Free Agency: A Look At The NFC

Brian Orakpo

Capsules of the teams in the NFC as the start of NFL Free Agency arrives.

Capsules of the 16 NFC teams entering NFL free agency, which begins Tuesday:

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Michael Vick; S Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson; DE Clifton Geathers; P Donnie Jones.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Philip Hunt.

NEEDS: Eagles need help in secondary, especially at safety. Cleveland's T.J. Ward is possibility to reunite with coach Chip Kelly, whom he played for at Oregon. Buffalo's Jairus Byrd might be out of Philadelphia's price range. DT like Green Bay's B.J. Raji or DE such as Seattle's Chris Clemons could be fit at right price. With Vick almost certainly leaving for chance to start somewhere, Eagles could look for veteran backup behind Nick Foles because Matt Barkley struggled in limited action as rookie.

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Jason Hatcher; LB Ernie Sims; G Brian Waters; S Danny McCray; DEs Anthony Spencer, Edgar Jones and Jarius Wynn; OL Ryan Cook; QB Jon Kitna.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Phillip Tanner.

NEEDS: Cowboys don't figure to make significant move in free agency because of salary cap issues. Biggest need is defensive line with Hatcher and Spencer unlikely to re-sign and DE DeMarcus Ware finishing with career low in sacks in first season on four-man front. Possibly biggest question in free agency is whether 37-year-old Waters will want to return after coming out of retirement at end of training camp and stabilizing offensive line before season-ending triceps injury. Uncertainty over his decision means OL probably remains priority. Dallas is thin at safety and probably needs another linebacker with continuing health concerns over Sean Lee.

New York Giants (7-9)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LBs Jon Beason and Keith Rivers; G Kevin Boothe; RBs Peyton Hillis, Da'Rel Scott and Andre Brown; PK Josh Brown; DTs Linval Joseph, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers; S Stevie Brown and Ryan Mundy; CBs Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and Trumaine McBride; WRs Hakeem Nicks and Louis Murphy; TEs Bear Pascoe and Brandon Myers; QB Curtis Painter; DE Justin Tuck.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: C Jim Cordle; LB Spencer Paysinger; FB Henry Hynoski.

NEEDS: With G Chris Snee, C David Bass and OT Will Beatty coming off injuries and David Diehl retired, offensive line needs immediate help. Expect Boothe to re-sign. GM Jerry Reese will sign some free agents or use first-round pick for another OL. Reese has told Nicks and Tuck to test free agent market. If either comes back, it will be Tuck. Beason will probably re-sign and so might Josh Brown, if Giants offer more than one-year deal. Giants also need to find TE and shore up RBs with David Wilson coming off neck injury.

Washington Redskins (3-13)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:

QB Rex Grossman; WRs Joshua Morgan and Santana Moss; TE Fred Davis; C J.D. Walton; LBs Rob Jackson, Darryl Tapp, Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl, Perry Riley and London Fletcher; CBs E.J. Biggers and Josh Wilson; S Reed Doughty and Brandon Meriweather.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENT: WR Dezmon Briscoe.

NEEDS: Redskins have tons of money to spend now that two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty has expired. They'll need it, because they're upgrading 3-13 team and because they have so many defensive starters headed for free agency. CB DeAngelo Hall and DL Chris Baker have been re-signed, but LB remains a major question mark because of Fletcher's retirement. Three-time Pro Bowler LB Brian Orakpo was franchised. WR and OL need upgrade on offense.

NFC SOUTH

Carolina Panthers (12-4)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen; WRs Domenik Hixon, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr.; TE Ben Hartsock; OLs Geoff Hangartner, Travelle Wharton, and Bruce Campbell; DT Colin Cole; LBs Jordan Senn, Jason Williams and Dan Connor; S Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell; and CBs Captain Munnerlyn and Drayton Florence.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OL Byron Bell; CB James Dockery.

NEEDS: Panthers have huge hole to fill at left tackle following retirement of Jordan Gross. They also look to upgrade at wide receiver where Steve Smith's future is unclear ($7 million salary cap figure in 2014) and fellow starter LaFell is free agent. Cornerback is another area of need with starter Munnerlyn's future uncertain. Carolina needs to add more youth to offensive line. Panthers re-signed K Graham Gano to four-year deal and franchised DE Greg Hardy, who had 15 sacks last season.

New Orleans Saints (11-5)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Jimmy Graham; RT Zach Strief; C Brian de la Puente; FS Malcolm Jenkins; LBs Parys Haralson and Ramon Humber; WR Robert Meachem; QB Luke McCown.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Rafael Bush; FB Jed Collins; WR Joe Morgan; DT Tom Johnson.

NEEDS: Saints won't likely acquire NFL star in free agency because they have limited wiggle room under salary cap and intend to retain Graham, who has led team in catches in past three seasons. Still, New Orleans will be on lookout for bargains in order to add depth in several key spots. With release of Roman Harper and possible departure of Jenkins, Saints could be looking for a safety. And with release of injured former starter Jabari Greer (knee), New Orleans could use experienced cornerback. Meanwhile, possibility of losing two starters on offensive line could create need up front, and New Orleans is always on lookout for receivers to bolster elite passing attack.

ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DTs Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux; TE Chase Coffman; CB Dominique Franks; LB Omar Gaither; OLs Joe Hawley, Sean Locklear and Jeremy Trueblood.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Kevin Cone; CB Robert McClain

NEEDS: Falcons released three former starters after disappointing season: CB Asante Samuel, LB Stephen Nicholas and G Garrett Reynolds. Veteran Gabe Carimi was signed, and more additions are expected on OL. Defensive line also glaring need, especially with two top DTs facing free agency after Corey Peters was re-signed. Team expected to make strong push to keep Babineaux. Strong pass-rusher needed at DE. TE Tony Gonzalez has retired, but team drafted Levine Toilolo last year. WR Drew Davis has re-signed as exclusive free agent.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LBs Adam Hayward and Dekoda Watson; LS Andrew Economos; DT Gary Gibson; CB Danny Gorrer; OL Ted Larsen; RB Brian Leonard; PK Rian Lindell; FB Erik Lorig; OT Jamon Meredith; QB Dan Orlovsky; DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim; WR Tiquan Underwood.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TEs Kyle Adams and Nate Byham; WR Eric Page; DT Matthew Masiflo.

NEEDS: New coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht must determine if Mike Glennon, coming off rookie season in which he was forced into starting role under former coach Greg Schiano, is quarterback of future. If not then QB in draft or free agency will be added. If braintrust is willing to link its success — or potential failure — to Glennon, areas of need include defensive end, offensive tackle, tight end, wide receiver and maybe even cornerback, if Smith and Licht are open to trading Darrelle Revis and his $16 million per year salary.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RBs James Starks and Kahlil Bell; DLs Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji and C.J. Wilson; C Evan Dietrich-Smith; TEs Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless; QBs Matt Flynn and Seneca Wallace; LBs Rob Francois and Mike Neal; WR James Jones; FB John Kuhn; OL Marshall Newhouse.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S M.D. Jennings; LB Jamari Lattimore.

NEEDS: Biggest is getting more playmakers on defense that slipped in second half. DL could get makeover with starters Pickett, Raji and Jolly hitting free agency, and team could use jolts of energy at safety and linebacker, where thumb injury to pass rusher Clay Matthews hurt last season. Sam Shields was re-signed to 4-year deal Sunday, keeping one of game's top CBs in Green Bay. Finley coming off serious neck injury, and Pack may look elsewhere at tight end. GM Ted Thompson espouses "draft-and-develop" philosophy and rarely makes splash in free agency. What might team do this year with estimated $30 million-plus in cap space?

Chicago Bears (8-8)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Charles Tillman, Sherrick McManis and Zack Bowman; QBs Josh McCown; LS Patrick Mannelly; WR/KR Devin Hester; DTs Landon Cohen and Henry Melton; DE Corey Wootton; OLs Jonathan Scott and OL Eben Britton; LBs James Anderson, Blake Costanzo and D.J. Williams; S Craig Steltz and Major Wright.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DB Anthony Walters.

NEEDS: McCown's status aside, offense is basically set after franchise record for total net yards (6,109) last season while finishing second in club history in points (445). Heavy lifting will be on defense after group gave up 2,583 yards rushing on 5.3 per carry — both club records. Bears need help on line, at linebacker and in secondary. Star LB Lance Briggs, CB Tim Jennings have jobs locked in. Looks like DT Jeremiah Ratliff does, too, after agreeing to two-year deal on Wednesday. Other spots are question marks. DE Julius Peppers could be released or have contract restructured given cap hit of more than $18 million. Hester was released, as was backup RB Michael Bush. Agreed to one-year deals with DT Nate Collins and backup QB Jordan Palmer on Sunday.

Detroit Lions (7-9)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: K David Akers; DT Andre Fluellen; T Jason Fox; G Dylan Gandy; QB Shaun Hill; DEs Israel Idonije and Willie Young; CB Rashean Mathis; LB Rocky McIntosh; C Don Muhlbach; WRs Michael Spurlock and Kevin Ogletree; TE Brandon Pettigrew; S John Wendling.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Isa Abdul-Quddus; RB Joique Bell; TE Dorin Dickerson.

NEEDS: Lions recently released WR Nate Burleson and S Louis Delmas, so both areas now need shoring up. Without Burleson, Lions could use another veteran pass catcher to play alongside star WR Calvin Johnson. DT Ndamukong Suh is not free agent, but Lions may try to sign him to extension that also offers team short-term relief under salary cap.

Minnesota VIKINGS (5-10-1)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Jared Allen; LBs Desmond Bishop and Marvin Mitchell; C Joe Berger; QBs Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman; CB Chris Cook; DTs Kevin Williams and Fred Evans; RB Toby Gerhart; OL Charlie Johnson; WRs Jerome Simpson and Joe Webb; OT J'Marcus Webb.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Larry Dean.

NEEDS: Defense! With Allen and Williams no longer under contract and release of LB Erin Henderson, three of front seven starters are gone. After allowing league-most 30 points per game last season, several spots in need of upgrades, too. DE Everson Griffen was re-signed, and Vikings signed former Cardinals middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley on Sunday. CBs also priority. Cook's assumed departure opens another starting job. Gerhart's free agency creates need for dependable backup to RB Adrian Peterson, but that could come in draft. Team's biggest deficiency remains QB, and Cassel will be pursued aggressively considering UFA market rarely offers much for QB quality.

NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks (13-3)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Tarvaris Jackson; FB Michael Robinson; WRs Arceto Clark, Golden Tate and Bryan Walters; TEs Kellen Davis and Anthony McCoy; OLs Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan; PK Steven Hauschka; DT Clinton McDonald; LB O'Brien Schofield; CBs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond; S Chris Maragos.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Doug Baldwin.

NEEDS: Getting DL Bennett re-signed seems to be No. 1 priority when it comes to retaining players. That point seemed to be emphasized by decision to release DE Red Bryant last week. Not far behind Bennett in priority would be WRs Tate and Baldwin and reliable kicker Hauschka. Seattle could be looking for additional defensive line help in free agency after success of deep rotation. And don't forget that contracts for All-Pros S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman can be extended this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers (12-4)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: PK Phil Dawson; S Donte Whitner; CBs Eric Wright and Tarell Brown; C Jonathan Goodwin; WRs Mario Manningham and Kassim Osgood; QB Colt McCoy; RB Anthony Dixon.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DL Demarcus Dobbs; CB Perrish Cox.

NEEDS: Could be some big voids to fill. Dawson converted 32 of 36 field goals and set franchise record with 27 consecutive made field goals. Whether Niners, who lost in NFC title game to Seattle, can retain Whitner is unclear. Goodwin has said he will listen to any offers around league or contemplate retirement. 49ers are likely to work on extending QB Colin Kaepernick's contract, so that could affect where others fall on general manager Trent Baalke's to-do list.

Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Javier Arenas, Bryan McCann and Antoine Cason; S Yeremiah Bell; DT Marcus Benard; LBs Matt Shaughnessy and Karlos Dansby; TEs Jeff King, Kory Sperry and Jim Dray; PK Jay Feely; G Mike Gibson; RB Rashard Mendenhall; WR Andre Roberts; DL Frostee Rucker, OT Eric Winston.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Jake Ballard; OLB Dontay Moch; RB Alfonso Smith; DL Ronald Talley.

TEAM NEEDS: Left tackle is most obvious need, with team having to go with inexperienced Bradley Sowell last season after trading Levi Brown to Pittsburgh. There also is opening at right tackle if Winston doesn't return. Other needs are outside pass rusher, cornerback, safety and tight end. With Roberts probably gone, Arizona is in market for No. 3 receiver. Team is concentrating on signing its own free agents. At top of list is Dansby, who led team in tackles, but he might have priced himself out of Cardinals' budget. Mendenhall is retiring from NFL at age of 26.

St. Louis Rams (7-9)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Kellen Clemens and Brady Quinn; LBs Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Will Witherspoon; S Matt Giordano and Darian Stewart; OL Rodger Saffold; Gs Chris Williams and Shelley Smith.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Mike McNeill.

NEEDS: Thin secondary tops long laundry list. Safety was manned by fill-ins last year and CB Cortland Finnegan's return from eye injury is uncertain. Finnegan was team's top free agent pickup two years ago. Rams have fortified at WR last two drafts but still seeking true No. 1. OT a major concern with Saffold likely testing market after spending time at G before finishing season at LT in place of Jake Long. Long's ACL knee surgery was delayed until late January by an MCL tear, although team believes he'll be ready for opener.



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