Free Agent 'Seas': AFC North and NFC West; The End.

I learned a lot by going through this exercise.  It's so easy to just focus on the Panthers situation; but it's something again to look around the league to see what other teams are dealing with.  After making the full rounds, I must say I'm optimistic about where the Panthers are sitting right now, relative to the league as a whole.  Tampa Bay is also in very good shape (unfortunately), though I doubt if they'll spend above the minimum.  It appears to me that there are going to be a LOT of cap casualties that can be used as stop gaps and/or quality vet depth when the smoke clears. We shall see what happens in very short order.  It's time to get excited my friends.

This is the continuing story of how the Panthers' position in the Free Agent market stacks up to all the other teams in the League.  It's very important to know who will be shopping and who will be praying.  Previously we looked at the NFC South.  Within that story are further links to details about the CBA and each Team's cap position.  If you want to refer back, click here.  From there we moved to the AFC West.   - then double-dipped on the AFC and NFC East, followed by the AFC South and NFC north. Today we finish the series (and there was much rejoicing) with the NFC West and AFC North.

Team by Team Analysis (by division)

NFC West

Arizona - $37.0 under cap, $23.8 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 15 total, 8 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  RBs Tim Hightower, Jason Wright; WRs Breaston, Early Doucet; TEs Ben Patrick, Steven Spach; Brandon Keith (RFA); OGs Deuce Lutui, Alan Faneca; Cs Lyle Sendlien, Ben Claxton; DE Kenny Iwebema; NTs Bryan Robinson, Alan Branch; CB Michael Adams; Safety Matt Ware; P Graham
Top FAs 2012:  QBs Derek Anderson, Max Hall; RB LaRod Stephens-Howling; WR Fitzgerald (Probe Owler); DE Calais Campbell; OLB Clark Haggans; ILB Gerald Hayes; CB Greg Toler; Safety Rashad Johnson; K Feely

Draft Picks:  Patrick Peterson (Top 10 Pick) DB, Sam Acho DE, David Carter  DT, Anthony Sherman FB,  Quan Sturdivant ILB, Ryan Williams RB, Robert Housler TE, Demarco Sampson WR

My free agency forecast for the Cardz: Dry Docked - The Cardz have cap room to work with, but a lot of holes to patch.  What they don't have is a QB, so they'll definitely be shopping at Kolb's and Hasselbeck's. They also need a WR capable of taking pressure off of Fitz (who incidentally is going into another contract year) and help at RB and O-Line.  On defense, they got the shut down corner in Peterson, which gives them a really top-notch secondary.  I would expect the Cardinals to be big spenders as they rebuild this year.

San Francisco - $19.1 under cap, $5.9 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 15 total, 12 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QBs Alex Smith, Troy Smith; WR Brian Westbrook; OT Barry Sims; OGs David Baas, Tony Wragge; DEs Ray McDonald, Demetric Evans; NT Aubrayo Franklin; OLB/DE Manny Lawson; ILB Takeo Spikes; Safety Dashon Goldson;
Top FAs 2012:  QB David Carr; RBs Frank Gore, Moran Norris; WRs Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr.; OT Adam Snyder; OG Chilo Rachal; Cs Eric Heitmann, Cody Wallace; OLB Ahmad Brooks; Safety Reggie Smith; K Nedney

Draft Picks:  Chris Culliver DB, Curtis Holcomb DB, Aldon Smith DE, Bruce Miller DE, Daniel Kilgore OG, Michael Person OT,  Colin Kaepernick QB, Kendall Hunter RB, Colin Jones S,  Ronald Johnson WR

My free agency forecast for the 9erz: On the Rocks - Again, no QB (unless Kaep really shows something), weak WR corps, and virtually nothing at RB behind Gore (who's starting to break down).  Aldon Smith will help an already strong defense, but can Francoise replace Franklin at NT?  I can't see them gaining much ground in the "rugged" NFC West.  Since they drafted mostly for defense, I would expect some Free Agent action on offense.

Seattle - $38.9 under cap, $25.7 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 25 total, 19 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QB Matt Hasselbeck; RB Leon Washington; OTs Sean Locklear, Ray Willis, Tyler Polumbus; OGs Ben Hamilton, Mansfield Wrotto; C Chris Spencer; DT Brandon Mebane; OLB LeRoy Hill; CB Kelly Jennings; Safety Lawyer Milloy; K Mare
Top FAs 2012:  QB Whitehurst; RBs Justin Forsett; Owen Schmitt; TEs John Carlson, Chris Baker; C Steve Vallos; DT Red Bryant; OLB David Hawthorne;

Draft Picks:   Byron Maxwell DB, Richard Sherman DB, Lazarius Levingston DE, James Carpenter OG, John Moffitt    OG,  K.J. Wright OLB, Malcolm Smith OLB, Mark LeGree S,  Kris Durham WR

My free agency forecast for the Hawkz: Dry Docked - Like Arizona, the Hawks have a lot of money, but perhaps even more holes to patch.  Hasselbeck's not coming back, so they've got to find somebody at QB.  Frankly, I expect them to be spenders, but I have no idea what Pete Carroll's priorities are.

St. Louis - $17.6 under cap, $4.4 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 14 total, 9 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  RB Kenneth Darby; WRs Laurent Robinson, Mark Clayton; TE Daniel Fells; OT Eric Young (ERFA); OGs Adam Goldberg; John Greco; Mark Setterstrom; DTs Clifton Ryan; Chris Hovan, Gary Gibson; OLBs David Vobora (RFA), Chris Chamberlain, Larry Grant (RFA); CBs Justin King, Kevin Dockery; Safety Kevin Payne
Top FAs 2012: QB A.J. Feeley; RB Mike Karney; WR Donnie Avery; TE Billy Bajema; OLB Na'il Diggs; P Jones

Draft Picks:   Mikail Baker CB,  Jonathan Nelson DB, Robert Quinn DE, Jabara Williams OLB,  Jermale Hines S,  Lance Kendricks TE, Austin Pettis WR, Gregory Salas WR

My free agency forecast for the Ramz: Smooth Sailing - Drafting Kendricks, Pettis, and Salas should help jump start the offense, although they should add a vet WR.  I also think Quinn will be a stud at DE and take pressure of Howie's boy. But, please, for God's sake, get a RB to help Stephen Jackson.  I think the Rams easily win the West.

AFC North

Baltimore - $18.7 under cap, $5.5 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 18 total, 13 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QB Bulger; RB LeRon McClain; WRs Houshmandzadeh, Donte Stallworth, Marcus Smith (RFA); OTs Jared Gaither, Tony Moll; OGs Chris Chester, Marshal Yanda; C David Hale; DT Haloti Ngata (Franchised, Probe Owler); OLB Antwan Barnes; ILBs Daqnnell Ellerbe (ERFA), Tavares Gooden (RFA), Jameel McClain (RFA); CBs Fabian Washington, Josh Wilson, Chris Carr (RFA); Safeties Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski (RFA), Haruki Nakamura (RFA), Ken Hamlin; K Graham
Top FAs 2012: RB Ray Rice; WR Derrick Mason; TE Todd Heap; OG Ben Grubbs; C Matt Birk; DE Cory Redding; NT Kelly Gregg; OLB Jarret Johnson; ILBs Jason Phillips, Brendon Ayanbadejo; CB Lardarius Webb; 

Draft Picks:   Chykie Brown DB, Jimmy Smith DB, Pernell McPhee DE, Jah Reid OT, Tyrod Taylor QB, Anthony Allen RB,  Tandon Doss WR, Torrey Smith WR

My free agency forecast for the Ravenz: Choppy Seas - With 8 draft picks and with Ngata plus 6 RFAs to sign, it seems unlikely the blackbirds will be buyers.  I do like their draft, though.  Getting Jimmy Smith as a replacement for Josh Wilson is a smart move, and the WRs (Doss and Smith) should benefit from salty ol' Mason being there.  Ray Rice is entering his contract year, which is another reason to keep spending in-house, unless there's just a deal they can't refuse.

Cincinnati - $29.3 under cap, $16.1 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 15 total, 11 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QB Jordan Palmer (RFA); RBs Cedric Benson, Brian Leonard; WRs Terrell Owens, Matt Jones, Quan Cosby (ERFA); TEs Daniel Coats, Reggie Kelly; OT Dennis Roland; OGs Evan Mathis, Nate Livings; C Kyle Cook; DT Jonathan Fanene; OLBs Brandon Johnson, Rashad Jeanty; MLB Dhani Jones; CB Johnathan Joseph; Safeties Roy Williams, Chinedum Ndukwe, Tom Nelson (ERFA);
Top FAs 2012: WRs Chad Ochocinco, Andre Caldwell , Jerome Simpson; OT Anthony Collins; OG Bobbie Williams; DE Frostee Rucker; DT Pat Sims; CBs Leon Hall, Pacman Jones; Safety Reggie Nelson; K Nugent

Draft Picks:   Korey Lindsey DB, Clint Boling OG, Dontay Moch OLB,  Andy Dalton QB, Jay Finley RB, Robert Sands S,
A.J. Green (Top 10 Pick) WR, Ryan Whalen WR

My free agency forecast for the Bengalz: Dead in the Water - Is Cincinnati the worst organization in the NFL?  Well, they put an RFA tender on Jordan Palmer.  I'm guessing poor Andy Dalton will be starting at QB, slinging it toward A.J. Green and hoping he comes down with it.  Even with the cap space they have, they have no chance to threaten the Ravens or Steelers.  I guess they'll be shopping for a RB, CB, and anybody else willing to play there.

Cleveland - $20.8 under cap, $7.6 under floor
# 2011 FAs - 19 total, 13 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QB Seneca Wallace; RBs Mike Bell, Lawrence Vickers; WRs Chansi Stuckey, Syndric Steptoe; TE Greg Estandia; OG Pork Chop Womack; DE Robaire Smith; OLB/DEs Matt Roth; Marcus Benard (RFA), Chris Gocong, Jayme Mitchell, Jason Trusnik; ILB D'Qwell Jackson; CB Eric Wright; Safeties Abram Elam, Nick Sorenson; K Dawson
Top FAs 2012:  QB Jake Delhomme; RB Peyton Hillis; TE Alex Smith; OTs Joe Thomas (Probe Owler), Tony Pashos, John St. Clair; DE Kenyon Coleman; NT Athyba Rubin; Safety Mike Adams; 

Draft Picks:   Buster Skrine DB, Jabaal Sheard  DE, Phil Taylor  DT,  Owen Marecic FB,  Jason Pinkston OT,  Eric Hagg S, Jordan Cameron TE,  Greg Little WR

My free agency forecast for the Brownz: Clear Sailing - Big winners of the Julio Jones draft pix sweepstakes, the Browns helped themselves quite a bit in the draft.  Greg Little will give Colt a big, strong target, as will Jordan Cameron.  Phil Taylor should help keep Scott Fujita free to make plays on defense.  They'll need to extend Joe Thomas and Peyton Hillis.  I doubt if they'll do much else in Free Agency other than look for depth.

Pittsburgh - $4.0 under cap, $9.2 OVER floor
# 2011 FAs - 15 total, 10 with 4+ years

Top FAs 2011:  QB Dennis Dixon; RB Mewelde Moore; TE Matt Spaeth; OTs Willie Colon, Tony Hills; OG Trai Essex; NT Chris Hoke; OLB/DEs LaMarr Woodley (Franchised), Andre Frazier; ILB Keyaron Fox; CBs Ike Taylor, William Gay; K Reed; P Sepulveda
Top FAs 2012:  QB Charlie Batch; WRs Mike Wallace, Limas Sweed; OT Flozell Adams; OG Kraig Urbik; DE Aaron Smith; ILB Lawrence Timmons; CB Keenan Lewis; Safety Troy Polamalu (Probe Owler);

Draft Picks:   Cortez Allen DB, Curtis Brown DB, Cameron Heyward DE,  Keith Williams OG, Christopher Carter OLB, Marcus Gilbert  OT, Baron Batch RB

My free agency forecast for the Steelerz: Anchored in the Harbor -The Steelers don't need to do anything in Free Agency other than give Woodley a contract and extend Wallace, Timmons, and Polamalu.  If they can pull that off given their cap situation, I'd say they're right back in the thick of the race.  Of course, the great unknown is what marriage will do to Roethlisberger's party life.  He may implode.

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