Best Match: NFC West

March, 2, 2009
3/02/09
3:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Thirty unrestricted free agents changed teams and 28 re-signed with their 2008 teams during the first weekend of NFL free agency.

That left 278 unrestricted free agents, but not nearly as many highly sought ones. Nearly half (128) of the remaining UFAs are at least 30 years old.

I've sifted through the remaining UFA pool and identified the best matches for each NFC West team.

Arizona Cardinals

 Warner

Best match: Kurt Warner, QB.

This one was an easy call. Warner is visiting the 49ers after failing to reach agreement with Arizona.

Leaving the Cardinals makes little sense for Warner, whose Hall of Fame legacy could be at stake. Losing Warner makes little sense for the Cardinals, who lack a proven alternative at the position.

Arizona has offered $10 million per season over two years. The key now is for the Cardinals to avoid overpaying Warner while doing enough to make him feel good about returning. If that requires tweaking the offer, so be it.

St. Louis Rams

  Bartell

Best match: Ron Bartell, CB.

The Rams took a chance by letting Bartell, their best young corner, hit the market and visit the Saints. The gamble paid off in the short term when Bartell left New Orleans without a contract.

Bringing back Bartell would help the Rams enter the draft without such glaring needs in the secondary. The team can't count on disappointing 2006 first-round choice Tye Hill or rehabbing 2008 fourth-round choice Justin King to stabilize the position.

San Francisco 49ers

  Willis

Best match: Ray Willis, OT.

Warner is the best player the 49ers are considering, but he isn't a good match for what they want to do offensively. The team hired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye to install a physical, run-oriented offense. Warner is at his best in a spread passing game.

The 49ers have centered their offseason around finally establishing continuity and matching their personnel to their scheme. They can't accomplish either in the short term by hiring Warner for one or possibly two seasons.

Signing Willis wouldn't help sell tickets, but it might help solve a lingering problem at right tackle. Willis could come cheaper than once anticipated. He's a big, young, physical right tackle with a mean streak and relatively low miles.

The 49ers could also use a pass rusher and a free safety, but the market isn't offering many strong options for those positions.

Seattle Seahawks

  Houshmandzadeh

Best match: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR.

The Seahawks ran out of depth at receiver last season. Their top two targets, Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, are coming off serious knee injuries. Bobby Engram is a free agent nearing the end of a long and productive career.

Signing Houshmandzadeh would give the Seahawks added flexibility heading into the draft. Without another established receiver, Seattle might feel more pressure to draft Michael Crabtree or another receiver early.

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