchises dealing with a lower salary cap and with dozens of big-name players about to hit the market, this free-agency period promises to be one of the NFL’s busiest in years.
With that in mind, ESPN’s NFL Nation breaks down each team’s needs and potential free-agent fits.
Fresh off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, the Bills’ future hasn’t looked this bright since the 1990s. But with only three starters returning on the offensive line and a defense that lacks a consistent pass rush, general manager Brandon Beane will be busy fortifying the trenches. Read more from Marcel Louis-Jacques
The Dolphins enter free agency focused on adding offensive talent to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — particularly reliable speed at wide receiver. Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin and Houston’s Will Fuller are two potential fits. Read more from Cameron Wolfe
Stephen A. Smith explains why next season and beyond are so important for Bill Belichick.
The Patriots have an abundance of salary-cap space in an offseason when many teams are feeling a crunch, so there’s an opportunity for them to think big to fill glaring needs. Pass-catchers such as wideouts Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson II and Kenny Golladay and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith could be on New England’s wish list. They also need to settle on a QB with Cam Newton a pending free agent. Read more from Mike Reiss
With a projected $68 million in salary-cap space, the Jets are one of the few teams positioned to spend aggressively, even if that isn’t the preference of general manager Joe Douglas. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett, who played for Jets head coach Robert Saleh in San Francisco, are names to watch in free agency. Read more from Rich Cimini
The Ravens’ focus this offseason is improving quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s supporting cast. A No. 1 wide receiver such as Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay and a high-end interior lineman such as guard Joe Thuney or center Corey Linsley could be on their shopping list. Read more from Jamison Hensley
If the Bengals can add another dynamic receiving target this offseason, their offense will be poised to take a big step in quarterback Joe Burrow‘s second season. The offensive line is another area of need. And if they don’t bring back defensive end Carl Lawson, the Bengals will need to add another pass-rusher. Read more from Ben Baby
With their offense in good shape, defense figures to be the focus for the Browns, who will look to surround pass-rusher Myles Garrett with more talent. Finding a playmaking linebacker and help for the secondary could be priorities in free agency. Read more from Jake Trotter
Because of the smaller salary cap and their backloaded contracts, the Steelers don’t have much money to use in free agency. The priority is to retain a few of their defensive players, such as cornerbacks Mike Hilton or Cameron Sutton, and find suitable replacements for wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. Read more from Brooke Pryor
It’s been a turbulent offseason for the Texans, with quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s future the biggest topic right now. Houston also must decide whether wide receiver Will Fuller is in its future plans. And granting J.J. Watt‘s request to be released means a big focus will be adding talent to the defense — specifically the defensive line. Read more from Sarah Barshop
The Colts addressed their quarterback situation with the addition of Carson Wentz, but there are other needs. The priorities include determining the future of wideout T.Y. Hilton, finding a replacement for left tackle Anthony Castonzo, adding help at linebacker and boosting the pass rush. Read more from Mike Wells
The Jaguars have the most cap space available ($77 million) in the league and needs at left tackle, tight end, defensive tackle and in the secondary. Potential targets in free agency are tight end Hunter Henry and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Read more from Mike DiRocco
After finishing 30th in the league with 19 sacks and allowing opposing offenses to score touchdowns on 69% of their red zone visits, the Titans need to improve their defense. Getting an outside linebacker via free agency is paramount. Read more from Turron Davenport
Denver’s offseason might be defined by who stays, as safety Justin Simmons and defensive end Shelby Harris could hit the open market. The Broncos also have a significant decision to make on the option year for linebacker Von Miller, who missed last season due to injury. Read more from Jeff Legwold
Addressing the offensive line will be a focus for the Chiefs, particularly with tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher coming off serious injuries. They also might be looking at help for the back seven on defense. Read more from Adam Teicher
For the Raiders, trying to find that elusive game-changing edge rusher while shoring up a young and riddled secondary should be priorities. A bruising, change-of-pace running back and an interior defensive lineman who can move the pocket are other potential targets. Read more from Paul Gutierrez
The Chargers could address their offensive line as they work to provide protection for quarterback Justin Herbert. They also need to secure another reliable wide receiver and decide what to do with tight end Hunter Henry, a pending free agent. Read more from Shelley Smith
While they will not be big spenders in free agency because of talks with quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have needs at all levels of the defense. The linebackers and cornerbacks could look much different next fall, and a pass-rusher could be a need if Aldon Smith doesn’t return. Read more from Todd Archer
Figuring out what to do with their defensive line is at the forefront of this offseason as the Giants decide whether they can afford to keep pass-rusher Leonard Williams and run-stuffer Dalvin Tomlinson. They also should be targeting top-of-the-market talent at edge rusher and wide receiver. Read more from Jordan Raanan
The Eagles are projected to be more than $40 million over the 2021 salary cap and are in the midst of a youth movement, so it’s unlikely they’ll be major players in free agency. A veteran quarterback (Jacoby Brissett?), help at the skill positions and reinforcements for the secondary could be targets during the second wave of free agency. Read more from Tim McManus
Washington must provide more help for its QBs, starting at the wide receiver and tackle positions. It also should have another tight end. Defensively, it needs a linebacker, safety and cornerback. A few receivers will tempt Washington because of their speed, including Curtis Samuel, Will Fuller and Nelson Agholor. Read more from John Keim
With little cap space and needs across the board, GM Ryan Pace will need to get creative to add a veteran QB and keep pending free agent Allen Robinson II at wide receiver. If the Bears are unable to land a big-name quarterback, veterans such as Alex Smith, Andy Dalton or Ryan Fitzpatrick could be within their price range. Read more from Courtney Cronin
The Lions don’t have much money after trading quarterback Matthew Stafford and aren’t expected to contend immediately; GM Brad Holmes has made it clear he is going to build through the draft. However, big changes could be in store at wide receiver and along the defensive front seven with Kenny Golladay and Romeo Okwara in position to test the market. Read more from Michael Rothstein
The Packers have to decide whether they can afford to keep two members of their top-scoring offense: running back Aaron Jones and center Corey Linsley. There are signs GM Brian Gutekunst wants to add to the receiver group. And cornerback also could vault to the top of its needs if Green Bay doesn’t re-sign Kevin King. Read more from Rob Demovsky
Coach Mike Zimmer said one of his priorities is to get more pass-rushers, after the Vikings notched a franchise-low 23 sacks last season. Melvin Ingram, Bud Dupree and Carl Lawson could be targets in free agency. The offensive line could be another focal point, as they need to upgrade their interior pass protection. Read more from Courtney Cronin
The Falcons have little cap space, but they could make a move for a running back such as James Conner or Leonard Fournette. Finding help for the pass rush and at cornerback could also be in the cards. Read more from Michael DiRocco
Upgrading the quarterback position and rebuilding an offensive line that has only one starter under contract is the focus. Tight end is another need, and Hunter Henry could be a target in free agency. Read more from David Newton
The Saints’ budget will be constrained by the league’s reduced salary cap. Safety Marcus Williams and defensive end Trey Hendrickson are pending free agents who should draw the greatest interest around the NFL. But quarterback Jameis Winston is probably the Saints’ top priority, with Drew Brees expected to retire. Read more from Mike Triplett
Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman want the Buccaneers to sign Antonio Brown to a one-year deal.
The Buccaneers have an estimated $24 million in salary-cap space — 13th most in the NFL — and GM Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians said the priority is re-signing their own. Wideouts Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown and linebackers Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David are among Tampa Bay’s pending free agents. Read more from Jenna Laine
The Cardinals made a big move on Monday by adding All-Pro J.J. Watt to a solid defensive line that already includes pass-rusher Chandler Jones. There are a handful of other positions such as wide receiver, cornerback and tight end that could help Arizona get over the hump and into the playoffs. Read more from Josh Weinfuss
The Rams must find creative solutions in free agency, with three key defensive starters — outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill — ready to test the market. Adding a deep threat for quarterback Matthew Stafford — acquired in a trade that will become official at the start of the league year — is a priority. Read more from Lindsey Thiry
The 49ers have pressing needs in the secondary and on the offensive line, and they could be involved in the ever-evolving quarterback carousel, if the right opportunity arises. If left tackle Trent Williams leaves, the Niners could chase a pass-rusher such as Shaq Barrett or Yannick Ngakoue. Read more from Nick Wagoner
With less than $10 million in cap space, the Seahawks have to free up money via cuts (Carlos Dunlap?), restructures (Bobby Wagner?) and maybe even a salary-shedding trade just to re-sign some of their own free agents, let alone add players. Read more from Brady Henderson
Rockers Kings of Leon to perform on first night of NFL draft
CLEVELAND — Kings of Leon will help kick off NFL draft activities on a stage close to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this month.
The Grammy Award-winning band will open the festivities on April 29 with a performance as the draft returns to a more normal state after being held virtually in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to being a top-selling act, lead singer Caleb Followill, his brothers Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew are also football fans and have closely followed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s career since he was a star at Oklahoma.
Hall of Fame rock singer Ann Wilson of Heart will sing the national anthem before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell begins calling the names of the league’s newest players. Goodell hosted the event last year from his home.
A massive stage is under construction near the Rock Hall and FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns’ downtown home.
Cleveland will be represented by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s All-City Choir, which will sing a special rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The local cover band The Sunrise Jones will serve as the house band for the first two nights of the draft.
Headlining musical acts for the second and third days of the draft will be announced in the coming weeks.
The draft will be held from April 29-May 1.
Browns banking on dominant Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett pairing – Cleveland Browns Blog
BEREA, Ohio – Next season, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense will feature two former No. 1 overall picks off the edge. And they’re banking the All-Pro they drafted four years ago will help unlock the vast potential of the one they just signed.
Wednesday, Cleveland further bolstered its budding defense in free agency, inking Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.
Unlike Myles Garrett, Clowney has yet to live up to the billing of being the No. 1 pick. But now healthy again, he sees playing in Cleveland alongside Garrett as an opportunity to finally do so in his eighth season in the league.
“I just want to show that I’m still an elite player,” Clowney said Wednesday. “And prove to other people that I’m still out here and can dominate.”
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Clowney is coming off a season with Tennessee during which he did anything but dominate. He played eight games with the Titans without notching a single sack, before missing the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Since becoming the first pick in the 2014 draft, injuries have continually hampered Clowney, beginning with his first career game, which ultimately led to a microfracture in his right knee. Clowney passed a physical in Cleveland on Wednesday on both knees, clearing the way for the Browns to finally sign him.
“I don’t think everybody (has gotten) to see the person they drafted yet,” said Clowney, who has still made three Pro Bowls. “I think I’m working back towards that – I’m well on my way now.
“With my potential and the way I play the game – if I can stay healthy – I shouldn’t be far away from being Defensive Player of the Year. I think I have that potential, and I can do it.”
The Browns already boast a player who was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation just last season in Garrett. Before contracting COVID-19 in late November, Garrett was leading the NFL with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Despite missing two games with the virus and laboring with his breathing after returning, Garrett still was named a first-team All-Pro.
Clowney, himself, has commanded plenty of attention from opposing offenses in the past, even with his injury history and inconsistent production. In fact, since 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Info, only Michael Bennett and Za’Darius Smith have been doubled-team more often.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Clowney, who, despite the constant double teams, still owns one of the five-best pass-rush win rates since 2018. “You game plan all week to go against one person, watch him all week to get pass-rush reps — and then you go into the game, and all of a sudden, it’s two people in front of you or somebody there to chip you the whole game.”
In Cleveland, however, Clowney could see the fewest double teams of his career, lining up opposite Garrett, who faced the third-highest rate of double teams last season.
“I’m looking forward to playing with somebody who is dominant on the opposite side like a Myles Garrett, who can draw a double team,” Clowney said. “Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”
Without a doubt, Clowney will see more one-on-one opportunities. And having already landed edge rusher Takkarist McKinley in free agency this offseason, Cleveland could deploy Clowney in the pass rush in a variety of creative ways.
“We love his relentless style of play,” general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line.
“The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”
Berry has been busy this offseason upgrading every level of a defense that ranked just 19th in efficiency in 2020 but for a team that still won 12 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Last month, the Browns landed arguably the top safety available in free agency in John Johnson III from the Rams. Berry also added three other potential defensive starters in linebacker Anthony Walker, nickelback Troy Hill and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Clowney, however, has enough talent to elevate the Browns’ defense to yet another level. Especially if he, in his own words, proves that he can be a dominant player once again.
“That is all I am here to prove this year,” he said. “We’re going to see this season.”
Seattle Seahawks extend team president Chuck Arnold through 2027
SEATTLE — The Seahawks have extended team president Chuck Arnold through 2027, they announced Wednesday.
Arnold is entering his 28th season with the Seahawks and his fourth in his current role. As president of the Seahawks and First & Goal Inc., which operates Lumen Field, he oversees the organization’s business and financial operations, sales, marketing and administration.
“Chuck continues to do an exceptional job working with and supporting the football operation while assuring that the entire Seahawks organization remains an engaged and invested community leader unafraid to tackle tough challenges in our region,” Jody Allen, chair of the Seahawks, said in the team’s release. “Stability, quality, and consistency of leadership is a key ingredient to our continued success and winning culture. I remain excited for the future of this organization both on and off the field.”
Arnold’s extension means more stability at the top of the organization. In January, the Seahawks gave general manager John Schneider an extension through the 2027 draft. Coach Pete Carroll was previously extended through the 2025 season.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, and a graduate of Washington State University, Arnold began his career with the Seahawks as an intern in 1994. He was their COO from 2013 to 2018 before replacing Peter McLoughlin as team president.
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