8 2024 NFL contenders with roster needs and the free agents who could help them

8 2024 NFL contenders with roster needs and the free agents who could help them

The 2024 NFL season will be here before you know it, as the summer lull before training camp will soon give way to preseason games and the September kickoff we’re all waiting for.

While some teams feel set for their rosters with veteran and rookies aplenty, there are a few contenders who might consider options in free agency to help with depth or add starting competition before the regular season starts.

We’ve identified eight teams that could meaningfully contend in their divisions this season and some free agents that may help them.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons


The Falcons should be a real threat to win the NFC South this fall and perhaps play spoiler in the postseason. The offense looks ready to go as is, and the defensive front seven is stacked with veterans and rookies to sort through. However, the secondary could use a veteran investment or two ahead of training camp. The team has options at cornerback and safety, but bringing in a player with experience in Raheem Morris’ defense might be a smart move for a team that really needs to contend sooner than later.

Options: CB Ahkello Witherspoon, S John Johnson III

Witherspoon and Johnson have both played for the Los Angeles Rams, where Morris just finished three years as defensive coordinator. They’d both fill starting roles if need be and could be excellent depth at absolute worst.

Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens 


The Ravens don’t have a proven option at left guard right now, and that might not be the best plan of action for a team that is trying to supplant the Kansas City Chiefs as the team to beat in the AFC. The team might sleep easier with a veteran on the roster to contend for a spot on the offensive line protecting superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Options: G Halapoulivaati Vaitai, G Gabe Jackson 

Vaitai started last year for the Detroit Lions at guard and represents the best option out there to contend for the Ravens. Jackson is another solid veteran option who most recently played for the Carolina Panthers.

Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills 

Wide receiver 

The Bills aren’t lacking for names to fill the depth chart spots at receiver right now. It’s just that not all of those options inspire a ton of confidence for a Buffalo team that is trying to win a Super Bowl this upcoming season. Finding a player of Stefon Diggs’ caliber isn’t happening right now, but there are some interesting names available in free agency that provide experience.

Options: WR Michael Thomas, WR Hunter Renfrow

Thomas has struggled to stay healthy in the past few seasons, but when he’s on, he’s a starting-caliber talent. Renfrow feels like he was miscast on his recent Las Vegas Raiders teams and could benefit from a fresh start.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys 


The Cowboys might completely overhaul the operation if they don’t win this season, which makes entering the season with roster weak spots a dangerous proposition. The linebacker room looks a bit light right now, and the Cowboys could use a player with starting experience to compete for a spot on the starting lineup. Thankfully for Dallas, the team has options.

Options: LB Zach Cunningham, LB Shaq Leonard

The Cowboys could look to two recent Philadelphia Eagles players with extensive starting reps in Cunningham and Leonard. Cunningham seems to latch on and play solid football wherever he lands, and there was a time when Leonard was the best linebacker in football. Either option seems intriguing.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions 

Wide receiver 

The Lions enter the 2024 season as one of the most intimidating contenders in the NFL. However, the depth at wide receiver feels a bit uneasy after the obvious starters like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. Detroit might consider bringing in a veteran to take some snaps and step up should injury ever strike the Lions’ depth chart.

Options: WR Hunter Renfrow, WR Russell Gage

We’ll list Renfrow again because he feels like a really promising candidate to fill the snaps that Josh Reynolds left from last season. We’ll also include Gage, who could be a very sound starter if he’s able to stay healthy.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars 


The Jaguars have their hands full with an AFC South with real contenders like the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts. If Jacksonville wants to separate itself from the pack, then tightening up the cornerback room will be a good way to make sure the team has what it needs with handling the division’s quarterbacks and wide receivers.

Options: CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Adoree’ Jackson

Gilmore is a really good cornerback to still be available in June, and he could step right in and start for Jacksonville. Jackson could basically do the same.

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs 

Offensive tackle 

It’s nothing against Wanya Morris or Kingsley Suamataia, but the Chiefs feel like they’re making a massive gamble on a possible three-peat on two unproven options to protect superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The team may want to be very vigilant to consider veteran competition at left tackle this summer, if only because it’s vital Mahomes stay upright.

Options: T Donovan Smith, T D.J. Humphries

Smith played for Kansas City last season and helped it win a Super Bowl, so bringing him back would make a ton of sense. Humphries represents an interesting alternative after his years starting for the Arizona Cardinals.

Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers 

Defensive line depth 

The Steelers have the starters they need on defense to contend meaningfully in the AFC. However, the injury to superstar outside linebacker T.J. Watt reinforced last season that Pittsburgh needs veteran depth to withstand potential gaps in play and to just solidify the depth chart with good option.

Options: OLB/DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Yannick Ngakoue

Ogbah and Ngakoue both represent high caliber options for veteran depth still available in free agency, as the former has versatility in different fronts and the latter is still a solid designated pass rusher at this point of his career.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *