With the 2018 season over it’s time to focus on the 2019 campaign.
There are several offseason areas to be looked at. You’ve got the combine, the draft, free agency and the odd trade.
One of the key factors in how teams conduct their business is based on how much cap space they have. The NFL have raised the base salary cap for each team from $177,200,000 last year to $190,000,000 for the 2019 season. This is set to rise again in 2020 to $200,000,000. Some teams will be facing ‘dead money’, that is guaranteed money left on a player’s contract at the time of his release, this is counted against the teams cap.
Some of the teams who have been hit the hardest for the upcoming season include the Dolphins, the Giants and Cardinals. Others have very little in terms of dead money with the Buccaneers having just $94,515.
Dead money doesn’t necessarily stop a team from acquiring marquee players.
Even though the Cardinals have the second highest dead cap space, they still have over $41 million available. The Dolphins have $13,577,419 (the highest) in dead money with the majority of it in Ndamukong Suh’s contract ($13,100,000) leaving them with a little over $10 million in cap space.
It’s crazy how just one player can take up so much cap and affect a team that doesn’t even employ the player anymore.
Teams to look out for in the offseason are the Colts, Jets and Browns.
All these teams have plenty to spend.
Indianapolis will have just shy of $120 million available and are fresh off a comeback season with Andrew Luck. They look set to add to their roster.
The down side is that the players mentioned will most likely be franchise tagged by their respective teams. That would leave the likes of Trey Flowers and Brandon Graham available. Graham has already stated that he intends to test the market. On the other side of the ball there are two names that stand out for me; Le’Veon Bell and John Brown.
With Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, the Colts have a couple of backs that are more secondary than lead. Bell would fit right in and allow Mack and Hines to pick up the slack. Big pass plays hurt the Colts last year. John Brown could be the perfect fit. Hilton operating out of the slot and Brown lined up out wide, Luck could feast on secondaries next year.
Bell will be looking for his payday and could cost the Colts but they have the money to meet his demands. Brown on the other hand could be picked up for anything between $4-$6 million, a bargain at that price.
The New York Jets have money to burn and there’s a lot of burning to do to get back to a winning season. Rushing was a massive problem for the Jets (ranked 26th). Isaiah Crowell was their leading rusher with 685 yards on 143 attempts, an average of 4.8 yards per attempt.
They haven’t had a 1000-plis rusher since 2015 (Chris Ivory) and even then he just about scraped over the 1000 yards (1070). Bell is the obvious candidate for the Jets and would be a boost for quarterback Sam Darnold. Not only would he take the load off in the rushing game but could be Darnold’s safety valve on passing down scenarios.
One massive stumbling block is that he shares the same agent as Bell and would be asking for big money. Would the Jets risk a large share of their cap space on a back who has spent a lot of his playing time as number two? Could they work a deal and have him and Crowell split the load? One thing is for sure, the Jets need a primary running back if they are to have any chance of competing for the playoffs next year.
Cleveland have it all; tons of cap space, rookie contracts and a general manager in John Dorsey that is smart with his money. With just shy of $80 million in cap space, the Browns are a dangerous team and are becoming an attractive destination for all the league’s top free agents.
Nick Chubb looks the real deal after a slow start in Cleveland and with Duke Johnson there for passing downs, the Browns look set at the running back position. The Browns like the Colts could add to their defensive line. If so, then look for them to add Dee Ford, the 2014 first round pick. Why? Well, it was Dorsey who was general manager of the Chiefs when Ford was drafted. But with 11 picks and a defence-heavy draft, Dorsey might look to the draft to bolster his 30th ranked defence.
That would leave the wide receiver position as somewhere to look in free agency. Jarvis Landry got paid last year and is Mayfield’s primary target but it was the rest of the receiving corps that was left with more questions than answers.
Antonio Callaway and Rashad Perriman don’t fill me with confidence. They have to step up in a big way this year or face being pushed down the pecking order if the Browns look to the free agency market. Tyrell Williams has been talked up a lot and with him in a contract year, there’s a chance to lure him away from a loaded Chargers receiving group.
The wide receivers that are available in free agency are scary. Golden Tate, Randall Cobb. Dez Bryant are only a few of a loaded group. Keep an eye out for what the Browns do in both the draft and free agency. They will continue to turn heads as they move forward with Freddie Kitchens as their head coach.