2024 NFL Free Agents: Predictions for Cowboys, Browns and Dolphins After Playoffs

The Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins all carried realistic dreams of a lengthy run into the NFL playoffs.

But those bubbles were burst during wild-card weekend, sending all three squads back to the drawing board in search of the winning ingredients that will lead to a better postseason experience the next time around.

The offseason may have arrived sooner than they planned, but it’s here now, so it’s time to start checking items off the to-do list. We’ll dig into what free agency holds for these franchises.

The Dolphins’ financial situation looks bleak, which means their goals for free agency will have more to do with player retention than external additions.

And even keeping top performers in-house could be a challenge.

Miami is projected to be more than $40 million over the cap, which begs the question of where it will find the funds to pay premier defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Or to keep any semblance of this defense intact with players like Raekwon Davis, Eli Apple, Andrew Van Ginkel and DeShon Elliott slated to join Wilkins in free agency.

Oh yeah, and the clock is ticking on a possible extension for Tua Tagovailoa. Given how rough he looked down the stretch, though, it may not be a bad move to make him prove himself in a contract year next season.

Regardless of how it ended, Cleveland had an awesome season. Winning 11 games is an accomplishment for any team, let alone one forced to use four different quarterbacks in at least five games apiece.

Unfortunately, none of this season’s successes will make the offseason any easier to navigate. The Browns are projected to be nearly $14 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac, which could make it tricky to bring back key players and could force some cuts to create any wiggle room.

Cleveland’s spending should largely be done in-house, as Za’Darius Smith, Kareem Hunt, Corey Bojorquez and Geron Christian are all worth keeping around. There are others the Browns would surely like to bring back if they could, though they may need to make sacrifices elsewhere to make that happen. Is releasing Nick Chubb remotely possible in light of his season-ending knee injury? That would create some wiggle room, but it’d also take a dynamic (when healthy) option out of this offense.

Speaking of subtractions, Joe Flacco’s magical run in Cleveland is likely finished. The veteran was nothing short of a season-saver, but Deshaun Watson is still the long-term starter and Dorian Thompson-Robinson seems capable of being his long-term backup.

After a letdown like Dallas just experienced, virtually anything could be on the table. The Cowboys could make changes to their front office and/or coaching staff, and few players on this roster should feel totally safe about their positions with the franchise.

Dallas’ list of free agents includes its top two running backs (Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle) and two starting offensive lineman (Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz). On defense, even more key contributors are slated to hit the open market, including cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and safety Jayron Kearse.

The Cowboys won’t be able to afford all of them, so they might have to choose a few of their favorites and work like heck to free up the necessary cap room to keep them.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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