The NFL's free agency period is just around the corner with teams setting themselves up to make moves for the start of the new league year. As each of the 32 squads will use this time to improve their rosters, the fake football fanatics among us will be keeping a close eye on what happens and how it will impact our own teams.
While NFL front offices aren't so concerned about our pretend exploits, it doesn't mean we don't have a keen interest. To that end, I looked at a handful of teams that I would especially like to see be active during free agency with a few suggestions on who they could add that might be a win-win for all involved … but mostly us.
Two seasons into the Kliff Kingsbury era, the Cardinals offense has left us wanting a little more. The 2020 edition rose and fell on the strength of the Kyler Murray-to-DeAndre Hopkins connection without a lot of consistent production from Arizona's other receivers. The team's recent track record on drafting the position has been dismal, which makes a dip in the free agent pool appealing. Bringing the newly released John Brown back to the desert could add a solid complement to Hopkins. Similarly, a reunion between Nuk and his former Texans teammate Will Fuller could re-create the potent 1-2 punch that Houston once had.
Since we're here, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Cards to consider some backfield help. Kenyan Drake's days in the desert appear to be done. Kingsbury's statement that Chase Edmonds can be a "bell cow" sounds nice, in theory. In practice, it's hard to imagine Arizona leaning on a back who's had 150 touches just once in three seasons. Adding a complementary back like Marlon Mack could help pick up the slack.
Or maybe the Redbirds split the difference and add a jack-of-all-trades like Curtis Samuel or Duke Johnson. Just a thought.
The glaring need for new head coach Arthur Smith in his first season is at running back. Todd Gurley hits free agency having had his least productive season in 2020 and looking like the end is coming sooner than later. Neither Brian Hill nor Ito Smith have shown that they're the answer at the position.
Atlanta's cap situation makes things a little trickier, but certainly not impossible. The good news for the Falcons is that running backs aren't commanding large free-agent contracts, which should make getting help a little more palatable. Chris Carson always feels overlooked because he's never been considered a pass-catcher. But he's a bruising, tackle-breaking runner -- a trait that's welcome in any offense. It's also not unlike a player Smith used to coach in Derrick Henry.
Kenyan Drake is a vastly different player than Carson, and one that could add a pass-catching element to Atlanta's backfield -- something the team has missed since Devonta Freeman's departure. Smith has said the team plans to use a committee at running back this year, which works well since Drake figures to be more productive as part of a rotation.
Between the Jonathan Taylor hype and the Carson Wentz hope, Indianapolis has two key offensive positions settled. Now it's time to find some pass-catchers. Let's be clear, it's not that Indianapolis is bereft at wide receiver. It's just that we're still not sure what they have. Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman are long on upside but short on production. For the Wentz reclamation project to begin in earnest, it would be nice to give him at least one reliable receiver to work with. Hello, Kenny Golladay. A big wideout with a knack for making contested catches is a boon to a quarterback not afraid to play hero ball and throw into tight windows. Nelson Agholor might seem an odd fit but before last season's breakout with the Raiders, Nelly Swag's best season was in 2017 … with Wentz and Frank Reich. If the Colts believe they already have a top receiving option (dubious, but OK) or just don't want to spend big at the WR position, Agholor could be a nice addition.
While we're setting up Wentz in the best possible situation, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add a tight end. Wentz targeted the position as much as any quarterback in the league and it's why Zach Ertz's name has surfaced in trade rumors with Indy. However, Ertz will be 31 this season and could come with a hefty price tag. Maybe we could interest you in a Hunter Henry instead. His on-field production has never quite been what fantasy fans had hoped, but he's still an athletic pass-catcher who is also an asset as a run blocker -- something that's never been a big part of Ertz's game.
The Colts aren't the only AFC South team trying to set up a quarterback for success. The Jaguars will be doing everything in their power to build a ready-made offense for Trevor Lawrence. D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. are the team's future at wide receiver, but like their division rivals, adding a veteran playmaker is a good idea. So why not raid said division rival for help? T.Y. Hilton might not be what he once was, but there's still something left in the tank and he could be a reliable option for a rookie quarterback.
Getting away from the AFC South, JuJu Smith-Schuster could be a very productive option in Jacksonville. He might have been a frustrating fantasy option last year, but he was still the highest-scoring Pittsburgh receiver and caught 97 passes and had a career-high in touchdowns from a quarterback who struggled to push the ball downfield consistently. That won't be a problem with Lawrence.
The Dolphins were a fun story in 2020, just missing out on the playoffs while providing just enough weekly fantasy relevance to keep us dialed in. But it's time to expect some upgrades in 2021. The rumblings along South Beach are that the Fins want to add a true workhorse to their backfield. That would make Aaron Jones a perfect fit. Fantasy managers have long clamored for Jones to be a true bell cow -- something that will likely never happen in Green Bay. It would also clear the deck for A.J. Dillon to get a bigger workload for the Packers, which would please dynasty managers.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to make some additions to the wide receiver group, as well. Preston Williams has shown potential, but had finished back-to-back seasons on injured reserve. Corey Davis was last year's DeVante Parker, aka the player who finally broke out after years of waiting. How about pairing him with 2019's DeVante Parker, who was … DeVante Parker? If that group can stay healthy and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can show improvement over last year, the Dolphins should have just enough scoring punch to support a ferocious defense while offering plenty of fantasy relevant options.