NFC West 2021 free agency grades: Rams get high mark for adding Matthew Stafford, Cardinals take playoff step

  • To unlock all of features of Rams On Demand please take a brief moment to register. Registering is not only quick and easy, it also allows you access to additional features such as live chat, private messaging, and a host of other apps exclusive to Rams On Demand.

CoachAllred

Starter
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
911
NFC West 2021 free agency grades: Rams get high mark for adding Matthew Stafford, Cardinals take playoff step
Here's a look at how the NFC West fared in free agency

By Jeff Kerr

Mar 28, 2021 at 3:26 pm ET6 min read




stafford.jpg
Getty Images



The first wave of free agency has officially come and gone as the NFC West experienced a changing of the tides. Arguably the best division in football, the NFC West got better as each team is currently engaged in a chess match for division supremacy.
The Seattle Seahawks currently hold the division crown and managed to hang onto Russell Wilson -- for now -- while the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams got significantly better. Let's not leave the San Francisco 49ers out of the mix either, as they pulled off the blockbuster trade heading into the 2021 NFL Draft -- moving up nine spots from No. 12 to No. 3 and positioned themselves to select a franchise quarterback.
Los Angeles appears to be the early favorite to win the division for the first time since 2018, while Arizona continues to be one of the rising teams in the league. Seattle will always have a title shot with Wilson at quarterback and San Francisco has a talented roster that will be healthy heading into 2021. Don't count any team out in this division.
How did each of the NFC West teams fare after the first wave of free agency? We break it down in our grades below:

Los Angeles Rams
The Rams couldn't do much in free agency as they battled to get under the salary cap, but significantly upgrading at quarterback gives general manager Les Snead a high mark. Adding Matthew Stafford to an already talented roster may be enough to put the Rams atop the division and back to Super Bowl contention. The pressure is on head coach Sean McVay to show what kind of offensive guru he actually is with one of the game's top 10 quarterbacks in his prime.
DeSean Jackson was the only major free agent signing, as he provides a valuable asset as a deep-ball receiver for Stafford -- which he always had in Detroit. Retaining Floyd was critical for the Los Angeles pass rush, especially since it was inevitable Johnson and Hill were going to depart in free agency.
Los Angeles still has a talented roster, but the lack of first-round picks over the next several years could prevent the Rams from being the best in the NFC. That unit is good enough to become the early favorites in the NFC West, thanks to the acquisition of Stafford.

Grade: A-
Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals made a big splash early in free agency by landing J.J. Watt, adding even more strength to a pass rush that has Chandler Jones returning and Jordan Phillips on the interior. Arizona still needs help at cornerback, but was able to add Malcolm Butler on a one-year deal after losing Patrick Peterson to Minnesota (the Cardinals need more man corners in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's system).
While the defense still could use a few more additions, the offense received a boost with the signing of A.J. Green as the No. 2/No. 3 wide receiver for Kyler Murray. If Larry Fitzgerald decides to return, a wide receiver group of DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Green, and Fitzgerald is arguably the best quartet in the division.
The Cardinals also decided Chase Edmonds on his rookie contract was a better option than re-signing Drake, which will turn out to be correct. Time to see what Edmonds can provide as a featured back. Getting Hudson and Winters on the offensive line immediately makes the unit better -- and should keep Murray upright throughout the season.

The Cardinals are on the door of making a postseason return.
Grade: B+
Seattle Seahawks
Seattle still has Russell Wilson on its roster, making this free agent season good thus far. Here's the underlying issue -- did the Seahawks do enough to keep Wilson satisfied?
Wilson wants help on the offensive line, and Gabe Jackson immediately improves the interior. Losing Mike Iupati to retirement hurt and Seattle appears content on running it back with Pocic at center, Duane Brown at left tackle, Damien Lewis at left guard and Brandon Shell at right tackle. Seattle has depth by keeping Ogbuehi and Simmons -- but more upgrades are needed in order to protect Wilson.
Losing Griffin was a major blow to the secondary, and Seattle is hoping Witherspoon can fill the void. Retaining Dunlap and adding Hyder significantly boosts a pass rush that finished seventh in the NFL with 46 sacks last season and third in pressures with 182. Keeping Carson also makes the run game formidable, as he's the clear No. 1 running back until Rashaad Penny can showcase the form he had two years ago.

Seattle needs more depth at wide receiver, which can be addressed in the draft. Freddie Swain could also take the next step in his development, but Seattle needs to do more on offense to keep Wilson happy.
Grade: B-
San Francisco 49ers
The biggest move of the 49ers offseason was keeping Trent Williams in the fold at left tackle, which would have been a major loss if he was going to depart to the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did San Francisco keep Williams, but the 49ers offensive line got better with the addition of Mack at center. Mack isn't the Pro Bowl player he once was with the Atlanta Falcons, but he's still one of the top 10 centers in the league.
Getting Samson Ebukam is a more than adequate replacement for Hyder as the 49ers pass rush is getting Nick Bosa back from injury -- along with Arik Armstead and Dee Ford on the unit. The 49ers were decimated by injury last season, so they didn't have to do much on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. The inevitable loss of Richard Sherman in the secondary will hurt, even if Sherman will be 33 this year. Retaining Tartt was a strong move with Sherman likely departing.

Keeping Juszczyk is crucial toward the zone-run scheme, which will be piloted by Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson going forward. Losing Coleman was necessary at this stage in free agency.
The 49ers didn't have to do much to improve their roster and made the biggest splash in the division by moving up nine spots in the draft. San Francisco is going to select its next franchise quarterback, giving up a lot of draft compensation (2022 and 2023 first-round picks to start) in order to compete in this division for the next decade. The 49ers have a talented roster, but they'll need to get this quarterback right in order for this offseason to be successful.
Grade: B-
 

So Ram

Legend
Camp Reporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
7,596
What sucks is that most of the division got better because of ex-Rams. Does it get any worse than that?

everett ?? - yeah - I get Dickerson & Wolford. — lossing Griffin though

Ebukham- well lossing a CB? What pick was that other Dude (DT)from Oregon.
Thomas ?? -

Arizona ??? Stacked
Losing PP though

looking at the list.Rams need to draft a stud CB.
 

So Ram

Legend
Camp Reporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
7,596
Every team ALWAYS needs to draft a stud CB.

When you have Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey on your roster and you still need to draft a "stud CB", then you know there are 31 other teams who must feel the same.
Well David Long is The guy to take over for Troy Hill & is only 23.

I just looked at some past & future threads. I almost think I post way to much & should stop posting.

Anyway I got clearity from a past post that I’m okay.I try to stay true.Here is a new view I have & questions I’ll have.

Yes your right.I could actually give a Crap about other teams,unless they are doing things better than McSnead.

 
  • Like
Reactions: badnews

So Ram

Legend
Camp Reporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
7,596
So first off F” The NFC WEST

It’s a tough division.Injuries??

Anyway my reason of posting things
From The Rams. Com. I also like The way Demoff did that. The Rams.I’ve been doing this before The Rams came to LA on this site.

-Sorry - J R REED a perfect example of what I like about Les Snead. I also LOVE Mcvay & Rams coaching staff for development.The Scouting department bringing these types in as well.
—I’ll start a new post.
 

RamFan503

Grill and Brew Master
Moderator
Joined
Jun 24, 2010
Messages
30,096
Name
Stu
So first off F” The NFC WEST

It’s a tough division.Injuries??

Anyway my reason of posting things
From The Rams. Com. I also like The way Demoff did that. The Rams.I’ve been doing this before The Rams came to LA on this site.

-Sorry - J R REED a perfect example of what I like about Les Snead. I also LOVE Mcvay & Rams coaching staff for development.The Scouting department bringing these types in as well.
—I’ll start a new post.
???

View: https://youtu.be/gC9oxw7DH8E
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mojo Ram

CGI_Ram

Hamburger Connoisseur
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
39,430
Name
Burger man
the offense received a boost with the signing of A.J. Green as the No. 2/No. 3 wide receiver for Kyler Murray. If Larry Fitzgerald decides to return, a wide receiver group of DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Green, and Fitzgerald is arguably the best quartet in the division.

Anyone here want to debate that one?


Seattle needs to do more on offense to keep Wilson happy.

This is worth watching. I suspect their draft will be heavy on the oline.

If not... the water temperature goes up on that situation.
 
  • Cheers
Reactions: nighttrain

Corbin

THIS IS MY BOOOOOMSTICK!!
SportsBook Bookie
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
Messages
7,570
Well David Long is The guy to take over for Troy Hill & is only 23.

I just looked at some past & future threads. I almost think I post way to much & should stop posting.
this right here!

;):owned::cheers2::helmet:
 

BuffaloRam

Starter
Joined
May 30, 2014
Messages
812
The Cards off-season looks like someone playing Madden and trying to turn the team around quickly. They will set the record for the most amount of payroll on IR this season...
 
  • Like
Reactions: LOURam85

bwdenverram

Legend
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
5,140
Name
BW
I think AZ getting Hudson is the biggest piece. We all know getting a really good center makes a major difference.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RamDino

Tano

Pro Bowler
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
1,880
I think AZ getting Hudson is the biggest piece. We all know getting a really good center makes a major difference.
That one really pissed me off.

And they got him for a measly 3rd round pick
We could have gotten him for that and one of next year's comp picks

I would have predicted at minimum a 14 - 2 record with a Super Bowl run if we had picked up Hudson.
 

Psycho_X

Legend
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Messages
6,829
This is worth watching. I suspect their draft will be heavy on the oline.

If not... the water temperature goes up on that situation.

I will pray for them to pick a QB in the second round lol. But they only have three total picks with one being in the 7th round so they aren't getting shit unless they absolutely nail that 2nd rounder.