NFL free agency is set to get going around the league here soon. It’s going to be somewhat different given what’s happening around the world. But that’s not going to stop the business of the league from eventually taking place.
As such, there’s a number of top-end free agents set to hit the open market. Even with teams having placed the franchise tag on star players, other squads will have a ton of options once free agency opens.
Here, I take a look at the five-best fits heading into the start of the new league year.
Amari Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles)
Wouldn’t it be something if Philadelphia is able to pry this Pro Bowl receiver away from its divisional rival? Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Needless to say, head coach Doug Pederson and Co. are in need of an upgrade at receiver. Nelson Agholor fell out of favor last season and is set to become a free agent. Former 1,000-yard receiver Alshon Jeffery is also firmly on the trade block.
Teaming Cooper up with Carson Wentz would be a major boon. Given the receiver’s breakaway ability and Wentz’s strong arm, I could not envision a better match in free agency. With north of $45 million to spend under the cap, Philadelphia could afford Cooper even if he seeks to reset the wide receiver market.
Jack Conklin (Arizona Cardinals)
Arizona made the questionable decision to sign injury-plagued left tackle D.J. Humphries to a long-term deal ahead of free agency earlier this month. Humphries is coming off his first full season since the team made him the 24th overall selection back in 2015.
Even with Humphries aboard, the Cardinals must find an upgrade at right tackle in front of young quarterback Kyler Murray. That’s where this former All-Pro comes into play. At 25 years old, Conklin fits the mold of players the Cardinals should target with the near $40 million they have to spend under the cap. While it would likely cost Arizona left tackle money to sign the elite right tackle, general manager Steve Keim and Co. should be all over this.
Derrick Henry (Houston Texans)
I am not 100% sure how the situation between the reigning NFL rushing leader and his Tennessee Titans squad is going to turn out once free agency opens. What I do know is that it’s not a foregone conclusion that Henry will return to Nashville. Even with what I expect to be a weak market for running backs, Henry should get paid. The former Heisman winner showed out to the tune of 1,540 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns last season. He’s still only 26 years old.
If Henry were to hit the open market, the division rival Houston Texans make the most sense. They relied on a stop-gap option in that of Carlos Hyde behind Deshaun Watson last season. Just imagine how awesome a skill-position trio of Watson, Henry and all-world receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be. With north of $64 million to spend, Houston could definitely make this work.
Philip Rivers (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
There’s a reason this has been talked about at great length since the end of the 2019 season. Once the Chargers announced they were moving on from the potential future Hall of Fame quarterback, it became clear that Rivers to the Buccaneers made the most sense.
We already know Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians likes veteran quarterbacks. He also grew frustrated with Jameis Winston’s turnovers last season. While Rivers is coming off a career-worst performance, the 38-year-old signal caller would be a great fit in Tampa. He’d have two record-breaking receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well as a rising star in that of running back Ronald Jones III. This just makes too much sense not to happen.
Austin Hooper (Green Bay Packers)
Now that the Packers have officially decided to move on from Jimmy Graham, there’s a glaring hole at tight end for Aaron Rodgers. It’s one of the primary reasons Green Bay has been linked to this Pro Bowl performer. Still only 25 years old, Hooper makes a ton of sense for the Packers.
The former Stanford standout has recorded a combined 146 receptions over the past two seasons. He’d give Rodgers a legit check down option, something Graham failed to provide after signing with the team. It’s also important to note that general manager Brian Gutekunst has not been afraid to go out there and make the free-agent splash in the past. This would be a tremendous fit for both sides.