2019 NFL free agency: Ranking the most interesting teams to watch, from 1-32

While this year’s free-agent class might not be as deep or star-heavy as some previous years, all 32 teams still have some needs to fill. And money to spend.

While drafting and developing will always be the best path to winning a Super Bowl championship, every recent title winner had some important help through free agency. In 2017 the New England Patriots gave $40 million guaranteed to cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the most guaranteed money to a defensive player in team history, and Gilmore was New England’s best defensive player in a Super Bowl LIII win. He would have been a fine choice as the game’s MVP, which went to Julian Edelman instead.

So free agency is a key component to roster building, whether it’s an earth-shaking addition like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, a star at a key position like Gilmore or filling in key parts of the roster that need a little bit of veteran help.

Here is the ranking of the most interesting teams heading into free agency, with last year’s record, projected cap space as of Thursday morning according to Spotrac and each team’s biggest need:

The most interesting teams to watch in NFL free agency
See Gallery
The most interesting teams to watch in NFL free agency

32. Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)

Cap space: $5.3 million

Biggest need: Offensive line

The Vikings were a major disappointment in 2018. But the talent is still there. The problem with fixing the offensive line is Kirk Cousins’ deal limits cap flexibility.

(AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

31. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Cap space: $7.4 million

Biggest need: Guard

The Falcons’ big move came when they gave the franchise tag to defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. Running back depth is also a concern since Tevin Coleman is likely to leave.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

30. Chicago Bears (12-4)

Cap space: $15.6 million

Biggest need: Kicker

After Cody Parkey’s big playoff miss, the Bears’ next kicker will have a spotlight on him. You’d assume they want a reliable veteran, maybe a bigger name than the guys off the street they’ve signed already. This is a roster that is pretty solid from top to bottom.

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

Cap space: $1.7 million

Biggest need: Secondary

The Buccaneers couldn’t stop anyone from passing the ball last season. An impact safety or some cornerback help would be great, maybe both if they can clear enough cap space to afford it.

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

28. Carolina Panthers (7-9)

Cap space: $15.2 million

Biggest need: Pass rusher

It’s not a good sign the Panthers banked on 38-year-old Julius Peppers as a key pass rusher, and he just retired. Improving the offensive line in front of Cam Newton is key, as well.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

27. Denver Broncos (6-10)

Cap space: $23.5 million

Biggest need: Offensive line

It’s arguable if the Broncos upgraded at QB with Joe Flacco, but what’s done is done. Denver has some key free-agent offensive linemen and uncertainty up front.

(Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

26. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

Cap space: $25.1 million

Biggest need: Offensive line

The Chargers always seem to be searching for offensive linemen. Depending on how the market goes for some of their own free agents, linebacker could be a priority too.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

25. Detroit Lions (6-10)

Cap space: $35.4 million

Biggest need: Cornerback

Darius Slay is great, but his impact is lessened if the Lions can’t figure out the other CB spot. It’s another offseason of Matt Patricia adding guys to fit his system.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

24. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Cap space: $20.6 million

Biggest need: Cornerback

The Eagles won’t have as many cornerback injuries as they did last year, but getting depth won’t hurt. Running back is also a need, though there’s likely not enough cap space to make a major move, especially after re-signing defensive end Brandon Graham and extending center Jason Kelce.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

23. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

Cap space: $50.5 million

Biggest need: Linebacker

The Bengals have plenty of needs. An aging linebacker corps is a good place to start, though the defense as a whole (and offensive line ... and tight end) are issues too. A potential problem is that Cincinnati rarely spends much in free agency.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

22. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

Cap space: $45.7 million

Biggest need: Receiver/tight end

Tight end Delanie Walker is coming off a major injury and probably near the end, and there’s no legitimate No. 2 receiver to go with Corey Davis. Marcus Mariota needs better targets.

(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

Cap space: $263,136

Biggest need: Quarterback

You’d figure a team that is obviously making a change at quarterback would be higher on the list, but Nick Foles to Jacksonville has been a poorly kept secret. It will be a surprise if that doesn’t happen, once they clear the cap space for it. They still need someone to catch the ball from Foles.

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

20. Arizona Cardinals (3-13)

Cap space: $39.6 million

Biggest need: Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald can’t play forever, and the Cardinals need pass catchers for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Offensive line is a priority as well. Whether all the rumors are true and they draft Kyler Murray, or they just run it back with Josh Rosen, the Cardinals need to improve their offensive infrastructure surrounding a young QB.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

19. Miami Dolphins (7-9)

Cap space: $16.4 million

Biggest need: Quarterback

The Dolphins will be an interesting team to watch, because the South Florida media seems convinced the team plans to tank in 2019. We should know if that’s true pretty early in free agency.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

18. New York Giants (5-11)

Cap space: $24.2 million

Biggest need: Pass rusher

The Giants were second-to-last in the NFL with 30 sacks, so a rusher would help. So would some more offensive linemen to open up holes for Saquon Barkley.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

17. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

Cap space: $33.3 million

Biggest need: Defensive line

Aside from Frank Clark, who got the franchise tag, the Seahawks aren’t too deep up front. And, as usual, the offensive line could still use some help.

(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1)

Cap space: $11.8 million

Biggest need: Cornerback

The Steelers got lucky two years ago when the Browns cut Joe Haden. Haden has been good, but the CB position opposite him has been unsettled.

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

15. Washington Redskins (7-9)

Cap space: $15.9 million

Biggest need: Quarterback

Alex Smith’s injury changes the entire outlook. Can Washington invest a big contract in another veteran QB? Or will they just roll with Colt McCoy if Smith can’t play? They have other needs too, like their secondary.

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

14. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

Cap space: $9.1 million

Biggest need: Receiver

There was a reason the Saints were desperately signing Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall last season. Michael Thomas is great, but he needs some help.

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

Cap space: $57.6 million

Biggest need: Receiver

Much will be made about Lamar Jackson’s passing, but who’s he throwing to? If John Brown leaves in free agency, the receiver position is perilously thin. Though it seems like re-signing linebacker C.J. Mosley is actually their biggest priority.

(Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)

12. Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)

Cap space: $33.4 million

Biggest need: Guard

The Packers have enough cap space to fix the issues they have, which include edge rusher. Getting better protection for Aaron Rodgers will be a priority.

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

11. San Francisco 49ers (4-12)

Cap space: $69 million

Biggest need: Linebacker

Fred Warner was a nice draft find, but it’s thin after him following Reuben Foster’s release. Getting an edge rusher would be a good idea too, and they’ll be in the mix for the many talented safeties on the market too.

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

10. New York Jets (4-12)

Cap space: $99 million

Biggest need: Offensive line

Sam Darnold had great moments as a rookie. Building around him starts now, and beefing up the offensive line is a must. They have the cap space to do it.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

9. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)

Cap space: $82 million

Biggest need: Offensive tackle

Greg Robinson was a nice reclamation story at left tackle, but the Browns still need help here to protect Baker Mayfield. They have a lot of cap room and few major needs.

(Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

8. New England Patriots (11-5)

Cap space: $20.5 million

Biggest need: Defensive line

Trey Flowers will be one of the NFL’s biggest free agents, and defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton are free agents too. The Patriots have some important decisions to make on their own free agents (including kicker Stephen Gostkowski and offensive tackle Trent Brown) before signing outside help.

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

7. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Cap space: $77.3 million

Biggest need: Skill-position talent

The Bills need to give Josh Allen help if he’s going to develop. The Bills’ leader in yards from scrimmage was 30-year-old LeSean McCoy, with only 752. The Bills should look into adding multiple skill-position players in free agency and the draft.

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

6. Houston Texans (11-5)

Cap space: $68.4 million

Biggest need: Offensive line

Deshaun Watson got pounded last season, to the tune of 62 sacks. Watson doesn’t get enough credit for toughness. Houston has enough cap space to fix a leaky line.

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)

Cap space: $28.4 million

Biggest need: Receiver

Amari Cooper helped tremendously. But Dak Prescott was given little to work with at tight end or receiver. And if the Cowboys can’t make DeMarcus Lawrence happy with a long-term deal, defensive line becomes a big problem too.

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

4. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)

Cap space: $35.5 million

Biggest need: Edge rusher

If midseason acquisition Dante Fowler leaves, the Rams have the same issue they had to start last season — nobody to rush the quarterback from the outside. They also have some big free agents of their own that can test the market. We know the Rams are capable of being aggressive, but there are a lot of moving parts to manage in free agency.

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Cap space: $8.9 million

Biggest need: Secondary

Cornerback needs to be addressed, as does safety with Eric Berry’s health a constant issue. There are many impact safeties on the free-agent market, and the Chiefs should land one. Fixing the secondary could push the Chiefs to a Super Bowl.

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

2. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

Cap space: $69.5 million

Biggest need: Pass rusher

Yes, the Raiders traded a pass rusher last year; no need to pile on again. The Raiders’ 13 sacks were 17 fewer than any other NFL team last season. Yikes. But since they are so poor on the roster, there aren’t many contacts on the books keeping them from spending big. Jon Gruden could use a good offseason. The Raiders aren’t very good, but they’re certainly interesting.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

Cap space: $105.8 million

Biggest need: Receiver

A playoff team with the most available cap space in the NFL? This might get interesting. Mostly the Colts will be making luxury signings — Le’Veon Bell? A couple pass rushers? Impact strong safety? — and adding to a roster that improved fast in 2018. If the Colts play it right, they could come out of free agency as a very popular Super Bowl pick.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

More from Yahoo Sports:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.