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NFC West Report: Free Agency Forecast

Posted Mar 10, 2014

With the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals winning 10 games and the St. Louis Rams showing signs of progress, each squad is trying to keep pace with its peers.

For most intents and purposes, the NFL’s free agency period has already started.

Expect the pace to become frenetic come Tuesday, however.

Teams, including your 49ers, have been able to negotiate with their own free agents since the season’s end. This exclusivity expired on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT, when clubs could begin speaking with all unemployed players.

Those players just can’t sign on the dotted line until Tuesday 1 p.m. PT.

PHOTOS: NFL's Top 100 Free Agents

In the few hours we have remaining, 49ers.com helps to get you set from a divisional perspective.

Expect each of the 49ers three NFC West rivals to be active.

With the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals winning 10 games and the St. Louis Rams showing signs of progress, each squad is trying to keep pace with its peers.

“Matter of fact, I was just talking to coach Harbaugh about that,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. “We have watched this thing happen pretty quickly and it's pretty impressive.”

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim agreed, saying he felt the rivals’ success “leaves little room for error,” while Rams coach Jeff Fisher said that he believed his team was “closing the gap.”

Seattle Seahawks

Notable free agents: DEs Michael Bennett and Red Bryant, WRs Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, DTs Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald, CBs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, LB O’Brien Schofield, OT Breno Giacomini, K Steven Hauschka

Cap space: 14.3 million (according to spotrac.com)

Reported moves: Bennett, one of the league’s top free agents, will return to the team with a new four-year deal, according to reports on Monday afternoon. The team had already cut Rice and lost Bryant to Seahawks defensive coordinator-turned-Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. Bryant agreed to a four-year deal with the Jags. Seattle also re-signed developing backups Jeron Johnson (S) and Lemuel Jeanpierre (OL) and tagged restricted free agent Doug Baldwin (WR) with a second round-level tender.

Outlook: No surprise here – the Super Bowl champ Seahawks don’t appear to have glaring needs. Their focus of this period will likely continue to be on retaining many of their own players. GM John Schneider called Tate, for example, a “big priority” last month: "Golden knows where we stand and how much we love him and how much we want to have him back on our team."

Arizona Cardinals

Notable free agents: LB Karlos Dansby, CBs Javier Arenas and Antoine Cason, OT Eric Winston, G Daryn Colledge, DE Matt Shaughnessy

Cap space: $22.2 million

Reported moves: Arizona struck a two-year accord with TE John Carlson, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings. Veteran RB Rashard Mendenhall announced his retirement.

Outlook: The third-place Cards have “high” needs along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker. They’d like to re-sign Dansby, an 11-year vet who recorded 122 tackles in 2013. “He’s a great leader. He's a good football player,” general manager Steve Keim said at the combine. “Hopefully, we can get something done, but you have to be prepared to move on from any player.”

St. Louis Rams

Notable free agents: OTs Rodger Saffold and Chris Williams, QB Kellen Clemens, G Shelley Smith, CB Cortland Finnegan, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Cap space: $10.5 million

Reported moves: The team added free agent TE Zach Potter on Feb. 26; Potter was out of the league in 2013.

Outlook: The cellar-dwelling Rams have some more breathing room after releasing Finnegan. With various holes to fill via the draft and free agency, the organization isn’t concerned with its available funds. “We're not walking around scrambling that we've got to do anything to function,” St. Louis general manager Les Snead said at the combine. “So you hear a lot of times, ‘We're up against the cap.’ There is some strategy to that for those guys (front office members Kevin Demoff and Tony Pastoors) that are a lot smarter than I am at that stuff.” 


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