Top Landing Spots for Remaining NFL Free Agents
Despite the NFL draft already passing, many big name free agents still remain unsigned. Below, I will name some of the top fits for the best available players.
Jadeveon Clowney (OLB)
The reason a player of Clowney’s caliber is still unsigned is due in part to multiple reasons. First, his initial asking price was far too high. Teams just weren’t ready to pay $20 million per year. The second being Clowney’s production. Last season, he only had three sacks in 13 games. Low sack numbers have been a problem for Clowney much of his career, as he has never been able to produce a double-digit sack season. That’s not to say Clowney isn’t a talented pass rusher. Last season, he had the 7th highest pass rush win rate in the NFL. Multiple teams would benefit greatly from signing Clowney. The first being the Indianapolis Colts. While they already traded for DeForest Buckner this offseason, you can have too many pass rushers. Pairing Clowney with Buckner and Justin Houston could take Indy’s pass rush over the top. Another possible fit for Clowney would be the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland needs another pass rusher besides Myles Garrett. Pairing Clowney along with Garrett would be a great start in helping Cleveland get back to the playoffs.
Best Fits: Indianapolis, Cleveland
Logan Ryan (CB)
Logan Ryan was a leader for Tennessee’s defense last season. Yet, the Titans appear unwilling to bring back the talented cornerback. The 29 year old showed he still has plenty in the tank last year. Ryan had 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions last season. He has proven to be a ball hawk for the majority of his career as well. Ryan has 17 interceptions throughout his seven years in the league. A team like the Jets who struggled in pass defense could look to sign the talented corner. Another team that could also target Ryan is the Vikings. Minnesota underwent major turnover at the cornerback position, losing their top three options at the position this offseason. Despite taking multiple corners in the draft, there’s still a need for a veteran in the room. Minnesota could look to add Ryan to give the young players some guidance.
Best Fits: New York (Jets), Minnesota
Larry Warford (G)
In a surprise move, the New Orleans Saints released starting guard Larry Warford. The move appeared to be in order to save cap space. Warford ,who made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons, is a talented player. He only allowed two sacks last season, and has been an anchor for the Saints. Warford is going to have options on where he wants to play next season. The main decision is going to come down to whether he wants money, or to play for a winner. A team like Miami could look to improve their offensive line for new QB Tua Tagovailoa by giving Warford a boatload of money. However, Warford may view a team like the 49ers more appealing. While San Francisco doesn’t have the remaining cap space Miami does, they still have enough to make Warford a solid offer. According to Spotrac, the 49ers have just over $10 million in available cap room. The opportunity to play for a Super Bowl contender may be enough for Warford to accept less.
Best Fits: Miami, San Francisco
Everson Griffen (DE)
Despite having eight sacks this past season, the Minnesota Vikings decided to move off defensive end Everson Griffen. Griffen has proven to be a disrupter throughout his ten year career. He has totaled 74.5 sacks in 147 games played. Yet, teams may be wary to invest in a 32 year old pass rusher. Last season’s numbers should be enough however, to land Griffen a one year deal. The Giants haven’t appeared eager to bring back their top edge rusher Markus Golden, so Griffen could be an option. New York only had 36 sacks last year, so Griffen would fill a need. Another team that could target Griffen is the Las Vegas Raiders. Last season, the Raiders only had 32 sacks as a team. Griffen, while filling a void, could also help give young players some needed leadership. Las Vegas has promising pass rushers in Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, both who were rookies last year. Bringing in a veteran like Griffen could help improve a Raiders defense in more than one way.
Best Fits: New York (Giants), Las Vegas
Markus Golden (DE)
Markus Golden’s NFL career has been filled with inconsistency. His sack numbers per season throughout his five years in the league are 4, 12.5, 0, 2.5, and 10. So while Golden has a high ceiling, he also has a very low floor. This is more likely than not the reason he remains unsigned. Despite the inconsistency however, teams should still take a chance on him. The Lions were awful when is came to rushing the passer last season. They finished the year with 28 sacks as a team, which was tied for the second fewest in the NFL. Taking a chance on Golden would be a low-risk high-reward move for one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Another team that should look into signing Golden is the New York Jets. New York finished with the tenth-fewest sacks last season (35), with their highest sack total being Jordan Jenkins (8). Signing Golden to a one year deal could minimize any risk for the Jets, while giving Golden an opportunity to prove his consistency.
Best Fits: Detroit, New York (Jets)
Cam Newton (QB)
What a fall it has been for the 2015 MVP. I don’t think anyone would’ve imagined Cam Newton being unsigned for this amount of time. However, here we are. The main reason for Newton being unsigned is injury concern. Team doctors not currently being available to examine the QB’s repaired foot may be scaring off some franchises. Yet, when healthy, Cam is a starting QB in this league. But certain circumstances may cause him to sign a one year backup deal somewhere. One team which would be an interesting landing spot is San Francisco. The 49ers are in win-now mode; and an injury to starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would all but end San Francisco’s season. Unless the team signed Newton. Cam would give the franchise extra security in case anything happened to Jimmy G. Another option for Cam is the Denver Broncos. After giving starter Drew Lock a multitude of weapons through the draft, it’s make or break. If Lock doesn’t perform, Denver could decide it’s time to move on. Having Cam as a backup would give the Broncos a veteran option.
Best Fits: San Francisco, Denver