As the 2021 offseason gets underway, with draft talk and free agents at the forefront, there are some teams who are more involved than others. This year there is a fantastic pool of available talent, so let’s take a look at the top teams in available cap space, and what they might want to do with it.
The league average for cap space is $15,345,753 but as you will see there are numerous teams who have way more than that.
Even among those who are far above average, there are four teams who are really in a league of their own. There are only four teams in the NFL who have more than $50 million in cap space, and those are the teams we are going to break down here.
Jaguars – $79,618,517
Already equipped with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft – also known as Trevor Lawrence – the Jacksonville Jaguars also have the most available cap space in the league.
They will be fixing their quarterback issue in the draft, but they have that first pick for a reason. Their receivers are good, especially DJ Chark, so I would maybe just consider adding one more veteran to the mix.
They found a great running back in undrafted free agent James Robinson this past season, but near enough every other positional group requires work.
TREVOR LAWRENCE ROCKET
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 12, 2021
There are a few good tight ends available, who they could make use of. They could also improve in the secondary. They could do with bolstering both their offensive and defensive lines. At the linebacker position, they have Myles Jack who has been solid for them over the years, but there’s still need for improvement.
The Jags will have to be very active in free agency over the next few offseasons. I think that their combination of adding Trevor Lawrence to the roster and their abundance of cap space will allow them to add some fantastic new pieces to their organisation as they try to turn it around and become a winning franchise again with the Clemson grad at the forefront.
Colts – $78,497,543
For my money, the only team in the entire league who have more power in free agency than the Jacksonville Jaguars – the only team in this article who actually made the postseason in 2020 – is the Indianapolis Colts.
They have just a fractionally smaller amount of cap space than Jacksonville, but they already have a legitimately good roster.
The Colts went 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wildcard (their record was tied with the division-winning Titans). They look poised to be a playoff team for the future.
The most important thing for them to address is the quarterback position. Philip Rivers retired after his short stint with the team, and on the assumption that Andrew Luck doesn’t un-retire, they will have to spend in free agency to get themselves a starter worthy of playing football in January.
Free agents!! If y’all are thinking about coming to the Colts and play defense just know that we don’t want you if you don’t play hard, run to the ball, make plays or not willing to sacrifice yourself for ya teammate to make the play! Don’t care how big or little ya name is!
— Darius Leonard (@dsleon45) February 13, 2021
Their offensive line is very strong for the most part. They could probably do with adding a long-term left tackle (although I suspect this is a target for the draft), but the rest of the line is pretty much concrete and their running back room is overflowing with talent, so they really don’t need to do anything there.
The receiver group is strong and young for the most part, too. There’s probably room for one addition at most. They absolutely love using their tight ends in Indianapolis, so they might choose to invest more there but they already have three guys who have been very involved.
The defense is very good, too, but they can always improve it. I think that they will very likely look to add another edge rusher on the defensive line to help build on a front seven that already has Darius Leonard dominating. The secondary is solid, but they could do with investing there to take some of the pressure off of young players like Rock Ya-Sin. Xavier Rhodes had a really good year after looking like a shadow of his former self last season in Minnesota, so they might re-sign him, but whether they do or not the cornerback position is one I’d prioritise in free agency.
Jets – $75,532,774
As I said with Jacksonville, some teams really can benefit from making additions near-enough everywhere.
The New York Jets had an equally terrible season this year, except they have less talented players on the current roster and they don’t get to add Trevor Lawrence to their team. Not only does the team have more need to improve than the Jags, they are also going to suffer from the fact that they won’t attract people as much due to the less stable quarterback situation.
They are likely going to try and draft their franchise QB once again with Justin Fields, and trade away Sam Darnold, but that isn’t the same pull as Lawrence. They have the New York market which can attract players, no doubt, but nothing pulls as much as a chance to win, and that’s not been something they’ve succeeded in recently.
The Jets’ best players are probably Quinnen Williams at defensive tackle and Mekhi Becton at offensive tackle. That’s their two past first-round draft picks, which obviously bodes well for the future.
If, and it's a big IF, the New York Jets feel they are set at QB, the team should make #JJWatt an offer. There's a ton of cap space, and Watt would thrive inside and/or on the edge in Robert Saleh's system. A Watt-Quinnen Williams double act would be scary. #TakeFlight
— James Dudko (@JamesDudko) February 12, 2021
They keep getting high picks and over time those young stars will improve the team, but they need to add vets who can turn it around sooner. I suspect they will add at least one notable wide receiver – in an absolutely stacked free agent WR pool – and hopefully, also improve at running back.
They will continue to hit offensive and defensive line in the draft for the next couple of drafts at least but adding a vet would help speed up the process and protect whoever plays there.
The biggest focus for the Jets is allowing whoever they end up committing to at QB to actually stay healthy and have some weapons to develop with. They also need to improve their defense, especially the secondary, and there are some solid options there this offseason, too.
Patriots – $68,667,937
They have the fourth most cap space. And they have an ace up their sleeve (despite them being chopped off halfway down) with Bill Belichick.
As Tom Brady sails off into the sunset with his Super Bowl boat, the legendary head coach and general manager who he paired with for his first six championships is still in Boston, and I think he still holds some sway with free agents.
— GMFB (@gmfb) February 10, 2021
He’s a great coach and the organisation is run in a very disciplined and structured way which can get the best out of free agents. Adding Cam Newton didn’t work out the best, and it remains to be seen whether they will keep him around, but the team still has some great pieces. With players like Stephon Gilmore, and for as long as Belichick is there, they’ll be trying to hold on to that winning feeling and making their team stronger.
They could benefit from doubling down on their still strong defensive side of the ball. However, I think they need to focus on offense first and foremost.
I suspect that Cam won’t return to New England, which would mean they need a new QB if that was the case, and they also need to bring in some better playmakers at wide receiver, a position that felt almost irrelevant when Tom Brady was turning random guys into Hall of Famers, but now feels more important than ever.
They have a couple of young running backs who are fighting for the role, so no need to spend up there, but they could definitely do with improving the passing game.
The tight end position is also completely absent from their offense in its current form and they need to fix that this season if they want to score more points. Unfortunately, free agent TE and ex-Patriot Rob Gronkowski already seems to be spoken for, but there are a few other guys, for example, Hunter Henry and Jared Cook, who I could see heading to New England.