NFC West offseason advice: Can Seahawks shore up shortcomings?

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Prominent free agents: OT Bradley Sowell, K Steven Hauschka, CB DeShawn Shead, TE Luke Willson, LB Michael Morgan, S Steven Terrell

Cap situation:  Projected to have $26.9 million million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

Primary issues for 2017: A cobbled-together offensive line served as Seattle's undoing and now is the glaring offseason issue to address. Pete Carroll said the solution wasn't as simple as spending, but the Seahawks have a league-low $5.5 million committed to the offensive line in 2017. The running game also stalled, finishing 25th and averaging less than 100 yards per game. Seattle is counting on S Earl Thomas to make a full recovery from a broken leg, as his absence had a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. Shead also suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, and cornerback might be worth addressing in the offseason.

Our advice: Seattle lacks the time and resources to fix its problems up front with the draft-and-develop method alone, so it's time to take a dip into free agency. Andrew Whitworth is 35 but would stabilize the left tackle position and give QB Russell Wilson some much needed protection. Utah's Garett Bolles would be a wise addition if the line is addressed via the draft, but Alabama's Cam Robinson and Troy's Antonio Garcia would also be fits. This draft class also has many of the rangy cornerbacks Seattle covets, including Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley and Alabama's Marlon Humphrey. Signing a veteran running back could also help Thomas Rawls, who has been plagued by injuries.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Prominent free agents: CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Kenny Britt, S T.J. McDonald, K Greg Zuerlein

Cap situation:  Projected to have $37.4 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

Primary issues for 2017: Sean McVay's arrival could energize a Los Angeles team that languished under Jeff Fisher, but the youngest coach in NFL history will have to bring along an inexperienced team dotted with question marks. QB Jared Goff struggled to make quick decisions in his seven starts as a rookie, though a patchwork offensive line and lackluster receiving corps offered little help. RB Todd Gurley is looking to recapture his rookie form after averaging 3.2 yards per carry last year and breaking just two runs of more than 20 yards. Putting Wade Phillips in charge of a defense with DT Aaron Donald and DE Robert Quinn could create serious havoc, but the secondary is thin.

Our advice: With no first-round pick after last year's trade up to select Goff, Los Angeles has limited resources for a shake-up. Signing Riley Reiff or Andrew Whitworth could stabilize the left tackle position, though McVay doesn't appear ready to give up on former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson. Guards Kevin Zeitler, T.J. Lang or Larry Warford should also be considered to upgrade the unit. Britt might not be worth the cost after a career year, and bringing on Pierre Garcon would give Goff a reliable target familiar with McVay's offense. Re-signing Johnson is imperative for the defense.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Prominent free agents: DT Glenn Dorsey, LB Michael Wilhoite, QB Blaine Gabbert, K Phil Dawson, LB Nick Bellore, WR Quinton Patton

Cap situation:  Projected to have $78 million million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

Primary issues for 2017: With the arrival of coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, the 49ers hope their latest reset is their last for some time. A depleted roster leaves the pair with plenty to address. QB Colin Kaepernick seems likely to opt of his contract in March, and the other three players at the position are free agents. Beyond RB Carlos Hyde, the offense doesn't have many promising pieces. The outlook is similarly bleak for a defense that ranked last in the NFL.

Our advice: Unless they can land Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, Lynch and Shanahan shouldn't force a long-term decision at quarterback this offseason. Shanahan already has emphasized patience in his approach, and both he and Lynch have six-year contracts. A veteran starter who can serve as a bridge to next season might be the best option. Taking the top defensive player available in the draft — potentially Alabama DT Jonathan Allen — would spark a rebuild. A similarly patient approach should be used in free agency, though WR Alshon Jeffery and CB A.J. Bouye could shore up two of the team's biggest weaknesses.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Prominent free agents: OLB/DE Chandler Jones (franchise tag), DE Calais Campbell, S Tony Jefferson, LB Kevin Minter, TE Jermaine Gresham, CB Marcus Cooper, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Alex Okafor, C A.Q. Shipley, S D.J. Swearinger, K Chandler Catanzaro

Cap situation:  Projected to have $18.1 million million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

Primary issues for 2017: The Cardinals were the only team other than the New England Patriots to have a top-10 offense and defense, but perhaps no team is in a more precarious position entering free agency. The defense has starters set to hit free agency at every level, and substantial changes are likely ahead. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are back for another go in 2017, but the end is likely near for both.

Our advice: Arizona's focus should be on mitigating its losses in free agency. Jones has already been tagged, and having him play on that one-year tender may be the best way of keeping him for now given the hefty long-term contracts given to top pass rushers. Campbell and Jefferson could field substantial offers in free agency, so Arizona should be prepared to move on should the bidding get too high. Finding a replacement to Palmer shouldn't be a priority given the team's win-now attitude and need to draft a receiver.

Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.

Copyright 2017 KING


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