The first week of Free Will was a doozy, to say the least. A number of top NFL free agents who were in the market retired from the board this week and signed massive contracts. The likes of JC Jackson, Chandler Jones and Von Miller all accepted big deals with a boatload of guaranteed cash, while receivers like Mike Williams, Christian Kirk and Allen Robinson all cashed in as well. Oh, and if you were looking for trades, these also came in bunches with Davante Adams, Khalil Mack and Deshaun Watson all finding new homes. Like I said, it’s been a crazy week.
Despite all this movement, many notable names are still in the market as we wrap up opening week. Below, you’ll find the top players for each position who are still in the hunt for a free agency deal.
With the Saints having lost the Deshaun Watson toss, it seems extremely likely that Jameis Winston will return to New Orleans. Even though Sean Payton is no longer at the helm as head coach, the team retained several coaches – including offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael – as they elevated former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to the position of new coach. head coach. Winston knows the system and was playing well in 2021 before suffering a torn ACL in Week 8 against the Bucs. It makes sense that the two sides are looking to reunite at this point.
You can certainly put Patterson in the running back or wide receiver category given his skill set. And if you consider him more of a pass catcher, then Leonard Fournette is an honorable mention here. That said, Patterson has proven to be an all-around weapon on the offensive end of the ball and is coming off the best season of his career in 2021, recording 1,166 scrimmage yards with 11 touchdowns. Patterson has expressed a desire to stay in Atlanta after this career year, so other teams will likely have to come up with a solid offer to move him away.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s free agency was already going to be interesting after the veteran wide receiver suffered a torn ACL during the Super Bowl, which will likely limit his availability to start the 2022 season. However, with the Rams signing Allen Robinson for a big contract this week, one wonders if a reunion in Los Angeles is still in the cards. Would the Packers be a team interested in Beckham now that they have traded Davante Adams to Las Vegas?
With Tom Brady coming out of retirement and joining the Buccaneers, it seems inevitable that Rob Gronkowski will find his way back to Tampa Bay. The tight end even recently said that “there is a very good chance” he re-signs with the Bucs, so it seems to be a matter of when rather than if.
Inside Offensive Lineman: JC Tretter
Tretter fell victim to the Browns’ cap this week, but the 31-year-old should have a strong market for himself after earning the second-highest pass blocking rating in the NFL of 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. .
Terron Armstead is the best free agent yet on the market for my money and should command a massive contract. It’s possible the 30-year-old waited to see how the situation with Deshaun Watson played out and whether or not he landed with his former team in the New Orleans Saints before making a splash. Either way, Armstead is considered the best offensive tackle in free agency and should see a lucrative deal come his way.
With the Chiefs signing of safety Justin Reid this week, Tyrann Mathieu’s stay in Kansas City appears to be coming to an end. While the safety may be entering a new chapter in his career, he is still playing at a high level, which should generate some interest across the league. Mathieu hosted another Pro Bowl season in 2021 where he totaled 76 tackles, six pass breakups and three picks.
With Gilmore being the best veteran corner on the market, young defensive backs like JC Jackson and Carlton Davis were likely going to leave the board first to further dictate his market. He was limited to just nine games last season due to a groin injury and a contract dispute with New England that resulted in a trade to the Panthers, but the 31-year-old has done well. played while on the field in 2021. He allowed an 80.7 passer rating while recording two Carolina picks. How Gilmore views his next stop will be interesting as he could just go for the highest bidder or try to land a contender to add another Super Bowl title to his resume.
Wagner instantly became the best inside linebacker on the market after his superb release from the Seattle Seahawks. He is expected to dominate a strong market across the league, especially after a 2021 season where he recorded a career-high 170 tackles.
For a minute, it looked like Za’Darius Smith was going to return to the team that drafted him from the Baltimore Ravens. The veteran passer agreed to a four-year, $35 million deal with the club that was worth a maximum of $50 million, but instead decided to opt out of the deal and remain a free agent. The two-time Pro Bowler was released by the Packers on day one of the legal tampering period and is still looking for that next club.
At 32, Akiem Hicks is no spring chicken, but he’s still a valuable addition to any defensive line. He was limited to nine games last season due to injury but played well when he was on the pitch. He recorded 3.5 sacks during the year with 11 total pressures. He’s also not that far off his 2018 Pro Bowl season.