With the passing of the date where the franchise tag (or transition tag) can be placed we now have a confirmed list of free agents and a set of teams with various demands. So, just before the free agency period I thought we’d look at the top 20 free agents and their likely landing spots – much like everyone else but I like to have my say as well! I’m largely guessing at some of these predictions but here goes anyway!
Top 20 free agents here is taken from NFL.com.
- Kirk Cousins – QB
Likely to be the highest paid player in the league in but a few days’ time, Cousins will have his pick of a series of needy QB teams. We’ve chatted a lot about this here at BBW– will it be the Jets, Broncos or Vikings? The Broncos would be my favourites but given the amount of money they have available, or don’t, then I’m going to say he goes to the Vikings
- Drew Brees – QB
Easy one this. Brees is staying in New Orleans. He’s a hero there. He is the Saints and they’ll find a way to make it happen
- Allen Robinson – WR
Yes, he’s coming off a long injury, but he’s got pedigree. I mean, he made Bortles look good a few years back. There are a good few teams that need a receiver and I’m trying really hard not to be bias here, but they have the cap space, they have a good quarterback and they have a need so I’m giving Robinson to the 49ers
- Sheldon Richardson – DT
Quite a few teams need a good defensive tackle and, on his day,, Richardson is a good defensive tackle but he does cause dressing room problems so teams that are going to go in for them need to have the ability to manage him. That rules out the likes of the Chiefs who are getting over having to deal with Marcus Peters. One team which needs a lot of help on pass rush is the Dallas Cowboys and that’s where I’m sending Richardson
- Sammy Watkins – WR
He didn’t have great production last year, but he still shows promise. The fact that the Rams took their time on deciding who to tag feels like they want to keep him, and I think he’d be keen to stay, therefore I have him re-signing with the Rams.
- Andrew Norwell – G
Norwell is a pro bowl calibre guard who continues to develop as a quality player. Miami have a dire need to protect their quarterback (whoever that might be in 2018) and help Mike Pouncey at centre.
- Kyle Fuller – CB
Fuller has been given the transition tag, so he can talk to other teams and the Bears can match the offer should they choose to. Like receivers, there’s a lot of teams that need decent corners. One of those teams is the Titans, who can couple Fuller with Adoree Jackson who had a decent enough rookie year
- Case Keenum – QB
I thought that the Vikings might get cute and franchise tag Keenum but they couldn’t afford to do that and go after Cousins so Keenum is out on the market. Denver is my pick here. They have a good defence still (top 5) so just need a QB who’s not going to turn the ball over so much. Keenum is just that sort of quarterback.
- Malcolm Butler – CB
How bitter is Butler? Because if he’s bitter then he could go to the Jets and try to stick it to New England. I don’t see that happening though as Butler will want to prove a point and not go to a team that’s not set to win. Oakland need help across all their defence and with Butler’s price likely to be lower following a poorer season they may just be able to afford to bring him in
- Trumaine Johnson – CB
Johnson continues to impress. He’s a physical corner with great statue and he’ll make a welcome addition to the 49ers backfield as their off-season spending spree continues.
- Teddy Bridgewater – QB
Probably the quarterback we know the least about given his ongoing comeback from an horrendous injury. I think Teddy will go somewhere where he can be an upgrade to the second string and for me that place is Carolina
- Sam Bradford – QB
$114m over eight years in the NFL and whilst there’s been flashes of quality, Bradford has failed to live up to his billing. I think Bradford will be paired up with a decent rookie to battle it out for a starting spot. And I think that team will be Arizona who have no quarterbacks on the roster going in to 2018
- Bashuad Breeland – CB
Breeland is a young corner with plenty of upside. He’s going to be looking to get paid and with a young squad and a talented set of safeties, the New York Jets are going to be the ones to pay him
- Nate Solder – T
The best tackle to enter free agency but he has a lot of loyalty to New England so heads back to Foxborough on a team friendly deal to protect TB12 again.
- Dontari Poe – DT
Poe had a good season in Atlanta in 2017 and showed he can still play. The Chargers have two fantastic pass rushers but could use a big body in the interior of the defensive line
- Justin Pugh – OL
Pugh had a torrid 2017 with injury and being played at tackle when he’s really a guard. However, there seems to be a lack of quality offensive linemen hitting free agency or coming through into the draft this year, so it might pan out well for Pugh. The team that probably need help most – the Seattle Seahawks who have a quarterback who’s only alive due to his insane scrambling ability.
- Zach Brown – LB
Brown makes tackles and stuffs the run. He’s been productive and to be honest I’m surprised he’s hitting free agency. The Texans have just released Brian Cushing and in Brown they may have a ready-made replacement.
- Muhammad Wilkerson – DE
Another former Jets defensive lineman with an attitude problem. Teams will be lining up though for his quality on the edge and ability to get to the passer. The Buccaneers are one team that has been after a quality defensive end to play alongside Gerald McCoy for some time now. Now they get him.
- Carlos Hyde – RB
The first running back on this list, more will follow but Hyde looks like leaving San Francisco and whilst it pains me, I don’t see him going too far away. In fact, I think he might well stay in the division and end up in Seattle where they’ve never quite been able to replace Marshawn Lynch
- Jimmy Graham – TE
Two teams I think will make the running for Graham – either he’ll go back to Brees in New Orleans or he’ll double up with Gronkowski and create havoc in New England. For the sake of just being curious to see how destructive it’d be, I’m going with New England