Not only is there a lot of NFL news happening right now, there’s the most pressing world news that many of us have had in our lifetime, so understandably it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening with the NFC West. I wanted to quickly summarize what we’ve seen so far.
The LA Rams
The only significant loss so far is defensive tackle Michael Brockers signing with the Baltimore Ravens. His loss was expected and I believe the Rams can find an adequate replacement because the defensive tackle market is going to be a rich one. It already is.
I have yet to hear any news at all on Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton, Andrew Whitworth, or Greg Zuerlein, except that Zuerlein is “on the Cowboys radar.”
Update: Littleton is signing with the Las Vegas Raiders
There were rumors of Brandin Cooks being shopped as a trade asset, as well as the expected rumors around Todd Gurley. Nothing yet with either player seems to connect them to an interested team, but that type of news usually doesn’t break until it’s the real deal.
Obviously if you paid attention at all on Monday, you couldn’t miss the fact that the Cardinals acquired receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans and it only cost them David Johnson and a second rounder. Arizona already extended left tackle D.J. Humphries and they placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, so they seem to be having the offseason they dreamed of having. The Cards also hold onto the eighth overall pick, highest in the division by far.
On Tuesday morning, they signed defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to a three-year, $30 million contract. Phillips had a remarkable 9.5 sacks for the Buffalo Bills last season after a three-and-a-half-year career in which he had totaled 5.5 sacks.
What the Cards don’t have is a ton of cap space, projected to be around $18.2 million before signing Phillips. They could hold tight but releasing J.R. Sweezy, Corey Peters, Robert Alford, or Maxx Williams saves them a bit of money. Now is the time for Arizona to strike, with Kyler Murray spending 3-4 more years on his rookie deal. That offense will be interesting to watch with Hopkins regardless — not to mention the three receivers they drafted last year — but what if they also drafted an offensive lineman early? Will be worth monitoring.
The Niners got involved with a big trade also, though they were shipping out the veteran star, not acquiring him. And I mean, is DeForest Buckner a “star”? Most would say no, but I do think that Buckner’s involvement in the trade is being overlooked as many are instead focusing on the 13th overall pick that they received in exchange from the Indianapolis Colts. Yes, the draft pick is good, but plenty of top-15 picks do nothing, and many more do nothing as rookies.
San Francisco was even more exceptional on defense than offense last season and Buckner’s unique size and abilities in the middle of that defensive line was a notable reason why: he had 19.5 sacks there over the last two seasons, plus 26 tackles for a loss and 34 QB hits. Don’t overlook his accomplishments or underrate why Colts GM Chris Ballard — an exec many respect — was willing to give up such a valuable pick for him, plus $84 million on a new four-year contract.
The 49ers instead re-signed Arik Armstead, another valuable pass rusher and component of that defensive line, and he got $85 million over five. They also still have Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, and now, the 13th overall pick. They could go in any number of directions there and it gives them more flexibility with their other first round pick at 31; Adam Schefter expects them to trade one of those picks for more draft value down the line.
San Francisco also re-signed safety Jimmie Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract and they extended tackle Shon Coleman for one year.
Reserve tight end Levine Toilolo left San Francisco to sign with the New York Giants.
The Seattle Seahawks
Never one to get involved with the high profile free agents of other teams, Pete Carroll started with focusing on his own players, which included a two-year, $23 million deal for defensive tackle Jarran Reed. That’s one piece of his puzzle glued in, but Jadeveon Clowney is out and about, available to be signed by any other team. There haven’t been many Clowney rumors yet, however.
Seattle has oddly been obsessive instead over the tight end position. They signed Greg Olsen a couple of weeks ago and in the last 24 hours have re-signed Luke Willson and given the second round tender to Jacob Hollister. The team still has Will Dissly under contract and if he were to return healthy, he’d seem to be the presumptive starter alongside Olsen. The team also gave an original round tender to former UDFA David Moore, a receiver.
Reserve tackle/tight end George Fant signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the New York Jets. The Seahawks may also lose starting right tackle Germain Ifedi, because of Fant is getting $10 million annually, Ifedi is probably look at $13 million or so. Neither played particularly well as starting NFL tackles. Seattle has the most money remaining to spend — for now — but are perhaps the least likely to talk to outside free agents of note right now.
Overall it would seem as though the Cardinals did the most in the first 24 hours to improve, but they also have the most rungs on the ladder to climb. The 49ers may be holding status quo, but let’s not overlook the loss of Buckner either. The Rams may get the most news on Tuesday regarding outgoing players, but can they hold onto one of their key defensive players right now? And the Seahawks may have the most lockers to fill by the end of the week.