I’m such a football nerd that I decided to rank every free agent in the 2021 NFL offseason, by how I think the rest of the league perceives them in value. I then tried to figure out which teams would offer them which amount of money, and which contracts the players would most likely choose.
Here’s a summary of the predicted haul for each team’s free agency period, from the league’s “top” 100 free agents (with the amount of cap space remaining after these contracts are made, listed in brackets):
Bears (-$10 mil): Alex Bars, Mitch Trubisky
Bengals (-1): Shaq Barrett, Troy Hill, Alejandro Villanueva, Carl Lawson
Bills (-3): Matt Milano, LeVeon Bell
Bucs (-6.5): Lavonte David, Allen Robinson, Suh, Fournette, JJ Watt, Gronk, John Johnson
Broncos (1): Leonard Williams, Phil Lindsay, Jameis, Marcus Williams
Titans (-9): William Jackson, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown, Trey Hendrickson
Wash (27): Brandon Scherff, Ryan Kerrigan – I think Washington will be fairly conservative in free agency this offseason, as they might want to keep space available to land a big name quarterback if they’re not happy with an aging Alex Smith or the previously unheralded Taylor Heinicke. They also have extensions looming for Jonathon Allen and Da’Aron Payne.
As a disclaimer, I know next to nothing about how teams can circumnavigate the salary cap restrictions. Therefore, I have limited the spending ability of those teams in significant cap peril, like the Falcons and Packers.
I have presumed some cuts that teams will make to add cap space. Those are:
Cardinals – cut Robert Alford (save $7.5 mil, now have $21 mil in space)
Titans – cut Malcolm Butler (save $10.2 mil, have 7 mil in space)
Bills – cut Vernon Butler (save $6.8, now have 5 mil free)
Raiders – cut Tyrell Williams (save $10.6 mil), Marcus Mariota (save $11.3 mil, now $2.3 mil under cap)
Steelers – cut Ben Roethlisberger (save $19 mil, still $6 mil over cap)
Saints – cut Kwon Alexander (save $13 mil, still way over cap lol)
Here’s a list of the top 100 players, including: the teams that would offer them a significant contract; how much the teams would offer in years and potential money, including bonuses; and the team I think the player would choose, listed in bold:
Dak – Cowboys franchise tag (one year, $37.7 million).
Golladay – Lions extension (five years, $75 million)
Lavonte David – Bucs extension (4,36)
Linsley – Chargers (2,27), Ravens (3,31).
Kenyan Drake – Cardinals extension (3, 25)
Taylor Moton – Bengals (4,35), Cardinals (3,25), Panthers (4,37).
Justin Simmons – Panthers (3,24), Broncos (4,28)
Shaq Barrett – Bucs (5,78), Bengals (6,120) – talk about a Godfather offer. Can the Bucs afford to franchise tag Barrett? Idk, but they might be happy with their pass rush of JPP, the interior guys, and cheaper free agents (JJ Watt anybody?).
Scherff – Washington extension (5,48)
Gerald Everett – Panthers (2,17), Cards (2,14) – the tight end market could be deemed to be pretty weak, so an elite pass catcher and YAC threat in Everett might garner some huge money offers. The Panthers might offer Everett to bolster their QBs passing options.
David Andrews – Patriots (4,36), Chargers (4,36), Ravens (3,33).
A-Rob – Bucs (2,19), Jags (2,14) – this decision would mean the Bucs choose A-Rob over the incumbent wideout Chris Godwin. I think they do so because A-Rob has more years of proven success, and Godwin disappeared a bit in the playoffs, with 2019 being a far better season for him statistically.
Phil Lindsay – Jets (4,23), Dolphins (2,15), Broncos (3,24)
Godwin – Jaguars (2,26), Seahawks (2,9).
Malik Hooker – Jags (3,15), Colts (1,4), Panthers (2,9)
Joe Thuney – Pats (3,15), Chargers (3,26), Seahawks (4,28).
Devondre Campbell – Cards extension (3,25)
Jacoby Brissett – Colts (1,7), Niners (1,2)
Marcus Maye – Jets extension (4,28)
Suh – Bucs extension (1,4)
Chris Carson – Jets (3,15), Dolphins (2,14), Chargers (2,8),
Pat Pete – Cards (2,14), Bills (1,5), Colts (1,8).
Jameis – Colts (2,9), Broncos (1,9)
James Conner – Chargers (2,14), Jets (2,25), Steelers (3,15)
Ogunjobi – Browns (3,18), Pats (2,11)
Malcolm Brown – Bills (2,8), Chargers (2,6)
James White – Pats (2,10), Dolphins (2,8).
Dalvin Tomlinson – Chargers (2,7), Giants (3,13)
Ali Villanueva – Bengals (2,17), Colts (1,9), Seahawks (1,7)
Shelby Harris – Broncos (2,8), Pats (2,14).
Matt Milano – Bills (3,14), Broncos (2,8)
Keanu Neal – Jags (3,18), Colts (3,14)
Corey Davis – Dolphins (2,12), Wash (1,5)
Olivier Vernon – Jets (3,21), Browns (4,35)
Aldon Smith – Pats (1,4), Jets (1,1.5)
Younghoe Koo – Jets (2,4), Browns (3,8),
Osemele – Dolphins (1,5), Pats (2,9).
Tartt – Niners extension (2,16)
Aaron Jones – Pats (2,7), Seahawks (3,14)
Daryl Williams – Jags (2,14), Texans (2,6)
Larry Fitzgerald – Cards (1,2), Jets (1,5)
Leveon – Bills (1,4), Pats (1,2)
Juju – Jets (3,14), Texans (2,6), Steelers (5,45) – I think Juju’s stock will have plummeted after last season, in which he was part of a struggling passing offense in Pittsburgh, and he created controversy with his social media usage and dancing on team’s logos. I think the Steelers will offer him a long term deal nonetheless, as he’s still young and the team needs receiving talent.
Mike Hilton – Texans (2,9), Panthers (2,10), Steelers (3,10) – I think the Texans would win this bidding war as they have a more proven defense than the Panthers, in spite of the organisation’s current dysfunction. Taking the Steelers offer could be financially limiting down the road, as that third year could be lucrative for Hilton, particularly if he proves he can cover outside, which the Texans might allow him to do.
JC Jackson – Pats (1,4), Jags (3,13), Panthers (2,11)
Leonard Fournette – Bucs (2,5), Eagles (2,2.2)
Marvin Jones – Pats (2,6), Niners (2,7)
Tyrod Taylor – Chargers (1,4), Saints (3,13)
Shaquill Griffin – Seahawks (2,9), Jaguars (4,24) – I think it will take a large offer to lure Griffin away from the comfort of his draftee team. This move will be part of the Jaguars’ effort to add young but experienced free agents.
Davon Godchaux – Dolphins (2,6), Panthers (2,4).
Jadeveon Clowney – Jets (2,8), Bucs (1,2.5).
Juicecheck – Niners (2,7), Jets (2,5).
Denzel Perryman – Colts (2,9), Bengals (1,2.5)
Jayon Brown – Titans (2,6), Pats (1,2.5).
Mike Davis – Panthers (3,12), Ravens (3,10).
Garrett Bolles – Broncos (1,6), Colts (1,4), Seahawks (3,15) – Bolles seemed to turn his career around in Denver last season, as PFF and other media outlets suddenly love him, but I still think the stench of his below average play in the years prior will limit his free agency stock. I think the Seahawks will offer him a long-term deal still, as it’s not ideal for their franchise player in Russell Wilson complaining about his lack of pass protection.
Gronk – Bucs (1,2), Colts (1,5) – I think Gronk’s bromance with Tom Brady will be too strong for him to leave for bigger money in Indy.
Trubisky – Bears (1,2), Jags (1,1.5).
Trey Hendrickson – Colts (2,2.5), Titans (1,3)
DJ Fluker – Ravens (1,4), Wash (1,5)
Vernon Butler (after presumed cut) – Jags (1,3.5) Bengals (1,2.5) – the Bills save over $6 million to their cap in the 2021 offseason by cutting Butler. I think they do so to re-sign Matt Milano, and they’re already loaded on the d-line, with Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Star Lotulelei and Harrison Phillips at defensive tackle.
John Johnson – Wash (2,3.5), Bucs (1,2).
Xavier Rhodes – Colts (1,4), Cowboys (1,5)
Some notable omissions from this top 100 list include:
Richard Sherman – it’s tough being a 33 year old and playing a position that is probably deemed to require the most athleticism.
Matt Feiler – I believe Feiler is an above average lineman in the league, but the Steelers moved him around so much on their offensive line that I think teams might perceive him as a tweener, rather than a quality tackle, which he deserves to be considered as.
Yannick Ngakoue – three teams in one season isn’t a great look.
Another year, another list. I must have watched tape on at least 1000 prospects this year, and found some hidden gems. Who else has James Smith-Williams, Ryan Agnew and Kyle Horn as their top prospects? I’ve only listed players I believe to be worth at least $6 million per year. It’s been a big year for scouting for me so I haven’t gone into detail on some players, so you’ll have to forgive me.
These are positional rankings. Some players are worth the same, but some may have a slight edge over the other by a few hundred thousand dollars a year, but for these rankings it doesn’t matter too much. * denotes a player who is more valuable at a different position but still holds value at the position they are categorised under. A player listed in brackets denotes a player who is returning to school. The number next to their names indicates their value in millions of dollars per year.
Some players I’ve rated based on 2018 footage as I couldn’t be bothered finding recent footage on them. Them making the list indicates they’re worthy of being drafted anyway. Some players I’ve only watched limited recent tape on and have written “watch more” next to their name.
Sorry special teamers, but I would never draft you. Your value compared to your peers can never exceed a player who is above their peers in the starting 22, from what I’ve seen. I’m willing to be surprised, however. Hopefully I find the holy grail of long snappers one day.. Some players I have written using their first or last name only, as any draft pundit will know their name. Yes, I just wrote a sentence telling you this when I could’ve written their name out in full. That’s how lazy I am, at times.
Ryan Agnew 26 – throws to only where his receiver can get the ball. Will always keep his team in the game as he can execute long passes or audible at line to change a play according to the defensive front. Understands where safety helps is weakest and is an expert at lofting the ball so that his receiver can make the downfield catch, or come back to ball. Great throwing action, has a high release point and great rotation through torso. Has enough zip on passes to hit his receivers all over field. Holds ball with two hands and has great footwork, keeps eyes up-field but has a great internal clock, can scramble some and is solid enough to take hits. Great spatial awareness to know where pressure is coming from, as well as where lurking defenders are. I’d use him primarily as a pocket passer but he is nimble enough to be used on bootlegs on occasion. Can throw while running but not his greatest strength. Is really good at selling play action, has Aaron Rodgers level of confidence in hiding the ball and then being able to find open spaces with arms and legs as play develops. Is smart enough to know every route his receivers will run to release ball before his receiver is even open.
Khalil Tate 10 – has a huge arm, can fit the ball through tight windows and can hit receivers from almost anywhere. Is also a huge threat with his legs, and is big enough to take hits as a runner, so he can be a legit read-option quarterback. He had a lot of run pass option plays at Arizona which can translate to the NFL.
Hurts 10 – has great composure in the pocket and holds the ball firmly with two hands, so he isn’t a huge fumble risk (inside the pocket, he usually scrambles with one hand on ball, big no no!). He has a good enough arm to make throws outside the numbers, and keeps his eyes up to scan the field for possible weaknesses in coverage. He is a huge threat with his legs, and is able to take hits due to his sturdy frame and power.
James Morgan 10 – one of the best arms to enter the draft in years. Accuracy is sometimes affected with how hard he throws it but he usually throws it to where only his receiver can grab it. Activity as far as footwork in the pocket could improve and sometimes he throws just with his upper body, but his arm talent means he can make off-platform throws a la Patrick Mahomes. Can sense pressure and know where the safety help is weakest, so he’s a downfield throw threat, although he could improve his lower body mechanics to get more power behind the ball on those deep throws.
Ross Bowers 8 – he had a negative touchdown to interception ratio last season, but put up a quality yards per reception rate of 7.4. I like him as he has Drew Brees’ level of footwork in his drops, and holds the ball firmly with two hands. His pocket presence isn’t great, but he can step up in the pocket and deliver passes all over the field. He can find where safety help is weakest and deliver deep balls. You shouldn’t draw up running plays for him but he has sufficient burst to scramble for a few yards now and then.
Herbert 7 – he is a big play threat both with his legs and his arm. Hard to bring down. Can throw on run extremely well so getting him in space with bootlegs and drifts like the Chiefs like to do with Mahomes would be a good game plan for Herbert.
Burrow 7 – he did have an amazing support cast around him in winning the Heisman, with fellow potential draftees in Justin Jefferson and Thaddeus Moss as receivers as well as stud offensive tackle Saadiq Charles protecting his blindside, but Burrow can play. He reminds me of Daniel Jones with his size and scrambling ability, and has a quality throwing motion to make throws all over the field. I question his pocket presence at times, but he should be a solid quarterback for atleast nine or so years.
Anthony Gordon 6 – has a beautiful throwing motion and a quick release, and can move outside the pocket and throw on the run.
Justin McMillan 6 – has received basically no hype, but is graduating from Tulane with a top 50 yards per reception rate at FBS level last season, as well as 745 yards on the ground in 13 games. Has the arm strength to hit receivers over the middle, needs to have a more compact form to throw outside numbers. Is skinny but can outrun most front seven players.
Anthony McFarland 16 – has the big play ability of Tyreek Hill, with the vision of the best running backs in the game today. Unprecedented agility and base to evade tacklers, great hands.
Michael Warren II 16 – not as explosive as McFarland but just as shifty and stouter in pass protection.
Darius Anderson 13 – extremely hard running, can deliver blows both with the ball and in pass protection. Good burst and footwork to find holes in blocking scheme. Can run basic routes after assessing need for pass protection. Solid breakaway speed. You can basically rely on him gaining atleast three yards on the ground with his power and desire to keep upright.
Jonathon Taylor 10 – nimble, fast, tough, strong, savvy.
Deandre Swift 7 – one of the best dead leg jukes I’ve seen, doesn’t lose much momentum doing so. More of a make-you-miss back than a power back, has some nice footwork on routes but can lack urgency to get open. Has big play speed.
Benjamin 7 – a power back who can find the tiniest of holes in the defense and make solid gains from them. Can make catches, effort to get open not great. Can pass protect some.
Zack Moss 6 – is stout in pass protection and at 220 plus pounds can pick up NFL blitzers. Isn’t overly explosive but is quite shifty.
Kennedy McCoy 6 – is good at finding space as a pass catcher and has high awareness for where defenders are around him to make them miss tackles.
(Isaiah Spiller 6)
Kyle Horn 24 – Horn might be eligible for a sixth year of college ball as he missed all of 2016 due to an ACL tear and redshirted his 2015 season. If he does leave for the NFL, you could be getting the next Gronk. Horn played for a bad UMass team (1-11 record last season), but Horn was a true bright spot. He only played in six games (missing one due to a missed curfew, alongside five other players) but averaged 13 yards per reception and had three touchdowns in those games. As a receiver he shows urgency in getting open against man and has solid enough hands to make catches in traffic, tucking the ball when he knows a defender is near and shielding his torso from big hits, which will improve his longevity and ability to shrug off tackles. He has wheels too, top speed isn’t awesome but has great short area quickness for a 6’5”, 245 pounder (as listed on ESPN.com). I think he stands to be able to gain more weight too, as he has a skinny torso. This doesn’t stop him from being a dominant and nasty run blocker, where he gets low and drives defenders back, whether they be defensive ends or defensive backs. He understands blocking angles well, knowing when to advance from one block to another, and can drive you into the dirt. On top of all of this, he has a good understanding of route concepts in getting behind linebackers and sitting in zones, as well as being shifty to make defenders bite on his head fakes in man coverage. He wants the ball, from what I saw, waving his arms when open in zones.
*Rashod Berry 12
*Tee Higgins 11
Albert O 9 – great downfield threat with his elite speed and can make catches in the end zone. Solid blocker, needs to improve balance to hold blocks but initial contact is usually good. Solid footwork to get open on short routes but could add some urgency to separate from defenders.
Stephen Sullivan 9
Brycen Hopkins 8 – great burst off line of scrimmage, not many LBs will be able to keep up with him. Solid run blocker, really good pass blocker.
Jake Breeland 8 – really good blocker, keeps defenders engaged. Can find gaps in coverage as a receiver, solid upfield speed.
Dominick Wood-Anderson 7 – had a lot of reps blocking, in which he usually did a great job, driving the defender off the ball and legitimately creating big plays on the edge for his running backs. Not overly explosive in his routes but his top speed is pretty good.
Giovanni Ricci 7 – has really good burst to separate, shows solid leverage when blocking. Sound route runner.
Pinkney 6 (2018 tape) – built low to the ground so he’s a YAC threat as he’s hard to bring down.
Tua 6 – in my opinion, Tua’s greatest strength is his legs and ability to shrug off tacklers. He was aided immensely by a solid offensive line, and has had some of the best receiving groups ever, which has boosted his time-to-throw and big play ability. I am unsure about his pocket presence, ability to scan the field, and decision making. Since he is a great athlete, and he has a strong frame, I can see him being a pass catching tight end who can come inline and crack a few unsuspecting linebackers, but can mostly be used as a short yardage tight end with potential for yards after catch.
AJ Dillon 7 – despite having the most rushing yards in Boston College’s history, I see Dillon as a fullback in the NFL. He has tremendous short area burst but I think he lacks the shiftiness or vision to be a primary ball carrier. He could put his 240 pound frame to use as a lead blocker, and he’s shown a solid base when blocking in space in the limited reps I’ve seen. He can leak out and make some catches too.
*Dominick Wood-Anderson 6
Xavier McKinney 6 – McKinney is highly touted as a safety but I haven’t seen enough play recognition for him to be reliable there. He is a great athlete and has great form on tackles, so I think those skills could translate to playing fullback. He’d have to add weight (he’s played at 200 pounds at 6’1”) but I think he has the physicality to make it work, and he has the agility to get out of the backfield and make a few catches.
Tee Higgins 17 – you cannot deny that a reason for Trevor Lawrence’s college football success has been that he can just wait for Higgins to get open, and even if he doesn’t, just throw it up and let the 6’4”, 220 pound former basketball standout (he received numerous offers from big time colleges to play basketball out of high school) go up and get it. Higgins combines elite measurables with impeccable savvy as far as getting open with his routes, including in the end zone, as well as making a catch and rotating to be able to survey the defense ahead of him to gain yards after the catch.
Collin Johnson 12 – 6’6” with great body control to make tough catches, can take hits too. Solid speed for a big man, isn’t awesome off line of scrimmage but can still scoot away from corners at times. Safe hands.
*Anthony McFarland 12
Kendrick Rodgers 11 – big target, sound route runner, strong after the catch to break tackles, strong as a run blocker.
Henry Ruggs 11 – despite short stature can get off line fo scrimmage well due to footwork and hand usage. Sub 4.3 speed means he’s a downfield threat but can also evade tacklers with good spatial awareness, and can be a quality gadget player with jet sweeps etc. Can find creases in defense on routes, including in end zone. Reliable hands.
Kai Locksley 10 – he played quarterback at UTEP, but had a similar amount of rushes to pass attempts last season, and gained a total of 535 yards on those runs in 11 games (all of which were UTEP losses!). At 6’4” and 210 pounds (according to ESPN), I wouldn’t be surprised if Locksley runs a sub 4.4 forty yard dash time, he is that quick. He shows nimble footwork and toughness to run between defenders, making me believe he could catch passes across the middle of the defense. Can juke very well for a man his size.
Tylan Wallace 9 – great contested catch receiver, has enough burst to separate from defenders vertically. Pretty refined first step off line of scrimmage.
Jaelen Raegor 9 – is very similar to 2019 draftee Deebo Samuel as a short but powerful runner with the ball with incredible burst and speed, meaning he can be a downfield threat as well as a great gadget player. Is pretty proficient with routes as well, can get off line of scrimmage and freeze defenders. Hands a little bit inconsistent at times. A big play target.
KJ Hill 9 – great hands. Very twitchy, will be tough to guard one on one, has enough downfield speed to make tough deep catches, but best at separating and coming back to ball. Sometimes has trouble identifying weaknesses in zone, and lacks urgency to turn and get to ball in air on short curls (as seen when K’Von Wallace nearly picked off Justin Fields when Fields was targeting Hill in the college playoffs).
Jeudy 8 – quality run blocker, great burst off line of scrimmage. Is sometimes one step too slow in his breaks which can interrupt timing of throws and allow defenders to recover. Physical and strong after the catch, has some breakaway speed and has a nice dead leg juke. Solid hands.
Laviska Shenault 7 – solid route runner who knows how to sit in zones, solid breakaway speed.
Keith Mixon 7 – great YAC target, serious breakaway speed and shiftiness. Solid enough hands and can catch through contact.
Denzel Mims 7 – great physical traits and solid hands. Needs to improve urgency in routes, especially when he’s not the number one target. Very strong in run blocking, overpowers smaller defenders.
(Damontie Coxie 6)
Isaiah Wilson 12 – impossible to bull rush and nimble enough to keep up with most speed rushers. First step is scarily explosive, holds blocks well and plays nasty.
Saadiq Charles 11 – very nimble and disciplined. Strong enough to hold up against most defenders. Can block in space. Skills translate to guard as well.
Prince Tega Wanogho 11 – massive edge protector who can move multiple people in run game.
Wirfs 10 – great first step and a real people mover. Will pancake a defender but then miss a block due to imbalance. Strong in pass pro one on one but could be more aware of multiple blitzers. Nimble enough to be a force on blocks upfield.
*Cordel Iwuagwu 10
Liam Eichenberg 9 – adequate agility to deal with speed rushers, good hand placement and strength to deal with power rushers and inside moves. Not overly forceful in run game but can hold position. Good awareness to pick up blitzers.
Andrew Thomas 9 – prototypical size for an offensive tackle, can keep up with speed rushers a la Klaivon Chaisson. Long arms keep rushers away from him, can’t be bull rushes easily. Needs to show more awareness in picking up blitzers as he locks in to his target block too much, needs to keep eyes up and one arm ready to punch away multiple blitzers. Can be very unbalanced in run game.
Joshua Alabi 8 – played sparingly at Ohio State, initially recruited as a defensive line prospect. Played well enough to earn offensive player of the game for Ohio State against Nebraska in 2019, after he was pegged to possibly be a backup to Brandon Bowen. Alabi has good size for the tackle spot and can move his feet well.
McKivitz 7 – picks up twists and stunts well, adequate agility with long arms, initial contact is good on run blocks but could engage for longer.
Tarik Adams 7 (2018 footage) – out of Marshall University, Adams plays with solid balance and agility. Hand placement is good and has long arms to keep rushers away.
Mekhi Becton 7 – can only really be beaten in pass protection by multiple blitzers entering his blocking zone, as he can lock in on one block a bit too much at times. In run game, he could show more balance, but he can still move people with ease. I’d be comfortable running the ball off of him atleast eight times a game, to put his ability in perspective. The elite left tackles might garner 15 or so runs to their side, however.
*Jonah Jackson 7
Blake Brandle 6 – graduating redshirt senior out of Oregon State. Good drive on run plays, needs to improve leverage. Keeps hips square to rushers in pass pro well.
Cordel Iwuagwu 17 – is so quick that sometimes it’s hard to find him on run plays. Can get to second level with ease and shows good understanding of how to make initial contact and move forward, creating lanes while changing blocking assignments. In pass pro, can get pushed backwards by a bull rush, but has long arms and good enough base not not allow rushers to get straight to quarterback. Is very nimble in pass pro and keeps arms up to ensure he can meet blitzers and stunts well. Plays hard, usually knows when to stop plugging a gap in pass pro and look for work, leading to delicious pancakes.
Marquell Harrell 14 – dominant at line of scrimmage, can push most defenders back, incredible anchor to stop any penetration. Can move in space too. Could improve motor and hold blocks as long as possible as plays break down.
*Saadiq Charles 9
*Isaiah Wilson 8
*Tyler Biadasz 8
Jonah Jackson 8 – reminds me a bit of Rodger Saffold with how immovable he is, but can move a bit to make blocks in space.
Patrick Osterhage 8 (2018 footage) – made first-team all-decade at Wake Forest at right guard, so that’s how much they like him.
Hakeem Adeniji 7 – has played a lot of tackle but I think he’s best used inside, as he is very explosive off the ball and has the mass to be a force in the run game.
John Molchon 7 (2018 footage)
Clay Cordasco 7 – redshirt senior out of Oregon State, can be a dominant run blocker and one-on-one pass blocker, but REALLLYY needs to improve ability to disengage from a block if a blitz is coming. He locks into blocks and does not keep head up or one hand out to disrupt multiple rushers.
*Simon Stepianak 7
Drew Richmond 6
Lemuix 6 – a big body who can’t really be bull rushed who shows enough anchor to move defenders off the ball a yard or so. Should not be asked to move too much in pass pro due to lack of elite quickness.
Tyler Biadasz 12 – supremely athletic, can move to second level with ease. Can also pancake guys in the trenches with great core strength. Sometimes a little unbalanced and ends up on the ground. Understands blocking angles to give space to his running back. Pass protection is good, keeps hands and eyes up to pick up rushers, can sometimes overcommit a little bit unnecessarily. Plays to whistle, not afraid to bury someone in the ground. Can become a top center in the league from day one.
*Saadiq Charles 10
(Josh Myers 8 – Ohio State, 2019 junior).
Trystan Colon-Castillo 7
Jake Hanson 7
Simon Stepeniak 7
Matt Hennessy 6
Sean Pollard 6
*Hakeem Adeniji 6
James O’Hagan 5 (2018 footage) – Buffalo Bulls center.
Terrell Burgess 15 – does not allow runners to get outside of him, but can disengage and make the stop once the defender does run inside. Does miss some tackles due to less than ideal technique. Outstanding range, doesn’t overcommit, slows down to make sure he makes sufficient contact on the ball carrier. Can be a good corner as well due to loose hips and speed. Can be a ballhawk if he makes sure he gets his head around in time.
*David Dowell 12
Kamren Curl 10 – his positioning is usually immaculate, and he doesn’t over commit on run plays that could leave the field open for deep passes. He knows where to go most of the time, but he sometimes lacks the urgency to make the tackle – he can see it, but he can be a bit lazy. He is a refined tackler so I’m not sure he’ll miss many tackles.
Delpit 7 – very explosive, has true single high safety speed and can be a big hitter against ball carriers. Is a boom or bust tackler however – he often over commits to a certain angle, and puts his head in incorrect positions. He also overcommits to tracking receivers running to the flat when runs might be going between the tackles, limiting his impact on those plays.
Harrison Hand 6 – played a lot of corner, but might lack the twitchiness needed to change direction like corners require. He is disciplined in his stance, has long arms, and can sniff out run plays quite well however, so I think he’s best as a safety.
Mykelti Williams 6 – not very highly touted but showed up in the tackle count for college football in 2019, as he was top five for safeties in the country. Plays hard and hits hard, sometimes with poor technique which could contribute to injuries, but is worth having as a threatening presence against the run and lurking for tipped balls.
David Dowell 14 – awesome at diagnosing plays, very quick in short areas to find the ball against run and pass. Very good tackler, could add a little strength but usually wraps up and brings down runners well. Can shed blocks due to his twitch. Can keep up with most receivers in space and make plays on the ball.
*Terrell Burgess 12
*James Smith-Williams 10
*Kamren Curl 9
Javin White 8 (need to watch more) – had 54 solo tackles, 3 picks and two forced fumbles in 12 games last season. Best as a safety to utilize his ability to get to the ball and make catches downfield. Shows some man coverage skills, can flip hips somewhat, so at 6’3” and 200 pounds can be used to mark up on tight ends (he shows ability to beat blocks with power) or receivers. The versatile chess piece that Isaiah Simmons is billed to be.
K’Von Wallace 7 – good in man coverage, not so good in zone as he doesn’t stay in low stance, isn’t overly quick in play recognition. Plays to the whistle and keeps his eyes up, meaning he could be an interception threat at the next level. Can run sideline to sideline.
Javonte Moffat 7
Joey Banks 7 – not ideal tackling technique as he sometimes puts his head in prone positions, but a very strong hitter and sufficient burst to close on the ball.
Allijah Halliburton 6 – led FBS safeties in tackles.
Kindle Vildor 14 – extremely agile so that he can keep up with most receivers in any direction. Great ball skills. Sound in protecting edge on run plays and can tackle well.
*Terrell Burgess 11
Thakkarius Keyes 10 – a bigger corner who has good arm length and strength to push receivers off their routes and can keep up with receivers downfield as well. Could improve smoothness in footwork and flipping hips but has sufficient burst to close on ball. Great ball skills and is unafraid to attempt picks in traffic.
Grayland Arnold 10 – very athletic, can change direction and keep glued to receivers well. Can contain edge on run plays. Usually keeps feet when tackling so could end up being forcing some fumbles from ripping ball out, needs to develop strength to really drive ball carriers back and blow up blockers though.
Stanford Samuels 9 – great, fast feet all over the field. Overshoots tackles some and doesn’t wrap up. Smart against run, usually doesn’t allow play to bounce outside. Long arms to interrupt receivers at line of scrimmage.
Essang Bassey 8 – plays with good awareness, effective in run support. Can stay with most receivers, could use hands more to direct receivers off their routes. Good athleticism means he can compete on jump balls with taller receivers. Tackles the ball so could be a forced fumble threat. Can recognise routes and jump the pattern at times, and has sufficient burst to get to where he wants to go.
Jeff Okudah 7 – generally does not wrap up tackles properly. Can be thrown off the receiver at the line of scrimmage due to overcommitment to receiver’s set up. Can be lackadaisical in not keeping tight on receivers the longer the plays develop. Other than that he’s a long, explosive athlete who can stay glued to receivers most of the time, so is worthy of a day one or two pick.
*Kamren Curl 7
*James Smith-Williams 7
Kristian Fulton 7
Chandler Kryst 7 – showed up on my radar due to high pick count in his senior year at Coastal Carolina. Good burst to ball, solid downfield speed and ball skills.
Brandon Ezell 7 – out of San Jose State, good ball skills, a returner so good footwork and athleticism. Solid tackler.
AJ Terrell 7
Ceedee Lamb 7 – he is considered by many as the top receiver in the draft, but I don’t see it – he has solid yards after the catch ability, but I think he lacks the route running savvy and explosiveness to get open consistently. He does have long arms? And is physical, however, so I think he can make an impact at corner.
Damon Arnette 6
Keith Washington 6
Javelein Guidry 6 – can stay with almost any receiver with 4.3 speed, is bulky enough to shed blocks and sift through traffic to make tackles. Footwork and hand position is less than ideal.
Isaiah Simmons 6 – is clearly a special athlete, but lacks play recognition, motor and size to take on blocks. I’d utilise his speed and wingspan at corner.
*James Smith-Williams 18
Shaun Bradley 12 – just like Kamren Curl, he has great play recognition but sometimes doesn’t have the motor to get to the ball. It’s almost as if he can’t be bothered. They might play up to competition at the next level, but you can’t rely on that. What Bradley can do is fly all over the field, yet have the strength and power to crush blockers and make run stops. He can legitimately play as a mike linebacker in a Tampa 2 defense and cover the deep middle of the field he’s that rangy. He could use a bit more leg drive in tackles as he misses some as he doesn’t wrap properly. Can be a savage pass rusher.
Justin Strnad 10 – extremely quick, so he’s good in coverage, but can also stack blocks and make tackles in traffic. True sideline to sideline speed but needs to wrap up tackles more, can’t just lead with shoulder all the time, particularly for his own longevity.
Shaq Quarterman 8 – this play is emblematic of Quarterman’s style – in the 2018 season he hit 2019 draftee Foster Moreau so hard that his mouthguard fell out. He can shed blocks well and is built low to the ground so he usually has good leverage. Can move about the field but might need to improve motor a bit, against aFlorida he stood and watched as a receiver broke multiple tackles and scored on a huge play when Quarterman could’ve gotten there to mop up. Solid change of direction ability in coverage and can sink hips to move around.
Willie Gay Jr 7
*Jordan Mack 7
Cole Kmet 7 – played as a tight end at Notre Dame and is considered by many to be the best tight end in the draft. He has great size, but it’s apparent to me that he hasn’t played that much football, based on his understanding of coverages and blocking ability – he also played baseball until his junior college season, which would’ve limited the amount of time he could dedicate to football. I would use him as an inside linebacker who can chase down receivers and blow up some blockers.
Khaleke Hudson 6
Javahn Ferguson 6 (2018 tape)
*Josh Uche 6
*James Smith-Williams 24
*Cedric Wilcots 14
Jordan Mack 11 – has played mostly off the ball but boy can he rush the passer. He is quick to the ball but doesn’t over-commit and run past the ball carrier, so he can close on many hurries for a potentially high sack count. He sniffs out runs very well, and can cover a bit, although my placing of him on the edge indicates he’s best closer to the line of scrimmage and only covering occasionally.
Chase Young 11 – I prefer him as an outside linebacker as he is so twitchy that he can cover in the short areas of the field. Is also potent as a rusher, gets off the ball almost as fast as Von Miller. Isn’t overly bendy, but has good power to drive blockers back and has a solid motor.
*Shaun Bradley 9
*Rashod Berry 9 – yes, fullback Rashod Berry is so athletic that I think he can be a Pro-Bowl level edge defender. He had a few snaps there at Ohio State due to injuries, indicating he has the ability, and was recruits a potential edge defender there. Has long arms and bulk to swipe away and drive through blockers to get to the ball, has great play sense.
AJ Epenesa 7 – a very unique prospect as he has the size to play as a defensive tackle and the athleticism to play in coverage. I haven’t listed him as a quality option at 4-3 DE, as he can’t be relied upon to contain an edge, as he commits too early to incorrect running lanes. As a result he’s best used to shrug off blockers and make tackles in one gap, cover in the short areas of the field, or just straight power rush. Any higher-level decision making is not in his tool bag, in my opinion.
*Darrell Taylor 7
Josh Uche 7 – great motor, has some spin and swipe moves and dip to get to QB, can beat you with speed also. Won’t push a lineman over but can hold up in run game. Sometimes overcommits, leaving holes for QB or RB to run through. Has agility to cover in space when asked.
Ledarius Mack 7 – I’m surprised no-one has talked about him as Khalil Mack’s younger brother at Buffalo. Has his brother’s quickness, can dip inside on the pass rush, very active hands. Has strength to stand blockers up. Tackling form needs work, needs to wrap up more as sometimes ball carriers slip out of his tackles. Solid motor.
Gross Matos 7
Bryce Huff 7
Trevis Gipson 6
*Shaq Quarterman 6
Carter Coughlin 6
Terrell Lewis 6
James Smith-Williams 27 – can be a top defender in the league from day dot. Is a low-profile prospect due to a litany of injuries throughout his career, playing in just 29 games over the course of his five year career at NC State. Nonetheless, when healthy, he can be dominant. His healthiest year was in 2018 when he had 36 tackles, 9 TFLs and six sacks in just 11 games. The injury history is something you’d have to look into, but I think he has the work ethic to bounce back – he gained 70 pounds of muscle during his college career, and was studious enough to earn an internship and job guarantee from a high profile technology company……He tested similarly to legendary edge rushers like Whitney Mercilus and Ryan Kerrigan at the combine, as he was above the 90th percentile in the board jump and vertical jump for defensive lineman, as well as posting 28 reps on the bench. This kind of pedigree makes me think the injuries were just ill fortune, or understandable growing pains for carrying more weight. His talent is so overwhelming that I’d still take him with my top pick….He protects the edge with aplomb, doesn’t over-commit to rush, keeps blocker away with long arms and shed blockers to make tackles extremely well. Pass rush move is primarily a bull rush, but he can dip or pull at the right moments and when he knows where the QB is trying to get to with their feet. Will draw plenty of holds because he has good bend as well, which will surprise many linemen as he sets them up with power beforehand. Great get-off, speed to power is incredible. Can sink into coverage on occasion and keep hips low and hands up for potential picks or batted balls.
Cedric Wilcots 16 – has a filthy spin move, which is a counter off of a filthy speed rush. Can use hands to bat away blockers’ arms too. Can beat run blockers with pure effort and solid base despite a slender frame for a 4 tech. Needs to put shoulders into tackles more but is usually strong enough to wrap up tackles anyway.
*Ross Blacklock 11
*Chase Young 9
Darrell Taylor 8
(Jaquan Bailey 7)
*Broderick Washington 7
Tipa Galaei 7
Javon Kinlaw 7 – incredible get off for a man at 300 pounds, can really swipe away blockers and move around them. I prefer him on the edge so that he’d just have to get after the quarterback and pull down rushes to the edge, as his wingspan will allow him to take up more space than normal for the position. Play recognition not great.
*Rashod Berry 7
Khalid Kareem 6 – play recognition isn’t great, can overshoot to the outside on inside run plays a lot. Awesome traits, great get off and wingspan, shows promise on swipe moves inside and outside but needs to improve bend and motor in driving linemen back.
*Bryce Huff 6
Ross Blacklock 17 – can become one of the best defensive tackles in the league from day one. Built like Fletcher Cox, has great get off, instincts as to where the holes are to close up runs or where to penetrate on pass rush, can beat double teams with ease due to drive in legs, brute strength and efficient hand usage. Keeps head up and can utilise spin move to take down QB or runner. Needs to clean up discipline, was kicked out of his final? game for TCU for helmet to helmet contact on quarterback.
*James Smith-Williams 16
Broderick Washington 11 – absorbed a lot of double teams at Texas Tech but still managed to shrug blockers off and find the ball. Crazy first step and top speed for a 300 pounder and good motor, needs to improve tackling form as he misses some at times. Main pass rush move is bull rush with an occasional swipe – he could improve leverage on those moves – but will still get a handful or so sacks a year just from motor and keeping eyes up.
Rashard Lawrence 8 – extremely stout against the run, can anchor against a double team to allow fellow defenders to clean up. Solid get off, needs to develop more pass rush moves but does have solid swipe, but doesn’t have that much burst to get upfield.
Demerick Gary 7 – was top 5 in tackles for seniors at the defensive tackle position last college season, and you can see why – he is up there with Kinlaw for how explosive he is off the ball, and has sufficient bulk to not let many blockers stop him from making forward progress.
Raekwon Davis 6 – plays with a great motor. Doesn’t overcommit to attacking a gap at expense of run play in another direction, but also struggles to keep his eyes up when engaging blockers, which limits his play recognition. Doesn’t really have pass rush moves but can drive linemen back a few yards, creating pressure that way. Is nimble enough to line up outside the tackles at times. Strong enough to disengage most blocks and has solid tackling form, with sufficient size to bring down most ball carriers.
Lorenzo Neal 6 – is stout in holding up blockers in the run game, using one hand to hold them off while keeping his eyes up to see where run plays are headed. He has a good motor, but his lack of burst means he sometimes can’t close on the runner.
Cooper Rothe – it’s hard to find highlight footage of kickers on YouTube, but I like Rothe because he doesn’t stab at the ball – he has a consistent follow through that indicates good leg flexibility. This means he can drive his foot through the ball in any weather condition and suggest he has great range.
I’m listing these players according to their value as if they were NFL free agents. I also list their ideal position – note that “DE” means a 4-3 edge defender, while an “OLB” means a 3-4 edge defender.
I’ve scouted every big-name prospect so don’t think I’ve forgotten anyone!
1. DE James Smith-Williams ($27 million) – can be a top defender in the league from day dot. Is a low-profile prospect due to a litany of injuries throughout his career, playing in just 29 games over the course of his five year career at NC State. Nonetheless, when healthy, he can be dominant. His healthiest year was in 2018 when he had 36 tackles, 9 TFLs and six sacks in just 11 games. The injury history is something you’d have to look into, but I think he has the work ethic to bounce back – he gained 70 pounds of muscle during his college career, and was studious enough to earn an internship and job guarantee from a high profile technology company.
He tested similarly to legendary edge rushers like Whitney Mercilus and Ryan Kerrigan at the combine, as he was above the 90th percentile in the board jump and vertical jump for defensive lineman (according to mockdraftable.com), as well as posting 28 reps on the bench. This kind of pedigree makes me think the injuries were just ill fortune, him playing with his hand in the dirt while being undersized in his earlier playing days, or struggling to adjust to his newfound mass. Regardless, his talent is so overwhelming that I’d still take him with one of my top picks.
He protects the edge with aplomb, doesn’t over-commit to rush, keeps blocker away with long arms and sheds blockers to make tackles extremely well. Pass rush move is primarily a bull rush, but he can dip or pull at the right moments and when he knows where the QB is trying to get to as the play breaks down. Will draw plenty of holds because he has good bend as well, which will surprise many linemen as he sets them up with power beforehand. Great get-off, speed to power is incredible. Can sink into coverage on occasion and keep hips low and hands up for potential picks or batted balls.
2. QB Ryan Agnew ($26 million) – throws to only where his receiver can get the ball. Will always keep his team in the game as he can execute long passes or audible at line to change a play according to the defensive front. Understands where safety helps is weakest and is an expert at lofting the ball so that his receiver can make the downfield catch, or come back to ball. Great throwing action, high and with great bodily rotation. Has enough zip on passes to hit his receivers all over field. Holds ball with two hands and has great footwork, keeps eyes upfield but has a great internal clock, can scramble some and is solid enough to take hits. Great spatial awareness to know where pressure is coming from, as well as where lurking defenders are. I’d use him primarily as a pocket passer but he is nimble enough to be used on bootlegs on occasion. Can throw while running but this is not his greatest strength. Is really good at selling play action, has Aaron Rodgers level of confidence in hiding the ball and then being able to find open spaces with arms and/or legs as play develops. Is smart enough to know every route his receivers will run to release ball before his receiver is even open.
3. FB Rashod Berry ($18 million) – missed most of last season due to “undisclosed injuries”, but from what I’ve seen, Berry can become one of the best fullbacks ever. Has been listed as a tight end but is so good at blocking I think he’s best as a fullback, very long arms, balance and drive make him very difficult to beat. Can get upfield to make more than one block, and understands blocking angles extremely well. A perfect example of Berry’s ability is here (https://youtu.be/Hv0SVoYzFyY?t=25) (he’s number 13), where he pushes the defender five yards off of the ball into another defender, and he seamlessly changes the blocking assignment for the Fields touchdown. Shows some savvy, change-of-direction ability, and explosiveness in getting open, can make catches (high level basketball ability, as shown from his YouTube mixtapes, suggest his ball skills and athleticism). Strong legs, wicked stiff arm and quickness make him extremely difficult to bring down.
4. WR Tee Higgins ($17.7 million) – you cannot deny that a reason for Trevor Lawrence’s college football success has been that he can just wait for Higgins to get open, and even if he doesn’t, just throw it up and let the 6’4”, 220 pound super-athlete go up and get it. Higgins combines elite measurables with impeccable savvy as far as getting open with his routes, including in the end zone where space is more cramped, as well as making a catch and rotating to be able to survey the defense ahead of him to gain yards after the catch with his long stride.
5. G Cordel Iwuagwu ($17.4 million) – is so quick that sometimes it’s hard to find him on run plays. Can get to second level with ease and shows good understanding of how to make initial contact and move forward, creating lanes while changing blocking assignments. In pass pro, can get pushed backwards somewhat by a bull rush, but has long arms and good enough base to delay the rush enough to give the QB time to make a good decision. Is very nimble in pass pro and keeps arms up to ensure he can meet blitzers and stunts well. Plays hard, usually knows when to stop plugging a gap in pass pro and look for work, leading to delicious pancakes.
6. RB Anthony McFarland ($16.8 million) – has the big play ability of Tyreek Hill, with the vision of the best running backs in the game today. Unprecedented agility and base to evade tacklers, great hands.
7. DT Ross Blacklock ($16.5 million) – can become one of the best defensive tackles in the league from day one. Built like Fletcher Cox, has great get off, instincts as to where the holes are to close up runs or where to penetrate on pass rush, can beat double teams with ease due to drive in legs, brute strength and efficient hand usage. Keeps head up and can utilise spin move to take down QB or runner. Needs to clean up discipline, was kicked out of his final game for TCU for helmet to helmet contact on quarterback.
8. FS Terrell Burgess ($15 million) – does not allow runners to get outside of him, but can disengage and make the stop once the defender does run inside. Does miss some tackles due to less than ideal technique. Outstanding range, doesn’t overcommit, slows down to make sure he makes sufficient contact on the ball carrier. Can be a good corner as well due to loose hips and speed. Can be a ballhawk if he makes sure he gets his head around in time.
9. CB Kindle Vildor ($14.7 million) – extremely agile so that he can keep up with most receivers in any direction. Great ball skills. Sound in protecting edge on run plays and can tackle well.
10. SS Dowell ($14.5 million) – awesome at diagnosing plays, very quick in short areas to find the ball against run and pass. Very good tackler, could add a little strength but usually wraps up and brings down runners well. Can shed blocks due to his twitch. Can keep up with most receivers in space and make plays on the ball.
11. DE Cedric Wilcots ($14.4 million) – has a filthy spin move, which is a counter off of a filthy speed rush. Can use hands to bat away blockers’ arms too. Can beat run blockers with pure effort and solid base despite a slender frame for a 4 tech. Needs to put shoulders into tackles more but is usually strong enough to wrap up tackles anyway.
12. T Isaiah Wilson ($12.8 million) – impossible to bull rush and nimble enough to keep up with most speed rushers. First step is scarily explosive, holds blocks well and plays nastily.
13. C Tyler Biadasz ($12.4 million) – supremely athletic, can move to second level with ease. Can also pancake guys in the trenches with great core strength. Sometimes a little unbalanced and ends up on the ground. Understands blocking angles to give space to his running back. Pass protection is good, keeps hands and eyes up to pick up rushers, can sometimes overcommit a little bit unnecessarily. Plays to whistle, not afraid to bury someone in the ground. Can become a top center in the league from day one.
14. WR Collin Johnson ($12.1 million) – 6’6” with great body control to make tough catches, can take hits too. Solid speed for a big man, isn’t awesome off line of scrimmage but can still scoot away from corners at times. Safe hands.
15. ILB Shaun Bradley ($12 million) – he has great play recognition but sometimes doesn’t have the motor to get to the ball. It’s almost as if he can’t be bothered. He might play up to competition at the next level, but you can’t rely on that. What Bradley can do is fly all over the field when he deems it necessary, while having the strength and power to crush blockers and make run stops. He can legitimately play as a mike linebacker in a Tampa 2 defense and cover the deep middle of the field – he’s that rangy. He could use a bit more leg drive in tackles as he misses some as he doesn’t wrap properly.
16. T Saadiq Charles ($11.8 million) – very nimble and disciplined. Strong enough to hold up against most defenders. Can block in space. Skills translate to guard as well.
17. OLB Chase Young ($11.7 million) – I prefer him as an outside linebacker as he is so twitchy that he can cover in the short areas of the field. Is also potent as a rusher, gets off the ball almost as fast as Von Miller. Isn’t overly bendy, but has good power to drive blockers back and has a solid motor.
18. OLB Jordan Mack ($11.6 million) – has played mostly off the ball but boy can he rush the passer. He is quick to the ball but doesn’t over-commit and run past the ball carrier, so you won’t see him miss on many potential sacks. He sniffs out runs very well, and can cover a bit, although my placing of him on the edge indicates he’s best closer to the line of scrimmage and only covering occasionally.
19. WR Kendrick Rodgers ($11.4 million) – big target, sound route runner, strong after the catch to break tackles, strong as a run blocker.
20. WR Henry Ruggs ($11.3 million) – despite short stature can get off line of scrimmage well due to footwork and hand usage. Sub 4.3 speed means he’s a downfield threat but can also evade tacklers with good spatial awareness, and can be a quality gadget player with jet sweeps etc. Can find creases in defense on routes, including in end zone. Reliable hands.
This list is a prediction of which upcoming free agents in the 2020 class will return to their former teams, and for how much money and years on their new contracts. It’s a fun exercise to see if you have a good understanding of the marketplace. It doesn’t include players who are reported to be franchise tagged, such as Chris Jones of KC, Dak to Dallas, Ngakoue to Jax, and Justin Simmons to Denver. Players are ranked by how much money they could get to re-sign with their teams.
Clowney, 3, 69 – Frank Clark reset the edge defender market, and Clowney could eclipse that as the only truly threatening presence on the defensive line as far as pass rushing. He’s had a chequered past as far as holding out for Houston, which caused his trade to Seattle, so I’m not sure GM John Schneider and co will give him a four or five year deal.
Barrett, 4, 64 – Barrett gets less money than Clowney as he was a bit of a one year wonder as far as production, but is worthy of keeping long term.
Armstead, 4, 60 – an underrated, versatile piece on the Niners defensive line. They only have $13 mil in cap space at the time of writing, so they’d have to cut a player like the ageing Niners legend Joe Staley (saving them $10.5 million) and/or underused receiver Marquise Goodwin (saving them $3.6 mil). They might cut either of those players and re-sign them anyway.
B.Jones, 4, 56 – the Cowboys have a cap space of $77 million at the start of free agency to franchise Dak Prescott for $33 million (as has been reported), keep receiver Amari Cooper for around $15 million a year (who they gave up a 2019 first round pick for, which became safety Jonathon Abram) as well as re-signing the stud cornerback Byron Jones.
Derrick Henry, 4, 56 – Henry was vital to Tennessee’s success last season and could get the same yearly salary as Ezekiel Elliott.
Scherff, 5, 55 – he’s been a Washington lifer and has been uncomplaining there, unlike fellow Pro Bowl lineman Trent Williams, so I think they might reward him with a five year deal. Injury concerns might hinder his annual salary however.
Tannehill, 3, 54 – he balled out last season, and at age 32 with limited snaps over the last few years due to injury, could have at least three quality years left, which I think the Titans could reward him for. Because of said injury history, I’m not sure he’ll command top-caliber QB money like Russell Wilson or Jared Goff, as he’s less proven, but staying in Tennessee for around $18 million a year wouldn’t be so bad considering he was on the bench for half the season most recently.
A.Cooper, 4, 48 – as mentioned, Dallas gave up a first round pick to get Cooper, so I don’t think they’ll let him walk. He’s their best receiver because he gets open consistently, but some drops in key games last season as the Cowboys were fighting for a playoff spot might hinder his market.
Thuney, 4, 44 – this could represent a discount as Thuney is one of the top lineman in this free agency class, and most teams could use him. However, he’s been with New England for his whole career, and if they can sign Tom Brady for a reasonable amount, they should be able to re-sign him (with $40 million in cap space before free agency). They might also release 36 year old kicker Stephen Gostkowksi, which would save them $3.4 mil, as he had a rough 2019 campaign that involved five missed kicks, being placed on IR and having hip surgery.
Van Noy, 3, 42 – he’s been a pretty dominant player along the defensive front for the last few seasons, and I think the Pats will reward him for it.
Kendall Fuller, 4, 40 – was a key piece in the Chiefs revitalised defense, and they obviously think highly of him as they included him in the trade of Alex Smith two offseasons ago.
Eli Apple, 4, 40 – a talented young corner who played his way out of New York, but started for the Saints. Talented corners are tough to come by, so I think NOLA will lock him up long term.
Schobert, 3, 36 – he’s been a franchise stalwart and has made a Pro-Bowl. Individuals like that are worth keeping around.
Clinton-Dix, 3, 36 – played well replacing Adrian Amos in Chicago, and is still young enough (age 27) to deserve a longer term deal than he’s had the last couple of seasons.
H.Henry, 3, 36 – has been injury prone but has been one of the best tight ends in the league when healthy. Will be crucial to the Chargers keeping relevant in the post-Philip Rivers era.
A.Hooper, 3, 33 – has been a quality tight end for a Falcons team that was in the Super Bowl just a few seasons ago, and he’s still just 25 years old.
Judon, 3, 33 – the Ravens need edge defenders and keeping Judon will help them continue to be a pretty dominant defense.
Anthony Harris, 3, 33 – had a breakout season with previous starter Andrew Sendejo gone. He’ll get a decent payday but a small-ish track record of success might mean he doesn’t get top safety money or long term commitment beyond three years.
Leo-Will, 4, 32 – the Giants gave up a third and fifth round pick to get Williams from the Jets last midseasons, so letting him go would be a disaster.
Brady – 2 years, $30 million. He had a drop off in production last season, and while he didn’t have much consistency at receiver and offensive line, there’s no doubt he’ll continue to decline as far as arm talent and maneuverability in the pocket. Staying in New England for $30 million wouldn’t be so bad. The Pats gave Jimmy G to San Fran for a second rounder with the assumption Brady could play until age 45, so letting him go would be a lost cause.
Mike Pierce, 3, 30. A great run stuffer for the Ravens. Phlly have set a precedent for loading up on the defensive line with some success, bringing in Malik Jackson when they already had Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan and Derek Barnettt, so the Ravens might do this also to help fellow d-tackle Brandon Williams.
Devin McCourty, 2, 28 – a highly underrated piece of the Pats dominant run over the last decade. At age 32 he still has the speed to be a quality free safety, and will continue to be a veteran leader.
Bridgewater – 3, 27 – the Saints need a future at QB after Drew Brees and they might already have one in-house in Bridgewater, who they traded a third round pick for in 2018. He’s younger than Taysom Hill and is more proven as a starter. I think $9 million a year or so will be enough to keep Bridgewater in town – there might still be some concern about his injury history which could limit the market on him.
AJ Green, 2, 24 – a crucial part of presumed number one pick Joe Burrow’s time as a franchise QB will be having quality receivers, and AJ Green fits the bill. He’s held out for Cincy last season, but could be tempted back for a couple more years with Burrow under center.
Littleton, 3, 24 – the Rams have very little cap space but desperately need to keep Littleton, who has progressed from a key special teams contributor to being a quality young off-ball linebacker.
Chris Harris, 3, 24 – the Broncos still have a talented defense that Harris might not want to leave, particularly after they franchised Justin Simmons, acquired AJ Bouye, and are keeping Von Miller. Drew Lock might have shown enough promise to be good enough to get the Broncos back to the playoffs, so I think Harris might re-sign.
Jimmie Ward, 3, 24 – was a good player for the Niners in their Super Bowl season, showing great range and physicality from the safety spot. Keeping him would keep the locker room and personnel consistency intact, and they might find the cap space if they can make the aforementioned moves like trading Marquese Goodwin.
Martinez, 3, 24 – has been a stable presence for the Packers as an off ball linebacker, could be entering prime at age 26. Without him, that linebacker group could look less than promising.
Kenyan Drake, 4, 24 – he balled out for Arizona after being traded there from Miami for a fifth round pick last midseason, and is young enough (26) to be worthy of a long term deal. They’re paying fellow running back David Johnson $13 million per year until the 2022 offseason, but with around $40 million in cap space, I don’t think that will be a major problem, and having two starting level running backs is a good idea with the league trending towards sharing the workload at a punishing position.
Brockers, 3, 21 – has been a good contributor on the defensive interior alongside Aaron Donald the last few seasons. If they re-sign Brockers, he and Greg Gaines can provide a nice defensive tackle rotation.
Robby Anderson, 3, 21 – the Jets are already paying Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder nine million dollars per year each, but three receiver sets are in vogue so paying Anderson decent money might be a fine option anyway. Anderson has great deep ball ability which works well with Crowder and Enunwa’s shorter route YAC ability.
Conklin, 3, 21 – the Titans declined Conklin’s club option on his fifth year before last season, indicating that they might not prioritise having him once free agency hits, but he was a key part of the Titans great performances in the second half of last season. He’s one of the premier offensive lineman in the free agent class, so losing him would be a big loss for a team on the rise.
Everson Griffen, 2, 20 – he declined his player option on his contract with the Vikings to enter free agency, but he might re-sign with his team, as they’re still a solid team with strong defensive personnel and great skill position players on offense.
Bulaga, 2, 20 – has been an above average tackle when healthy. He’s 30 years old so a two year deal seems reasonable.
Winston, 2, 18 – very hit and miss – his 1:1 touchdown to interception ration last season suggests that. He played better towards the end of season which might have secured him a spot on the roster for a couple more years.
Tre Boston, 3, 18 – has played for four teams in four seasons, but played well enough for Carolina to deserve a long term deal. The Panthers are not opposed to committing long term to safeties who perform for them despite having some turmoil in their past – they gave Eric Reid $22 million over three years last offseason, one year removed from filing a grievance letter to the NFL for his inability to find a new contract, possibly due to his public protests against police brutality.
Brees – 1, $17 – he’s 41 years old so it’s unlikely he’d sign for longer, and this amount of money will ensure the Saints can improve in free agency.
Castonzo, 2, 16 – he’s been big part of Indy’s quality offensive line, so bringing him back for two years seems like a good idea.
J.Collins, 2, 12 – was basically let go by the Browns, and the Pats used him well, so signing him for a couple more years at a cheap rate might be a good move.
Jordan Howard, 2, 12 – was a consistent yard gainer for Philly, was given away for a sixth round pick by the Bears an offseason ago, so his market might still be low.
Jason Peters, 1, 10 – Peters is so good that he still contributes at age 38. Signing him for one more year gives Andre Dillard more time to grow and increases the bench depth.
Trevathan, 2, 10 – the Bears rarely rotate their starting linebackers out, so I think they prioritise bringing back a known quantity in Trevathan, as well as a younger Nick Kwiatkowski for more depth.
Nassib, 2, 10 – played well in a edge defender rotation for Tampa Bay, enough so to deserve a couple more years on his contract.
Ebron, 2, 10 – was a Pro-Bowl level tight end in 18-19, but had injuries last season and multiple ominous DNPs, which has undoubtedly led to Indy GM Chris Ballard say they’ll “probably move on” from him in free agency. Having said that, I see the market being low on him due to last season, and the Colts might realise that he’s too talented to let go so easily. He is a good enough receiver to play with fellow tight end Jack Doyle on occasion anyway.
Mike Daniels, 1, 7 – was strangely released by his long-time team the Packers last offseason and was picked up by the Lions. Defensive tackle will be a need for them with their release of Damon Harrison and Ashawn Robinson’s free agency. Daniels is good enough to deserve another short term contract at age 30.
Mariota, 2, 6 – disappointed as a starter last season, and his team had a dramatic turnaround when Tannehill started in his place. He was the second overall pick for Tennessee in 2015, so I think they’ll keep him around, as he knows the playbook and his teammates well.
This list names players who I believe could move teams in free agency. It precludes some big names such as Tom Brady and Dak Prescott, so their emissions indicate that I think it’s likely they remain with their clubs. This list also gives some reasoning about why the new destination could be a nice fit for the player, gives precedence for contract value compared to previous contracts at the player’s position, as well as naming other teams who could be in the hunt for the player.
QB Philip Rivers – Colts (two years, $24 million).
Indy could be the best fit football-wise, as a major reason they missed the playoffs last season was because of Andrew Luck’s retirement, so the Colts might value Rivers highly as they could see him as an upgrade over incumbent QB Jacoby Brissett. The Colts’ current offensive co-ordinator worked with Rivers in LAC, so he could fit right in, and the Colts might think of themselves as a win-now team with the amount of cheap talent they have along the offensive line.
The Colts have a whopping $86 mil in cap space. They’ll likely use some of it to re-sign players like Anthony Castonzo, Jabaal Sheard (even though I think he might leave for New England, read below!), Devin Funchess and even Eric Ebron (despite the team having a falling out after he placed himself on IR without consulting the team, and GM Chris Ballard has said “we’ll probably move on”), but that’s still plenty of space to use on Rivers.
I have listed the Jets as a possible destination as they have $50 mil in cap space and might consider making a playoff run that the 22 year old Sam Darnold might not promise them. While there has been a change in GMs since Maccagnan signed LeVeon Bell and CJ Mosley to big deals as marquee players in their primes, having a placeholder QB like RIvers might make sense to capitalise on the expenditure on marquee players.
Similar deal: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2 years and $11 mil at age 36, to either backup or start over whatever young QB the Phins picked up in the draft (which ended up being Josh Rosen).
Other teams: Jets.
RB Melvin Gordon – Dolphins (three years, $24 million).
The Phins have the cap space to outbid everyone else, with $89 mil in space if no roster changes are made (per OverTheCap). The market might not be overly strong for Gordon anyway, as he held out for four games last season and had 1.3 yards per rush less than his ‘18-’19 campaign, despite a similar number of carries.
But this is a high upside play for the Dolphins, as Gordon will be just 27 once the season rolls around and was top 10 in both rushing yards and receiving yards for running backs per game for three straight years from 2016. The Chargers letting Gordon go would indicate they want to prioritise re-signing Austin Ekeler, who didn’t hold out for them, is younger (aged 24), and played well – he was second to Christian McCaffrey in receiving yards for Rbs with 60 yards per game, and threw in 4.2 yards per rush, which was top 30 among RBs as well.
Similar deal: Mark Ingram, 3 years and $15 mil.
Other teams: Steelers, Jaguars
RB Chris Thompson – Buffalo Bills (three years, $18 million).
Wash are loaded at running back with Derrius Guice, Bryce Love and Adrian Peterson in the fold, so I think they would let Thompson walk if the Bills came in with an offer like this. The Bills have a young big play back in Devin Singletary who led the league in both 20+ yard rush rate and fumble rate for running backs last season, and Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon are free agents. They might like to add a proven pass catching back in Thompson to help mentor Singletary, and could even be used as a slot receiver, as the Bills could use Josh Allen in empty sets to spread the defense out and give him space to run.
Similar deal: Latavius Murray, 4 years and $14 mil to help spell Alvin Kamara.
Possible competing teams: most teams.
DE Dante Fowler – Giants (three years, $18 million).
The Rams are cash strapped (just $14 million in cap space at time of writing) and might want to keep linebacker Cory Littleton over Fowler as the Rams pass rush is already solid with Aaron Donald, Samson Ebukam, Clay Matthews and potential young contributors in edge rusher Jachai Polite (if he can behave himself) and defensive tackle Greg Gaines. The Giants will hope to get Chase Young in the draft but the Redskins are ahead of them in draft order, and barring a big move, Young will be gone. Either way, Fowler is an upgrade over Lorenzo Carter and fellow free agent Markus Golden – the former of which can play off-ball in a 4-3 scheme if the need arises, the latter of whom can spot start anyway if they re-sign.
Similar deal: Cameron Wake, 3 years and $23 million, after getting 6 sacks in 14 games the season prior, but with an expected decline at age 37.
Other teams: Raiders, Phins, Jets.
CB AJ Bouye – Eagles (two years, $14 million).
Every team could use Bouye, a Pro-Bowl caliber cornerback in his prime. But the Eagles might need him more than anyone, as they had to play eight different defensive backs due to injuries to starters Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Avante Maddox.
The team finished middle of the pack statistically as far as receiving yards and TDs given up, but if the Eagles want to capitalise on their dominant but ageing offensive and defensive lines, they might want to use some of their $40 mil in cap space on a quality corner like Bouye.
This could be a high upside play for Bouye to join a team who won the championship in 2017, with not too much roster change, that managed to make the playoffs with a losing record, indicating a weak division.
$7 mil a year for a former Pro-Bowler in his prime age-wise is a below market rate, and the Eagles would hope his talent can help them get back to the promised land.
Similar deal: Darryl Roberts, re-signed with Jets for three years and $18 million, at age 28.
Other teams: most teams.
CB Jimmy Smith – Giants (two years, $14 million).
Smith is 32 but can still produce – he played in 405 snaps on a Baltimore team that gave up the sixth fewest passing yards in the league last season. The Ravens already have corners rostered on in Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young and Brandon Carr, so I think Smith might feel he can get more playing time somewhere else. He could head up the road and play for the Giants, who took Deandre Baker and Julian Love as defensive backs early in the draft last season, but could use extra depth and mentorship, particularly after they released veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Similar deal: Jason McCourty with the Pats, two years, $11 million at age 32.
Other teams: Titans, Panthers
DT Derek Wolfe – Titans (three years, $12 million).
I think Wolfe, having had a taste for a Super Bowl ring, will look to join a winning team, as Denver has an 18-30 record over the last three seasons. Tennessee already has a quality interior defensive rotation with Jurrell Casey, Jonathon Simmons and DaQuan Jones, but I think Wolfe will be ok with that, as he can make bank and take pass rushing snaps in the latter stages of his career. Denver might go into rebuilding stage and prefer bringing back younger defensive tackles Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris. The Titans have not been shy to pay long-term deals to players past the age of 30, as they have gave 37 year old Cameron Wake a three year, $21 million deal last offseason.
Similar deal: Mike Daniels, who got 1 year and $9 mil from the Lions.
Other teams: Ravens, Falcons.
S Adrian Phillips – Dallas Cowboys (three years, $12 million).
The Cowboys need safety help regardless of whether they bring Jeff Heath back. Phillips started for the Chargers when they had a top 10 defence in 2018 as far as yards allowed. The Chargers drafted Nasir Adderley in his position early on last season, and Kyzir White could take some of his snaps too, as will All-Pro Derwin James. Phillips is coming off a broken arm, but still notched 268 snaps last season, with 36 tackles and a TFL. Unfortunately for Phillips, the safety market is saturated with players like DJ Swearinger, Tre Boston, Karl Joseph and potentially Eric Berry, so he might not command the lucrative deal that Gipson got.
Similar deal: Tashaun Gipson in 2019, 3 years and $22 mil after starting on AFC Divisional champion Jags.
Other teams: most teams.
QB Taysom Hill – Miami Dolphins (two years, $10 million).
Hill has made it known he thinks he can be a franchise QB, and while his lack of sample size in throwing the ball, as well as his age (30), will limit the market on him, the Dolphins are in the position to take a flier on him. They already have: Josh Rosen, the former 11th overall pick in 2018; 37 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is owed another $8 million in the 2020-2021 season; and the Phins own three first round draft picks in the 2020 draft, which they could use on a QB. This means that Miami can lure Hill with the potential for a starting job with substantial money, while still having solid fall back options. I don’t think the Saints will outbid them as I think they’ll prioritise a younger and more proven QB in Teddy Bridgewater, and they’ll be committing a fair chunk of cap ro re-sign Drew Brees. I also think they might take a QB in the first few rounds of the draft to give Teddy some competition beyond Brees.
Similar deals: Teddy Bridgewater, 1 year, $7.5 mil by the Saints. Like Hill, Teddy was considered a bit of a wild card, having started in just 1 game since his knee injury in 2016. FYI: I think the Saints re-sign Teddy.
Other teams: nil.
DE Ronald Blair – Miami Dolphins (two years, $10 million).
At age just 27 and providing 200 snaps and 3 sacks for an elite defense, Blair is an up and coming edge defender who might look for a payday and snap count that the Niners cannot provide, as they have $13 mil in cap space and might look to re-sign a bigger (literally) contributor in Arik Armstead at Blair’s position. The Dolphins don’t have anyone (!!) rostered on as an edge defender, and while they have 14 picks in the draft to potentially take a quality young pass rusher like AJ Epenesa or Yetur Gross-Matos, they can still promise Blair more snaps than the Niners can, and with $88 million in cap space, they can give him more money.
Similar deal: Romeo Okwara, 2 years and $6.8 mil from the Lions, after getting 7.5 sacks in 716 snaps as a 24 year old the season prior.
Other teams: nil.
WR Paul Richardson – Eagles (two years, $10 million).
Just Like Bouye, Richardson was cut from his former team and could find a home in Philly that sorely needs him. The Eagles had a good receiving corps on paper last season but were crippled by injuries. Richardson is a flier just like 2019 signee DeSean Jackson but is five years younger, and could be deemed more reliable than Eagles free agent Nelson Agholar, who had a drop rate per target of 5.8% last season compared to Richardson’s 4.8%.
Similar deal: Randall Cobb at age 29, 1 year and $5 mil from the Cowboys.
Other teams: nil.
RB Matt Breida – Chargers (two years, $10 million).
With Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert rostered on and former feature back Jerick McKinnon probably returning from injury, Breida might be the man left out in San Fran if he wants to command a decent salary. Breida will provide a discount over Melvin Gordon for LAC and can replace his ability to run between the tackles somewhat, giving a nice change of pace to a good pass catching back in Austin Ekeler.
Similar deal: Tevin Coleman, 2 years and $10 mil from the Niners after being a rotational back for the Falcons.
Other teams: Bucs.
DT Marcell Dareus – Colts (two years, $10 million).
The Colts need help on the defensive interior, with just three defensive tackles rostered on currently, the most notable of which being Margus Hunt. The Colts are an attractive free agent destination, as they have an abundance of cap space and draft picks (including Washington’s second round pick from the Montez Sweat trade in the 2019 draft), and have a high ceiling due to their young roster, and stud receiver TY Hilton possibly being back to full health.
Similar deal: Margus Hunt in 2019, 2 years, $9 mil at age 32.
Other teams: Packers, Raiders.
S Karl Joseph – Cleveland Browns (two years, $10 million).
The Raiders drafted strong safety Jonathan Abram in the first round last season, and plays in the same role Joseph is suited to. I think the Raiders might move on from Joseph, and the Browns will snap him up, as incumbent Morgan Burnett is 31 and missed eight games last season. The Browns have been disappointing but I think Joseph will enjoy playing for a talented defence, particularly with Myles Garrett returning from suspension.
Similar deal: HaHa Clinton-Dix,1 year, $3.5 mil deal with Chicago after being traded from Packers to Washington midseason.
Possible competing teams: Phins, Bucs.
DT Dontari Poe (potential cut by Panthers, would save them $9.8 mil in 2020) – Cincinnati Bengals (via trade, could give up 6th round pick for him).
The only other defensive tackles on this list who I believe are available in free agency are Derek Wolfe and Marcell Dareus, neither of whom would be likely to sign with the struggling Bengals. That might leave Cinci in a position where they want to add talent to their defensive tackle rotation, but can’t get a proven starter. That’s where a trade for Poe would come in. The Panthers would save $9.8 mil in trading or cutting Poe, and getting a 6th rounder as compensation would be a bonus. Andrew Billings is also an option for the Bengals to re-sign, but he hasn’t shown the level of production Poe has, and adding both could be a nice defensive interior rotation anyway. The Bengals have plenty of cap space even if they keep a marquee free agent of theirs in AJ Green, so I think they could stomach taking on Poe’s contract.
Similar deal: Miami traded defensive lineman Robert Quinn, on a $10 million a year salary, to Dallas for a 2020 sixth round pick.
Possible competing teams: Colts.
WR Nelson Agholar – Los Angeles Rams (two years, eight million).
I think Agholar might be sick of his ill-treatment from Philly fans over his production and look for a fresh start. The Rams continue to use three receiver stes most of the time and might look to gain insurance in case Brandin Cooks or Cooper Kupp go down, which has happened in the past. Agholar still has room to grow at age 26, and could command Moncrief type money having had a multiple 700 yards-plus seasons when fully healthy.
Similar deal: Donte Moncrief, 2 years, $9 mil at age 26 after a 48 catch, 668 yard season.
Possible competing teams: Ravens.
OLB Vic Beasley – Ravens (two years, six million).
The Falcons have come out and said they won’t re-sign Vic Beasley in free agency.I think the Ravens might snap him up, as he suits their scheme as a pass rushing outside linebacker. They need help at the position as they might lose Matt Judon in free agency, and Jaylon Ferguson (2.5 sacks on 500 snaps) seemingly didn’t contribute enough to replace Zadarius Smith last season. Beasley’s stock is low and he is considered by some to have underperformed after being the 8th overall pick and a declining sack count after his sophomore season, but he still managed 8 sacks last season, and is just 27 years old.
Similar deal: Mario Edwards, 2 years, $5 mil with Saints at age 25.
Other teams: Miami
OLB Anthony Chickillo – Colts (two years, six million).
The Steelers have $6 million in cap space at the time of writing despite being a non-playoff team. They have defensive MVP candidate TJ Watt on one edge, and potentially Bud Dupree on the other, if they can re-sign or franchise tag him in free agency. Chickillo could be the odd man out, as the team would save $5 million by cutting him. If he becomes available, the Colts might like to add him – he has versatility in rushing the passer and covering, and they might lose Jabaal Sheard in free agency.
Similar deal: Markus Golden,1 year and $3.7 mil with the Giants.
Other teams: Ravens
RB Corey Clement – New York Giants (two years, six million).
The Eagles ran with Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott last season, as Clement was placed on IR in Week 2 with a shoulder injury, which should have healed by the time of writing. I think the Eagles would prefer to re-sign Howard, who provides a bell-cow style – he had 2.4 yards after contact, 16th in the league last season, which contrasts nicely with Sander’s make-people-miss style. Clement is a championship contributor and might be an upgrade over Saquon Barkley’s backups in Wayne Gallman and Jon Hilliman last season. Clement provides a similar profile to Barkley anyway with his pass catching ability at his size (5’10”, 220 pounds, 25 targets for 192 yards in 2018, against 68 rushes and 259 yards the same season), which would make play calling easier if Barkley is out of the game. New York aint too far from Philly anyway!
Similar deal: Mike Davis, 2 years and $6 mil to be a part of teh Seahawks running back rotation.
Possible competing teams: Bucs, Jags.
DE Jabaal Sheard – Patriots (two years, six million).
Sheard played two of his prime years in New England, and having earnt $41 million in his career, might look to return there to go ring chasing. The Pats have done ok after losing Trey Flowers in free agency in 2019, but could stand to add another edge rusher alongside John Simon and the versatile pieces of Kyle van Noy (who they will look to re-sign) and Dont’a Hightower. Sheard is 31 and might not garner many offers of a starting job, so a rotational role with New England could suffice. The Pats are closer to contending than the Colts with their already elite defence.
Similar deal: Adrian Clayborn, 1 year, $2 mil at age 31, returning to his old team.
Possible competing teams: most teams.
ILB Tahir Whitehead – Patriots (two years, six million)
Whitehead is a cut candidate for Las Vegas, and he might suit what the Pats like in a linebacker – he’s over 240 pounds, which fits the size of other linebackers like Donta Hightower and Kyle Van Noy, who have versatility. Incumbent Elandon Roberts and off-ball linebacker has been used as a fullback, so adding WHitehead, who has had four consecutive 100+ tackle seasons, could be a wise move.
Similar deal: Zach Brown with the Eagles, one year, $3 million after being cut by Washington.
Other teams: Chiefs, Broncos.
QB Case Keenum – Detroit Lions (one year, five million).
I don’t think Keenum wants to play second fiddle to Dwayne Haskins, especially with Alex Smith potentially playing again in Washington. The Lions didn’t win a game after Matt Stafford got hurt, so they might look to give insurance in case that ahppens again, and Keenum has been a solid starter-caliber player since his remarkable playoff run with the Vikings in 2017. I don’t see any other team paying Keenum as much nor tempting him with a starting opportunity for less money.
Similar deal: Blake Bortles in 2019, with 1 year and $1 mil from Rams, while getting paid $5.5 mil by Jags after being cut.
Other teams: Packers, Bucs.
S DJ Swearinger – San Fran 49ers (two years, four million).
The Niners have a solid safety rotation in Jimmy Ward and Jaquiski Tartt. Nonetheless the Niners could always use an elite talent in Swearinger. The knock against Swearinger is that he hates losing so much that he’s been booted off a couple of teams in the past for making critical comments about front office personnel. The Niners shouldn’t see a big drop-off from last year’s Super Bowl team, with key pieces like George Kittle and Jimmy G in their primes, so I think Swearinger will be attracted by that potential for playoff success. Ward can play slot corner and Tartt can play in the box as a sub linebacker on passing downs, so Swearinger might be able to see plenty of snaps anyway.
Similar deal: Morgan Burnett, two years, $7.5 million.
Other teams: Cowboys, Saints, Falcons, Bucs.
DT Damon Harrison – Saints (two years, four million).
The Saints have done well to add pieces here and there to address perceived weaknesses – Demario Davis and Kiko Alonso were good veteran pickups at linebacker, and Jared Cook was a quality tight end for them last season as well. Adding Harrison to help plug the middle while shiftier guys like David Onyemata (who they might re-sign as a quality young defensive tackle), Cam Jordan and possibly Marcus Davenport to get after the QB. Harrison ha sbeen an elite run stuffer in his prime, but age 31, a decline might be expected (which undoubtedly le=d to him being cut by the Lions, although his hefty salary would’ve contributed to that also). He still managed a 50 tackle, 3 TFL and 2 sack season last year, so I’d add him for cheap here to help in the defensive rotation.
Similar deal: Steve McClendon, one year, $3 mil with Jets, got a one year, $3 million extension the season after.
Other teams: most teams.
ILB DeVondre Campbell – Saints (one year, three million).
The Falcons have just $4 mil in cap space, and if they do manage to get more by restructuring contracts or releasing players, they might prioritise re-signing tight end Austin Hooper over Campbell. Campbell is 26 years old and provides versatility at the linebacker spot, where he can drop into coverage as well as rush the passer. The Saints have Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone and Kiki Alonso rostered on at linebacker, and they could re-sign Manti Te’o, but Campbell adds youth to that group.
Similar deal: Deone Buchanon, 1 year and $2.5 mil with the Bucs, who is also know for his coverage abilities at linebacker.
Other teams: Raiders, Jags.
WR Taylor Gabriel – Cowboys (one year, three million).
The Cowboys need some receiver help to take some attention off of Amari Cooper (who they’ll hope to re-sign), and Gabriel has the big play ability to stretch the defence and provide some gadget plays as well, which Mike McCarthy liked to do with prime Randall Cobb. He won’t cost too much due to his injury history (missed seven games last season, has had two reported concussions in NFL) but it’s a high upside play as he’s still just 29 and can be a big play target (he had 12.2 yards gained per reception, which was top 60 for receivers last season).
Similar deal: Randall Cobb, 1 year, $5 million with Cowboys as a 29 year old.
Other teams: most teams.
T Demar Dotson – Kansas City (one year, three million).
Dotson has been an above average right tackle for many years, but at age 34 he might struggle to command a large contract or starting role. Having played for the Bucs for 10 years and never making the playoffs, backing up Eric Fisher (who has missed eight games over the last season) and Mitchell Schwartz for the championship winning Chiefs might be an attractive option.
Similar deal: Jared Veldheer, 1 year and $3.5 mil at age 32.
Other options: most teams.
ILB Sean Lee – CHiefs (one year, three million).
Fellow free-agent and incumbent Chief Darron Lee didn’t play much after being acquired from the Jets last offseason (160 snaps), so they might look to upgrade at the linebacker spot, and provide extra depth behind the likes of Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens. They might be able to add Sean Lee for a cheap price, as Lee has played his entire career in Dallas, but has had a winning percentage of around .500 during that time. The Chiefs are more proven contenders so they could be a more attractive option. Lee could sign a similar deal with the Chiefs Super Bowl rival, the Niners.
Similar deal: Zach Brown (age 29), 1 year and $1.4 mil to provide depth to the Eagles, after being cut by the Redskins midseason.
Other teams: most teams.
RB LeSean McCoy – Tampa Bay Bucs (one year, three million).
McCoy barely played for KC, who seemingly want to prioritise the younger backs in Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson. The Bucs need running back help, and getting a legendary back in McCoy might help early round pick Ronald Jones in his development.
Similar deal: Frank Gore in 2019, 1 year, $2 mil deal with bills at age 36.
Other teams: Cowboys, Dolphins, Jets,
CB Prince Amukumara – Niners (one year, three million).
The Niners will love some DB depth, as starter Akhello Withrspoon missed eight games last season. Amukumara has been a key cog on some talented defences, such as the 2018 Bears, but was released by the Bears, as he’s aged 30 and saved the cash-strapped Bears $9 million in cap space. If the Niners or Chiefs can add bick time veterans like Amukumara, Dotson and/or Sean Lee, that is proof in itself that winning attracts!
Similar deal: Morris Claiborne,1 year, $2 million with Chiefs.
Other teams: most teams.
S Eric Berry – Seahawks (one year, two million).
Remember this guy? He was an All-Pro but has been injury riddled. The Seahawks like Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald, but Berry could provide insurance for them and potentially be a game-breaker if he is at full strength, at age just 31, Berry could have a similar career trajectory as legendary safety Earl Thomas, who still produced at age 30 last season with a similar pedigree (and leg injury!). The Seahawks gave Ezekiel Ansah a one year prove-it deal last offseason, and Sheldon Richardson one the year before that, so the front office is willing to give talented players whose stock is low another opportunity.
Similar deal: Tre Boston, 1 year and $3 mil with Panthers.
Other teams: Cowboys, Lions, Colts.
TE Jordan Reed – Pats (one year, one million).
Reed is a good player when available – he had a monster season in 2015-’16 with Washington when he had 952 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He’s had multiple concussions and leg injuries, but he’s still just 29 and wants to keep playing after being cut by Washington, partly due to financial reasons. The Pats need a tight end to help replace Rob Gronkowski and bringing in a high-upside player like Reed for cheap could be a wise move.
Similar deal: Tyler Eifert, one year, $2.2 million guaranteed, with $3.8 mil in incentives after missing a lot of snaps due to injury.
Other teams: Titans, Saints.
QB Brett Hundley – Kansas City Chiefs (one year, one million).
Hundley brings a similar skillset to Pat Mahomes as far as extending plays with his legs – in the nine games he started in place of an injured Aaron Rodgers in 2017-18, Hundley rushed for 270 yards, or 7.5 yards per carry. If Mahomes goes down like he did for a few games last season, a similarly styled player as far as extending plays with his legs might be a better option that a pure pocket passer like incumbent (free agent) Matt Moore, but it might be wise to have three QBs on the roster anyway – look at the Jets QB situation last season! Darnold and Siemien went down, so Luke Falk was thrown into the fire. The Chiefs are obviously bigger contenders than Hundley’s former team in the Cardinals, so I think Hundley might move.
Similar deal: Brett Hundley, 1 year, $1.8 mil with Cards as a projected backup behind Josh Rosen or a draftee.
Possible competing teams: Cowboys.
WR Antonio Brown – Steelers (one year, $800k).
The latest on AB is that the Steelers GM has publicly said he is not currently open to bringing Brown back on the team after a remarkable fall from grace, including recent sexual assault allegations. As the season winds on, I think some teams might be open to at least giving him a prove-it deal, and the Steelers are most familiar with him. He’s still just 31 and has been a relatively recent All-Pro. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said “they have no business interest (with AB) at this time.” That doesn’t preclude them from bringing back their franchise stalwart from 2010 to 2018.
Similar deal: Josh Gordon, claimed off waiver in 2019 for $800k after failing multiple drug tests and barely playing for New England.
Taven Bryan and LJ Collier – center. Bryan was the first pick for the Jags in the 2018 draft, but he has struggled to make an impact at defensive tackle. He has been playing behind guys like Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones, but I think his production was as expected when I scouted him prior to the draft – 1 sack, 13 solo tackles, 4 TFLs and 6 QB hits is not enough production for a first round pick, in my opinion. He’s undeniably athletic for his size, but his hand usage and balance is not strong. As a result, I believe he could be better as an offensive linemen, preferably at center, where he can use his quickness to block smaller linebackers at the second level on run plays and simply get in front of defensive tackles, where he doesn’t have to be as efficient with hand usage as he does as a defensive tackle to get to the quarterback. Besides, he’d have help from his guards to either side. Collier is also an underperforming defensive linemen (just 2 tackles on almost 100 snaps) who could be better used on the offensive line – he’d have to get bigger than his currently listed 291 pounds, but his elite wingspan and solid bench press and broad jump indicate he could be a solid blocker “in a phone booth”, or in the trenches.
Lamar Jackson – cornerback. Yes, Lamar is having “an MVP caliber season”. But I still don’t buy it. He cannot hit tight windows beyond ten yards due to his throwing action. I am baffled by why teams don’t try what the Chargers did in the playoffs last year against the Ravens – load the box and have smaller personnel than normal (ie corners and safeties rather than linebackers and defensive linemen) to mitigate the threat of the run. Sub out any defensive linemen that can’t catch Jackson (bar maybe one traditional defensive tackle to stop Ingram etc) and you’ll force Jackson to scramble against equally athletic players or throw the ball deep, where he has struggled. Jackson is a ridiculous athlete however, so I think he could be a shut down corner – he’s big and physical enough to body up against receivers (6’2″ and 215 with 33″ wingspan compares to Mark Barron), and his change of direction is elite – we don’t have his combine scores, but he’s probably a sub 4.4 40 guy with a generational time on the 3 cone.
Sam Darnold – running back. He is a thicc boy (6’3″, 225 pounds) so he can take hits, and he shows nice balance when using his legs, which his 70th percentile 3 cone time for all NFL players tested indicates. He is struggling at quarterback – he has more turnovers than touchdowns in his first two years. I said before the 2018 draft that he lacked pocket presence, good decision making, arm talent outside the numbers, and ball security (he holds the ball with one hand in the pocket, Jon Gruden says no!!), so it’s time for a change.
Devin White and Jarrad Davis – fullback. White has experience on the offensive side of the ball as a former running back at LSU, but he could be an ever greater weapon as a blocker and downfield threat at fullback. He has elite speed and can deliver big hits, and he wouldn’t have to do much processing of defences at that spot, which he struggles with at linebacker and presumably at running back. He’d be a good short yardage option in the run game too. All of this applies to Davis as well.
Josh Allen and Paxton Lynch – tight end. We all know Allen’s athletic prowess, so why not put him in a position where he can best use it? He has the requisite size to play the position and could be a great jump ball threat and YAC guy (who doesn’t want to see him hurdle multiple defenders?), and his high level experience as a QB would make him an intelligent route runner to sit in zones etc. The same applies to Lynch, who has above average arm length, hand size and explosiveness (36″ vert) for his height.
Tremaine Edmunds – defensive end. Edmunds already plays on the defensive side of the ball, but he is too slow to recognise running lanes and has poor technique in tackling, and bites on play action far too much. He is best used as an edge defender where the mental processing isn’t as complicated – rush the passer or stop the run, where he can use his ridiculous wingspan to fend off blockers.
Frank Ragnow – defensive tackle. Ragnow is extremely strong but lacks quickness – basically the antithesis of Taven Bryan. Using him at defensive tackle will buckle the offensive line.
Sony Michel – fullback. I like Michel’s physicality but he displays poor balance – how many times have we seen him burst through a hole formed by the mighty fine Pats offensive line only to see him tripped up? He is also a fumble risk. Putting him at fullback utilises his lust for contact.
Devin Bush – safety. I said it before the draft and I’ll say it again – Bush is too small to shed blockers on runs between the tackles. He can make plays in space and cover somewhat, so he’s best as a Landon Collins-esque safety who can play as a dime linebacker on occasion but is mostly used as a run supporter while being able to see the ball thrown in the air from the safety position, where he can get there considering his speed.
Marcus Mariota – wide receiver. We all know he has jets. His hands might be a problem but you can use him as a YAC guy and as a shifty slot receiver who can run away from defences.
Jameis Winston – defensive end. He has the body type to be able to stand blockers up and make tackles, but he’s also shown solid footwork in the pocket which could translate to getting around pass protectors to make hits on the QB.
Jerry Tillery – offensive guard. He has great power but like Bryan, I thought he had poor balance at defensive tackle. At guard he can bully players and use his strength to push linemen away from the QB.
Corey Coleman – safety. According to mockdraftable he has comparable measurables to defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward. With 4.3 speed and at almost 200 pounds (as measured at the 2016 combine) Coleman can use his athleticism and physicality to shut down parts of the field and hit ball carriers. He’d have solid ball skills having been a receiver as well.
Darron Lee – running back. At 6’1″ and 230 pounds with 4.47 speed at the combine, Lee could be a great power back. His lackluster bench press and 3 cone indicate what the tape says – Lee has trouble shedding blockers and changing direction in pass coverage at linebacker.
It’s almost the end of the 2019-2020 NFL season and the Bengals are slated to be one of the worst teams in football. As a result I’d like to show you what I’d do if I was GM of the club.
Once the season ends and free agency opens, I’d prioritise offering free agents either training camp deals or longer term contracts, depending on their value. For instance, I would extend AJ Green for a couple more years, as he is still a Pro Bowl level player and is a franchise stalwart, so he would bring a strong presence to the locker room and provide a go-to option for the quarterbacks we choose by the end of training camp. I think seven million dollars a year, fully guaranteed, would be enough to bring him back.
I would also re-sign Clayton Fejedelem for a couple more years, as he’s been a bright spot in a below average secondary, as well as Darqueze Dennard at corner for another year. I’d also give Tyler Eifert at tight end another year to try to stay healthy, giving him one year and $3 million.
As far as I can tell (having watched Bengals games and using PFF’s evaluations) I believe the Bengals have the following players to keep in their core, as well as they guys I’d re-signed: Jessie Bates at safety, William Jackson at corner, Carl Lawson on the edge, Geno Atkins on the interior, Cordy Glenn as an offensive tackle, Billy Price at center, Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson at receiver, CJ Uzomah at tight end, Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley at quarterback, and Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard at running back. Every other player on the roster by my estimation is not a huge difference maker. This gives an idea of who to invest in in free agency.
The only player who is still contracted beyond this season that I didn’t mention that has a burdensome contract is Dre Kirkpatrick. He is owed another $11 million in 2020-2021 but I believe he is not worth that. The cap hit for trading him is only $2 million, so I believe it’s worth trading him to free up more money in free agency and a roster spot.
Who might want him? The Philadelphia Eagles spring to mind as a team with a fairly weak secondary. Having scouted him in the 2018 draft, I believe Joe Ostman can be a potential Pro-Bowler as an edge defender or linebacker, so I’d target him in a trade. The Eagles might be so keen to get cornerback help that they’d even give up a 2020 draft pick to get Kirkpatrick, and Ostman might be expendable on the edge as they already have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat there. So I’d trade Kirkpatrick to the Eagles for Ostman and a 2020 fifth round pick.
Every other Bengals player who I believe isn’t worth building around can be decided upon later. Besides, they might put tremendous work in during the offseason and turn up to training camp much improved. Potential trades and cuts can be made after training camp anyway. Making training camp as competitive as possible will only improve the team.
I’d now offer the following players training camp deals, as they are mostly unproven in the league, but based on their college tape, I believe they can be big-time NFL contributors, and can be signed to longer term deals if they make the team. They are: Taylor Cornelius, Luke Falk, Tanner Mangum and Jordan Ta’amu at quarterback; LJ Scott, Alex Collins and CJ Anderson at running back; Donald Parham and Keenen Brown at tight end; Winston Dimel at fullback; Johnnie Dixon and Simmie Cobbs at receiver; Cameron Fleming and Mitch Hyatt at offensive tackle; Garrett Brumfield, Terrone Prescod and Alex Bars at guard; Justin Falcinelli and Nick Linder at center; Kamari Cotton-Moya and Derrick Kindred at safety; Tarvarus McFadden, Derrick Baitty and EJ Gaines at cornerback; Malik Jefferson, Khalil Hodge, Jeff Allison and Deshaun Davis at linebacker; CeCe Jefferson, Wyatt Ray, Kony Ealy and Nick Perry at edge defender; and Trenton Thompson, Malik McDowell and Terry Beckner Jr at defensive tackle. Unfortunately I haven’t analysed enough kickers, punters or long snappers to determine who to sign to the team, but maybe the special teams coach can handle that :P.
That list is an exhaustive one but you can see my analysis of much of these players in my 2018 and 2019 draft boards.
As for players who are too highly valued league-wide to sign to just training camp deals, I’d sign: LeSean McCoy to one year and $3 mil per year; Tre Madden, the fullback, at two years and $2 mil per year; Antonio Brown at two years and $3 mil per year; Jack Conklin at offensive tackle for 2 years and $5 mil per year; Zach Banner for one year and $3 mil per year; Eric Berry at safety for one year and $3 mil for the year; and Mike Daniels (or Marcell Dareus, or Gerald McCoy) for one year and $3 mil for the year. I’m confident all of those guys would make the team as strong veterans, so investing that amount of money is worth it.
Now for the draft. My two favourite players in the draft, as I talk about here, are Tee Higgins and Ross Blacklock. To secure Higgins, I would want to trade the likely first overall pick we’d get no further back than 6th – so let’s assume we trade back to 6th and get a mid first, mid second and mid fourth back for that pick. Take Higgins 6th, and take Blacklock in the middle of the first.
With the remaining picks, including the Eagles pick from the Ostman trade, I’d take: Lorenzo Burns at corner; David Dowell at safety; Isaiah Wilson at offensive tackle (if he declares); linebacker Shaq Quarterman; center Jake Hanson; Jaquan Bailey at defensive end; and Terrell Burgess at safety. Obviously those players might not declare for the draft or be unavailable when I’m selecting, or I might scout better players between now and the draft, but at this stage I think those guys are the best players at positions of need that can be obtained based on their draft stock. I also don’t expect the offensive tackle Colton McKivitz to be drafted based on big boards around the internet, so I’d sign him and a bunch of others to training camp deals as undrafted free agents.
Anything can happen in training camp – players can underperform relative to expectation, injuries can occur, or players can showcase so much improvement and ability that they beat out more highly touted players. But as the training camp roster currently stands, and considering we can only take 53 players into the season, I’d expect the following players at each position to make the team:
QB: Cornelius, Falk, Finley
HB: Scott, McCoy, Mixon, Bernard, Rodney Anderson
TE: Donald Parham, CJ Uzomah, Tre Madden, Keenen Brown
DT: Blacklock, Atkins, Trent Thompson, Mike Daniels
K: Bullock, a second kicker/punter in case of injury.
Of the players that miss out, I believe Andy Dalton, Drew Sample, Jonah Williams, Michael Jordan and John Ross have trade value. Since the Bucs might need a QB, I’d trade Dalton and Sample to the Bucs for OJ Howard and a 2021 3rd round pick, and trade Jordan, Williams and Ross to the Seahawks for a 2021 third round pick, as they’re in need of offensive linemen. Everyone else, including John Miller and Bobby Hart’s hefty contracts, as well as Keenen Brown to make room for Howard, would be cut. Sorry guys!
The guys that made the team without contracts for the season could then be extended for up to four years depending on their value. Since the team started with $63 million in cap space during free agency and trade Kirkpatrick and Dalton’s $30 mil or so in contracts, we would still be well under the cap after doing so.
Right now (in Week 9 of ’19-20 season), the Jets should:
Sign T/G Garret Brumfield for 3 years ($750k per year) and start him at RT.
Sign C Justin Falcinelli for 2 years ($750k) and start him at C.
Sign G Terrone Prescod for 3 years ($750k) and start him at LG.
Start Chuma Edoga at LT.
Sign QB Taylor Cornelius for 5 years ($750k) and start him at QB.
Sign RB LJ Scott for 4 years ($750k) and have him be RB2.
Sign TE Donald Parham for 3 years ($750k) and make him TE1.
Sign FB Winston Dimel for 2 years ($750k) and have him be starting FB.
Sign CB Tarvarus McFadden to 4 years ($750k) and start him as CB1.
Sign ILB Khalil Hodge to 3 years ($750k) and make him ILB3.
Sign DT Trenton Thompson (3 years, $750k) with view of him replacing Quinnen Williams in 2020.
Sign QB Luke Falk for 2 years ($750k) as QB2.
Sign SS Kamari Cotton-Moya for 2 years ($750k)
Sign ILB Jeff Allison for 2 years ($750k)
Sign RB Alex Collins for 2 years ($1mil per year)
Sign a second long snapper.
Sign a substitute kicker that can also punt in case one of the first stringers gets injured.
Change to 4-3 front for the time being with Q-Will and Jordan Willis as DE.
Cut necessary amount of players (see below for list of guys I’d cut).
Trade Sam Darnold and Trumaine Johnson to Cowboys for Travis Frederick. This gives away $22mil in salaries and brings back $10m, so this will save $12 mil in cap space.
Trade Quinnen Williams and a 2020 2nd rounder for Aaron Donald. Lose $18 mil in cap space.
Trade Foley Fatukasi (after his breakout year, we have too many DTs!) and OLB Tarrell Basham for Washington T Trent Williams and a 5th round pick. Lose $12 mil in cap space.
Trade: Jonathon Harrison C (in return for 5th rder), Trevon Wesco TE (4th rder) and Kyle Phillips (5th rounder). Gain $4 mil in cap space.
Cut: RB Moore, WR Bellamy, WR Smith, T McDermott, CB Austin, ILB Langi, ILB Burgess, DE Tapper, RB Cannon. Gains $6.5 mil in cap space.
Cap space before offseason moves is $55 mil (due to signing of players mid-’19-20 season), is now $44 mil after those moves.
2020 FREE AGENCY
Sign Von Miller to 3 years, $14 mil per year.
Sign Byron Jones to 4 years, $16 mil per year.
Sign Greg Zuerlien to 3 years, $5 mil per year.
Sign Lac Edwards for 2 years, $1 mil per.
Sign Brian Poole to 1 year, $3 mil per.
= $39 mil spent.
With 1st rounder, take Tee Higgins
With 4th rounder, take David Dowell.
With 4th rounder, take Jalen Hurts
With 5th rounder, take Saadiq Charles
With 5th rounder, take Kindle Vildor
With 5th rounder, take Anthony McFarland
With 6th rounder, take Prince Tega Wanogho
With 6th rounder take Domonick Wood-Anderson
Sign DE Jaquan Bailey as UDFA (2 years, $750k per year).
– – FG defend team: Dowell, Bailey, Williamson, Hairston, Shepherd, TT, Willis, McFadden, Vildor, Cotton-Moya, Henry A.
– Goal line: Shepherd, TT, Donald, Von, Adams, Mosley, Hodge, Jones, Murphy, Maye, Henry A.
Base defence is 3-4 with Cashman on outside, but when we go 4-2 or 5-1 (nickel) Hodge comes off and Cashman goes back to ILB, with Donald on the edge.
Sub Derrick Willis or Jaquan Bailey in as a sub pass rusher on occasion.
Use offensive flex players (eg Dimel, Wood-Anderson, Enunwa, Scott) depending on situation.
Dowell is dime DB, with Vildor as CB3.
Run primarily between the tackles, unless with Collins and McFarland who are predominantly outside zone guys.
Corn can throw anywhere on field so throwing deep passes to Higgins, and to Crowder from the slot, will work. Not sure if Enunwa has speed to take top off D though.
Flex Bell and Scott out wide a fair bit.
Use Dimel around 10% of time primarily as a short yardage runner and blocker.
Easy screen passes to receivers and running backs keeps defense honest out wide.
Can flex Parham out wide for mismatches against both LBs (with speed) and corners (with size).
Enunwa and Higgins can take hits from slant routes.
Corn is good enough with his legs to run around 3 read option plays per game, and can be great at QB sneaks (depth at QB is good so don’t need to worry too much about injury).
Run play action often, keep Corn in the pocket mostly though.
Trade Enunwa, Herndon, Berrios, Roberts, Henry A, as they’re either not good enough or are being paid too much to be backups. besides, we need to use our draft picks on some players!
Assume we get back top players at TE (eg Herndon, Roberts and 4th round pick for OJ Howard) and OLB (eg Enunwa, Henry A and Berrios for Uchenna Nwosu). These deals would trade away $26 mil in cap, and bring in $5 mil in cap, so that’s $21 million in savings!
– Marcus Maye (3 years, $6 mil per year)
– Pick up 5th year option on Jamal Adams ($13 mil for a year?)
Top free agents:
Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, David Bakhtiari, Corey Davis, Jalen Ramsay, Kyle Justczyck, Devante Parker, DeForest Buckner, Kenny Golloday, Eddie Jackson, George Kittle, Joe Ostman, Mike Zimmer.
– Jackson – 5 years, $13 mil per year.
– Bakhtiari – 4 years, $15 mil per year.
– Ramsay – 4 years, $13 mil per year.
– Corey Davis – 5 years, $9 mil per year.
– Juscyck – 2 years, $7 mil per year.
– Ostman – 3 years, $5 mil per year.
– DeForest Buckner – 5 years, $17 mil per year.
– DeVante Parker – 4 years, $7 mil per year.
= $87 million.
Had $161 mil in cap space in 2021 offseason at time of writing, but 2020 moves make it $150 mil in space.
Trades before free agency in 2021 make it $171 mil in space.
$36 mil in expenditure in 2020 free agency makes that $135 mil in space.
2021 expenditure including extension of Maye and Adams makes $30 mil in space.
Needs: backup CB, backup DT. Can fit 4 players on roster, unless I want to also trade Allison or Cotton-Moya. Looking forward, I’ll let Falk, Collins, and Allison walk and trade away Crowder and Mosley, so I can also draft a 3rd QB, a backup RB, a backup WR or a couple of ILBs. Trade rest of picks for future picks.
Trade Crowder, Mosley. Get elite guard back. Save around $13 mil.
Extend Von (2 years, $8 mil per year) Howard (5 years, $13 mil per year), Nwosu (4 years, $9 mil per year), Nate Shepherd (3 years, $5 mil per year) and Jamal Adams (5 years, $17 mil per year).
Sign guys like Stephon Gilmore, Kuechly, Lane Johnson, David DeCastro, Tredavious White, Ryan Ramczyck, Will Hernandez, James Daniels, Orlando Brown Jr and a punter.
– Sign White (5 years, $14 mil per year), DeCastro (2 years, $15 mil per year), Lane Johnson (2 years, $9 mil per year), punter (3 years, $2 mil per year).
There is now approximately $270 mil in salaries committed to the roster, but there’s a projected $380 million salary cap in 2022, so we’re well under the cap.
Needs: QB3, backup RB. Can fit in 2 more players beyond that also. Trade rest of picks for future picks, or look ahead to see who we’ll let go in free agency and fill those spots.
There’s been a bunch of games in the ’19-’20 college football season, and I’ve scouted a bunch of guys using YouTube cutups and watching the games fully. Players in brackets are not draft eligible as they’re freshmen or sophomores. After a while of writing this article I stopped bothering to write down players who I thought had a value of less than $5 million. I come to these value evaluations based on players skillsets – eg physical straits, play smarts, skills etc. Some player evals here are based on tape from the ’18-’19 season, so I’ll watch more updated tape on those guys as the season goes on and keep updating this board.
Tee Higgins WR – like Julio Jones as a big body with amazing speed, body control, change of direction and hands.
David Dowell SS – is a bit like Malcolm Jenkins as a guy who is outstanding in coverage but can also lay the boom and lurk close to the LOS like a linebacker.
Jalen Hurts QB – a QB in a running back’s body. He can pass on all levels of the field but is also reliable making yards with his feet, to the point you could call half a dozen run plays per game with him, as he’s built like a RB. He’s more likely to lay the boom than take hits too, unlike an RG3 or Lamar Jackson. Compares to Steve Young?
Ian Book QB – has some Deshaun Watson to him as a playmaker in and outside of the pocket.
Jonathon Taylor RB – a quicker Jordan Howard.
TJ Vasher WR – kind of like Mike Williams of the Chargers as a tall downfield threat with great hands and body control.
(Isaiah Wilson T – in the mold of Orlando Brown junior as a massive human with great feet, active hands and good awareness in pass protection. Plays with solid balance and understanding of blocking schemes in the run game but needs to finish blocks off a bit better.)
(Azeez Olujari DE Georgia – long efficient strides and great hand usage allows him to go outside or inside and is not afraid to bull rush or stand a blocker up in run defence to allow teammates to clean up. Kind of like Joey Bosa in this regard. Only a sophomore. Had 10(!) QB hurries against Tennessee in 2019.)
Chase Young DE – like Adrian Clayborn with his active hands and great power.
Kindle Vildor CB – small school stud.
Najee Harris RB – like a slightly smaller Derrick Henry – if he sees a hole, he’s bursting through.
Anthony McFarland RB – like Philip Lindsay as a smaller back who can out-run a secondary but take hits between the tackles also.
Albert Okwuegbunam TE – built like Gronk minus the blocking prowess.
Prince Tega Wanogho T
Saahdiq Charles T
Henry Ruggs WR – like Stefon Diggs with insane change of direction and downfield speed
Collin Johnson WR – has some Randy Moss to him as he can pluck balls out of the air from defenders’s grasps but can still run like the wind.
Tyler Biadasz C – like Travis Frederick as he’s strong as an ox and intelligent in pass pro.
AJ Epenesa OLB/DE
Darrell Taylor DE – like Danielle Hunter who is a tad undersized as a 4 tech but makes up for it with technique and speed to power.
Shaq Quarterman ILB – in 2018 vs LSU he hit NFL draftee Foster Moreau his mouthguard came out.
Jaelen Reagor WR
Tylan Wallace WR
Kendrick Rodgers WR – less fast Mike Evans.
Stanford Samuels CB
Liam Eichenberg T
Mekhi Becton T
Jake Hanson C
(Wyatt Davis G Stanford)
Laviska Shenault WR – a more polished Cordarrelle Patterson.
KJ Hill WR
Jake Breeland TE
Giovanni Ricci TE Western Michigan
Domonick Wood-Anderson TE Tennessee
Deandre Swift RB
Eno Benjamin RB
McKenzie Milton QB – like Case Keenum as a shorter QB who can use his legs as a threat but can hit a receiver anywhere on the field.
D’Eriq King QB – basically another Kyler Murray, just isn’t playing on a team as strong as Oklahoma.
Grant Delpit FS
Jeffrey Okudah CB
Chase Lucas CB
Essang Bassey CB
Dylan Moses ILB
Yetur Gross-Matos OLB
Michael Divinity OLB
Jaquan Bailey DE Iowa State
Carlos Basham DE
Rashard Lawrence DT
Raekwon Davis DT
Derrick Brown DT
Damonte Coxie WR
Jerry Jeudy WR
Grant Calcaterra WR/TE
Brycen Hopkins TE
Jared Pinkney TE
Justin Herbert QB
Anthony Gordon QB
Andrew Thomas T
Tristan Wirfs T
Colton McKivitz T
Drew Richmond G
Isaiah Simmons SS
Kristian Fulton CB
AJ Terrell CB
Damon Arnette CB
Khalid Kareem DE
Jaelen Phillips DE Miami
Khaleke Hudson ILB
Patrick Queen ILB LSU
Antjuan Simmons ILB Michigan State
Terrell Lewis OLB
Carter Coughlin OLB
Kenny Willekes DE
Marquiss Spencer DE
Trevon Diggs CB
TJ Carter CB
Bryce Hall CB
Dane Jackson CB Pittsburgh
Jalen Thompson FS
Trey Adams T
Calvin Throckmorton T
Trey SMith T
(Isaac Moore T Temple Freshman)
Scott Frantz T
Parker Braun G
Shane Lemuix G
John Simpson G
Lorenzo Neal DT
Javon Kinlaw DT
Deonte Brown G
Travis Etienne RB
Zack Moss RB
Kennedy McKoy RB
Jordan Love QB
Joe Burrow QB
Denzel Mims WR
Rashod Berry FB
Tua Tagovailoa TE – one read QB, makes poor decisions. Best used as a tight end as his legs and balance are his best traits. Big enough to block.
$4 mil (any players of this value or below I stopped writing down, as I don’t think they can become NFL contributors relative to the rest of the talent pool in the NFL. For reference, after doing a 7 round mock draft using last year’s big board, players who I valued at $4 mil or less would be day three picks):