NFL free agency is upon us, as we all eagerly wait to see who’s going to hit the open market and who will end up where. Unlike other sports, the NFL’s free agency period is rather tame. Teams don’t often let their big name players go so easily and so we end up hyping up slightly less known guys. Often, fans are left waiting to see who franchise tag’s who, and then examine the crop of leftover free agents for the upcoming free agency period. It’s not always too exciting, but any time there’s movement in the NFL something big’s bound to happen.
While most signings seem great in the heat of the moment, that doesn’t always hold throughout the regular season. You’d be surprised at how many free agents don’t pan out. Sometimes it’s a matter of effort, other times it’s a scheme problem and sometimes it’s just a matter of chemistry. On the flip side, some free agent signings work out great. Teams tend to build using the draft and overpaying free agents is considered to be a bad thing going forward. But we’ve seen it work, most recently with the Giants and their additions of Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison. So as free agency approaches, let’s take a look at the best and worst landing spots for these 15 big name free agents.
30. Best Option for T.J. Lang: Green Bay Packers
The Packers offensive line could’ve played better last season. The team “ran the table” late in the year and looked to be Super Bowl contenders under the leadership of a red hot Aaron Rodgers. No matter the pressure put on the elusive quarterback – he’d manage to escape it almost routinely. But while that makes for some entertaining football, it’s never a good sign for your franchise QB to spend other play running for dear life. Losing T.J. Lang would be a huge hit for Green Bay as his versatility on the o-line and experience in the offense makes him the perfect building block when retooling the line. The Packers know what they have in Lang and would do good to lock him down for the foreseeable future.
29. Worst Option for T.J. Lang: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans were just plain bad on offense last year. When the team signed hot commodity Brock Osweiler in free agency, it was believed that Bill O’Brien had finally found a signal caller capable of making his offense run. Finally, the defense wouldn’t be forced to pick up after the offense and the team could play balanced football. That didn’t work out. That offense was and is a mess. Adding a player of Lang’s caliber would certainly help out in theory, but it’ll take more than a solid o-lineman to fix the situation they’ve got in Houston. Lang would be better off staying in Green Bay. Expectations wouldn’t be as high and he could settle into a role comfortably in familiar territory.
28. Best Option for Larry Warford: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals could use some help on the offensive line. Signing a guy like Larry Warford to bulk up their interior line would make sense for a team loading up for a serious playoff run. Of course, Warford would help the team out in the long term as well, but for now, adding young talent to one of the most pivotal position groups in football isn’t that bad of an idea. The Cardinals have the weapons on offense, but desperately need to protect the aging Carson Palmer. A quarterback in his late 30s isn’t going to be that mobile in the pocket – so stopping pass rushers from getting pressure in the middle is essential for the Cardinals.
27. Worst Option for Larry Warford: Chicago Bears
The Bears might very well need some interior offensive line help come free agency. It’s something they can address through the draft or through the services of a veteran. With last year’s starter Ted Larsen at the end of his one year contract, the Bears might choose to go younger with a splashy signing. Warford might be someone they’re looking into but he shouldn’t be where their priorities lie. Chicago is probably going to be looking for a new franchise quarterback and desperately need some help on the defensive line as well. Depending on whether or not they opt for a veteran passer – and which veteran passer they choose – Chicago might be better off looking to the draft for a younger and less expensive addition to their interior line.
26. Best Option for Nick Perry: New Orleans Saints
New Orleans desperately needs pass rushing help and most of the premiere pass rushers are off the board. In this pass heavy day and age of NFL football, getting consistent pressure in the opposing quarterback is one of the only ways to ensure a victory and give your offense the opportunity to stay on the field long enough to put up points. While he wasn’t the best pass rusher in free agency, Nick Perry is one of the best names left at the position. Perry has been solid with Green Bay but could look to branch out and take his services elsewhere. If he goes to New Orleans, the Saints instantly gain a young, versatile speed rusher for their ailing defense.
25. Worst Option for Nick Perry: Buffalo Bills
The Bills could be looking to add depth to their defensive front in free agency, which would likely have them look to Perry. But while the Bills might be willing to throw him some money, Perry should resist the urge to sign with Buffalo should they offer. The Bills have their starting pass rushers set. Perry would purely be a depth signing. Though he could fit well into a 3-4, Perry wouldn’t see as much playing time as he would should he sign elsewhere like New Orleans. He would be stuck in rotation and ultimately wouldn’t be as useful to the Bills as he would another team. Buffalo definetly needs to retool that defense but they’re set at pass rusher for now.
24. Best Option for Trumaine Johnson: Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams lost one of their cornerbacks to free agency last year and it doesn’t look like they’re planning on having that happen again. According to Jason La Canfora, there’s a good chance the Rams franchise tag Trumaine Johnson for the second year in a row. If that happens he won’t have much of a choice in the matter, but on the bright side he’d be one of the highest paid at his position for 2017. The most interesting about this situation is that while a franchise tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee a new contract, Johnson would be paid like one of the league’s best corners for the second year in a row. If his stellar play continues throughout 2017 then he can more than expect a huge pay day next year.
23. Worst Option for Trumaine Johnson: Cleveland Browns
Under Hue Jackson the Browns defense was left lacking in 2016. The team has some solid pieces but could use some help on that side of the ball. Theoretically, Johnson would make for an interesting addition to the Browns roster should he not get tagged by the Rams. But with so many holes to fix, Johnson might end up like countless other failed free agents signed by the Browns. Too much will be asked of him, his play will dip and his once promising NFL career will be on the skids. Cleveland has Joe Haden on the roster and he’s locked in as their CB1. Would it even make sense for Johnson to go somewhere where he’ll be the number two guy?
22. Best Option for Kevin Zeitler: Cleveland Browns
This time we’ll look as a free agent that fits in better with the Browns. While Cleveland could certainly use some help all over the place, adding a top tier offensive lineman never hurts. Zeitler is the best guard in the free agent crop. If the Bengals don’t retain him, expect the former first round pick to get a whole bunch of attention. One real possibility is that the Browns scoop him up under everyone’s noses. Zeitler has a working relationship with Hue Jackson due to Jackson’s time in Cincinnati. Zeitler would know the system well and his coaches would know exactly what o expect from the young star and how to utilise him in their offensive scheme.
21. Worst Option for Kevin Zeitler: Indianapolis Colts
Another team that could use a guard is the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts don’t just need a single guard, but rather help all along the offensive line. Ever since entering the league, Andrew Luck has needed the comforts of a competent offensive front. The lack of time in the pocket along with his trouble with making decisions under pressure is a dangerous combination for Indy. But while bringing in Zeitler would be great he wouldn’t bring the immediate stability Indianapolis is looking for. Zeitler would walk into a pressure situation from day one and most likely be asked to do more than he can in a foreign offensive scheme. It’d be better if he either stayed in Cincy or signed with the Browns at that point.
20. Best Option for DeSean Jackson: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston has been campaigning for DeSean Jackson to come to Tampa for a while now, and the young quarterback just might get his wish. The Bucs have a clear number 1 receiver in Mike Evans, but adding a dynamic playmaker like Jackson would do wonders for that offense. It would take pressure off of Evans and give Winston a great third down target. While he’s getting up there in age, Jackson can still add a new dimension to Tampa’s offense. He’s shown that he can still be a relevant receiver with Washington, despite his age. Jackson will probably be a hot commodity among receivers in free agency but thankfully for Tampa, they look like they might be a good fit for him.
19. Worst Option for DeSean Jackson: New England Patriots
The Patriots are coming off an improbable Super Bowl win. After failing to hold their own in the first half, New England slowly started to inch closer to victory. That is, of course in due part to their defense holding back Atlanta’s passing attack. But Tom Brady and the Patriots offense were instrumental in winning the game. But without Rob Gronkowski, New England had to do it with a depleted receiving corps. For the last few years, the Patriots have always seemed to be in the market for receivers. Though they do have Julian Edleman in the slot, adding someone who can help on the outside would be huge. Sadly for Jackson, he excels in the slot – though he’s also a good outside receiver. Ultimately, he could end up another veteran mismatch for the Patriots.
18. Best Option for A.J. Bouye: Carolina Panthers
A.J. Bouye was regarded as this year’s josh Norman in that he burst onto the scene after being a relatively quiet player for the majority of his career. So it makes sense that the Carolina Panthers – who cut ties with Norman last year – would make the move to snatch the highly touted corner. While they brought in a couple of rookies through the draft last year, Carolina lacks that true difference maker in the secondary. Nowadays teams need three starting caliber cornerbacks, so it would make sense for the Panthers to kick either James Bradberry or Daryl Worley inside to the nickel and set Bouye on opposing teams starting receivers.
17. Worst Option for A.J. Bouye: Tennessee Titans
On paper this looks like it’d make a lot of sense. A Similar scheme, a need at the position and a familiar team. The Titans are on the upswing and adding to their defense is the next step in solidifying that team. Bouye might look like an enticing prospect for the team, but the Titans should not look all that appealing to Bouye. Going to a division rival can have its advantages but it can also have its disadvantages. For starters, he’d be seeing his old team twice a year. While that offense isn’t anything to be scared of they know Bouye better than most teams. If he really wanted to leave Houston it would be beneficial for Bouye to do so in another division.
16. Best Option for Dont’a Hightower: Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians is a player’s coach who has a knack for getting the best out of his guys. Though he’s a disciplinary at times his players buy into what he’s saying. Adding a veteran like Dont’a Hightower would benefit that hard hitting defense greatly. It makes sense for Hightower, who could definitely add to the Cardinals’ physical style of play. What’s more is that he’s going from one contender to another – though Arizona’s window seems smaller than New England’s, Hightower has the chance to go to a really talented team that could use his help and playoff experience. The only question now is whether or not he’s willing to leave New England.
15. Worst Option for Dont’a Hightower: Green Bay Packers
The Packers are definitely another team that could use some help at the linebacker position. Hightower would be a stabilizing force on that defensive front along with Clay Matthews. But the main draw away from this is Hightower’s injury history. It very well might cause some teams to back off him all together. While he’d help out the Packers while healthy, an injury to Hightower could send the Packers linebacking corps into flux. No matter how much depth a team has on its roster, the Packers wouldn’t be able to easily replace Hightower – especially after spending so much money on him to being with. It’s could happen, but ideally the Packers go younger here.
14. Best Option for Alshon Jeffery: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles desperately need help at receiver. The team has no playmakers at the position, save for Jordan Matthews. Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham haven’t done much to impress – though still young the Eagles need someone who can line up outside and allow Matthews to play to his strengths in the slot. Adding in a tall receiver like Jefferey would be a dream scenario for the Eagles. Jeffery is still in his prime and though he’s coming off some shaky performances, he’d be better than anything Philly has on the outside. Having someone that defenses would have to actually take seriously on the outside opens up a whole new area in the middle of the field. The very presence of Jeffery on that offense would do the team wonders.
13. Worst Option for Alshon Jeffery: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are another team that could use a playmaker on offense. With a young quarterback of their own, the Rams will be looking to give Jared Goff plenty of weapons to work with this offseason. The receiver position should be their first concern. But the Rams are a bit of a risky opportunity. Unlike Carson Wentz, Goff has much less NFL starting experience. His mechanics need some work and he’s yet to show that he can be a consistent passer. While the Rams might be patient with him, his potential receivers might not want that headache. Jeffery is coming off a couple of seasons of spotty quarterback play and that’s hurt his production. It might be the reason he decides to leave Chicago. So why would he sign on with a team that would essentially give him the same headache?
12. Best Option for Darrelle Revis: Chicago Bears
The Bears could use some help in the secondary. Their defense is a mess and could definitely be retooled in the upcoming draft and free agency. Aside from the defense, the quarterback position is a question and having a strong defense can definitely help remedy that. While there is some work to do, adding in a strong veteran presence on the defense would be a great first step for the team. Revis looks to be on the back end of his career, but he’s undoubtedly one of the greatest to play his position. Whether he stays at corner or moves to safety, Revis offers leadership and talent on a defence that can really use some.
11. Worst Option for Darrelle Revis: New Orleans Saints
The Saints defence is mediocre at best, and talk over the last few years has revolved around making it better. Apart from pass rushers, the Saints could definitely use secondary help as they won’t be with Jairus Byrd next season. This is when adding a hot commodity like Revis would come in handy for the Saints. But considering his age – along with the state of the defense, Revis would be better off elsewhere. Revis would also most likely be forced to convert to safety in New Orleans. While that’s not a bad thing, he might want to try his hand at corner once more before making the switch. It might be a while before we see Revis sign with anyone, so he’s got time to think everything over carefully.
10. Best Option for Brandon Williams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers can also use some help on defense aside from the offensive side of the ball. Tampa Certainly doesn’t have the same kind defense that saw them win their first Super Bowl over fifteen years ago. But their defense is still rather impressive. They’ve got some young pieces in place and have good veteran leadership guiding them. The Bucs have Gerald McCoy as their building block on the defensive line. Along with a decent set of edge rushers, adding in Williams would balance out the Buccaneers’ front seven giving them an excellent run stuffer to compliment their aggressive pass rushers. Williams might be better suited for a 3-4 but his skills as a run stopper are indispensible and he should fare alright so long as they don’t expect him to get after the passer on a consistent basis.
9. Worst Option for Brandon Williams: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders might need some help along the interior defensive line, so going for one of the top rated defensive tackles in the league might seem like a sensible move. But Williams isn’t a great fit for the Silver and Black. Williams is better suited as a 3-4 nose tackle than a 4-3 defensive tackle. While athletic, Williams is better suited to stuff up gaps, not get through pass and run protection. The Raiders main priority this offseason should be finding someone who can take some pressure off Khalil Mack. They need help rushing the passer, as of now it’s Mack and just about him. Getting a high priced run stuffer isn’t going to do them much good in the long run.
8. Best Option for Martellus Bennett: Atlanta Falcons
Straight off his first Super Bowl victory, Martellus Bennett is looking at free agency and doesn’t seem like he’s a lock to return to the Patriots. Bennett – who spent the majority of his career with the Bears after revitalizing it as a Giant – was a key factor in the Patriots Super Bowl victory. After losing Rob Gronkowski, Bennett became one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets. He can do the same in Atlanta, where the Falcons could desperately use someone to open up the middle of the field. The Falcons were contenders with Tony Gonzalez at tight end, and while Bennett isn’t quite there in terms of Gonzalez’s legacy – he’s certainly one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
7. Worst Option for Martellus Bennett: Denver Broncos
The Broncos could use a versatile tight end like Bennett to stretch the field and serve as a compliment to their passing game. It would be very reminiscent of when Julius Thomas was there. But there’s one glaring problem for Bennett should he go to Denver. That problem being the quarterback situation. Unless the Broncos make a move for Tony Romo, both of their potential starting quarterbacks are very inexperienced and probably won’t make it that easy on their receivers. A guy like Bennett, coming in new to the system wouldn’t benefit from that situation. You have to ask why he would walk into that situation if there were better options out there. Unless no one else is offering, Bennett should pass this offer should it come up.
6. Best Option for Calaias Campbell: Washington Redskins
Calais Campbell is getting up there in years. If this were five seasons ago, he’d be a top everyone’s free agency wish list. But age has deterred some of that interest, though there’s no denying he’s still a solid player more than capable of making plays on his side of the field. Campbell is a much better fit than Short would be for the Redskins due to his ability to rush the passer in a 3-4. He’s a versatile 3-4 end who’s just as good when it comes to the run as he is when it comes to the pass. His age might make Washington a little hesitant to give him big money. But he’s certainly a short-term solution that would do wonders on the team, should they get him at the right price.
5. Worst Option for Calais Campbell: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins lost out on retaining Olivier Vernon last season, losing a young piece on the defensive line. While it would make sense for them to pursue some extra talent for that position group, filling the hole with another veteran is not the right way to go. They just gave Cameron Wake an extension so they’ve got their veteran presence covered. No matter how desperate the Dolphins are they can’t afford to dish out another deal to a veteran pass rusher. Campbell wouldn’t necessarily be bad in a Dolphins uniform, but Miami can look to the draft to get some young prospects instead of breaking the bank. This year’s draft is deep at defensive end so there are no worries there.
4. Best Option for Jamaal Charles: Dallas Cowboys
When he’s healthy Jamaal Charles is one of the best runners in the league. He’s shifty, speedy and can be an asset as a receiver. But his healthy has been an issue in recent years. Now entering the twilight of his career, there could be a case made that Charles isn’t an NFL calibre running back anymore after sustaining so many injuries and failing to come back completely healthy. However we’re willing to say that Charles comes back stronger. He’ll probably come cheap in free agency given his age and injury history. One good fit for him could be the Cowboys. They don’t need him to start and can put him behind Ezekiel Elliot, making for a dangerous one-two punch.
3. Worst Option for Jamaal Charles: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are another team that could use some help at running back this offseason, as they look to load up their offense. With Doug Martin being an injury risk, it looks like his time in Tampa is over. So it would make sense for the Buccaneers to make a play for one of the big name veteran backs on the market. But here’s why Charles would be a bad idea in Tampa. The Bucs already have an injury prone back in Martin. Giving Charles a full workload might be too much for it, and it seems redundant to have two glass runners on the same team. Five years ago this would’ve made sense. Now it’s just a bad call waiting to happen.
2. Best Option for Adrian Peterson: New York Giants
A legend on the field, Adrian Peterson will be a free agent once free agency starts. The former Vikings runner is one of the best to ever play the game. A generational talent, most expected Peterson to end his career in Minnesota. But as it stands, he’ll be looking for a new home. Peterson has been vocal about his interest in the Giants. The team needs a running back and has freed some cap space for a potential free agent run. Peterson to the Giants is a temporary fix for New York, but on the bright side they’d be getting one of the best running backs in the league. Drastically changing their backfield situation from what it was a few weeks ago.
1. Worst Option for Adrian Peterson: Dallas Cowboys
Believe it or not some expect the Cowboys to make a run for Peterson as well. We discussed why Jamaal Charles – in a complimentary role – would make sense for Dallas. But can you imagine Peterson doing the same? It would be a hard pill for Peterson to swallow, no matter how much cash they threw at him. It makes sense for Dallas if lingering off the field issues come back to bite Elliott, but that’s about it. Peterson is bound to cost a bit of money despite his age and recent injury history. Can you imagine a team paying their change of pace back a substantial amount more than their starter? We know Jerry Jones loves to make splash signings, but this really doesn’t make too much sense right now.
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