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2019 NFL free agent class devoid of top offensive talent

Jesse Reed
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In a league where offense is the name of the game, the 2019 NFL free agent class is shaping up to be quite a bummer for teams looking for help on that side of the ball.

Recently, we dived into why it’s such a bad year to need a franchise quarterback, taking a look at free agency and the draft. Now, it’s time to dive into why this year’s free agent group is lacking top-tier offensive talent all around.

Quarterback market is barren: There isn’t a single guy on the free market right now worthy of being given a deal like we’re seeing top quarterbacks land.

  • Nick Foles is the best of the bunch. And even with him, you’re looking at what many feel is a system quarterback who isn’t more than a short-term solution.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick has some magical moments. But he’s also a turnover machine and is 36 years of age.
  • Tyrod Taylor is clearly seen by NFL personnel folks as backup material these days.
  • There isn’t much left besides guys who are going to fill in for teams in a pinch.

One star running back, and then the rest: Le’Veon Bell is going to rake in a monster contract because there are teams with deep pockets and a hankering for his talents. Outside of Bell, however, this class is solid but not anything special.

  • Tevin Coleman is a tremendous complementary piece, and a team could give him a chance to start. But don’t expect him to break the bank.
  • Adrian Peterson is the best bell-cow back, and he’s coming off a fantastic season. But he’s also going to be 34 when the season starts and has had multiple knee surgeries.
  • The likes of Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray, etc. can provide solid value. However, teams are more inclined to look to the draft for running backs these days than shell out a bunch of guaranteed cash for veterans who are on the decline.

Value at receiver, but no big fish: The 2019 NFL free agency class really has very little star power at one of the flashiest positions in the league. That’s why the trade market for Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown is going to be so interesting.

  • Look for receiver like Tyrell Williams, Donte Moncrief and Adam Humphries to garner plenty of interest due to their specialized skills. But they won’t sign big deals.
  • Veterans like Golden Tate, Randall Cobb and John Brown are also going to be seen as ideal complementary pieces and will have plenty of suitors looking to work out short-term deals.

Tight end class is thin:┬áThe top player this year is coming off a career year, but for a long time he’s been seen as an unreliable playmaker.

  • Jared Cook had his best season as a pro with the Oakland Raiders in 2018. But his stone hands have long been a huge problem, and it will be shocking if he lands a lucrative long-term deal.
  • Antonio Gates may retire, or he might return to the Los Angeles Chargers. It’s doubtful there is any other alternative for the legendary pass catcher.
  • Jesse James rounds out the top three, and after him is a huge group of complementary guys who can make plays in a pinch and block on running downs.

Offensive line is very thin at the top: There is not an abundance of starting-caliber offensive linemen for hire this offseason.

  • Trent Brown and Daryl Williams are clearly the top offensive tackles this year. The Carolina Panthers would be out of their minds to let Williams hit the open market. It remains to be seen what New England wants to do with Brown. It’s noteworthy that both players are right tackles.
  • If you’re looking for a guard and have cash to spend on a short-term deal, there is a slew of veterans over 30 who can fill the void. This list includes the likes of Mike Iupati, Roger Saffold (whom the Los Angeles Rams will likely find a way to retain), and Ramon Foster.
  • There are some decent centers available, but again, nobody jumps out as a game-changing player outside of perhaps Matt Paradis and Ryan Kalil.

The bottom line: The 2019 NFL free agency period will be all about bargain hunting on offense outside of a couple of high-profile players.

This is why the draft is going to be so key for teams in need of offensive help. And that’s a tricky proposition, because the first round is so loaded with defensive talent. General managers who can find diamonds in the rough will make a killing.