The NFL free-agent market might be a bit dried up right now. In no way does that mean there’s not some solid veteran options for teams following the 2020 NFL Draft.
Two former Pro Bowl quarterbacks are available as potential low-cost options. Meanwhile, a couple strong defenders have found less-than-stellar markets and could end up being bargains.
It’s in this that I look at the top remaining NFL free agents and their best potential landing spots.
Cam Newton (New England Patriots)
It seems that the Patriots have purposely avoided the quarterback position since Tom Brady’s shocking departure in free agency. It brought back veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer. He teams up with youngster Jarrett Stidham as the only two quarterbacks on the roster. Right now, Stidham is expected to start as a second-year player.
While reports suggest that the Pats are not in on this former NFL MVP, I am here to suggest that they should be. Bill Belichick is the second-oldest head coach in the NFL. He’s not going to want to start a long-term rebuild. Newton gives New England the best opportunity to remain relevant in the AFC Playoff picture. Egos and personality differences aside, Newton to New England makes the most sense.
Jadeveon Clowney (Indianapolis Colts)
Following an injury-plagued first season with the Seattle Seahawks, this three-time Pro Bowler has been met with a bare market. Questions have now come up about Clowney’s work ethic. While that might be overblown, it’s led to him having to seek a short-term contract.
If that is indeed the case, Indianapolis makes the most sense. It has a need out on the edge opposite fellow former Pro Bowler Justin Houston. The Colts are also in win-now mode following a very successful 2020 NFL Draft. Clowney, 27, could show out big time on a one-year deal with the Colts before hitting the open market again next March.
Everson Griffen (Seattle Seahawks)
Speaking of Clowney, it’s seemingly becoming pretty clear that he’s not returning to Seattle. That’s no small thing given the fact that Pete Carroll’s squad lacks from a pass-rush standpoint. The Seahawks are going to have to find more talent and depth at this position if they hope to even be competitive with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West next season.
Enter into the equation a player in Griffen who has been linked to Seattle at a near never-ending clip in recent months. The 32-year-old four-time Pro Bowler recorded eight sacks and 24 quarterback hits during a stellar campaign for the Vikings last season. He’d be a perfect fit in the Pacific Northwest.
Cordy Glenn (Minnesota Vikings)
Some figure the team is happy with the tackle combination of Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neil. I am not too sure about that. While O’Neil might be the left tackle of the future, he could benefit from moving inside over the short term. That’s also a major need for Minnesota.
This is where a former first-round pick in Cordy Glenn comes into play. The 30-year-old veteran has suffered through injuries over the past three seasons. But he was a Pro Bowl-caliber performer for the Buffalo Bills from 2012-17 before moving on to the Bengals. He’d be a perfect short-term fix in Minnesota.
Logan Ryan (San Francisco 49ers)
It was somewhat surprising that the defending NFC champs did not target a cornerback at any point during the 2020 NFL Draft. Richard Sherman might still be playing at an All-Pro level, but there’s very little behind him on the 49ers’ depth chart. Ahkello Witherspoon struggled last season. And while former undrafted free agent Emmanuel Moseley showed ability in 2019, he’s unproven.
I fully expect general manager John Lynch and Co. to target a veteran corner ahead of Week 1. And in reality, Ryan makes the most sense. The two-time Super Bowl champ is coming off a 2019 season with the Titans that saw him record 18 passes defended and four interceptions. It was a career-best performance for the 29-year-old defensive back. Look for Ryan to latch on with a contender on a short-term deal. San Francisco has to be seen as the favorite right now.
Andy Dalton (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Of all the players and potential destinations listed here, Dalton to Jacksonville makes the most sense. They have not hidden the fact that there’s interest in adding a veteran quarterback behind Gardner Minshew following the Nick Foles trade with the Chicago Bears back in March.
Just recently released by the Bengals, Dalton has a built-in relationship with new Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. In fact, the former Pro Bowler put up his best seasons in Cincinnati under Gruden. Dalton averaged nearly 3,800 yards with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his first three NFL seasons under Gruden. This is a match made in heaven.
Eric Reid (Houston Texans)
Young Texans safety Justin Reid has made it clear that he’d love for his brother to join the team. It’s almost too perfect of a fit given that Houston is in need of safety help next to the former first-round pick. As of right now, Eric Murray would be starting at strong safety for the playoff contending team.
Just recently released by the Carolina Panthers, the 28-year-old Reid recorded a whopping 130 tackles and four sacks last season. He can moonlight as a linebacker, too. This just makes too much sense.