Free agency is finally here. NFL teams can now negotiate with players from other teams and try to bring them into the fold. With that in mind, we're playing matchmaker here at CBS Sports, looking to assign available players to teams where they would fit. On Wednesday, Jeff Kerr covered the AFC. In the space below, I'll tackle the NFC.
Needless to say, the quarterback-needy teams like the Commanders, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers and perhaps even the Lions, Vikings and 49ers should be going after Lamar Jackson. To avoid writing his name in six or seven times, we're just going to make the assumption that he should be on their respective lists and go with another player.
Without further ado ...
Everyone has already made the Odell Beckham Jr. connection, so I wanted to go in a different direction here. Dallas desperately needs an influx of bodies at corner, where the team proved perilously thin last season in the wake of injuries to Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown. Peters can be this year's version of James Bradberry, whom the Eagles picked up on the cheap and got a great season out of him. Dan Quinn should be able to get the best out of a very talented player, who can slot in across from Trevon Diggs.
New York Giants
The Giants need to upgrade the weaponry around Daniel Jones, newly signed to a $40 million-per-year contract. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka used to be the quarterbacks coach in Kansas City, so he likely knows Hardman's skill set well. He wouldn't be blocked by more talented players in New York like he was in K.C., so perhaps he could take the next step forward in his career. His dynamic speed would allow Kafka to use him in a variety of ways, and he'd be a good fit for the low-average-depth-of-target offense they ran with Jones last year.
Philly loves signing stalwart veterans in their 30s to fill roles but not break the bank on defense, and Kendricks fits the bill. He's not far removed from playing at an All-Pro level, but his salary and likely awkward fit in Brian Flores' Minnesota defense led to the Vikings cutting ties. The Eagles have both Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards hitting free agency, and they have a new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai after Jonathan Gannon got the head-coaching job in Arizona. Desai spent four years with the Vikings earlier in his career, overlapping with Kendricks for three of them. (He was the defensive backs coach at the time.) He'd likely be able to get the best out of the versatile linebacker.
Washington has a need at right guard with Trai Turner set to hit the market, and could do worse than raiding its division rival for a player who has gotten better in recent seasons. The Cowboys have long felt that McGovern is a better right guard than left guard, but with Hall of Famer Zack Martin locked into that role, they had McGovern on the other side of the line. Washington could slot him into his more natural position, and probably do so without paying too steep of a price for his services.
There's nothing the Falcons appear to love more than big pass-catchers. They took Kyle Pitts (6-6, 246 pounds) at No. 4 overall in 2021 and Drake London (6-5, 210) at No. 8 overall in 2022. When Arthur Smith was with the Tennessee Titans, they also prioritized big bodies, from Derrick Henry to A.J. Brown and more. JuJu is a big slot man (6-1, 215), and his ability to work the short areas of the field while also serving as a plus blocker in the run game is part of what motivated the Chiefs to sign him last offseason. K.C. apparently wants him back, but the Falcons could make a move for his services and fit him in nicely.
This almost makes too much sense. The Panthers are likely looking for their quarterback of the future in the first round of the draft, as both new head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer want to get off the merry-go-round of short-term fixes at the position. But they might not want to throw that player into the fire right away, and they'll likely also want to give that player a mentor who knows the system. Enter Brissett, who spent time with Reich in Indianapolis as both a backup and a starter. He played fairly well when filling in for Deshaun Watson last year, and could sign a deal that pays him solid backup money if that's his role, with incentives for more if he ends up starting.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans just inked a long-term pact with Derek Carr, who seemed to like throwing to Hollins last season in Las Vegas. With Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry both likely leaving in free agency and not much in the way of quality pass-catcher depth beyond Chris Olave, the Saints could use another weapon. Hollins has good size (6-4, 220) and proved to be a capable deep threat last year. Reunite him with Carr and try to recapture some of what they found in 2022.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa has ... a lot of needs right now. There's left tackle, after the team cut Donovan Smith. There's cornerback, with both Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting hitting free agency. There's defensive line, with Akiem Hicks, Carl Nassib, William Gholston, and more hitting the market. There's safety, with Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, and Logan Ryan all no longer under contract. And of course, there's quarterback. The Bucs also don't have very much cap space, though, so we're giving them a low-cost flier on a very talented running back who just has not been able to stay healthy. New offensive coordinator Dave Canales was with the Seahawks for the entirety of Penny's tenure, and could find ways to utilize him alongside Rachaad White.
When you have a young quarterback, one of the best things you can do is pair him with a veteran center who can help him with things like identifying fronts and setting protections. The Bears need to give Justin Fields an upgrade over Sam Mustipher, and Bozeman can fit that bill. He for some reason was not all that sought after last offseason after playing well in Baltimore, and then didn't start the first six games of last season in Carolina. He helped solidify that offensive line down the stretch, though; and while the Panthers probably want to bring him back, the Bears have the most cap space in the league and can probably offer him a bit more money. It might be worth it to do so to land a fit at an underrated important position.
The Lions could stand to give Aidan Hutchinson some help in the pass-rush department, and we know how much Dan Campbell likes guys who can really get after it with high-effort levels. That's how Omenihu succeeded with the 49ers, and that's how he could find success in Detroit as well. He collected 4.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits while playing just over half of San Francisco's defensive snaps a year ago. Perhaps the Lions could give him an expanded role and get a bit more out of him.
Green Bay Packers
Nothing will really be resolved in Green Bay until the Packers figure out what's going on with Aaron Rodgers. They probably need help at wide receiver, especially if Allen Lazard signs elsewhere. They could use another tight end. With the uncertainty around David Bakhtiari's health, they probably need to think about the offensive line. But they also have both Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed heading into free agency, and last year's first-round pick Devonte Wyatt can't fill both spots along the defensive line. Enter Allen, who has been improving in a similar role in Arizona but seems like less of a fit for the defense new coach Jonathan Gannon likes to run.
Minnesota badly needs bodies in the secondary. Needham played -- and succeeded -- for three seasons in Miami under Brian Flores, who is now the Vikings' defensive coordinator. He's pretty much a slot-only type of corner, but the Vikings can't be choosy when looking for upgrades in their defensive backfield. Needham would raise their overall level of play, and likely not for too high a price tag.
The Cards might not have Kyler Murray for all (or even much) of next season, but the team basically needs an entirely new offensive line. Among last season's starters, only D.J. Humphries is under contract for next year. New offensive coordinator Drew Petzing was the run-game coordinator in Cleveland, where Pocic played center last year and had his best NFL season. Following his former coach to the southwest could make a decent amount of sense for both sides.
Los Angeles Rams
Last year, the Rams tried to add Allen Robinson to Cooper Kupp and level-up their offense. It didn't work, and they're now looking to trade Robinson (and maybe a few other players to save some salary). I'd like to see them run it back with another recently injured but also very talented wideout in Thomas. He should cost less than Robinson did a year ago, which should help the Rams be able to afford him. If he signs a one-year deal to play for Sean McVay and across from Kupp and finds a way to contribute at something resembling the way he used to, Thomas can cash in next offseason.
San Francisco 49ers
Nobody is better at taking rotational pass rushers and getting more out of them than they have shown previously that they're capable of, than the 49ers. Okoronkwo didn't do much in his three seasons with the Rams, but flashed a bit (5 sacks, 11 hits while playing 44% of snaps) last year in Houston. Let Kris Kocurek get his hands on Obo and go to work.
Seattle's much-improved offensive line played a big role in Geno Smith's career season. The one relative weakness along that line was at center, where Kyle Fuller was just okay. McGovern played in a somewhat similar system in New York to the one in use in Seattle, given that Mike LaFleur and Shane Waldron both come from branches of the Kyle Shanahan tree. He'd be a strong fit up the middle for the Seahawks, hopefully allowing them to build on what they accomplished last year.