NFL free agency periods come in one of two flavors: bland or bold. Too often, free agency periods tend to be built up as this exciting time of the year that will see several big names join new teams and completely shake-up the foundation of the league in the process. More often than not, however, the NFL Draft proves to have more of an impact on standings than free agency. However, every now and then we are treated to a free agency period that is simply awe-inspiring and live up to the hype by forcing fans everywhere to rush out and buy new jerseys.
The year 2018 could very well be such a season. While there are some big names on the block who likely aren’t going anywhere (Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, LeVeon Bell) there are more than enough players available who could very well find a new home. The 2018 free agency period is shaping up to be that perfect storm of need, talent, and cap space to go around. It’s going to be a buyer’s market, and we think that there are going to be some big names who will benefit from the chaos. These are the 15 NFL Players Who Will Be On Different Teams In 2018.
15 Jimmy Graham to the Miami Dolphins
When Jimmy Graham signed with the Seahawks, people envisioned two futures for the star tight end. Either he would finally give Seattle the offensive weapon they desperately needed, or he would disappear in the team’s conservative play style. For the most part, the latter has proven true. Graham’s had a few great games in Seattle, but he has yet to prove that he can consistently put up the numbers that he put up in New Orleans. However, we feel that has more to do with the team than it does with Jimmy.
The Dolphins currently need a tight end to complete their potent offense and Graham brings both a wide array of skills and a veteran presence to the young Miami team. This could be a match made in heaven.
14 Sammy Watkins to the Baltimore Ravens
When Buffalo drafted Sammy Watkins in 2014, they thought they were getting an elite playmaker that could turn games around all by himself. Instead, Watkins has proven to be more of a feast or famine proposition. When he’s been at his best, he has played like the dynamic star many said he would be. At his worst, you forget Watkins is even on the field. The Bills may decide to keep Watkins, but Watkins will likely determine himself to be worth more than the Bills are willing to pay. If that proves to be true, then the most likely landing spot for Watkins will be Baltimore.
The Ravens are in desperate need of a playmaker and will likely take the gamble on Watkins by offering him more than he may be worth.
13 Kam Chancellor to the Washington Redskins
Washington has been struggling to rebuild their roster ever since the RG III pick depleted them of their long-term resources. Despite that misstep, there are some truly great players on the Redskins and those player have been able to provide flashes of what the Redskins could become. Still, the Redskins are in desperate need of a safety along with a few other key positions. So far as that goes, Kam Chancellor may be the best option available come 2018. The Seahawks claim that they’re trying to get a deal done with Chancellor, but given that they’ve been shipping talent recently, there’s a good chance they won’t get it done.
If that proves to hold true, there’s a strong chance that their loss will become Washington’s gain.
12 Vontaze Burfict to the Oakland Raiders
Vontaze Burfict isn’t a name that will necessarily jump out at every football fan, but he’s certainly a player that more fans need to know about. In five seasons with the Bengals, Burfict has made a name for himself as a tackling machine that can’t stay out of trouble. He’s crossed the 100 tackle mark in three seasons (he even had 171 in 2013) but his talent has been compromised by repeat player safety violations. The Bengals may decide to simply let Burfict walk at which point the Raiders will likely scoop him up. Burfict's hard-edged style will likely be a hit among the Raiders fanbase, and Oakland is in desperate need of a linebacker to anchor their defense. This acquisition could make Oakland a dangerous team.
11 Malcolm Butler to the Tennessee Titans
The Bill Belichick Patriots are famous for two things. Winning Super Bowls and not paying players not named Tom Brady. New England has no qualms about letting talented players walk when they think they’ve reached superstar contract status. Soon, they’re going to have to make that decision about Malcolm Butler. Butler may not be a shutdown cornerback, but he’s a standout piece of talent on the New England defense whose individual play sometimes outshines the unit’s contributions.
He will likely be departing the Patriots in 2018 and signing with the Titans. The Titans are in desperate need of a quality cornerback and will likely have the spare cap space needed to court Butler. The fact that Tennessee is on the verge of a deep playoff run certainly won’t hurt their appeal.
10 Ezekiel Ansah to the New England Patriots
Speaking of the Patriots, let’s talk about how New England can start maximizing Tom Brady’s final years. While New England can obviously do that by giving Brady more offensive weapons, they can also help his long-term prospect by ensuring the New England defense does their part. So far as that goes, one of the most interesting prospects possibly available in 2018 is Ezekiel Ansah. While Detroit will no doubt try to re-sign Ansah, he has to know that defensive ends are in high demand right now and he is one of the best out there.
Teams like Dallas will certainly be looking to acquire Ansah’s talents, but New England will likely be able to tempt the young star with a contract and a Super Bowl guarantee.
9 Alshon Jeffery to the Kansas City Chiefs
This selection is based on the assumption that the Alshon Jeffery/Eagles relationship won’t work out which is also based on the assumption that the Eagles are going to have a down year in 2017. If all that comes to pass and Jeffery finds himself on the wrong end of a 1-year contract, then there are still many teams that might chase his services.
One of the more interesting options out there is Kansas City. While the Chiefs’ offense is...hmmm...what’s the nice word for “awful,” they are always looking to add a physical receiver looking to be a number one option on their team. After letting Jeremy Maclin go this offseason, it's almost a guarantee they'll be in the market for a receiver next year. Jeffrey certainly fits that billing and might just thrive in a system that allows him to use his physical advantages to their maximum benefit.
8 Sam Bradford to the Cleveland Browns
When the story of Sam Bradford is written, he may indeed be seen as a disappointment. Bradford couldn’t quite get it done with the Rams and he was a straight-up bust in Philly. The Vikings are hopeful that he’ll be able to turn it around, but if he doesn’t, then Bradford’s next team might very well be his last one. So far as that goes, there are few final destinations more appropriate than the Browns. The Browns probably figure that they are in a position to at least make the playoffs within the next few years. If that is the case, then Bradford might just be the fading star who can do just enough to help the Browns get over that hump. In any case, Brock Osweiler sure isn’t going to get the job done.
7 Xavier Rhodes to the Green Bay Packers
While there’s nothing wrong with only winning one Super Bowl, you do have to ask yourself just why it is that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have fallen short of championship glory in the last few seasons. While some of that can be traced back to the Packers’ offensive woes, much of the blame should be placed on Green Bay’s awful defense. The Packers need a lot of help on that side of the ball, but they’re really in need of a star cornerback that will help ensure that teams can’t keep up with Rodgers. Xavier Rhodes isn’t the best corner in the league by a wide margin, but he’s a dynamic talent that is leagues better than any corner the Packers have on their roster.
6 Sheldon Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts
Sheldon Richardson is one of those guys who feels like he’s constantly on the verge of becoming one of the league’s best. Some will argue that there have been seasons in which Richardson was an elite player. In 2014, for instance, Richardson tallied eight sacks, a forced fumble, and 67 tackles. For the most part, though, Richardson has a tendency to play below his talent. The Jets could decide to just part ways with him come 2018, and we believe that there will be plenty of teams ready to take a chance on Richardson’s potential.
The Colts seem like the most obvious name on that list of teams as they really need a standout defensive player and are probably going to be in a spending mood when the 2018 season rolls around.
5 Larry Fitzgerald to the New England Patriots
Granted, it’s a pretty big assumption that the Patriots would sign two big names in one free agency season, but this acquisition is too tempting to not talk about. For years, fans have wondered what would happen if a guy like Larry Fitzgerald had a guy like Tom Brady throwing the ball to him. While Fitzgerald has had a few bad seasons, here and there he has managed to put together some truly exceptional seasons when he has a great quarterback to work with. Arizona will likely offer Fitzgerald another short term contract come 2018.
If Fitzgerald decides to decline, he may finally be New England bound in order to get that elusive Super Bowl trophy. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Fitzgerald’s 2018 options are Arizona, New England, or retirement.
4 Trumaine Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys
While the Rams are short on highlights, there are a few Rams players that have been keeping Rams fans convinced that better days are ahead. Trumaine Johnson is certainly one of those players. Johnson has been making a case for himself as the league’s best corner with his stellar shutdown play and ability to snatch the ball out of the air when called upon. For the second straight year, the Rams have placed the franchise tag on him which tends to suggest that they aren’t going to be able to re-sign him for the long-term.
If and when Johnson becomes a free agent in the 2018 season, we like Dallas as a likely landing spot. The Cowboys still need a proper star corner and Johnson is going to be the best option available for the foreseeable future.
3 Kirk Cousins to the San Fransisco 49ers
The Kirk Cousins saga has been one of the strangest quarterback situations in football over the last few seasons. In some ways, it almost feels like neither Cousins or the Redskins are sure that one is right for the other and are just waiting for that one season to come along which proves one or the other right. If Cousins has a blowout 2017 season, Washington will at least try to re-sign him. Either way, it’s starting to feel like Cousins might be auditioning for a role on a different team.
The 49ers are in desperate need of a quarterback like Cousins and while they may not be able to maximize his services the year they sign him, he could become the centerpiece of a rebuilding franchise. Kyle Shanahan has constantly managed to take the play of QBs to the next level and that has to be appealing for Cousins.
2 Devonta Freeman to the New York Giants
Here’s a curious one. Devonta Freeman has been an absolute monster for the Atlanta Falcons since they started giving him more work in 2015. He’s scored over 10 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and is clearly a very talented player. The problem is that Freeman knows that he is talented and has already stated that he is going to be looking for a big contract come the 2018 season. Atlanta might offer him that big contract, but we know that the Giants certainly will.
The Giants have been begging for a running back that they can rely on for years now, and Freeman is the kind of guy who they can treat like a true three-down star.
1 Jimmy Garoppolo to the New York Jets
There is no way that the New England Patriots keep Garoppolo on the roster beyond this season. In order for that to happen, they have to believe Tom Brady is either going to retire sooner than expected or that Garoppolo will be willing to take a pay cut and remain the New England backup until it's his time to shine. We find it hard to realistically imagine either scenario actually happening. So where does Garoppolo go? Well, there are quite a few teams in need of a quarterback change but when you factor in need, resources, and best fit overall, it’s the Jets that really jump out at you.
The New York Jets have a quarterback crisis on their hands that it doesn’t look like they’re going to address anytime soon with anyone on the roster. Garoppolo may very well be that guy.