Free agency is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t always turn out to be as attractive as it seems. Players value fluctuates depending on the value of the position, and sometimes the best of what a player has produced. For instance, there weren’t many receivers in this past free agency, which allowed Sammy Watkins’ value to sky rocket, even though he struggled the past two seasons. The same thing also happened to Allen Robinson, who missed nearly all of last season due to an injury, but was the second highest paid wide receiver this offseason.
The point is, sometimes free agency can be tricky. Then, there’s also those players who don’t match up well with the team they signed with. Sometimes they signed for the largest contract and it isn’t working out, and other times there’s too much talent for a player to fit. It’s tough to really take a player and move him into the perfect situation.
Halfway through the 2018 season, we have seen what a lot of these players can do on their new teams. There have players who have meshed well with their new team, while other players haven’t done so well with a new atmosphere.
We’re going to take a look at those players who have signed with new teams in 2018, and where they should have gone. Looking at the top players of this offseason, there’s always better options if a player is struggling. Even if they fundamentally don’t look as good, another team can help patch up some of their miscues. So, who will it be?
20 Morris Claiborne - New York Jets
Morris Claiborne is really starting to live up to his potential, and playing better than Trumaine Johnson. You have to think though, there’s probably no chance that Claiborne signs a big extension with the Jets after this season. Claiborne with two interceptions on the season is playing on the opposite end of a high paying cornerback. There’s no way the Jets take on two big contracts.
From there, is anyone willing to really pay Claiborne? If he goes elsewhere, maybe he has a chance to prove he’s worth a big deal. With the Jets, it doesn’t seem like he has much of a future there, unless he keeps signing one-year deals.
19 Should've Signed With: Kansas City Chiefs
If you’re trying to win a championship and make some money, the Chiefs would have been the perfect spot. By trading Marcus Peters, the Chiefs need another cornerback to solidify that secondary. Realistically, Claiborne isn’t going to become one of the higher paid corners in the league. What he is looking for is a multi-year deal for probably $7 or $8 million a year.
Considering the Chiefs are going to be a Super Bowl contender for some time, the Chiefs would probably be willing to talk with him about that. He would get to play to win again, as well as get some security.
18 Jeremy Hill - New England Patriots
It’s a shame that Jeremy Hill seems like a wasted talent. The former second-round pick out of Louisiana State University is basically getting no playing time behind a rising star in New England. It doesn’t help that Hill tore his ACL, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. Seeing the way the season has gone for the Patriots, he probably wouldn’t get much playing time with Sony Michel and James White creating a very good run duo there.
Hill has been productive in the pass and run game, and is too young to become a third-string running back due to an injury. Hill realistically should’ve found a home where he would have got more playing time, had he not got hurt.
17 Should've Signed With: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the few teams that still look like they need a running back is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Doug Martin heading to Oakland, the Buccaneers should have done more to improve the running game rather then just drafting Ronald Jones II. You never know if that rookie is going to work out, and so far, it actually hasn’t with Jones.
Hill would provide a veteran vision for a team that needs to kick-start the run game. With Jameis Winston struggling and Ryan Fitzpatrick's well documented consistency issues, they could use one part of that offense to be explosive. Hill, at least before he got hurt, was a reliable back who could give you at least 10-15 carries a game.
16 Allen Hurns - Dallas Cowboys
When the Cowboys first signed Allen Hurns, it made all the sense in the world. Terrance Williams was struggling, and Dez Bryant needed a legitimate No. 2 receiver to help take away some looks from him. Hurns originally seemed like he would be that guy, and that the Cowboys may have the best receiver core in quite some time. All of that seemed right until they released Bryant.
Once Bryant was released, this move was a mistake on both sides. Hurns is not a No. 1 receiver, and if he’s forced to be one, his value goes down. Granted, the Cowboys got Amari Cooper to try and fill that void, but there were far better fits for Hurns this past offseason.
15 Should've Signed With: Seattle Seahawks
So Hurns needs to find a team where he doesn't have to be the go-to target. That’s easy. The Seattle Seahawks are a team where he would fit perfectly, as Doug Baldwin is clearly the No. 1 over there. What would work for Hurns is that Tyler Lockett is also playing at a really high level, so Hurns could play where he fits comfortably, in the slot.
Hurns may not have had the 1,000-yard season he once had in Jacksonville, but he would be able to get more open without fewer looks. Hurns also would've had a far better quarterback throwing him the ball. You'd have thought if would've wanted to upgrade QBs after playing with Blake Bortles.
14 Terrelle Pryor - New York Jets
Things never worked out for Terrelle Pryor this season, which is why he's already on his second team this year (and fourth team in the last three seasons). Pryor was dealing with an injury, and the Jets seemed too impatient to wait for him to get healthy. The Jets let him go and Pryor was eventually signed by the Buffalo Bills - not a much better situation.
The problem besides his not staying healthy seemed that the Jets didn’t get him involved enough. Don’t forget, Pryor caught for over 1,000 yards two seasons ago. This season, he had his best catch percentage, catching 63.6% of passes thrown his way.
Signing with a rebuilding team was the wrong move for someone looking to step up to the next level.
13 Should've Signed With: Tennessee Titans
Very few true contenders would have been interested in signing Pryor, considering he came off a down year in Washington. One team that would have been a good fit is the Tennessee Titans. With Rishard Matthews now released, the Titans look like they’re in desperate need for another receiver. Pryor would provide athleticism and that big play factor that the Titans need in the passing game.
With Pryor on the team, he could help Corey Davis get better. It would have been the smart move, and if he performed at a high level, he would have likely be compensated for his success with a playoff team. And he would've increased his value going into next offseason.
12 Michael Crabtree - Baltimore Ravens
Now we finally get into a player that is playing at a high level but could’ve found a better fit for him to succeed. Following a disappointing 2017 season, Michael Crabtree settled for a three-year deal worth $21 million with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a playoff caliber team with a quarterback who has been mediocre. Even with a quarterback that isn’t so gifted, Crabtree is playing really well.
The smart move to make would’ve been to sign a one-year deal with a Super Bowl contender and prove his value there. With the way he’s playing right now, he probably would be more valuable elsewhere.
11 Should've Signed With: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas could have been a good choice for Crabtree to sign with. Once Dez Bryant got released, wide receiver became an immediate need. Crabtree would've filled in that role, and prove if he’s actually worth No. 1 receiver money. The Cowboys needed that guy to create separation, and if Crabtree could’ve done it, he would get paid after his contract is up.
With a Cowboys offense that is really struggling, he would have had a chance to be featured as the no.1 (assuming the trade for Amari Cooper didn't end up happening). Instead of Crabtree making his way to Dallas, his former teammate Amari Cooper was traded there. Just imagine if the Cowboys signed Crabtree over the offseason as well.
10 Jordy Nelson - Oakland Raiders
Speaking of the Raiders, let’s talk about Michael Crabtree’s replacement. Jon Gruden decided to go after Aaron Rodgers’ former favorite weapon, Jordy Nelson. Nelson seemed like a great pickup, but he just hasn't been able to connect in the same way with Derek Carr. Nelson did sign a two-year deal worth $15 million, leaving him to be 35 years old when he leaves Oakland, if he chooses to.
Nelson was once a top wide receiver, and now is getting paid like a no.2 on a team that has now decided to blow it all up and rebuild. Other teams likely would’ve utilized him better. Instead, he gets stuck with a team that is in for a tough couple of years.
9 Should've Signed With: New England Patriots
Any wide receiver that is looking to win a championship and revitalize their career should always consider playing in New England. So many times, you see players who have had a shaky career go to New England, play at a high level, and then get a nice contract following that season. Jordy Nelson would be the perfect player to see that happen.
Nelson played with possibly the most physically gifted quarterback of all-time, and from there, he could have gone on to play with the most successful quarterback of all time. He would not only build up some value, but also build his legacy.
8 Dion Lewis - Tennessee Titans
Speaking of the Patriots, former Patriots running back Dion Lewis is probably wishing he signed elsewhere. Lewis signed a four-year deal worth $20 million with the Tennessee Titans after he stated that the Patriots didn't want him anymore. While things weren’t going to work out in New England, there were quite a few options better than Tennessee. The Titans are used to playing downhill running, whereas Lewis likes to kick it to the outside and is a big factor in the passing game.
Unfortunately, Lewis isn’t used as much as he should be. The Titans aren’t used to running backs in his mold and are struggling in the run game because of it.
7 Should've Signed With: Oakland Raiders
Not that the Raiders have used a running back to catch out of the backfield much lately, but some change could help spark their offense. Derek Carr has been struggling, and checking down a bunch of short passes to the running back to make some plays would definitely help open up the offense and build his confidence.
With Marshawn Lynch out for the rest of the season, the Raiders are in trouble at the running back position. Get Lewis 10 carries a game and target him throughout the game, and this offense could look much better. Instead, the Raiders are stuck with a backfield comprised of Doug Martin and Jalen Richard.
6 Paul Richardson - Washington Redskins
It’s really hard for a deep threat to succeed when he plays alongside a quarterback who isn’t known for going deep. Last season, Richardson was averaging 16 yards a catch with the Seahawks, finishing with six touchdowns. The numbers didn’t drop dramatically, as he was averaging 13.1 yards per catch this year before going on IR. With Richardson's skillset, he could've fared much better in a more vertical offense.
It doesn’t help that Alex Smith likes to check down a lot and get the ball in the hands of Chris Thompson or his tight ends. Richardson would have had a lot more success with a quarterback that throws the ball downfield.
5 Should've Signed With: Carolina Panthers
A team that would have been interesting to see Paul Richardson on is the Carolina Panthers. If you give Cam Newton a deep threat, you’re talking about a scary looking Panthers offense. Richardson would’ve been a great fit on many teams, but the Panthers were one that was actually interested.
Considering the Panthers can get really creative with their play calling, they could probably use Richardson in many different ways. Having Richardson across from Devin Funchess would set up for a difficult receiving corps to cover. The Panthers seem like an offense that's one piece away from being elite; that could've been Richardson.
4 Richard Sherman - San Francisco 49ers
With the 49ers signing Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman probably thought he was heading to a winning organization. Well, Garoppolo got hurt early in the season, and that was the end of the 49ers' playoff hopes. Even with Garoppolo, the team didn't look as good as it did last season. Sherman was excited for the opportunity in San Francisco, but now is probably looking back wishing he went elsewhere.
This isn’t a young cornerback we’re talking about. This is a veteran cornerback who won’t be in the league that much longer. Winning is important to him, and San Francisco was the wrong place to go with that mindset.
3 Should've Signed With: Houston Texans
Growing up in California probably played a role in Sherman signing with the 49ers, but what about going to a team that is on the rise? If the Houston Texans secondary improves, they’re right there to win the AFC South. Deshaun Watson is improving along with that wide receiver corps. If their defense can play at a higher level, they could be a Super Bowl team.
Sherman would fit in great, as he’s an immediate starter, but also could be a mentor to all the younger guys. It’s an atmosphere where winning is a priority, and he would have gotten to play alongside some of the better talents in the NFL.
2 Case Keenum - Denver Broncos
Case Keenum went from an unlikely hero in Minnesota to just another QB bust in Denver. Keenum went from the third-string quarterback of the Vikings to throwing a game-winning touchdown pass in the playoffs to defeat the Saints, to now throwing an interception in every game he’s played as a Bronco. It’s safe to say that Keenum hasn’t lived up to the expectations since signing his two-year deal worth $36 million in the offseason.
Maybe the Broncos offense doesn’t set up Keenum for success, or maybe Keenum isn’t getting the ball to the right guys. All that matters is he's not playing good football.
1 Should've Signed With: Jacksonville Jaguars
Maybe it would’ve been a better situation, or maybe not. If Keenum signed with the Jaguars, though, he’d have almost been guaranteed to get a longer leash than with the Broncos. John Elway feels pressured to win since he hasn’t had a successful quarterback since Peyton Manning, whereas the Jaguars finally were successful last season.
If Leonard Fournette is healthy, Keenum’s life could have been easier in Jacksonville. Even without him, he'd still be in a better situation. Blake Bortles isn’t forced to really throw down the field much, but he misses a lot of short passes. If Keenum came in, his skill set could have fit in that offense.