The NFL offseason is in full swing, and that means teams are looking at the free agency market. With most of the in-season contract extensions already having been completed, we can begin to get a good sense of what is going to happen with the players who are confirmed to hit the free agent market in some form. With a ton of quality upgrades slated to be available, there's no reason not to take a look at the field right now, and see who will be leaving their incumbent teams, and who will be staying put.
Particularly on the offensive side of the ball, there are a ton of options that would be prime pickups for many rosters going into the 2018 season, featuring some of the biggest names in the league. The question is, which players actually stand a legitimate chance of NOT being resigned by their current team? Let's take a look at who's available, and who could be on the move this offseason. There's no doubt it could be the reason for some significant roster shakeup in 2018.
Ranked below are 10 NFL free agents changing teams next year, and five who will end up staying put.
15 Change Teams: Carlos Hyde
It's speculated that the 49ers may not be too keen on keeping Hyde, since they are under a new coaching regime with Kyle Shanahan, who has no connections to the running back. If that's the case, he's going to be a hot commodity on the free agent market. Hyde has struggled with injury and played on some bad teams, but he's a great talent that could thrive in the right situation.
Possible Destination: Detroit Lions
Though the 49ers have plenty of cap space, they may have their sights set elsewhere for their lead running back of the future. There's a good chance Hyde could be gone, and become one of the most coveted players of the offseason by any team in need of a great skill player.
14 Change Teams: Mike Wallace
Wallace has established himself as an NFL nomad, and has entered free agency numerous times over his career. Loyalty isn't his thing anyway, so there's no reason for him to stay on board a so-so Ravens team that doesn't have an elite quarterback. Wallace will be looking to once again change places, for the 2018 season.
Possible Destination: Carolina Panthers
He recently commented that he's after a ring, and not the money. Wallace still has some gas left in the tank, and could turn in another good season or two. For a veteran option that won't break the bank, this could be one of the more savvy offseason signings we see this year. There's a chance for Wallace to still be very productive next season.
13 Stay Put: Jimmy Graham
The Seahawks need all the offensive help they can get, and Graham, though tenured at this point, still offers a reliable target of Russell Wilson in the passing game. He's not the same player he was years ago as a premier tight end, but he still can get it done in the red zone, and is a solid route-runner. All in all, Graham is still an asset to the Seattle offense.
They aren't going to fix their offensive line in one offseason, so the Seahawks need to make sure they retain their playmakers on offense offset the deficiency. Graham won't be posting career-best numbers at this point, but as an alternative target for a good quarterback he's definitely worth a re-sign.
12 Change Teams: Case Keenum
The Vikings may have gotten more than they expected out of Keenum this year, but they probably know that it's not worth it to bring him back as the starter. There's a clear ceiling for him as a starting quarterback, and there's a reason why he didn't have any semblance of a breakout season until after he played six seasons.
Possible Destination: Arizona Cardinals
In all likelihood, Minnesota will have him hit the free agent market. Keenum is a candidate to be a quality backup on a good team, or compete for the starting job on a rebuilding team. Either way, the Vikings will probably try to find their quarterback of the future elsewhere. Despite his unexpectedly stellar numbers in 2017, Keenum definitely isn't it.
11 Change Teams: Le'Veon Bell
Bell's contract holdout in the offseason may have indicated the demise of his relationship with the Steelers. Without a doubt, if Bell were to hit free agency, he'd be the biggest non-quarterback name out there, and there would be a host of bidders for his services to say the least. He comes with question marks, but he's undoubtedly one of the best players in the league when he's on the field.
Possible Destination: Indianapolis Colts
Are the Steelers going to pay out to keep a player with some red flags, who has already held out once? It's possible, but with Antonio Brown already signed to a massive long-term deal, and Ben Roethlisberger's future in question, there remains a chance that Bell could walk. If he does, consider any team with a ton of cap space to make a move on him.
10 Stay Put: Sammy Watkins
Some may look at Watkins' production this year, and think he won't be worth the money required to keep him. The Rams traded for the former top-10 pick from the Bills just before the season started, and he's faded in an out of the offense as a big-time producer this season. But Watkins was always going to play catchup in the L.A. offense, and next year with more continuity, he should be better equipped to put up big numbers.
This fact likely isn't lost on head coach Sean McVay, who undoubtedly sees the value in having a talent like Watkins on the roster. It may be unexpected, but the Rams will probably want Watkins back, and with another season of development with the emerging Jared Goff, he should be a juggernaut in 2018.
9 Change Teams: Darren Sproles
Dealt a bad hand this season with a season-ending injury sustained in week two, it wouldn't be wise to count Sproles out from some kind of a return. The veteran running back can still play, and is enough of a physical marvel to come back from such a debilitating injury. Obviously he wouldn't be a starting runner at this point in his career, but as a complimentary piece he can still get the job done.
Possible Destination: Los Angeles Rams
Though the Eagles are tight on cap space, and a return to Philly from Sproles isn't really feasible. In all likelihood, he'll test the free agent market, and sign with a contender to be a gadget player out of the backfield. He hasn't taken many hits in 2017, and that could actually work to his benefit.
8 Change Teams: Isaiah Crowell
Crowell has been a good running back for Cleveland, but they probably aren't sold on him being the lead backfield player of the future. There's no doubt he's overachieved in his NFL career so far; Crowell went undrafted in the 2014 offseason, and emerged to play fairly well on a terrible team. There will be interest from other teams, as the Browns will likely draft a lead running back to replace him.
Possible Destination: New York Jets
This could turn out to be the best running back signing in free agency this year. Obviously, Crowell was hindered playing on a terrible Cleveland team that had no capable quarterback. If he goes to a team with even a competent offense, we could see him have a true breakout season, and establish himself as one of the league's best runners.
7 Stay Put: Drew Brees
The Saints know that they have to extend Brees for another season, with no suitable replacement currently on the roster. Despite hovering around the age of 40, Brees maintained his quality play this season, even if his numbers weren't as gaudy as we have come to expect from the future Hall Of Fame quarterback.
New Orleans can still win big with Brees under center, and especially since they now have a defense and a running game to match his quality play under center. Most quarterbacks his age wouldn't be starting, let alone still be in the league, but Brees is a special talent, and he still has the ability to win NOLA another Super Bowl.
6 Change Teams: Terrelle Pryor
One of the biggest free agent letdowns of this past season, Pryor bombed with the Redskins this season. It's not really that surprising, considering he only switched to wide receiver in 2016 full-time, and now opposing defenses had an entire year's worth of tape on him to combat his skill set. Still, Pryor probably has enough upside for a team to take a flyer on him next offseason.
Possible Destination: Buffalo Bills
It's just unlikely that Washington is going to pay up. The team is looking for viable replacements for Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and they may have a few in-house options that will take precedent over paying Pryor again. Pryor's market is wide open, and he'll go to the highest bidder, since he's in no position to make any kind of demands.
5 Change Teams: Darrelle Revis
Revis sat out for most of the 2017 campaign, before signing with the Chiefs late in the season as extra help in the defensive backfield before the playoffs. There's no doubt that Revis has lost a step since the prime of his career where he was the best cornerback in the game, but it's hard to see him retiring outright.
Possible Destination: Oakland Raiders
Actually, he'll probably do the same thing he did this season. He knows there's no reason for him to play an entire season anymore. If he can stay in playing shape throughout the season, a playoff-bound team will probably want his services for a postseason run, and Revis can just sign with them late in the year. Kansas City isn't retaining him, so expect to see him don another uniform at some point next season.
4 Stay Put: Marqise Lee
After a couple years of finding his footing in the NFL, Lee has developed into a reliable target for the Jaguars' offense. Jacksonville needs all the help in the passing game they can get, and with Allen Robinson's future in question after coming off a serious injury, Lee is the next man up in their receiving corps.
Though there are additional questions about Blake Bortles, and if he'll really be the future franchise quarterback, taking away quality targets doesn't really make any sense. Lee will probably never be a star in the NFL, but he'll be consistent enough to warrant a new contract. Lee should be an easy resign for Jacksonville.
3 Change Teams: Kirk Cousins
The saga attached to Cousins through the past year or so has been one of the most perplexing situations league-wide. While Cousins has proven himself to be the best option for Washington's long-term future, he's been rewarded by merely being franchise tagged twice, with no commitment from the front office to make him the franchise player.
Possible Destination: Denver Broncos
To say that Cousins is probably fed up is an understatement. He's earned his way into a long-term contract, and no such thing has been offered by the Redskins' brass. With the quarterback market the way it is today, there should be no shortage of teams willing to pay out for quality play at the most important position on the field.
With Washington having recently traded for Alex Smith, it's more likely that Cousins will be switching teams in 2018, going to an organization that sees him as the missing piece to a deep playoff run.
2 Change Teams: Trumaine Johnson
Likely to be the biggest defensive name on the free agent market this season, Johnson's end with the Rams is on the horizon. A contract dispute in the offseason, on top of being franchise tagged twice has likely marred the relationship between the team and player. A cornerback with his talent should bring big money to the table, and could be the highest bidding war of the next offseason.
Possible Destination: Green Bay Packers
While the risk is there with any free agent signing, in the right system Johnson could be prove to be invaluable. The Rams have a new defense with Wade Phillips now in command, and they likely won't be willing to shell out for a player with confirmed tension with the organization. You can bet that Johnson's will have a new home in 2018.
1 Stay Put: Paul Richardson
Richardson is another player who took a while to get accustomed to the NFL, and now he's the primary deep threat in the Seahawks offense. As mentioned earlier, Seattle's best option is to retain as many of their offensive weapons as possible, to overcome their lack of offensive line play. If Wilson has player's to throw the ball to, they should be able to keep their heads above water for the near future.
Richardson has proven value in their offense, and while he's not a top-tier player, he should be worth a new contract. Seattle needs to invest now in their skill players, and his rapport with Wilson should be good enough to push a new contract through.
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