20 bold predictions for NFL free agency

Le'Veon Bell Steelers

The scramble of NFL free agency will be in full swing very soon. In a mere blink of an eye, many players either re-signing with their current teams or finding new homes elsewhere.

In particular, there will be a huge flurry of quarterback movement with all eyes being on where Kirk Cousins chooses to spend the next years of his career. We cover a fun prediction here for him as well as for many other impending free agent quarterbacks.

Outside of that position, there are several other ultra-talented players sure to spark bidding wars. Where will wideout Jarvis Landry land? How about All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman? Boldly, we have predicted the following interesting NFL free agent scenarios — some of which — might just actually come true.

Steelers receive offer for Le’Veon Bell they cannot refuse

Le'Veon Ball pinky

There are other teams out there who would want Bell and can afford to meet a lofty asking price that the Steelers are unwilling to pay. So, what if the Steelers received a rich offer they simply could not refuse?

Keep in mind, the Steelers have second-year running back James Conner waiting in the wings. And, they could certainly be offered high draft picks to land one of this year’s top running backs — or perhaps an heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger. As it stands, Bell is extremely disgruntled. A team willing to offer a king’s ransom and that has plenty of salary cap space might just speak up.

Cowboys make Brice Butler their No. 1 receiver 

The Cowboys have some issues to work out with their current receivers. Dez Bryant is getting overpaid and not producing top results. Meanwhile, Butler has shown some splash and speed, averaging 21.1 yards per catch last year. Butler even boldly said that he could be more productive than Bryant when asked.

A simple solution would be for the Cowboys to release Bryant and his $16.5 million salary cap hit. Then, they can afford to extend Butler long-term. We aren’t talking Bryant money, but something well over the $1.1 million Butler earned last year.

Bill Belichick does the unthinkable and Patriots sign Richard Sherman

The Seattle Seahawks seem all but done with Sherman. There have been painful goodbyes and even a failed attempt to trade Sherman. But, the soon-to-be 30-year-old corner — once he recovers from his Achilles injury — can still be a contributor. Though because of the injury and his wear and tear, Sherman can’t ask for top dollar. This is when the Patriots will do what they do best — swoop in and sign an aging player to a inexpensive deal.

Coincidentally enough, and according to Patriots insider Tom Curran, Sherman loved the idea of playing with the Patriots last year. Reportedly, he was “reaching out to Patriots players” hoping they would encourage the team to trade for him. Stay tuned.

Trumaine Johnson signs with another NFC West club

This NFC West club would the San Francisco 49ers. They have the salary cap space to give Johnson the new contract he longed for with the Los Angeles Rams. Instead, Johnson would make a lovely addition to a 49ers defense that managed only 20 takeaways and allowed 351.6 yards on average per game in 2017. Johnson was a big contributor with the Rams in 2017, recording 65 combined tackles, 13 defended passes, two interceptions and one touchdown.

Cardinals take a chance on Teddy Bridgewater

This could be as a starter or potential backup to work in conjunction with a rookie the Cardinals select. But, adding a guy with Bridgewater’s work ethic and locker room presence seems like a Cardinals move. Plus, the Cardinals simply do not have the budget to spend huge on a different quarterback. After missing nearly two seasons, Bridgewater can hardly command top-shelf quarterback pay. If completely healthy, he would be a tremendous asset and upgrade over the Cardinals’ current cast of quarterbacks.

Kirk Cousins chooses the glitz and glam of New York

We keep hearing news that heavily suggests that Cousins will land with the Minnesota Vikings or Denver Broncos. But, the Jets are in the running too and can best afford to break the bank to sign Cousins to that inflated contract we all know he is bound to land. A move to the Jets would not be a very big one for Cousins logistics-wise, either. And, who would not want to take on the challenge of revamping a franchise that has not won a Super Bowl since Joe Namath played in 1968?

Drew Brees creates salary room to re-sign his favorite tight end

Brees is due a huge payday and the Saints will soon strike a deal that keeps him playing in New Orleans until he retires. But, having earned nearly $200 million in his 17 years playing in the league, Brees could afford to structure his new contract in a way that enables the Saints to also spend to re-sign veteran tight end Jimmy Graham. Just imagine the one-two punch the Saints offense would bring with Graham back in the mix.

Paul Richardson goes to Carolina

The Panthers aren’t exactly lighting up the field with their current set of wide receivers. Devin Funchess took over at No. 1 after the team traded away Kelvin Benjamin. But, quarterback Cam Newton could use some more help out there with a speedy guy like Richardson. Richardson made some magnificent plays with the Seattle Seahawks last season and averaged 16 yards per catch. In a complimentary role and capable of those big-yardage receptions, Richardson would be an affordable option.

Kenny Vaccaro goes to Tampa Bay

If the Saints move on from Vaccaro, the Buccaneers would benefit from signing the 27-year-old defensive back. Vaccaro is coming off of a strong season that saw him record 60 combined tackles, seven defended passes, three interceptions and a fumble recovery touchdown. While the Saints’ defense improved with him in 2017, the Bucs defense gave up the most yards (378.1) on average per game. What better than Vaccaro taking his Saints’ trade secrets to another NFC South franchise?

Jets spend big on Allen Robinson

It looks more than likely the Jacksonville Jaguars will let Robinson walk. A great landing spot for him would be a Jets that has a thin group of receivers and tons of cash to offer. This team needs to land a legit No. 1 receiver with no baggage. Robinson fits that bill perfectly after recording 2,283 yards and 20 touchdowns between 2015 and 2016. At only 24-years-old, Robinson would be worth a splurge. After all, the aforementioned Cousins could use some help in Gang Green.

49ers land Sammy Watkins

Speaking of awesome pairings, how would Watkins look catching passes fan-favorite Jimmy Garoppolo? That would be pretty darn amazing. And, what a fun way to stick it to their NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams, who appear to be done with Watkins. The 49ers are in great shape to pay Watkins sweetly. After scoring eight touchdowns in a crowded Rams’ receiving corps, Watkins remains a strong red-zone threat.

Chargers make room for Sheldon Richardson

The Chargers rush defense ranked 31st in the NFL last season. It also allowed a ridiculous 4.9 yards per carry. Adding a stopper like Richardson would help greatly. He can play tackle, and linebacker and he even managed his first career-interception last year. This is bold simply because the Chargers are going to have to move around some finances and spend some big money to lock up such a desirable free agent.

Chicago takes Jarvis Landry off Miami’s hands

The Bears receiving depth chart is not very sexy. This is why trading for a high-volume slot guy like Landry makes sense. Chicago also has the seventh-most cap space to pay Landry. So a trade to take him off of the salary cap challenged Dolphins seems all too easy. Landry logged 400 catches in his four years in Miami. Working with new head coach Matt Nagy, Landry would help quarterback Mitch Trubisky look like a champ in 2018.

Vikings decide to re-sign Case Keenum

The Vikings seem the front runners to land Cousins. But, if he actually chooses the Jets or another team, re-signing Keenum seems most logical for the Vikings. He is the most trustworthy in regards to staying healthy over both Sam Bradford and Bridgewater. Keenum went 11-3 for the Vikings and led them all the way through to the NFC Championship game. He is comfortable with the offense and completed a career-best 67.6 percent of his passes last season. Why fix what is not broken?

A.J. McCarron migrates to Miami

Ryan Tannehill is on course to return as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback. But, the team would be wise to explore its options for more depth behind an injury-prone Tannehill. A cheap option and guy generating some hype is McCarron. After playing in 11 official NFL games and starting in just three, McCarron can hardly ask for a lofty new contract. But, some view him as a quarterback ready to take his career to the next level. Why not let him compete against Tannehill in training camp and see how it goes? The Dolphins will of course have to free up some cap space which can easily be done by releasing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Sam Bradford to the Broncos

This is providing the Broncos fail to land Cousins. In addition to adding a quarterback in the draft, Denver needs a polished and more accurate guy under center. In Bradford, the team gets that. Due to his health history, Bradford cannot break the bank on a new contract. But when healthy, Bradford can contribute at a high level. His quarterback rating while in Minnesota was 101.1 and he completed 71.8 percent of his passes. Signing him to a one-year prove-it deal, while also having a starter-caliber rookie in the mix will give the Broncos options at an affordable cost.

Malcolm Butler signs with Green Bay

Malcolm Butler

Many see Butler signing with a team that has ample salary cap space. But who right now wants to take their chances with the Cleveland Browns or the Indianapolis Colts? A more promising franchise for Butler that needs its secondary beefed up is the Packers. Playing with Aaron Rodgers has a lot more appeal, right? After all, Butler is only familiar with playing on a Super Bowl-contending team. He is coming off of a 2017 campaign that saw him record 60 total tackles, defend 12 passes and record two interceptions as a Patriot.

The 49ers bring back Frank Gore

It only seems appropriate that Gore closes his career back with the team for which he has set wonderful milestones. The five-time Pro Bowler was drafted 65th overall in 2005 and is the team’s all-time leading rusher with 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns on record. Proving his wheels still work, Gore rushed for 961 yards last season. Healthy as a horse, he also has not missed a game since 2011. Easily, Gore could contribute to the 49ers offense as a situational back. Let’s see this reunion happen.

Nate Solder settles for less to stay with New England

The Patriots drafted Solder 17th overall in 2011. New England is his home and the team would be smart to try to re-sign him. But, the Patriots have the 12th-least salary cap space available. And, Solder is easily one of the top impending free agent offensive linemen out there. Boldly, we predict Solder settles for less strictly to remain with one of the best franchises in the league.

Colts pay Aaron Colvin

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to let Colvin test free agency. After not allowing a single touchdown in coverage and recording 44 combined tackles, Colvin is one of the better free agent defensive backs. This is why the Colts — with big bucks to spend — should sign Colvin. Miserable on defense after giving up 367.1 yards and 25.3 points per game last year, nabing an AFC South rival defender would be a grand move. Just envision Colvin facing former quarterback Blake Bortles twice per year.