We already miss football, but you should know by now that the NFL is truly a year-long league. There's always something going on, whether that be the upcoming NFL combine or free agency. Teams can already franchise tag players and the legal tampering period is just a few weeks away.
All 32 NFL teams have holes to fill on their rosters, and there are plenty of stars available that could boost franchises in a big way. Below, we will list one free agent each team should prioritize next month. A couple of things to note first: Not every free agent listed will be a top-of-the-market dream candidate for every team. We aren't going to say every receiver-needy team needs to prioritize Chris Godwin. We also organized this list so that there are no duplicates. Salary cap restrictions will be taken into account, although they will not totally dominate our selections. Let's jump in.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have several important free agents looking for new deals, so some will slip through the cracks. If Carlton Davis is one of those players, he will get attention on the open market. The Cardinals desperately need to bolster their cornerback room, and adding a 25-year-old who has been a starter ever since he entered the league would be a big get.
Mike Williams had a career year in 2021, and it may be time for him to spread his wings and be that true No. 1 wide receiver. The Falcons need help at wide receiver with Calvin Ridley's future in jeopardy and Russell Gage testing the free agency waters. Atlanta is currently in the red when it comes to projected cap space, but Arthur Smith needs to sign a true No. 1 wide receiver to boost his offensive attack. You're not going to get much out of Matt Ryan if it's him and Kyle Pitts vs. the world.
It's no secret that Marcus Maye wants out of New York, and this offseason it could happen. Baltimore needs help in the secondary at cornerback and safety, and signing a true ballhawk like Maye at free safety would immediately improve this defense.
Christian Kirk was seen vacationing/having dinner with Bills star quarterback Josh Allen, so there's a connection! But the Bills should explore the free agent market when it comes to the receiver position. Stefon Diggs is a star and Gabriel Davis may be a legitimate No. 2, but Buffalo could also lose Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie in free agency. The Bills could have one of the best passing offenses in the NFL, but they need to keep stockpiling weapons.
The Panthers absolutely need help on the offensive line. One player they should prioritize is Austin Corbett, who is coming off of a Super Bowl victory. He's 26-years-old and can play both guard spots. That versatility will be valued on a line that needs a lot of help.
Matt Eberflus is going to want to bring in some players who can improve his defense, and finding a starting cornerback is something he should prioritize. J.C. Jackson could be a target, but he will come expensive and is a prime franchise tag candidate for the New England Patriots. Charvarius Ward has plenty of starting experience and is 25 going on 26.
Scherff has played two straight years for Washington on the franchise tag and it's time for him to find some security. The Bengals have a need for one of the best offensive guards in the game and the money to pay him.
I think Donovan Peoples-Jones could be a legitimate starter, but adding weapons is always a good idea and the Browns should again try to give Baker Mayfield all the support he needs as they continue to go through the process of figuring out if he's their franchise guy. A change of scenery would be beneficial for D.J. Chark, because he's a player who could be a star. He's got ideal size at 6-foot-4, and is overall a well-rounded weapon who could blow up with a new team.
Dallas Cowboys - S Jessie Bates III
The Cowboys have several players in the secondary looking for new deals like Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse. It's very possible Jerry Jones goes out and tries to score a splashy playmaker in the secondary instead of re-signing the ones he has. Jessie Bates could be that guy, and he shined during Cincy's Cinderella postseason run with 20 combined tackles, six passes defensed and two interceptions in four playoff games.
Despite Trevon Diggs' breakout campaign, the Cowboys' pass defense still ranked in the bottom half of the league (238.2 air yards allowed per game.) Maybe an improved defense could get Dallas to that next level.
Denver Broncos - EDGE Chandler Jones
The Broncos are projected to have the sixth-most cap space in the NFL. With Von Miller gone, Denver could choose to throw money at a new star pass-rusher to pair opposite of Bradley Chubb, and Jones is one of the best in the business. He's recorded at least 10.5 sacks in seasons he's played more than five games dating back to 2015. He also wants out of Arizona.
The Chiefs want to keep Tyrann Mathieu, but will they be able to? If I'm the Lions I'm adding multiple members of the secondary through free agency alone. Mathieu brings the kind of toughness, leadership and experience that Dan Campbell wants in this subpar secondary. This seems like the kind of player Campbell would tell the front office to throw money at. If Mathieu is allowed to hit the open market, he will have plenty of suitors. Detroit should at least throw its hat in the ring because of the leader he is.
The Packers were reportedly interested in Will Fuller previously, and now again have a chance at him in free agency. It's true he's dealt with multiple injuries, but this is the kind of weapon Aaron Rodgers would be happy to have alongside Davante Adams. Green Bay needs to add a receiver and Fuller could take a bit of a pay cut to be a part of what could legitimately be Rodgers' last dance.
While the Cowboys are out chasing big fish in free agency, the Texans could steal one of their starting offensive linemen. Houston has plenty of needs to fill, but shoring up the offensive line for Davis Mills and the run game would be smart.
The Colts need a quarterback, but also should add a wide receiver. Allen Robinson will come very expensive, but he could end up being the best free-agent addition this offseason even with the hefty price tag. He has three seasons over 1,000 receiving yards despite virtually never having a good quarterback. Obviously that hurts the Colts' case as a potential new home, but they have the money and the need. T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal could be playing for new teams next year.
The Jaguars have plenty of holes to fill, but Zach Ertz reuniting with Doug Pederson would be sweet. It's not just that, as the Jaguars also need to add a legitimate tight end. I think it's something that could help expedite Trevor Lawrence's development, and Ertz proved during his stint with the Cardinals that he has tread left on the tires.
The Chiefs could see their wide receiving corps revamped this offseason. Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson are free agents, and the Chiefs are seemingly still searching for that No. 2 wideout for Tyreek Hill. JuJu Smith-Schuster proved to be an incredibly effective No. 2 receiver during his time alongside Antonio Brown, and that may be the role that fits him best. The Chiefs reportedly showed interest in him last year, and should do so again this offseason.
It's very possible Davante Adams could leave Green Bay this offseason, especially if Aaron Rodgers retires or leaves for a team like the Broncos. It's also possible Adams and Rodgers could go from teammates to rivals next year, since Adams has a connection to the Raiders.
He and Derek Carr dominated at Fresno State, and if there's a quarterback he would want to play with that's not Rodgers, it has to be the guy quarterbacking for the Silver and Black. Adams is one of the best receivers in the NFL and the Raiders need a new No. 1 outside threat.
The Chargers had the third-worst run defense in the NFL last year, allowing an average of 138.9 rushing yards per game in 2021. If they stood up Josh Jacobs on that third and 4, they may have made the playoffs. Larry Ogunjobi was an absolute stud for the Bengals last year, and he will have suitors in free agency. The Chargers should be one.
The Rams will be focused on retaining key pieces this offseason and running it back. They likely won't be trying to reset the market with top players. Alexander Johnson is an interesting story, as he is 30-years-old and has played just 38 career games due to a late start in his career. He played just six games due to injury last year, but led the Broncos with 124 combined tackles and was second on the team with two forced fumbles in 2020. He's a flexible inside linebacker and a fun teammate. Johnson would make the Rams better, and he's one of PFF's 10 under-the-radar free agents.
New head coach Mike McDaniel knows how valuable it is to have a star at left tackle from his days with the San Francisco 49ers, and since the Dolphins are projected to have more cap space than any other team, he's going to go out and get his guy. Armstead is a player who will make McDaniel's and Tua Tagovailoa's life easier immediately.
Minnesota Vikings - EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah
The Vikings have to address the pass-rusher position, but don't have the cap space to reset the market with someone like Chandler Jones. Emmanuel Ogbah would be a great addition that could be more affordable for Minnesota. He has led the Dolphins in sacks in both seasons he's been in Miami!
New England Patriots - WR Chris Godwin
Remember last year when Bill Belichick dominated free agency from the jump? Those moves certainly worked out. The one position where he underwhelmed a bit was wide receiver. If the Patriots want to be Super Bowl contenders, Mac Jones needs a true No. 1 wide receiver. Godwin will come expensive, but the Patriots should prioritize him.
New Orleans Saints - WR Cedrick Wilson
The Saints are another team that needs a quarterback, but they shouldn't ignore the wide receiver position either. It's widely acknowledged that the Saints have cap issues, so they should prioritize a wide receiver who could benefit from being given a bigger role. That could be Michael Gallup or Cedrick Wilson, but the latter should come cheaper. He's a player who stepped up when given targets, like when he caught seven passes for 104 yards against the Raiders on Thanksgiving -- one of his four "starts" this season.
If the Giants want to find out if Daniel Jones is their franchise quarterback, they have to give him better protection. James Daniels is one of the best offensive guards in this free agency class, and one of the youngest as well.
Dalton Schultz is one of the best tight ends in this "class," and the Jets should target him. Zach Wilson has weapons in Michael Carter, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, now he needs that receiving tight end who can also serve as his security blanket.
No one except De'Vondre Campbell saw him being a First Team All-Pro in 2021. He had a career year at 28-years-old, notching 146 combined tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Campbell was a monster at the second level and the Eagles need help at linebacker.
The Steelers should draft a quarterback in the first round, but they also need to focus on improving the offensive line. Cam Robinson hasn't been the franchise left tackle the Jaguars have hoped for, but he's just 26 and could be another player that benefits from a change of scenery.
San Francisco 49ers - CB Stephon Gilmore
When the Seahawks released Richard Sherman a few years ago shortly before his 30th birthday, the 49ers were quick to scoop him up. It was a great decision, as he picked up Pro Bowl honors in his second season with the 49ers while he helped lead a very stout defense to the Super Bowl. The 49ers need to upgrade at cornerback, and they should again target a proven veteran.
Stephon Gilmore played just eight games for the Panthers in 2021, but recorded two interceptions, two passes defensed and was named a Pro Bowl alternate. He's obviously a top player in this "class" and will get paid, but the 49ers should prioritize him.
Seattle Seahawks - CB J.C. Jackson
This Seahawks pass defense has been one of the worst in the league over the past three seasons, and it's about time that changes. The Seahawks are projected to be in the top 10 of teams with the most available cap space, and they need to chase who is arguably the best cornerback on the market if he escapes the franchise tag.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR Jamison Crowder
The Buccaneers are in a weird spot right now. They have one of the best rosters in the NFL save the quarterback position, but also have many important pending free agents. Losing Chris Godwin would be tough, losing Alex Cappa or Ryan Jensen would also be tough. Who they target will depend on who they plan on losing, so let's focus on the wide receiver position for a moment.
Tampa Bay lost Antonio Brown and could lose Godwin as well. The Bucs don't have the most cap space this offseason, so let's find an underrated weapon who could make an immediate impact. I'm thinking Jamison Crowder. The slot weapon has led the Jets in receiving in two out of his three seasons in New York, and is a receiver who can help whoever is throwing the football for the Buccaneers in 2022.
There are several spots where the Titans could improve in free agency, and one is definitely tight end. Anthony Firkser was given a shot at the starting spot and he didn't exactly thrive, catching 34 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee doesn't have the most incredible cap situation in the world, but this year's tight end market is full of legitimate starters. Maybe they won't swing for Zach Ertz, Robert Tonyan Jr. or Evan Engram, but a player like David Njoku could really break out with a change of scenery.
Washington Commanders - LB Anthony Walker
Anthony Walker is a perfect fit for the Commanders, as Washington needs a legitimate middle linebacker. Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb have both tried the position out, but Walker is a 4-3 middle linebacker who has been a difference-maker for two teams now.