At this point in NFL free agency, any player added to a team is done so to fill out a 90-man roster. There are almost never any guarantees that these players will make a final roster or will get any sort of playing time with their new teams. While that's typically how these things go, the list of available NFL free agents is hardly ever as rich with talent as it still is in 2018.
From former stars to current starters looking for new homes and veteran players looking for one last shot in the NFL, the crop of free agents still available in the NFL is diverse with players from all walks of life. It's surprising that many are still available as of June 15 but with minicamps and OTAs wrapping up around the NFL, it wouldn't be surprising to see any number of the top 25 players still available as free agents signing with teams within the next couple of weeks.
Now that teams are more aware of what they have on their rosters and what they need, the next wave of free agency could be a big one. Considering there are multiple future first-ballot Hall of Fame caliber players still on the market, there should be some intrigue in most if not every name on this list. With that, this list aims at not only identifying which players are still available but where they could ultimately end up by the time the 2018 regular season kicks off in just a few months.
25 Dez Bryant - San Francisco 49ers
While Dez Bryant was reportedly offered a three-year contract worth $21 million by the Baltimore Ravens, the veteran wide receiver remains a free agent and apparently has his eyes set on one specific team. In a now-deleted comment on Instagram, Bryant named the 49ers as the team he wants to sign with as opposed to other teams who may have already expressed interest.
It isn't hard to see why Bryant would want to join the 49ers either, as the team is taking shape nicely with a new signal caller in Jimmy Garoppolo calling the shots.
Whether the interest is mutual or not is yet to be seen, but the 49ers should at least inquire to see if Bryant is seriously interested and willing to take a little less money to join the team highest on his list.
24 Adam Jones - Cincinnati Bengals
It would be hard to imagine Adam Jones playing for any team other than the Cincinnati Bengals after spending the last eight seasons with the team, following time with the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys early in his career. At 35 years old, other teams might be hesitant to offer him any sort of contract anyway.
While there are usually veteran players on the market every year who garner interest at a reduced rate around the league, Jones has yet to catch on with another team and the Bengals simply make sense for him. The initial decision to let Jones test free agency came down to a financial issue, so if the two sides can agree on terms that are mutually beneficial, there should be no reason to see Jones in any other uniform at this point in his career.
23 DeMarco Murray - Los Angeles Rams
Recently turning down a workout with the New Orleans Saints, DeMarco Murray remains a free agent and is looking to make an impact in 2018. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old running back had a disastrous 2018 and, with concerns over his durability remaining a concern, it's hard to imagine a team willing to bring him in as a starter at this point in his career and the offseason.
With that in mind, Murray can still make an impact for a team in 2018 and the Rams would give him an opportunity to play in a dynamic offense alongside one of the NFL's best players in Todd Gurley. While Gurley would receive the majority of the snaps, Murray could be an excellent complementary piece which could keep both backs fresh.
22 Adrian Peterson - Houston Texans
Arguably the best running back of his generation and one of the best in the history of the NFL, Adrian Peterson saw an unfortunate end to his career in Minnesota and that parlayed into an even more disappointing time with the New Orleans Saints and a mediocre run with the Arizona Cardinals.
There's still the potential for Peterson to be a contributor in the NFL.
Signing in Houston makes sense for him given he's a native of Texas and has roots in Houston. The Texans could get some solid production from Peterson and Lamar Miller in 2018 which could help relieve some of the stress on second-year quarterback DeShaun Watson.
21 Alan Branch - Pittsburgh Steelers
When Alan Branch was a member of the New England Patriots, he made a name for himself as an imposing nose-tackle who could stop the run better than just about anybody else on the interior defensive line. Unfortunately, his tenure in New England ended with a series of inactive designations and the team opting to not pick up his contract option.
The Steelers could look to bring in Branch as depth on their defensive line, in what would serve as a double-edged sword as they could also look to one-up New England in this situation. Getting some information from Branch while also getting a valuable defensive line piece seems like a no-brainer for Pittsburgh.
20 Colin Kaepernick - New England Patriots
If there's any one team in the NFL who can pull of such a surprising signing this offseason, it would be the New England Patriots. After all, the team is looking for their future at the position given the fact that Tom Brady is set to enter his age-41 season.
While Kaepernick is 30 years old and wouldn't serve as a long-term answer for the Patriots, the team has been comfortable with activists on their team in the past and Kaepernick would immediately be an upgrade at backup over Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling. It would also give the team some time to find its next franchise quarterback.
19 Jeremy Maclin - Oakland Raiders
If there's anything that we've learned from Jon Gruden in his first offseason back with the Oakland Raiders, it's that he isn't afraid to take a look at a player based solely on their age or any form of declining production.
While Jeremy Maclin has proven he can be a good NFL wide receiver, his numbers have steadily declined for years now.
With Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson already in place as the Raiders' top two options at the position, though, Maclin could do well as a third option.
18 Eric Decker - Green Bay Packers
While there have been some murmurs about the Green Bay Packers being a potential landing spot for wide receiver Dez Bryant, they could instead opt for a cheaper option in Eric Decker. While Decker may not have had quite as prolific a career as Bryant had during his prime in Dallas, he's more than capable enough of filling the position left by Jordy Nelson on the Packers' roster.
To be clear, Decker won't have the same role as Nelson and the chemistry between him and Rodgers won't be nearly as good. What Decker does provide, though, is an effective third-receiver option who has experience making big plays in the league.
17 Brian Cushing - New England Patriots
Despite shoring up their linebacker depth in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Patriots could look at giving Cushing a shot at redeeming himself following a disappointing 2017 season and some history with PED use and injuries. The Patriots have been known to give veterans a second chance if it helps them win a Championship and Cushing could do exactly that in 2018, especially with a need at the position and some uncertainty regarding the health of Dont'a Hightower as their No. 1 linebacker option.
16 Coby Fleener - Arizona Cardinals
Coby Fleener has made a name for himself as one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. Unfortunately, Fleener missed some time in 2017 and wasn't targeted nearly as much as he could have been in New Orleans. As such, he saw a steep decline in his production with the Saints.
The Cardinals are in the middle of a major transition on their team, specifically on offense. While Fleener had a down season in 2017, his yards per reception were still high enough that he should warrant a shot with a team in 2018. The Cardinals make all the sense in the world as a team that could benefit from a catch-first tight end like Fleener.
15 Tre Boston - Arizona Cardinals
When Tre Boston visited the Arizona Cardinals in late May, not much came out of it. His visit didn't amount to a contract and he's yet to catch on with another team. Still, the Cardinals obviously saw something in Boston they liked and if he remains unsigned deeper into the offseason, they could call his name to bring him in as an extra body at camp and see where it takes them. Having experience in the secondary simply can't hurt a team in transition like the Cardinals.
14 Bashaud Breeland - Kansas City Chiefs
It would be an understatement to say that the Kansas City Chiefs are a little thin at cornerback. While there are bodies on the team who can compete for a job, signing Breeland would immediately put him in contention for a starting job on the team, especially with Marcus Peters being traded earlier in the offseason.
Breeland has a successful career as a member of the Washington Redskins and at only 26 years old, he still has a lot to give in the NFL.
Ranked as the 54th-best cornerback by Pro Football Focus in 2017, his ability as a bonafide No. 2 cornerback shouldn't be understated and it's a wonder at all that he's still a free agent this deep into the offseason. Despite his injury issues and failed physical, he should be on a team.
13 Kenny Vaccaro - Indianapolis Colts
The safety market in the NFL has been virtually non-existent during the 2018 offseason and because of this, many free agents at the position still find themselves without a team despite having obvious NFL capability. Kenny Vaccaro is one of those many safeties just looking to catch on with a team despite having success at the NFL level as a member of the New Orleans Saints.
While Vaccaro visited the Indianapolis Colts (along with other options at safety) and didn't get signed to a contract, the Colts could benefit from adding a veteran like Vaccaro to their roster to help with depth and to help Malik Hooker take the next step in his development. Recovering from ACL and MCL tears, Hooker's health could also be of concern to the Colts and adding Vaccaro would be a nice insurance measure.
12 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - Washington Redskins
When told that the New York Giants' beat writers missed having Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the Giants, he replied "Y'all might see me again." which prompted some speculation that he could elect to return to the team on a cheaper contract.
It could have also meant that Rodgers-Cromartie was keeping an open mind to all teams, including a division rival in the Washington Redskins. With the Redskins looking to win a championship right now, Rodgers-Cromartie could serve as a valuable secondary piece with a lot of experience.
11 Eric Reid - San Francisco 49ers
Eric Reid is a very talented NFL safety. Unfortunately, the NFL is going through a stage where evaluating talent as opposed to social stances has become blurry. With an eye towards keeping some fans happy by not employing players who sit for the National Anthem, they are in turn leaving valuable players on the market and also running the risk of losing fans who believe in these social stances.
The door isn't yet closed on a return between Reid and the 49ers and if any team is going to give Reid an opportunity to play, it would be the 49ers who have a history with the safety and who know what he can do on the field.
10 Orleans Darkwa - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made an effort to fill out their running back depth after parting ways with Doug Martin, the need for another body on the roster is certainly up there for the Bucs. The team clearly has high hopes for Ronald Jones II, but putting all your eggs into one basket, especially when that basket is a metaphor for a rookie running back, is something that the Buccaneers should be a little hesitant to do.
As recently as last season, rookie running backs made a huge impact in the NFL. It's nothing new and players at the position rarely have to be first-round talents to be contributors early in their careers. With that in mind, having Darkwa on the roster to add some depth and insurance, alongside Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barger and Charles Sims, should make Tampa Bay's backfield much more respectable.
9 Julius Thomas - Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers were dealt a tough hand when Hunter Henry was lost for the entire 2018 season before the year ever began. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they won't be able to get anywhere near the same production or ability from any tight end available in free agency.
Thomas is a proven red zone threat, which should benefit the Chargers nicely.
What they can do, however, is sign one or two of the best options and hope that they can contribute in the role that the Chargers have relied upon so heavily through Philip Rivers career in the NFL.
8 Darrelle Revis - Pittsburgh Steelers
Darelle Revis was once considered the best cornerback on the planet. More of an island than a man, opposing wide receivers would often be hung out to dry when they were tasked with running routes against the All-Pro defensive back. Unfortunately, father time is unforgiving and undefeated, so Revis has seen his play drop off considerably since his last real excellent season with the New England Patriots.
After playing decently with the Kansas City Chiefs, though, Revis could find himself staying in the AFC once again as a member of his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.
7 Connor Barwin - Dallas Cowboys
Connor Barwin may not be the same player he once was, but he can still be a nice complementary linebacker on a team looking for some depth at the position. The Cowboys could benefit from having a proven veteran like Barwin on their roster, especially one who is so well respected in the locker room.
He shouldn't be expected to produce upwards of 10 sacks or 40 tackles in a season at this point in his career, but with five sacks and over 20 tackles in each of his last two seasons, the Cowboys could certainly do worse. Barwin's ability to play as a linebacker or defensive end also makes him an interesting option for the Cowboys who could use that versatility up front.
6 Johnathan Hankins - Los Angeles Chargers
Johnathan Hankins is becoming one of the more surprising free agents on a consistent basis over the last few seasons. Despite playing well as a member of the New York Giants and then again as a member of the Indianapolis Colts last season, Hankins has found himself searching for a job in each of the last two offseasons with seemingly little interest.
The Los Angeles Chargers should have interest in Hankins, however, as their run-defense struggled last season and Hankins would immediately serve as an upgrade on their roster.
Ranked No. 20 among defensive linemen by Pro Football Focus, Hankins could make a huge impact for the Chargers in 2018.
5 Eddie Lacy - Philadelphia Eagles
Eddie Lacy went from one of the NFL's most intriguing running backs to one of the most forgettable in just a matter of a few seasons. While the former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks running back has the size and ability to make an impact in the NFL, his issue with consistency (on the field and with his weight) are of concern.
His stint with the Seattle Seahawks didn't work out as planned but Lacy could be a nice complement to the Philadelphia Eagles roster. As a veteran who has two 1,100-plus yard seasons under his belt with 23 touchdowns, Lacy is able to make plays. Unfortunately, he saw his yards per carry drop from 4.4 as a member of the Packers to 2.6 as a member of the Seahawks. Still, it's possible that the fit in Seattle just wasn't right for him and a fresh start in Philadelphia with the World-Champion Eagles in a depth role could be exactly what he needs.
4 Navorro Bowman - Oakland Raiders
After spending the majority of his career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Navorro Bowman found himself as a free agent in 2017 and remained close to home as he signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders. After a fairly successful run with the team, the veteran linebacker remains unsigned, however, and is still looking for a permanent landing spot.
3 Antonio Gates - Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers and Antonio Gates parted ways at the tail-end of the 2017 season, ending a marriage that seemed unbreakable. With the Chargers losing young tight end Hunter Henry for the 2018 season, Gates could find himself back with the Chargers without having missed any time.
Gates is undoubtedly in the twilight of his career and nowhere near as talented as he was in his prime. Despite this, he could still serve as a valuable option for the Chargers given his chemistry with Philip Rivers.
2 T.J. Ward - Seattle Seahawks
With the Seattle Seahawks secondary taking a major hit this offseason with Richard Sherman being released and signing in San Francisco, Kam Chancellor potentially out for the 2018 season and Earl Thomas holding out for a new contract, the team is likely in the market for as much help at the safety spot as they can get.
With charges against Ward being dropped just a few days ago, Ward could be an interesting option for a team looking for a hard-hitting safety who has experience on contending teams. The Seahawks could be that very same team.
1 Courtney Upshaw - New York Jets
In his first few seasons in the NFL as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Courtney Upshaw made a solid impact as a run-defending edge player. Unfortunately, his production took a dip when he went to Atlanta and that's part of the reason he's still available well into June.
The New York Jets recently had Upshaw in for a visit as a free agent and with their emphasis on defensive lineman always at the forefront of their gameplan, the fit makes sense.
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