Last season, the NFC West underwent a transformation with the Los Angeles Rams parting way with Jeff Fisher and hiring Sean McVay as their head coach. The 49ers also did the same thing, parting with Chip Kelly and hiring Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach.
This year, expect to see more changes in the division as the Rams are expected to be even better than they were last year and the 49ers odds to win division increasing thanks to the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo at last year’s trade deadline.
So far, the 49ers have locked up Garoppolo to a long term contract and re-signed four other players to contract extensions. The 49ers also signed six free agents so far and we haven’t even had the draft yet. New faces that will wear the 49ers uniform next season include former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Jonathan Cooper, Jeremiah Attaochu, Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Locke and Weston Richburg.
The Rams were in a salary cap bind, so they traded away Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn. Despite their losses, the Rams still managed to improve their team and will likely have one of the best secondaries in the NFL next season after adding Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Lamarcus Joyner, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Sam Shields.
The Seahawks might be the team that suffers the biggest drop next season, depending on how the Arizona Cardinals approach the draft.
Seattle already lost Sherman, DeShawn Shead, Jeremy Lane, Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson, and Michael Bennett, who was traded to the champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Seattle’s defense, which was once their calling card, is going to be their weakness this season with the Legion of Boom getting dismantled, with rumors of Earl Thomas being traded before the season begins.
In addition to their defensive purge, the Seahawks also have to address the issue that has plagued them the last few seasons, their offensive line. If Seattle can fix their line this season, Russell Wilson will have more time to throw the ball and nit have to risk his health scrambling as much as he did last year when he led the team in rushing yards. The team will also try to find a feature back in the upcoming draft.
The Arizona Cardinals also suffered a quick demise after rising to contender status a couple of years ago. But they think they have enough pieces to make a playoff run next season.
With Carson Palmer announcing his retirement after the season, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford to be their starter, but given his injury history, it is a safe bet that he likely won’t start all 16 games next season.
Running back David Johnson is also coming off an injury that forced him to miss most of last season, and it will likely take him some time to find his groove offensively. Larry Fitzgerald decided to return for one more season instead of retiring, and if Bradford and Johnson can stay healthy, the Cardinals offense should be one of the best in the NFL.
Defensively, the Cardinals still have a lot of questions to answer, especially after losing former All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu to the Houston Texans. They will need to find a suitable replacement for the versatile safety and bring in some pass rushers to improve the defense.
Opening Odds to Win the NFC West (MyBookie):
Bradford is the best QB in the NFC West pic.twitter.com/RuSiqLtMma— alex ☀️🌵 (@Cardinuls) March 17, 2018
Rams trying very hard to win this offseason, wow— Just The West, an NFC West Blog (@JustTheWest) March 26, 2018