Teams are beginning to take shape while continuing to tinker rosters at the start of free agency. It was a busy initial wave of movement around the league where many marquee names are beginning to find homes — whether re-signing with their original club or agreeing to terms with new ones.
During the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, Kyle Shanahan alluded to the 49ers desire to retain as many players as possible heading into the 2020 season, despite having 18 49ers set to hit the open market.
"This is the first time that I want every single person on our team back because I think we have a team that can win a Super Bowl," he said. "I think we showed that last year. So whenever you have that, it's really tough to bring the exact same team back anywhere you've been. It'll be a lot harder, especially with our cap situation. But it is cool to know that's what we want and that's what we're trying to do."
San Francisco attempted to do just that by keeping the bulk of their second-ranked defense intact beginning with the re-signings of Jimmie Ward, Ronald Blair III and Arik Armstead. On offense, the 49ers tendered contracts to restricted free agents Matt Breida and Kendrick Bourne
While the majority of San Francisco's moves have remained in-house, around the league, several deals have yet to be recognized as official. According to the NFL, clubs may not publicly announce signings and they cannot be deemed official until the said player passes a physical. As of now, players must pass their physicals with their respective new club in order for deals to become formal, which has become a major problem amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this NFC West roundup heading into the first weekend of free agency, we'll look into what reports have been made among San Francisco's three divisional rivals as each attempt to reshape their rosters in the early stages of the new league year.
Perhaps one of the biggest (and most shocking) moves that is certain to shake up the NFC West was Arizona's jaw-dropping trade with the Houston Texans that sent veteran running back David Johnson out the door in exchange for All-Pro receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins has surpassed 1,100 receiving yards in five of his seven seasons with the Texans, missing just two games across his entire NFL career. The three-time All-Pro has averaged more than 90 receptions for over 1,220 yards and eight touchdowns a season over his career.
Quarterback Kyler Murray showed positive signs in 2019 while being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Paired with Hopkins and future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald should immensely help bolster Arizona's offense heading into 2020.
Arrivals: WR DeAndre Hopkins, LB Devon Kennard, DL Jordan Phillips, LB De'Vondre Campbell, DT Jordan Phillips
Departures: (RB David Johnson (Houston Texans), DT Rodney Gunter (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Damiere Byrd (New England Patriots)
Retained: RB Kenyan Drake (transition tag), WR Larry Fitzgerald (re-signed), T D.J. Humphries (re-signed)
Notable Free Agents: C A.Q. Shipley, WR Pharoh Cooper, LB Cassius Marsh, T Marcus Gilbert, CB Kevin Peterson
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles is on the closing end on the "win now" approach to their 2018 Super Bowl run, losing a number of players to free agency. The Rams shelled out massive contracts to Jared Goff, Aaron Donald, Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley that left them with little cap space and just six picks in this year's draft, including no Day 1 selections.
Salary cap restrictions forced Los Angeles to part ways with Gurley. The Rams released the three-time Pro Bowl, two-time All-Pro running back on Thursday in an attempt to offload his steep salary. In 2018, Gurley was signed to a four-year contract extension that made him the highest paid running back at the time.
After a Super Bowl appearance where he amassed just 35 yards on 10 touches, Gurley saw his production decline in 2019. Gurley posted a career-low 857 yards on 223 carries last season while splitting carries with backup running backs Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. Gurley is expected to remain in the NFC as the Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with the running back a day after his release from the Rams.
The Rams also made another notable cut with the release of veteran linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews joined Los Angeles last season after spending 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and appeared in 13 games and registered eight sacks, his most since the 2014 season.
Arrivals: DL Leonard Floyd, DT A'Shawn Robinson
Departures: DL Michael Brockers (Baltimore Ravens), LB Cory Littleton (Las Vegas Raiders), LB Dante Fowler (Atlanta Falcons), Nickell Robey-Coleman, Eric Weddle (retirement), Todd Gurley (Atlanta Falcons)
Retained: OL Andrew Whitworth, OL Austin Blythe
Notable Free Agents: K Greg Zuerlein, QB Blake Bortles, LB Bryce Hager, S Marqui Christian, WR Mike Thomas
The biggest question mark surrounding the Seahawks free agency decisions is Jadeveon Clowney's future in Seattle. The Seahawks traded for Clowney at the start of the 2019 season as the pass rusher played through a core muscle injury that limited him to just three sacks on the year. Nevertheless Clowney, who became a free agent on Wednesday, was still a difference-maker when on the field in his first year in Seattle.
Seattle has gone on record noting their desire to retain Clowney. During last month's Combine, Seahawks general manager John Schneider revealed his hope to match any offers Clowney might receive from another club over the next few weeks. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Clowney "hasn't found the market he expected" so far in free agency.
Clowney aside, the Seahawks managed to retain defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Seattle also agreed to terms with former Seahawks first round pick, Bruce Irvin on Wednesday and offensive tackles Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, Seattle acquired cornerback Quinton Dunbar in a trade that sent a fifth-round pick to the Washington Redskins. Dunbar made 11 starts in 2019 and recorded four interceptions, eight passes defended and 37 tackles before being placed on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury,
Arrivals: OL B.J. Finney, DE Bruce Irvin, TE Greg Olsen, T Cedric Ogbuehi, T Brandon Shell, WR Phillip Dorsett, CB Quinton Dunbar
Departures: OL George Fant (New York Jets), DL Quinton Jefferson (Buffalo Bills), OL B.J. Finney (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Retained: DT Jarran Reed, TE Jacob Hollister
Notable Free Agents: DE Jadeveon Clowney, DE Ziggy Ansah, LB Mychal Kendricks, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Jaron Brown, OL Germain Ifedi, OL Mike Iupati