NFL free agency: securing the bag

A look at a few names that could land some big contracts at new homes.

Free agency is a misleading term. Only the unrestricted free agents are free to sign wherever they want. Restricted free agents, an oxymoronic name in itself, can only sign where they want if their current teams refuse to match the competing team’s offer. Some of the smaller free agents are hardly free, and the biggest free agents aren’t free in a different sense. The big fish like Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have expensive price tags attached. Teams are going to have to pay up to get the lunkers of the free agency pond. I believe the Cowboys will come up with the necessary funds to resign their quarterback and wideout combo, but I believe the following players will pack their bags.

Jadeveon Clowney

“Doo-Doo” Clowney was traded just last year from Houston to Seattle. Although he missed Pro Bowl honors and only had three sacks in 11 starts, his presence was felt on defense. From 2018 to 2019, the Seahawks moved from 16th to third in fewest yards allowed per game, largely due to Clowney’s pocket pressure. It’s in Seattle’s best interest to re-sign their best DE, but I don’t think they have enough money to pay him.

I would like to see Clowney go to a team like the Colts or Bills, but it’s not likely, even with the surplus of cap space they have. I’m going to throw out a team that isn’t being mentioned in the same sentence as Clowney. I think he’ll end up with the Raiders in 2020. Remember when Head Coach Jon Gruden traded Khalil Mack and then claimed that great pass-rushers are hard to find? This is his chance, and I expect him to at least make an offer.

Robby Anderson

As exemplified by the Chiefs, speedy wide receivers are the new hotness. There are many fast receivers in the NFL, but few have a proven track record like Anderson. Every team should have one receiver that can take the top off of the opposing defense. Anderson’s talents were being wasted by a Sam Darnold offense in New York. His name was thrown into the ring during the trade deadline but he was ultimately unmoved.

As an unrestricted free agent, many are choosing the Raiders as a landing spot. Oakland needs help at receiver, but I have a different destination in mind. I think Robby goes to Buffalo. The Bills have $82 million in cap space and a need at receiver. John Brown and Cole Beasley are a steady duo, but they need help. Anderson finished seventh last season in average targeted air yards. Josh Allen has a cannon, and an elite speedster could take his game to the next level.

Philip Rivers

If you ask me, Rivers is dried up. Jameis Winston, Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill are all more valuable free-agent quarterbacks, but that won’t stop Indianapolis from signing Rivers anyway. The pocket passer has started behind center in every Chargers game since 2006, but he’s now moving on. There has been some buzz in Tampa due to Rivers’ recent home purchase in Florida, but I believe he’s just thinking about future retirement. Head Coach Frank Reich and Offensive Coordinator Nick Sirianni have previously worked with Rivers. Now in Indianapolis, I’m expecting them to go after Rivers. Jacoby Brissett was relatively ineffective as the heir to Andrew Luck. The Colts’ premiere offensive line should provide enough protection for the lumbering Philip Rivers to drop back and bring fire.

Joe Thuney

It’s very unlikely that New England will be able to re-sign Thuney, their left guard. He made the All-Pro second team last season and is just 27 years old. In his four seasons, he has started every game and committed no penalties last season. There isn’t a team in the NFL that couldn’t use Thuney’s talent, youth and consistency. Two teams that I think could land him are the Jets and the Dolphins. The Jets offensive line is so ineffective that RB Le’Veon Bell was practically useless in 2019. New York needs to protect their young quarterback, and they have to pay up to do so. The Dolphins lead all teams in cap space with $88 million. They’re projected to draft a quarterback in April, and Thuney could be a staple for their franchise for 10 years. The Dolphins should give him an offer he can’t refuse.

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