The NFL season is finally over, and the offseason commences now, as far as every fan of the league is concerned. Soon, everyone will be inundated with countless mock drafts, and here-say of what the decisions of the free agent class will end up being. While nobody can ever be entirely sure when it comes to offseason acquisitions, we can begin to get a pretty good idea of what the foreseeable future will be for some of the league's biggest name, whose contracts will soon be expiring.
Obviously, the free agent class for 2018 has the most implications on the upcoming season, but the one for the following year will matter for the short-term future as well. It's not an exaggeration to say that NFL free agency has transformed into a business all its own, and recent history has shown that it's important. The Eagles had numerous key free agent signings over the past few seasons that allowed them to win the Super Bowl.
Let's take a look at some of the names that will be up for grabs, and where they may end up.
Ranked below are the top 10 NFL free agents for 2018 and the top 10 for 2019, and our projections for where they may sign.
20 2018: Terrelle Pryor
It's not an exaggeration to say that Pryor's 2017 season was about as disappointing as it possibly could have been. After an improbably great season the preceding year, where he was able to successfully transition from a quarterback to a wide receiver with the Browns, he sputtered out in Washington, losing playing time as the season went on.
Potential Destination: Detroit Lions
Pryor is almost definitely going to be leaving Washington, but it's a long-shot that he doesn't land somewhere else. There's too much athletic talent to just give up on entirely, and with an established quarterback on a solid offense, he could be an asset, even if he's not the go-to target. Pryor won't cost too much, and somebody is going to take a shot. Low-risk, high-reward.
19 2019: Tyrod Taylor
It's anyone's guess as to what is going to happen with Taylor and the Bills this offseason. The quarterback has had a rocky relationship with the team over the past year, being benched mid-season by head coach Sean McDermott, only to be reinstated as the starter after a disastrous performance by backup Nathan Peterman. Buffalo doesn't have a surefire replacement on the roster right now, and Taylor is under contract for one more season.
Potential Destination: New Orleans Saints
So it's almost a definite that he's gone by 2019. A team looking for a stopgap quarterback that year should be interested, as Taylor has proven enough to not be a liability at the very least, and at times can outright carry a run-heavy offense. Consider the fact that the Saints are going to be moving on from Drew Brees soon, and that they have no suitable replacement for him at the moment. Taylor can hold down the fort in the meantime, for a reduced contract.
18 2018: Kirk Cousins
With the blockbuster deal that has just sent Alex Smith to Washington, Cousins is definitely going to hit the open market in the upcoming offseason. He'll be the most desired quarterback in free agency, and the price is going to be high. He was hindered in Washington without an effective run-game and so-so coaching, but in the right situation could be one of the league's top quarterbacks.
Potential Destination: Denver Broncos
Denver has been playing the quarterback carousel game for the past several years now, and experiments like Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch haven't paid dividends. They have the cap space to get a quarterback like Cousins, and he's the kind of signal caller that John Elway would instantly take to. Expect them to be at least be in the running for his services.
17 2019: Matt Ryan
The Falcons may have experienced a slight Super Bowl-hangover this season, but Ryan is still going to be there quarterback for the foreseeable future. They know that they aren't going to get a better one anytime soon, and Ryan still isn't in the danger zone as far as age is concerned. He'll be a consistent presence under center, and give Atlanta a fighting chance at a title every season.
Potential Destination: Atlanta Falcons
So there's little doubt that he'll receive a new contract after the 2018 season concludes, and perhaps even before then. The Falcons won't relinquish their leader, at the most important position on the field. Ryan is their franchise player, and it'll stay that way until he retires for good, in all likelihood.
16 2018: Trumaine Johnson
Johnson will be the most sought after cornerback in free agency, and is a candidate to go to a myriad of teams this offseason. It'll likely be the highest bidder that ends up landing him, and they'll be getting one of the best defensive players in the league, by any measure.
Potential Destination: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnson has been franchise-tagged by the Rams each of the last two seasons, and given that kind of action, it doesn't seem like they're interested in resigning him long-term. The Buccaneers on the other hand, are a team that needs to bolster their defense, and have the cap space to offer Johnson a big deal. It'll be a bidding war to be certain, but they're one of the teams that make the most sense on paper.
15 2019: Randall Cobb
The Packers have been notoriously stingy during free agency over the course of their history, but they should be willing to resign players that are an asset to Aaron Rodgers. After all, he's the player that makes-or-breaks the team to begin with, and the more weapons he has, the better chance Green Bay has at winning a title.
Potential Destination: Green Bay Packers
So there's a good chance that Cobb gets a decent contract to continue playing for the Packers. He's more valuable there than anywhere else, and the incentive to return should be playing with one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. Come 2019, don't expect to see Green Bay let Cobb walk out the door without a significant offer.
14 2018: Jimmy Graham
Without the dominance he displayed with the Saints, there's a good chance the Seahawks move on from Graham this offseason. He was certainly a good player in Seattle, but at his age he's not worth retaining for a team that is likely on the downswing. If that's the case, there will be a big market for him this offseason.
Potential Destination: Houston Texans
Going to an up-and-coming contender with a good offense isn't out of the question. Graham could excel with a young quarterback like Deshaun Watson, and Houston has the cap space to go and get more offensive help. They'd be smart to consider a veteran receiving option to pair with DeAndre Hopkins.
13 2019: K.J. Wright
One of the original members of the Super Bowl-winning Legion Of Boom team, Wright is still hanging on to the roster in Seattle, but some major changes are going take place soon. It's clear that the structure is beginning to crumble, and that there's going to be a salary dump of some kind soon. Wright very well may be on the chopping block after his contract is up.
Potential Destination: Cincinnati Bengals
He'll still be one of the better linebackers in the league, and there will be a bidding war to get him. A team that need immediate defensive help in the middle of the field won't find many better options in 2019.
12 2018: Sammy Watkins
Watkins was traded to the Rams before the start of this season, and they'll have to make a decision on him this offseason. It could go either way, as Jared Goff needs weapons he can trust in order to keep developing into an elite quarterback. Watkins may been streaky at times this season, but he's still an all-world talent, and considering he didn't have anywhere close to a full offseason with the team, it can be overlooked.
Potential Destination: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams won't have to pay Goff for three more years or so. There will be the cap room available to keep Watkins, and keep him alongside other quality receivers such as Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. All things considered, the Rams pull the trigger, and re-up on Watkins as a primary target for Goff in the coming seasons.
11 2019: Mark Ingram
The Saints have re-established their running game this year between the duo of Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But would they really consider extending the contract of a 30-year-old running back after next season? In all likelihood, they'll be looking for another option to pair with the younger Kamara.
Potential Destination: New England Patriots
Ingram will still have value for another team, however. He's the type of one-cut, physical runner who doesn't need tons of agility to be effective. These types of players at the position tend to last longer. The Patriots have a penchant for signing these types of offensive players, and if Belichick is still in command by this point, consider him to be a prime target, for a team that never seems to have enough backfield options.
10 2018: Drew Brees
On the other hand, the Saints are almost certainly resigning Brees for at least one more year. They have no other quarterback option on the roster, and he proved that he can still be effective this year. Sean Payton was smart to formulate a new offense around the run-game, which still allows Brees to lead the team at a high level.
Potential Destination: New Orleans Saints
The contract won't be long-term, with the future Hall-Of-Famer hovering around the age of 40, but there's little option other than to give him another year or two. Brees would probably retire before going to play for another team, so this is almost assuredly going to get done. Expect to see him back in New Orleans for at least one more season.
9 2019: Earl Thomas
There's a lot to be unpacked still with the Thomas situation, but if Seattle truly is selling off their marquee talent from the Legion Of Boom, than it would include Thomas as well. He has another year left on his contract, but they may want to sell high on him when they still have a chance. There will be bidders for the All-Pro safety, despite his age and recent injury history.
Potential Destination: Dallas Cowboys
A name that's been brought up recently are the Cowboys. A trade on their part isn't out of the question for this offseason, and they've been trying to build their secondary over the last year. If they thing they're playoff bound next season, Thomas would be a worthwhile addition, and even worth a new contract on top of it.
8 2018: Sam Bradford
Bradford suffered yet another major injury this season for the Vikings, and his time in the league seems to be running thin. Certainly, he won't be able to land yet another huge contract with his now extensive injury history, and he's looking at the prospect of not even being in the league soon. He's only been so-so when he has played, and most teams simply won't want to take the risk.
Potential Destination: Retirement
There's reason to believe that he will simply hang it up and retire. Bradford has had some bad luck come his way during his career, and continuing it just to be a backup with an outside chance of starting some games may not be worth it anymore. When the money and playing time aren't there, calling it quits doesn't seem like such a bad option at this point.
7 2019: Duke Johnson
His contributions have gone largely unnoticed playing on the Browns, but Johnson has quietly emerged as one of the best receiving running backs in the game. Cleveland is likely to be in a far better situation a couple years from now, for better or worse, and how much Johnson is a priority remains to be seen.
Potential Destination: New York Jets
He's primed for his best season yet in 2018, and that will likely inflate his value on the market up to its peak level. Not only that, but he'll be young and still in the prime of his career. A team with a young quarterback is going to want another offensive weapon. With all of the cost cutting measures the Jets have gone through over the last year, Johnson would be a welcome addition to their backfield, and their rebuild.
6 2018: Ziggy Ansah
Though he's coming off a slightly down year, Ansah is still one of the most talented pass-rushers in the league. The Lions have incentive to keep him, but there are teams with more cap space that are going to be offering more money. A return definitely isn't a guarantee, and he'll probably test the open market.
Potential Destination: Cleveland Browns
The Browns have actually been quietly building a good defensive line over the past few years, and an Ansah pairing with Myles Garrett off the edge is a fearsome prospect. Moreover, they have the money to spend on such a player, and this would be an acquisition they would no doubt at least heavily consider. If Ansah wants to take the money, this remains a strong possibility.
5 2019: Jordy Nelson
If Nelson isn't feeling retirement after next season, it's unlikely that the Packers would be willing to pay out to keep him. They're stingy on free agents anyway, and for an aging player, he may be headed out the door. Needless to say, even approaching his mid-30s, plenty of teams will want the services of a name-brand wide receiver.
Potential Destination: Chicago Bears
By this point, Mitch Trubisky should be well-established as the Bears' franchise quarterback. They'll want more receiving help for him, and although Nelson won't be the only acquisition in that regard, there may be interest for a veteran talent like this. Going to a rival team may not end up happening, but the fit on paper seems to at least make some sense.
4 2018: Frank Gore
Fresh off their Super Bowl victory, the Eagles don't have too much cap space to spend, but they have enough for a cheap veteran option at running back, to replace LeGarrette Blount, in the event of his departure. Gore, if he doesn't end up retiring, will want to go to a Super Bowl contender, and Philly would fit the bill.
Potential Destination: Philadelphia Eagles
He almost ended up signing with them at the end of the Chip Kelly era, and his presence on their roster as another backfield option to Jay Ajayi would make sense. His price tag will be reduced this upcoming season due to age, and a bruising runner would fit well with the Eagles current M.O. on offense right now.
3 2019: Clay Matthews
As mentioned, Green Bay doesn't often like to spend tons of money, but retaining Matthews may be a price tag they're willing to fulfill. He's been one of the most recognizable players in the franchise over the last decade, and is still playing at a high level. The price won't be an exorbitant amount, and he's as much of a fan-favorite as Aaron Rodgers at this point.
Potential Destination: Green Bay Packers
So this is a signing, barring his retirement, that will keep him there for the rest of his career. Ultimately, he probably wouldn't want to go anywhere else, and you can expect to see him in a Packers uniform until he hangs it up. It's a signing that is easy to force, all things considered.
2 2018: Le'Veon Bell
The ties between Bell and the Steelers have severed over the past year, and it's clear that there's a good chance for a departure here. Bell's holdout last offseason spoke volumes, and the organization isn't seeing eye to eye with him at the moment. He's set to hit the open market, and he very well could be looking for the highest offer.
Potential Destination: San Francisco 49ers
As of right now, Pittsburgh doesn't seem like the team to offer it to him. Bell is young enough that he can sit through a bit of a rebuild, for a ton of money and potential to be good in the future. The 49ers, with a flashy new quarterback signing in Jimmy Garoppolo, could end up being the place. They have the money to spend on a high-end running back that will bolster the backfield, and they are clearly all-in on being a winning team, with Garoppolo at the helm.
1 2019: Nick Foles
After improbably leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl in the latter half of the season, the market for Foles has undoubtedly increased in recent months. His performances in the last two playoff games were almost unprecedented, and although he's had ups and downs during his career, you have to believe that a few teams are interested in the possibility of acquiring him to be a starter. With Carson Wentz's injury still up in the air, the Eagles have a decision to make. They could trade Foles this offseason to acquire some picks and save cap space, or they could maintain him to start in a potential Wentz absence for 2018. Either way, it doesn't seem likely that Foles will be in Philly following the upcoming year.
Potential Destination: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals, with a new coaching staff on hand, have no options at quarterback whatsoever, and aren't in the position to draft a good one this year. Foles makes sense at least as a stopgap that won't break the bank. The Eagles may not be willing to deal him, but if so, this could be the most likely target, this offseason or the next one.