NFL teams still have work to do following free agency and the 2022 draft.
As coaches lead voluntary organized team activities on the practice field, some front offices will engage in negotiations with players who want new deals. Other clubs may look to add competition at certain positions or part ways with veterans to generate opportunities for younger, higher-upside talent.
Several players have skipped OTAs to show dissatisfaction with their current deals, which creates urgency in contract talks. Certain teams should pay up to prevent a potential holdout that lingers into training camp.
What's the most important transaction left on the offseason to-do list for each NFL team? We examined every roster and have come up with one move for all 32 teams, which includes signings, cuts, trades and extensions.
Arizona Cardinals: Sign QB Kyler Murray to an Extension
As Kyler Murray waits for contract talks with the Arizona Cardinals to ramp up, he hasn't attended OTAs. However, head coach Kliff Kingsbury expects him to join the team for mandatory minicamp from June 14-16.
Murray has battled injuries and struggled at the tail end of the past two seasons, but he helped lead the Cardinals to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 2015. The front office should avoid any major conflict with its most important player as the team climbs the ranks in the NFC.
Murray doesn't need extra time to develop a rapport with his former Oklahoma teammate, wideout Marquise Brown, whom the club acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in a draft-day trade. However, he has to work on his connection with A.J. Green.
Green accepted fault for a lack of communication with Murray throughout the 2021 season. He'll have a big role while fellow wideout DeAndre Hopkins serves a six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. They could use the practice time to their benefit.
Murray will probably command a deal worth more than $40 million per year, which would raise his average annual value (AAV) into the top eight among quarterbacks.
Atlanta Falcons: Trade LB Deion Jones
The Atlanta Falcons are in the early stages of a rebuild, but veteran linebacker Deion Jones has a cap hit north of $20 million this season. That doesn't make sense for a team that shed big contracts and let a key defender walk in free agency.
In back-to-back offseasons, the Falcons have dealt wideout Julio Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan amid roster turnover under general manager Terry Fontenot. They let linebacker Foyesade Oluokun walk in free agency this year after his highly productive stretch between 2020 and 2021.
Meanwhile, Jones remains on the roster following a disappointing year in which he allowed a 115.5 passer rating in coverage and missed 11 percent of his tackles. Head coach Arthur Smith said the 27-year-old linebacker will not participate in the team's offseason program as he goes through rehab following a shoulder procedure.
The Falcons selected Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen in the second round of the 2022 draft and signed fellow linebackers Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency. Mykal Walker, who has started eight games for the Falcons over the past two seasons, is heading into his third campaign.
While Jones may be the most athletic linebacker on the roster, Atlanta has enough depth at that spot to move on without him. The Falcons can save $14.7 million in a post-June 1 trade if they find a team willing to take him on in the hope that he would solidify its linebacker group.
Baltimore Ravens: Sign QB Lamar Jackson to an Extension
The Baltimore Ravens seem more eager to sign Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal than he is at this point in the offseason.
Head coach John Harbaugh essentially put the ball in Jackson's court when he spoke about the quarterback's contract situation on The Rich Eisen Show (h/t Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio).
"When he's ready to do it, it's going to become a priority for him, then we're gonna know it, you know?” Harbaugh said. "It doesn't have to be a priority for us right now. It's got to be a priority for both sides. We can do something, or we can wait. Because we know it's gonna get done when it's supposed to get done."
Perhaps Jackson plans to bet on himself and play out the final year of his rookie contract in the hope of cashing in following a strong 2022 campaign. If so, he could aim to become one of the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks.
The Ravens should push to ink Jackson before the Arizona Cardinals extend quarterback Kyler Murray, who could also sign a massive new deal in the near future. The latter could raise the floor for the former, who's more accomplished with a league MVP on his resume.
It's in Baltimore's best interest to close a deal with Jackson as soon as possible.
Buffalo Bills: Sign S Jordan Poyer to an Extension
In April, Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer made a business decision and switched agents in an attempt to push for a new contract. He hired Drew Rosenhaus, who approached the Bills about an extension for his client before the 2022 draft, per Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News.
Poyer hasn't attended OTAs. Though he isn't required to participate in voluntary workouts, the All-Pro safety could threaten to hold out for a new deal.
On one hand, Buffalo may not be in a hurry to sign a 31-year-old safety to big money. However, the Bills didn't select a player at the position in the draft or sign a notable free agent to fill that potential void, which may suggest that they'll eventually hammer out an agreement with the 10th-year pro.
Last year, Poyer recorded 93 tackles, eight for loss, nine pass breakups and five interceptions while allowing a minuscule 42.2 passer rating in coverage. He played a big role in the Bills' pass defense, which gave up the fewest passijng touchdowns and yards leaguewide even though cornerback Tre'Davious White suffered a torn ACL in Week 12.
Without a viable replacement in house, the Bills will probably find a way to resolve Poyer's contract situation.
Carolina Panthers: Acquire QB Baker Mayfield
The Carolina Panthers should continue to explore all options at quarterback, especially if the player is clearly better than their current projected starter, Sam Darnold. Through four seasons, Darnold has thrown for 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions with a 59.8 percent completion rate.
General manager Scott Fitterer left the door open for rookie third-rounder Matt Corral and P.J. Walker to win the starting job, but he called Darnold the "number one guy" during an interview with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Head coach Matt Rhule should feel nervous about his job security with that group. He needs an upgrade to turn the team around in his third year at the helm.
Baker Mayfield has gone through his ups and downs through four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but he's posted better passing numbers than Darnold, throwing for 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions with a 61.6 percent completion rate. He also helped lead the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002.
According to the Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Alexander, Carolina wanted Cleveland to pay $13-14 million of Mayfield's $18.9 million salary in talks before the 2022 draft. However, the Panthers still haven't ruled out a trade for Mayfield, per The Athletic's Jeff Howe.
The Panthers have about $25.1 million in cap space, and Mayfield has only one year left on his deal. Likely headed into the season on the hot seat with a 10-23 record, Rhule should push the front office to make a deal with the Browns to possibly save his job.
Chicago Bears: Sign LB Roquan Smith to an Extension
During the NFL owners meetings in March, new Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles said Roquan Smith's contract is "something we have to address." However, the Bears still have yet to extend him.
"Obviously the earlier you get to that, the better," Poles said. "But also with a new staff, we may wait a little bit, too."
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler thinks the Bears will ramp up contract discussions in the coming months.
"Expect talks between the Bears and Smith to heat up some time this summer," Fowler wrote. "... He doesn't have an agent and will essentially negotiate on his own behalf, but he showed up to offseason workouts as a sign of good faith."
Because Smith isn't a threat to hold out yet, Chicago can take its time in negotiations. He's due $9.7 million on the fifth year of his rookie deal, but he's worth far more than that after a highly productive four-year run in which he logged 524 tackles, 43 for loss, 14 sacks, 17 pass breakups, five interceptions and a touchdown.
Smith doesn't have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro season on his resume, though he should command a contract that moves him into the top three among off-ball linebackers in AAV. If that's the case, he would rank behind All-Pros Darius Leonard and Fred Warner at around $18 million annually.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sign S Jessie Bates III to an Extension
The Cincinnati Bengals franchise-tagged Jessie Bates III in early March. They should take their commitment a step further with a long-term offer prior to the July 15 deadline.
Bates hasn't attended OTAs, and he has "no intentions" to play under the franchise tag, per USA Today's Tyler Dragon. The fifth-year safety can turn this contract situation into a messy ordeal.
"It seems like anything is possible here, including a lengthy holdout," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote in a breakdown of the matter.
Back in November, Bates publicly discussed his struggles early in the 2021 season and how his contract situation adversely impacted his performance. He finished the campaign with only four pass breakups and an interception while allowing an 80 percent completion rate and a 122 passer rating in coverage.
However, Bates bounced back during the Bengals' playoff run with six pass breakups and two interceptions in four contests.
With quarterback Joe Burrow on a rookie deal for at least another year, Cincinnati should pay its top playmakers on both sides of the ball. Aside from his shaky 2021 campaign, Bates has been one of the league's top safeties in recent years, recording 35 pass breakups and 10 interceptions through four seasons.
Cleveland Browns: Trade QB Baker Mayfield
The NFL could suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for multiple games after the conclusion of its investigation into 22 lawsuits from women that accused him of sexual assault and misconduct, which would thrust a backup into action.
The Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Jacoby Brissett to a one-year, $4.7 million deal in free agency, so he would likely serve as the fill-in starter for Watson. Meanwhile, incumbent starter Baker Mayfield hasn't attended OTAs as he waits for clarity on his playing future.
Since Mayfield isn't in the team's short-term plans, the Browns will probably trade him at some point in the near future. According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers might have an interest in him if Cleveland pays a large portion of his $18.9 million guaranteed salary for 2022.
The Seahawks currently have Geno Smith and Drew Lock competing for the starting job. Both have completed fewer than 60 percent of their career pass attempts.
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio that Sam Darnold is the "number one guy" for the lead position under center. However, he's coming off a dreadful 2021 campaign in which he threw only nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions through 12 outings (11 starts).
With 92 touchdown passes, 56 interceptions and a 61.6 percent completion rate, Mayfield could go to the Seahawks or Panthers and likely win the quarterback battle. Either club would be a good landing spot for him.
Dallas Cowboys: Sign a Backup Left Tackle on 1-Year Deal
The Dallas Cowboys released right tackle La'el Collins as a cap casualty, although Terence Steele should fill that void. He served as a swing tackle and started in 27 games over the last two seasons.
With Steele likely to make a jump to a full-time starting role on the right side and rookie first-rounder Tyler Smith competing with Connor McGovern for the left guard spot following the departure of Connor Williams in free agency, the Cowboys need an experienced insurance policy for left tackle Tyron Smith.
Rookie fifth-rounder Matt Waletzko could replace Steele in the swing tackle role, but that's a big gamble on a first-year player who could take the field for a significant number of snaps in place of an oft-injured starter.
Smith has missed 20 games over the past two seasons, and he's sat out at least three contests for six consecutive years.
Though Tyler Smith (the rookie first-rounder) could eventually replace Tyron Smith (the eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro) at left tackle, he may win the battle at left guard this offseason. If that's the case, Dallas needs a reliable veteran tackle for at least a year.
The front office should make calls to free agents Duane Brown and Eric Fisher, both of whom have extensive starting experience.
Denver Broncos: Sign a Backup Quarterback
The Denver Broncos acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in a blockbuster trade in March, which resolves their quarterback issue for the foreseeable future. Still, every team should stock the position with a reliable backup who can make spot starts in case the starter goes down with an injury.
Wilson has missed only three games (all last season) in 10 years, but Denver may need a serviceable signal-caller for a game or two throughout the lengthy 17-game regular season.
The Broncos sent Drew Lock to the Seahawks in the Wilson deal, and they didn't re-sign Teddy Bridgewater. Denver's current backups are Brett Rypien, who's thrown only 42 regular-season passes, and 36-year-old Josh Johnson, who has made nine career starts.
Cam Newton may not want to settle for a backup role yet, though the Broncos should try to convince Ryan Fitzpatrick to stick around for another year after he missed all but one game because of a hip injury last season. The latter briefly crossed paths with new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett during the 2009 season in Buffalo.
Detroit Lions: Sign a Swing Tackle
The Detroit Lions could be a pleasant surprise in 2022 because they're strong on both sides of the trenches. They've bolstered their pass rush with the addition of rookies Aidan Hutchinson (first-rounder) and Josh Paschal (second-rounder).
Detroit should now add layers to its offensive line depth. Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell will start at left and right tackle, respectively, but the Lions could benefit from adding an experienced perimeter blocker as an alternative to fourth-year pro Matt Nelson.
Perhaps they should consider a reunion with Riley Reiff, who played on both sides of the line for the club from 2012 through 2016. He allowed four sacks through 711 snaps and committed only one penalty with the Bengals last year, per Pro Football Focus.
Fellow free agent Nate Solder has played most of his career snaps on the left side, but he lined up primarily at right tackle (16 starts) with the New York Giants last year. Though Nelson made 11 starts at right tackle last season, Reiff or Solder may be an upgrade as a run-blocker on the edge if needed in a pinch.
Green Bay Packers: Sign WR Julio Jones
The Green Bay Packers will try to replace Davante Adams by committee at wide receiver. They signed Sammy Watkins and selected Christian Watson (second round), Romeo Doubs (fourth round) and Samori Toure (seventh round) in the 2022 draft.
Why not take a flier on Julio Jones, too?
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may need extensive time before he trusts his rookie receivers. Watkins has missed 10 games over the past two years and has only had one 1,000-yard season across his eight-year NFL career.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport thinks the Packers will add another veteran receiver sometime this offseason. He specifically mentioned Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry as potential options.
Beckham may not be ready to play until late in the year as he recovers from a torn ACL, while Landry recently signed with the New Orleans Saints. Jones is still available, though.
Even though Jones had an underwhelming 2021 season, hauling in only 31 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown, he still averaged 14 yards per reception across 10 games. If healthy, the big-play wideout could potentially provide a spark to the Packers offense in spurts.
Houston Texans: Sign a Pass-Catching Tight End
The Houston Texans should use the 2022 season to evaluate quarterback Davis Mills as a starter.
Mills started last season in a backup role behind Tyrod Taylor, but he eventually took over the lead position. He's now poised to build off a decent rookie campaign in which he threw for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 66.8 percent completion rate.
The Texans can help Mills by bringing in a veteran pass-catching tight end.
Tight end Brevin Jordan showed flashes last season as a rookie, particularly in the red zone. He hauled in all three of his touchdown receptions within 13 yards of the goal line.
With that said, Houston should insert another playmaker at the position to make sure Mills has a reliable big-bodied target.
The Texans could take a look at Eric Ebron, who's caught 351 passes for 3,837 yards and 33 touchdowns through eight seasons and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2018. Fellow free agent Jared Cook has been a serviceable pass-catching tight end for six teams across 13 seasons, racking up 553 receptions for 7,237 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts: Sign G Quenton Nelson to an Extension
Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson hasn't skipped OTAs to raise attention to his contract situation as he goes into the final year of his rookie deal. That's probably because he knows the Colts will eventually pay him the big bucks.
Through his first four NFL seasons, Nelson already has four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro nods on his resume. He's helped change the identity of the offensive line and cleared interior lanes for 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor, who's the focal point of the Colts offense.
Nelson is set to make $13.8 million this year, but he'll likely become the highest-paid guard over Brandon Scherff, who signed a three-year, $49.5 million contract ($30 million guaranteed) with the Jacksonville Jaguars in March.
Players with Nelson's accolades don't hit the open market, so the Colts figure to financially reward him for his play at some point before Week 1 of the regular season. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, they would like to "prioritize" an extension for the top-notch guard.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trade WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
The Jacksonville Jaguars invested a significant amount of cap space in pass-catchers during free agency. They signed Christian Kirk (four years, $72 million), Zay Jones (three years, $24 million) and Evan Engram (one year, $9 million).
Based on those contracts, new head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor will try to make good use of their free-agent additions in the passing game, which means fewer targets to go around for everyone.
With wideout Marvin Jones Jr. also still on the roster after recording a team-leading 73 receptions for 832 yards and four touchdowns last season, Laviska Shenault Jr. may be the odd man out in the Jaguars' new-look pass-catching group.
Shenault caught 63 passes for 619 yards last season, but he didn't score a touchdown. Going into his third year, he still has a ton of upside and could appeal to other clubs such as the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, who may want to shore up their wide receiver unit with a player who can line up on the perimeter or in the slot.
Jacksonville should be able to fetch a middle-round pick for the 2020 second-rounder, and it would be wise to do so.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sign a Run-Stuffing Defensive Tackle
The Kansas City Chiefs haven't done enough to address their run defense after it gave up the second-most yards per carry (4.8) last year. General manager Brett Veach still has time to correct that oversight.
Rookie first-rounder George Karlaftis will push for a starting spot to bookend the defensive line opposite of Frank Clark, but Kansas City needs a dedicated run-stuffer in the middle alongside Chris Jones.
Through four seasons, 2018 third-round pick Derrick Nnadi hasn't shown the consistent ability to shed blocks and penetrate to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He's recorded only five tackles for loss in his career.
Even if the Chiefs expect Nnadi to make strides in a contract year, they should add to their rotation on the interior to mask a glaring weakness up front. Eddie Goldman, Danny Shelton or Tyeler Davison could take snaps on early downs. Veach can also spend a little more money and make an offer to Ndamukong Suh.
Las Vegas Raiders: Sign RT Daryl Williams
The Las Vegas Raiders showed a strong commitment to Derek Carr, signing him to a new deal that put him in the $40-million-plus club and added a no-trade clause. They also acquired his former Fresno State teammate in wideout Davante Adams.
Now, new general manager Dave Ziegler must strengthen his quarterback's pass protection.
Last year, Carr played behind a reconstructed offensive line that featured three first-time full-time starters in John Simpson, Andre James and Alex Leatherwood. Among the new faces, Leatherwood struggled the most, allowing eight sacks and committing 14 penalties through 1,104 snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
Though the Raiders re-signed Brandon Parker on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, he's struggled in pass protection through four seasons. He gave up eight sacks and committed nine penalties over 881 snaps last season, per PFF.
Ziegler must invest in a more reliable right tackle, especially with Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, Randy Gregory, Bradley Chubb, Frank Clark and Chris Jones in the AFC West.
With an additional $19.8 million in cap space from designating Cory Littleton and Carl Nassib as post-June 1 cuts, the Raiders could sign Daryl Williams to an appropriate deal for a starting role. As a starter at right tackle and right guard with the Bills last season, he allowed only four sacks across 1,172 snaps, per PFF.
Los Angeles Chargers: Sign S Derwin James Jr. to an Extension
The Los Angeles Chargers should pay their key playmakers on both sides of the ball while quarterback Justin Herbert has to play at least one more season on his rookie deal.
Once the Chargers sign Herbert to an extension with a $40-million-plus average annual value, they won't have much flexibility elsewhere. General manager Tom Telesco should thus open up the checkbook now and worry about the expenses in the coming years later.
Despite his injury history, Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. has earned a new deal. When healthy, he's an elite-level playmaker who can cover, rush the passer and support the run. The two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro has recorded 257 tackles (173 solo), 14 for loss, 5.5 sacks, 19 pass breakups and five interceptions while allowing only five touchdowns in 36 games across three seasons.
The Chargers should push to extend James before Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jordan Poyer or Jessie Bates III sign new deals with their respective teams, because their star defender may try to top those contracts with a pact that resets the safety market.
Los Angeles Rams: Sign Edge Justin Houston
The Los Angeles Rams lost a key playmaker in free agency when edge-rusher Von Miller signed with the Bills.
Though the Rams went 7-2 last season before they acquired Miller from the Broncos, he became a prominent closer late in the 2021 season. He logged at least one sack in seven out of the last eight outings, including the postseason, and he sacked Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow twice in the Super Bowl.
Without Miller, the Rams have to fill a void on the edge opposite of Leonard Floyd. The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue believes the team will eventually add to its group of edge-rushers.
"As stated many, many, many times, I do expect the Rams to continue to aggressively explore their options in adding to this group, whether via the post-draft wave of free agency or via trade later in the year," Rodrigue wrote in her depth-chart projections.
Edge-rushers Terrell Lewis, a 2020 third-rounder, and fourth-year pro Justin Hollins could compete for the starting spot, but they have only 11 sacks and six starts combined.
While the Rams don't have a ton of remaining cap space ($5.2 million), they should use some of it to sign Justin Houston. The 33-year-old dropped from eight sacks in 2020 to 4.5 last year, but he could give the Rams' pass rush a boost in a designated edge-rushing role.
Miami Dolphins: Sign a Right Tackle with Extensive Starting Experience
The Miami Dolphins added two starting-caliber offensive linemen in free agency, signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. The former is a lock to start at left tackle, while the latter could play left guard or center over Michael Deiter, but the right side of the five-man front remains influx.
Robert Hunt had a decent 2021 showing at right guard and may hold on to that position. The Dolphins cut Jesse Davis, who served as the primary right tackle last season, which opens up the spot for multiple candidates to take on the job.
Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg or Greg Little could win a battle for the right tackle spot, but they all have little or no experience on that side.
For two years in Miami, Jackson has played on the left side. As a rookie last year, Eichenberg took most of his snaps at left tackle. Little has battled injuries through three seasons, suiting up for only 14 games (all with the Carolina Panthers), and he's played left tackle.
Perhaps Bobby Massie or Bryan Bulaga (if healthy) can strengthen the competition for an important role on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's blind side.
Minnesota Vikings: Sign DT Ndamukong Suh
This offseason, the Minnesota Vikings added notable players to strengthen their defense, which ranked 24th in scoring and gave up the third-most yards last season.
The Vikings signed edge-rusher Za'Darius Smith, inside linebacker Jordan Hicks and slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan. They also selected safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. in the first and second rounds of the draft, respectively.
Minnesota inked defensive tackle Harrison Phillips to a three-year, $19.5 million deal as well, but he's an average signing at best with 11 starts on his four-year resume. The former Buffalo Bill logged a career-high 51 tackles, four for loss and a sack in 2021.
The Vikings should add Ndamukong Suh to their defensive line rotation. Over the last three campaigns, he recorded 72 pressures, 14.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After trading star wideout Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Green Bay Packers may transition to a run-heavy attack that features Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. With Suh on the defensive front, the Vikings could counter that approach and generate consistent pocket pressure up the middle.
New England Patriots: Trade WR Nelson Agholor
Wideout Nelson Agholor had a strong 2020 campaign with the Raiders (48 receptions for 896 yards and eight touchdowns), but his production tailed off during his first season with the New England Patriots last year. He hauled in only 37 passes for 473 yards and three touchdowns.
Perhaps Agholor can strengthen his connection with second-year quarterback Mac Jones, but that isn't a given with a crowded pass-catching group. Instead, the Patriots should see if they can get a Day 3 pick for him via trade.
The Patriots signed a pair of pass-catching tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith last offseason. They then acquired wide receiver DeVante Parker from the Miami Dolphins this offseason and selected Baylor wideout Tyquan Thornton in the second round of the 2022 draft.
Given the amount of competition he'll be facing, Agholor may not see enough targets to rack up respectable receiving numbers this season.
Though the Patriots would be left with a $5.1 million dead cap hit if they traded Agholor post-June 1, they would also save $10 million in cap space. The front office should attempt to acquire draft capital for a player who's probably fourth on the wide receiver depth chart behind Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Parker while heading into a contract year.
New Orleans Saints: Trade LB Zack Baun
Zack Baun doesn't seem like a clean fit with the New Orleans Saints.
Baun broke out as an edge-rusher during his final year at Wisconsin, logging 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, but the Saints have utilized him as an off-ball linebacker. The 25-year-old has played on the strong side and weak side but has made little impact at both positions.
Through two seasons, Baun has recorded 42 tackles (29 solo) and only one for loss in 32 games (seven starts). Pete Werner, a 2021 second-rounder, has already surpassed him on the depth chart.
The Saints may not want to give up on a third-rounder from only two years ago, especially one with pass-rushing ability, but they have tried to put a square peg in a round hole with Baun's fit in the defense.
New head coach Dennis Allen, who served as the Saints' full-time defensive coordinator since 2016 before being promoted to replace Sean Payton, should end this failed experiment and move on. At 6'3" and 225 pounds, Baun doesn't have the size and strength to rush off the edge in an even-man front.
Perhaps a team that uses an odd-man front can employ Baun as a designated pass-rushing outside linebacker.
New York Giants: Sign an Experienced Starting Cornerback
The New York Giants released cornerback James Bradberry for financial reasons this offseason, which opened up a starting boundary spot in the secondary opposite Adoree' Jackson.
Aaron Robinson, a 2021 third-rounder, has an opportunity to fill that vacancy at cornerback, but the Giants should add veteran competition to pose a tough challenge through the summer. They have plenty of options.
The Giants could take a look at Joe Haden, Xavier Rhodes, Kevin King, A.J. Bouye and Janoris Jenkins (for a second stint). They all have extensive starting experience on the perimeter.
Among that group, King makes the most sense. Unlike the other four cornerbacks, he's younger than 30 years old and still in his prime. Though the former Green Bay Packer has struggled in recent years, he could benefit from a change of scenery with new opportunities elsewhere.
King has allowed 13.3 yards per completion since 2020, but he has surrendered only three touchdowns in his last 21 outings (17 starts).
New York Jets: Sign S Jaquiski Tartt
The New York Jets need depth at safety.
They already signed Jordan Whitehead, who's likely to start. Third-year pro Ashtyn Davis has a chance to develop in the other first-string spot after he struggled in coverage last season, allowing a 123.1 passer rating in coverage.
They can't necessarily count on Lamarcus Joyner, who tore his tricep in the 2021 season opener and turns 32 years old in November. They should thus reach out to Jaquiski Tartt, who has experience in head coach Robert Saleh's scheme from their time with the San Francisco 49ers.
Under Saleh, who served as the 49ers defensive coordinator between 2017 and 2020, Tartt moved around the secondary like a chess piece, taking snaps at both safety spots and in the slot. He can do the same on the back end of Gang Green's defense.
Tartt has battled injuries throughout his career and hasn't played a full season in any of his seven campaigns. However, he can be a high-quality rotational defender who provides solid coverage. The 30-year-old has allowed only six touchdowns over the last four years.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trade WR Jalen Reagor
It's time for the Philadelphia Eagles to move on from a mistake.
The Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 draft, one spot before Minnesota Vikings two-time Pro Bowler Justin Jefferson. Reagor has caught only 64 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns through his 28 career games (24 starts).
He's unlikely to make a third-year leap because of his spot on the depth chart.
In 2021, the Eagles traded up to select wide receiver DeVonta Smith in the first round of the draft. He built an immediate rapport with quarterback Jalen Hurts, hauling in 64 passes for 916 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. During this year's draft, they acquired Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans.
With Smith and Brown on the roster, Reagor will probably battle Quez Watkins for snaps in the slot. Unlike Reagor, Watkins made significant strides between his rookie and second seasons, hauling in 43 passes for 647 yards and a touchdown.
Though Eagles executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman said he doesn't "anticipate" trading Reagor, a wide receiver-needy team like the Chicago Bears may offer him enough to part ways with the 2020 first-rounder.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Sign S Minkah Fitzpatrick to an Extension
The Pittsburgh Steelers recently promoted vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan to replace longtime general manager Kevin Colbert. As one of his first tasks, Khan will likely work to sign safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to an extension.
Pittsburgh acquired Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in September 2019. He's become an elite-level playmaker in the secondary since then, recording 203 tackles (144 solo), 27 pass breakups and 11 interceptions while allowing passer ratings below 81.3 in each year with the Steelers.
Over the past two offseasons under Colbert, the Steelers came to terms with defensive end Cameron Heyward (four years, $65.6 million) and T.J. Watt (four years, $112 million) on big-money extensions. Khan will likely maintain the organization's trend of paying a premium for its top playmakers.
The Steelers have established good faith with their key defenders, so we should expect Fitzpatrick to sign an extension before the start of the 2022 season.
San Francisco 49ers: Sign WR Deebo Samuel to an Extension
The San Francisco 49ers might have to do a little more than offer Deebo Samuel a massive extension, but a new deal could satisfy one of his demands.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who appeared on the Pat McAfee Show last week, Samuel may want to play a traditional wide receiver role to extend his career longevity.
Rapoport also believes San Francisco selected running back Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round to lessen Samuel's rushing workload. If that's the case, the 49ers should be able to mend fences with their star playmaker this offseason.
After the draft, Samuel re-followed the team on Instagram, which may suggest his willingness to work on a new deal and continue his future with the franchise.
Even if the 49ers tone down Samuel's rushing attempts, he's still likely to command at least $20 million per year on a new pact. The All-Pro wideout racked up 1,770 yards and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage while averaging a league-leading 18.2 yards per reception in 2021.
Seattle Seahawks: Sign WR DK Metcalf to an Extension
For the Seattle Seahawks to shock everyone and field a playoff contender with Geno Smith or Drew Lock under center, they'll need star wideout DK Metcalf on the field. The front office should do its best to keep him happy going into the 2022 season.
The Seahawks selected Metcalf with the last pick in the second round of the 2019 draft (No. 64 overall), and he's quickly become one of the league's top receivers, hauling in 216 receptions for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns over hist three seasons. In 2020, he ranked seventh across the NFL in receiving yards (1,303).
As a big-play wideout who averaged at least 15.5 yards per catch in two out of his three campaigns, Metcalf can open up the offense regardless of who takes snaps at quarterback. His presence can draw a safety's attention, which bodes well for a team that routinely tries to establish the run.
On 950 KJR AM with Ian Furness (h/t ESPN's Brady Henderson), head coach Pete Carroll seemed confident that the team will come to terms with Metcalf on a new deal.
"We want him to be here," Carroll said. "He wants to be here. We'll figure it out. It'll just take us some time, but we'll get it done."
Metcalf's new salary will likely land somewhere between $24-25 million annually, which is in the top five of AAV among wide receivers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sign a Guard with Extensive Starting Experience
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost Pro Bowl left guard Ali Marpet, who announced his retirement in February.
Though the Buccaneers selected Luke Goedeke in the second round of the draft, they should add veteran insurance in case the rookie isn't ready to succeed Marpet in the starting lineup.
Goedeke transitioned from a Division III tight end at Wisconsin-Stevens Point to a right tackle at Central Michigan. He started two seasons for the Chippewas and missed one because of a knee injury, so the 23-year-old may need time to work himself into a first-string position at left guard.
In the meantime, Tampa Bay could sign Ereck Flowers, who initially struggled at left tackle and then moved to left guard on the pro level. Over the past three campaigns, he has started in 46 games on the interior for the Dolphins and the Washington Commanders.
Flowers could fill a void to strengthen the Buccaneers' ground attack and give Goedeke time to develop at a new position.
Tennessee Titans: Sign an Experienced Starting Guard
The Tennessee Titans cut guard Rodger Saffold after his 2021 Pro Bowl season, which is a notable transaction for a run-heavy team that's finished among the top two in total carries in the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Someone has to clear space between the tackles for running back Derrick Henry.
Head coach Mike Vrabel spoke highly of Jamarco Jones, whom the Titans signed in free agency.
"This is a player we feel his best football is in front of him," Vrabel said. "We've been able to evaluate him against some very good opponents. This year he played left guard against the Saints, and we're hoping he can start there and compete at left guard. But he has versatility as well and has played all across the line.”
Despite Vrabel's optimism about Jones' ability to take on the starting job at left guard, the Titans should bring in a solid competitor for the spot. The former Seattle Seahawk has limited experience at the position and started in only seven games through four years.
The Titans could add Ereck Flowers, who turned his career around in a move from left tackle to left guard. They could also kick the tires on Alex Lewis, who has 39 starts on his resume, mostly at left guard.
Washington Commanders: Sign LB Kwon Alexander
The Washington Commanders cut Landon Collins, who performed at his best in the box as a hybrid linebacker-safety type defender. Meanwhile, linebacker Jamin Davis had a rough rookie season, allowing a 107.1 passer rating in coverage and missing 12.6 percent of his tackles.
If Davis doesn't progress well in his second year, the Commanders will have to rely heavily on Cole Holcomb at linebacker.
With a clear weakness on the back end of the front seven, the Commanders need another starter or high-end rotational player on the second level of the defense. If they don't address the linebacker position, opposing offenses will likely attack the middle of the field on passing downs. Also, running backs may see a lot of space to run wild four yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Washington should sign Kwon Alexander, who can play on all three downs. He recorded 50 tackles, seven for loss, 3.5 sacks, two pass breakups and an interception while allowing an 81.5 passer rating in coverage last year with the New Orleans Saints.
If Alexander can stay healthy, he'd be a surefire starter for most defenses across the league.
Player contract details and estimated team cap space are provided by Over the Cap.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.