The new league year hasn’t even started yet, but most of the top names are already gone. Most, but not all.
The new league year hasn’t even started yet, but many of the top NFL free agents have agreed to join new teams or re-sign with their old ones. The free agency negotiating or “legal tampering” period doesn’t allow contracts to be signed, but barring massive Josh McDaniels syle flip-flopping, the biggest reported deals will become official at 4 p.m. ET on March 14.
It has been some of the most action we’ve seen prior to the start of free agency. From a slew of trades to some high-profile franchise tagging to Sam Bradford getting another $ 20 million thrown at what’s left of his ACLs, it’s hard even keeping track of who is still available.
The top quarterbacks (and Bradford) went quickly, while the pass-rushing market dried up immediately with a pair of franchise tags to Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah. Wide receivers are getting paid a whole lot more than anybody expected, and that market is quickly evaporating. Running backs … well, nobody is signing running backs yet.
We’ve got you covered and there are still plenty of players worth signing, depending on the need.
McCarron was thought to have a potentially strong market, but at the time of writing, there’s been nothing. Cutler is included because he’s, at times, competent and that just happens to be the bar at this point in the free agent class. The big names are essentially all gone.
Others available: Blaine Gabbert, Brock Osweiler EJ Manuel, Colin Kaepernick
Signed: Le’Veon Bell (franchise tag), Chris Ivory, Jonathan Stewart, Isaiah Crowell, Dion Lewis, Jonathan Stewart, Carlos Hyde, Jerick McKinnon
Best Available: Rex Burkhead, LeGarrette Blount
We heard nothing about Burkehead or Blount so far. When Lewis went off the board, the market dried up quite a bit. Unless you want your team targeting a slew of veterans that may or may not have something left to offer.
Other available: Rex Burkhead, LeGarrette Blount, DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, Doug Martin, Orleans Darkwa, Alfred Morris, Jeremy Hill, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Alfred Blue
Signed: Jarvis Landry (franchise tag + trade), Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Paul Richardson, Marqise Lee, Danny Amendola, Donte Moncrief, Cameron Meredith (RFA, tendered), Tyrell Williams (RFA, tendered), Albert Wilson
Best Available: Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace
The wide receiver market has been STRONG. They’re all getting paid, and fast. Nelson was released by the Green Bay Packers on Tuesday, and he plans to keep playing despite his extensive injury history. For the right price, he could be a difference-maker for a year. Pryor had one really good season, and then disappeared with Washington a season ago.
Other available: Eric Decker, Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, Kendall Wright, Quincy Enunwa
Signed: Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, Cameron Brate, Derek Carrier
Best Available: Tyler Eifert, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Martellus Bennett
Boy, did Brate get paid or what? Eifert remains the top name on the market, but he’s a huge boom-or-bust kind of player. His injuries have been significant, but he’s legitimately one of the best tight ends in the league when healthy. Bennett has been a very productive tight end over the year, but again, there’s injury concerns. Seferian-Jenkins is the big, non-risky get, provided you don’t believe one season of heavy production equals a non-risk.
Other available: Virgil Green, Antonio Gates, Ben Watson, Ed Dickson, Troy Niklas
Signed: OT Seantrel Henderson, OT Chris Hubbard, G Andrew Norwell, C Weston Richburg, C Daniel Kilgore, C Matt Paradis (RFA, tendered), G Zach Fulton
Best Available: OT Nate Solder, OT Cameron Fleming, G Josh Sitton, G Justin Pugh, G Jack Mewhort, C John Sullivan
It’s a strong market for interior linemen, though the best guard and center are off the market in Norwell and Richburg, while the very good Paradis was tendered by the Broncos. Of the remaining players, there are still very good starters, especially Solder and Sitton, though age will catch up with some of them soon.
Other available: OT Austin Howard, OT Andre Smith, OT Greg Robinson, G/C Matt Slauson, G/C Joe Berger, G/C Evan Smith, G Jahri Evans, C Ryan Jensen, C Wesley Johnson, C Travis Swanson, C Brett Jones (RFA), C Spencer Long
Signed: Demarcus Lawrence (franchise tag), Ezekiel Ansah (franchise tag), Shaquil Barrett (RFA), Muhammad Wilkerson
Best Available: Adrian Clayborn, Trent Murphy, Alex Okafor
One of the most-needed positions in the NFL it seems, and it was hit hard with its top two players getting the franchise tag. Okafor is the most intriguing name remaining, but he’s coming off a torn Achilles. He’s improved every year he’s been in the league though, and will probably be worth a roll of the dice. Murphy carries similar concerns. Clayborn is solid all-around but isn’t going to fix a team’s pass-rushing woes.
Other available: Aaron Lynch, Dion Jordan (RFA), Junior Galette, Kony Ealy, Tank Carradine, Pernell McPhee, Elvis Dumervil, Ahmad Brooks, James Harrison
Provided Suh is actually released by the Dolphins, as has been widely reported, he’d be the best name to hit the market at the position. He has his concerns, but he’s effective. Richardson is a very productive player, but has some other concerns. Irving might be a pipe dream, because he will almost certainly be tendered at a high level.
Other available: DaQuan Jones, Bennie Logan, Dominique Easley, Nick Fairley, Jay Bromley, Mitch Unrein
It’s a generally strong linebacker class overall, whether your team needs an inside guy or an outside guy. We’ve tried to separate as many edge players out as possible, but linebackers are notoriously versatile. For example, Bowman showed that he still has plenty left in the tank with the Raiders last year.
Other available: Zach Brown, Connor Barwin, Lamarr Houston, Brian Cushing, Barkevious Mingo, Jerrell Freeman, Derrick Johnson, Todd Davis, Jon Bostic, Kevin Minter, Gerald Hodges
Signed: Richard Sherman, Malcolm Butler, Trumaine Johnson, Bashaud Breeland, Kyle Fuller (transition tag), Vontae Davis, David Amerson, Brent Grimes, Aaron Colvin, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Bryce Callahan (RFA, tendered), Prince Amukamara
Best Available: E.J. Gaines, Rashaan Melvin, Patrick Robinson
A ridiculously strong market at the position, there are still some nice cornerbacks available. Gaines is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but he has injury concerns. Melvin doesn’t have a whole lot of film as a top player, but he was very, very good in 2017. The rest of the list includes a lot of aging players and a lot of players with durability concerns, but it remains a strong class.
Signed: Lamarcus Joyner (franchise tag), Tavon Wilson, Ricardo Allen (RFA, tendered), Bradley McDouglad, Kurt Coleman
Best Available: Morgan Burnett, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tyvon Branch
Reid is the most intriguing option remaining. He’s said he wouldn’t be surprised if his protests alongside Colin Kaepernick (he was the first to join Kaepernick) lead to him getting fewer looks in free agency. But he’s a high-level safety with mild injury concerns, and whoever gets him will be getting a very good player. Vaccaro hasn’t been quite as good as advertised, but he was covering well before an injury in 2017.
Other available: Steven Terrell, Tre Boston, Marcus Gilchrist, Cody Davis, Quintin Demps, Reggie Nelson, Terrence Brooks, Ron Parker