By Zac Cornell and Sam Sindell
With NFL Free agency set to begin within the next week, we decided to predict where the top players on the market would sign. The market price for each player could depend on the official salary cap number that the NFL committee decides on. In addition, many teams are sitting with negative to little cap space to sign free agents this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they sign next week, but in the meantime, here are our predictions.
- Prediction: Seahawks
- It is obvious what Seattle’s most pressing need is. And that’s the offensive line. With the Cardinals forming an elite pass rushing duo in Watt and Jones, the 49ers with Bosa and Armstead, and the Rams with Donald, Russell Wilson is going to be running a lot in the backfield. LT Duane Brown is regressing and getting old. Williams would be an amazing replacement and a huge upgrade for that Seattle offense. This shouldn’t be the only player on the offensive line that the Seahawks target in free agency.
- Prediction: Giants or Dolphins
- Nobody is a better contested catcher than Kenny Golladay. He is a safe haven for the quarterback when they are under pressure, as he can grab anything the quarterback delivers. There is a good chance that he brings in any contested catch, which is what makes him a game changer. Both Tua Tagloviloa and Daniel Jones have lacked that WR1 presence in their offenses and would really develop better with one in their offense. His high-catch radius will be extremely QB friendly.
- Prediction: Buccaneers
- David is one of the best defenders in all of football. He plays the center of the field and is the leader of one of the best defenses. He was a key reason why the Bucs went so far in the playoffs, especially in the Super Bowl. If it’s a choice between David and Barrett, I think you take David. And this might be a choice the Bucs will be forced to make in free agency.
- Prediction: Buccaneers or Panthers
- Barrett is one of the best edge threats in the league and he led the league in sacks in 2019. It’s no secret that the Panthers defense is the weak side. Their offense is loaded (besides QB). An elite edge takes pressure off the secondary and is something every dominant defense must have. It would be a no brainer for the Bucs to retain Barrett, but the only question is – can they afford him?
- Prediction: Packers
- After having his season end early due to violations with the NFL’s drug policy, Fuller is looking to bounce back. Before being ruled ineligible, Fuller was having a career year. Besides Devante Adams, the Packers do not have any consistent receivers for MVP Rodgers to gun passes to. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a deep-threat; however, his constant drops and inconsistent play is not going to cut it in an attempt to make a superbowl run. Will Fuller’s big play ability and deep route running will make the Packers offense even more scarier.
- Prediction: Seahawks
- KJ Wright is a homegrown player who the Seahawks need in order to stabilize their shaky defense from last year. While Wright has been overshadowed throughout his whole career, that has not stopped him from being a dominant outside linebacker. He and Bobby Wagner make an excellent pair, and the Seahawks would be making a mistake letting him hit the open market.
- Prediction: Chargers
- While Henry has not fully lived up to the hype that has been surrounding him since Antonio Gates retirement, he has been quietly consistent in a position that lacks talent. Henry continues to rack up over 600 yards each season, which is rare for a tight end in this day and age. Henry is a great blocker as well, which makes him a versatile player, and one that teams will be interested in. But because of his great connection with Justin Herbert, don’t be surprised if he stays in Los Angeles to help build their young offense.
- Prediction: Raiders
- Dupree was on pace for a great season last year before tearing his ACL. He is a 3-4 edge, but could potentially fit in a 4-3 defense. He might be a risky player to hand a big contract to but he would be a big upgrade for the Raiders. The Raiders reached on Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick just two seasons ago, and he has looked like nothing more than a bust. The Raiders need upgrades on defense, and this is something they should look into.
- Prediction: Raiders or Steelers
- Even though all of social media mocks Juju for his “Corvette” dancing, Juju is undoubtedly a great receiver. One of the best slot receivers in the game, Juju should be paid. His desire to remain in Pittsburgh would cost him a pay cut, but it looks like he’s willing to take that. If things change and he decides he wants his money, the Raiders are a potential fit.
- Prediction: Jets
- With new head coach Robert Saleh taking over Adam Gase’s job, the Jets are looking for a fresh start. Saleh was previously a defensive coordinator for the 49ners and led one of the best defenses in the league. He has already changed the Jets defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3 formation. This means the Jets need at least two edge threats. But right now, they have absolutely 0 edge defenders. With a ton of cap space, this is a necessary position where the Jets will splash some money. Trey Hendrickson had a breakout season last year with 13.5 sacks. He is primed to get paid as one of the top tier edges on the market. His market could look anywhere between $10-$15 for his annual salary.
- Prediction: Jets
- Thuney may be the best offensive lineman on the market. He is extremely reliable and consistent. Rarely missing games and rarely drawing penalties, Thuney is worth any price. The Jets have a major need at both offensive guard positions and Thuney is an ideal fit.
- Prediction: Jets
- Samuel is a versatile weapon that elevates any offense he goes to. He can play in the slot, but also catch deep passes with ease. Samuel is also the best rushing wide receiver, which creates more opportunities for the offense. The Jets are in dire need of versatility and miss matches within their offense, and Samuel would help their offense in more ways than one. Samuel will get many offers due to the amount of roles he plays on offense, and will be a gift to any offensive coordinator/
- Prediction: Cardinals or Packers
- Linsley has been a great center for the Packers, and he has been one of the best year in and year out. Linsley can make or break an offensive line, and he was the anchor of a strong Green Bay offensive line. That being said, it is not guaranteed that he stays with the Packers, and he could explore the market that will be very interested in him this year. The Cardinals are a growing team, that is an offensive line away from being elite, and Linsley would be an excellent addition to the team.
- Projection: Dolphins
- After taking over a horrid Green Bay backfield in 2018, Jones solidified himself as one of the leagues top backs. Jones is an incredibly patient runner, who takes every opportunity given to him in a play. He has top speed, shiftiness and power which makes him a great runner. Along with his superb running ability, Jones is also a great receiver, which is becoming increasingly important in current day running backs. While Myles Gaskin was solid in his first real year, Jones will take the pressure off of Tua, and give him an excellent running attack, along with providing help in the passing game.
- Prediction: Patriots
- Hassan Reddick had a huge breakout year this year, racking up 12.5 sacks. In a matchup against the Giants, Reddick showed his dominance, as he had 4 sacks in the outing. Reddick is one of the best edges in this year’s free agent class, and will receive interests from many teams. Noting the Patriots lack of pass rush, Reddick would be a perfect fit for a team looking to rebound after an uncharacteristic losing season.
- Projection: Jets
- The legendary cornerback Richard Sherman is hitting free agency again, and the Jets seem to be the perfect fit for the veteran. While Sherman’s game has slowed down due to injuries and age, reuniting with Jets new head coach, Robert Salah, just makes too much sense. Sherman will look to continue his success into his mid-thirties, and he will most likely do so under a familiar face.
- Prediction: 49ers
- Before this year, Verrett had nothing going for him. He was coming off yet another injury, and was not supposed to play a major role on a team that was coming off a Superbowl loss. But Verrett shocked the NFL, and played great defense throughout the whole year. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season, and proved that he was still an excellent cornerback. All of the 49ers corners are poised to be free agents, and while Verrett is 30, the 49ers will do anything they can to retain him.
- Prediction: Colts
- A year ago, Ngakoue was considered one of the best pass rushers in free agency, but he is now considered average at best. Ngakoue has been consistent in his first few years in the NFL, but he is yet to repeat an all star caliber season like the one he had in 2017. Because the Colts need an exterior pass rusher to go along with the aging Justin Houston and Darious Leonard, and have an incredible amount of cap space, they seem like the perfect fit to take a chance on a player with a very high ceiling.
- Prediction: Bills
- Judon is nowhere near a star in the NFL, but he is a decent edge rusher that will bring consistent pressure. Judon has never reached 10 sacks before, but his presence is always accounted for when he is playing. Judon will hit free agency for the first time in his career, and will look to take his talents to another organization, after he had been franchised tagged last season. The Bills are a Superbowl contending team that could use improvements within their pass rush, and Judon would be a great fit for them.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Shaquill Griffin, Browns
Chris Carson, Texans
Aaron Jones, Dolphins
Marvin Jones, Dolphins or Giants
Carl Lawson, Bengals
Kyle Van Noy, Giants
Mike Hilton, Jaguars
Leonard Floyd, Rams
William Jackson, Vikings
AJ Green, Pats
Jared Cook, Patriots
Chidobe Awuzie, Panthers
David Andrews, Patriots
Xavier Rhodes, Colts
Alejandro Villanueva, Giants
Ndamukong Suh, Buccaneers
James White, Packers or Jets
Breshad Perriman, Giants
TY Hilton, Colts or Ravens
Cam Newton, Washington
John Johnson, Browns
Sheldon Rankins, Broncos
Keanu Neal, Raiders or Jets
Jonnu Smith, Titans
Melvin Ingram, Ravens
Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
Jason Verrett, 49ers
Romeo Okwara, Bears
Patrick Peterson, Chiefs
Matt Milano, Bills
Desmond King, Falcons
Jayon Brown, Raiders
AJ Bouye, Cowboys
Dalvin Tomlinson, Broncos or Jaguars
Jadevon Clowney, Titans or Jaguars
Hunter Henry, Chargers or Jaguars
Anthony Harris, Cowboys
Corey Davis, Washington or Patriots
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers
Willam Jackson, Packers
Potential Valuable Cuts: