With free agency set to begin on Monday, NFL teams will shift from purging their roster to signing new players. Below are the 50 best available free agents and my predictions for their landing spots.
1. Kevin Zeitler (G/Cincinnati Bengals) – San Francisco 49ers
Zeitler is likely going to command $10 million per year, much like what Kyle Long and David DeCastro received over the past year. Despite being one of the best guards in the league, the Bengals are reportedly unwilling to go that high. Armed with a ton of cap space and a need to upgrade their offensive line, the 49ers will be able to meet his salary requirements.
2. Calais Campbell (DT/Arizona Cardinals) – Washington Redskins
Arizona has expressed interest in retaining Campbell, but they aren’t as flush in cap space as the other teams who are interested in signing Campbell. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the desert, but Washington could make him an offer that he couldn’t refuse.
3. T.J. Lang (G/Green Bay Packers) – Green Bay Packers
Both Lang and Green Bay have expressed interest in a reunion and the Packers have the resources to re-sign him. Minnesota and Denver have been seen as contenders as well.
4. A.J. Bouye (CB/Houston Texans) – Houston Texans
The Texans opted not to use the franchise tag, but longtime Texans beat writer John McClain feels that the Texans have an “80 percent chance” of re-signing the breakout cornerback. Only 25 years old, Bouye has drawn a ton of interest from other teams.
5. Larry Warford (G/Detroit Lions) – Indianapolis Colts
Detroit is basically stuck picking between bringing back Warford and Riley Reiff and appear to have chosen the latter. Warford is apparently seeking at least $9 million annually. Indianapolis needs to address their offensive line and have the cap space to make this move.
6. John Cyprien (SS/Jacksonville Jaguars) – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars expect Cyprien to hit the open market, but I think in the end he returns home and cashes in after having what was easily the best year of his career. Tennessee could be another destination.
7. Tony Jefferson (FS/Arizona Cardinals) – New York Jets
The cash-strapped Cardinals are going to be unable to retain Jefferson. The Jets are blowing up their roster, but Jefferson played for Head Coach Todd Bowles when he was running the Cardinals defense.
8. Brandon Williams (NT/Baltimore Ravens) – Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have actively worked on bringing Williams back, but the two sides have made little movement in negotiations. I think Williams will test the market before ultimately returning home.
9. Chris Baker (DT/Washington Redskins) – Detroit Lions
There have been conflicting reports about whether or not Washington is interested in bringing Baker back. One post said they were only “lukewarm” on the 30-year-old while another said re-signing him would be a priority. Detroit has failed to replace Ndamukong Suh and while Baker is not up to Suh’s level, he is a worthy replacement.
10. Logan Ryan (CB/New England Patriots) – Cincinnati Bengals
Despite constantly drafting cornerbacks, the Bengals are suddenly thin at the position and reportedly have their sights set on signing Ryan. I wouldn’t rule out a return to New England, however, as they have a ton of cap space.
11. Andrew Whitworth (OT/Cincinnati Bengals) – Cincinnati Bengals
Whitworth would be getting a monster contract if he wasn’t 35. Despite a number of team in need of a left tackle, it seems that Cincinnati will likely retain the blindside protector.
12. Terrelle Pryor (WR/Cleveland Browns) – Cleveland Browns
Pryor had a stellar season after converting to wide receiver. Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson has shown interest in bringing Pryor back, and as the wealthiest team in football, they have the funds to meet his $10-11 million asking price.
13. Nick Mangold (C/New York Jets) – Washington Redskins
It’s been really hard to peg Mangold. He was released last week and there hasn’t been any traction on him yet. To make matters worse, even the most needy teams when it comes to offensive linemen seem to have a competent center. Mangold was once a dominant center, but now he will likely get a short deal and serve as a stop-gap for a team like Washington, whose incumbent center, Kory Lichtensteiger, just retired.
14. Alshon Jeffery (WR/Chicago Bears) – Tennessee Titans
Tennessee (and San Francisco) has shown interest in the big wideout, but Jeffery has expressed interest in signing with a contender, something that Tennessee has shown it can be with just a few more pieces.
15. Jonathan Hankins (NT/New York Giants) – Oakland Raiders
The Giants have too much money tied into the defensive line to bring back Hankins. Plus, they are pretty cash-strapped. Oakland showed a lot of promise last year, but needs to address their defense, especially their interior defensive line.
16. Dontari Poe (NT/Kansas City Chiefs) – Houston Texans
Kansas City can’t afford Poe after bringing back Eric Berry. Meanwhile, the Texans are losing an old Vince Wilfork to free agency.
17. Stephon Gilmore (CB/Buffalo Bills) – Chicago Bears
The Bears are expected to make a strong push for both Gilmore and Mike Glennon. Gilmore would be an immediate upgrade over Tracy Porter.
18. Prince Amukamara (CB/Jacksonville Jaguars) – Jacksonville Jaguars
Amukamara is reportedly seeking a long-term deal and Jacksonville is allowing him to test the free agency market. His former head coach Tom Coughlin is now in Jacksonville’s front office and his former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is now the team’s defensive backs coach, giving Amukamara more incentive to return.
19. Morris Claiborne (CB/Dallas Cowboys) – Tennessee Titans
Claiborne finally lived up to his potential last season, but he wound up being injured again. Dallas would love to bring him back, but don’t have the cap space to do so.
20. Dont’a Hightower (ILB/New England Patriots) – New England Patriots
A three-down linebacker who can get to the quarterback, Hightower will be heavily sought after in free agency, but New England has had positive talks with him and could strike a deal early.
21.Pierre Garcon (WR/Washington Redskins) – Philadelphia Eagles
A DeSean Jackson reunion has been a long-standing rumor, but Philadelphia may ultimately opt to go for Jackson’s teammate instead, who has quietly been tied to Philadelphia as well.
UPDATE: Pierre Garcon has agreed to a deal with the 49ers, which is expected to be signed on Thursday.
22. Russell Okung (OT/Denver Broncos) – New York Giants
Okung had a down year, but given that there is little talent on the market, he may get paid more. Hopefully this time around he lets an agent handle the negotiations. Last year, Jerry Reese insisted that any tackle who signed with them would have to play on the right side so that Ereck Flowers can stay on the left. Given how bad Flowers was in 2016, I can’t imagine that being the case this time around.
23. Barry Church (SS/Dallas Cowboys) – Dallas Cowboys
Church was stellar with Dallas last year and the Cowboys are focusing on retaining him. Dallas is in bad financial shape, but they will get some relief once they can release Tony Romo.
24. J.C. Tretter (C/Green Bay Packers) – New York Jets
Green Bay is prepared to move on from Tretter, which makes sense given that Corey Linsley was a more than capable replacement after Tretter went down mid-season. The Jets find their heir for Nick Mangold in this draft.
25. Adrian Peterson (RB/Minnesota Vikings) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A drug-related suspension has voided the guaranteed money on Doug Martin’s contract, allowing the Buccaneers the ability to replace him with Peterson, who was cut by Minnesota earlier this week.