Each NFL team has already conducted the bulk of its offseason work. The free agency period was about as active as it could get with a flurry of trades and big-time signings. Once the draft took place in Arlington last month, most teams knew where they stood heading into the 2018 season.
That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of viable options still remaining in free agency or on the trade block. As we see every year, contributors are found on the open market during summer time. It’s not unusual to find a handful of players or more make big impacts when signed around Memorial Day.
From a former Pro Bowl wide receiver in Dallas to a couple interesting potential trades, we check in on one move each NFL team should still make this offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sign Luke Joeckel
At this point in an otherwise unproductive career, Joeckel can’t necessarily be seen as a top-end starter. The former No. 2 overall pick bombed out as a tackle in Jacksonville before making the transition to guard, where he has been a lot better. That’s his position moving forward. Given that Kansas City didn’t do a lot to address this position in free agency or the draft, it is going to have to sign a veteran before camp. After starting 11 games in Seattle last season, Joeckel would at least challenge Parker Ehinger and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inside. He’d also act as a swing tackle for KC.
Los Angeles Chargers: Sign Danny Woodhead
Los Angeles brought in former Northwestern running back Justin Jackson in the seventh round of last month’s draft. The idea is for him to develop as a backup behind Melvin Gordon. While that’s a strong possibility, the Chargers could still use a pass-catching option on third down. That’s where a former Charger in Danny Woodhead comes into play. The 33-year-old back averaged 78 receptions in his two full seasons with Los Angeles, which were sandwiched between two injury-plagued campaigns. He’d be a low-risk add to a Chargers team that’s clearly on the upswing. And if it doesn’t pan out, we’re pretty sure a contract wouldn’t include much guaranteed cash.
Oakland Raiders: Sign Kenny Vaccaro
There are multiple reasons why Vaccaro still remains unsigned after a productive five-year stint with the Saints. He missed the final four games of last season after suffering a complete tear of the groin (ouch). The former first-round pick also took part in the Colin Kaepernick-led National Anthem protests. To some, that’s the primary reason he’s unsigned. Either way, here’s a starter-caliber safety that could slot as either an in-the-box option or single-high free safety for a Raiders team that needs to load up in the defensive secondary.
Denver Broncos: Sign Antonio Gates
What better way for Gates to stick it to the Chargers after they decided to move on from him? The future Hall of Famer spent 15 historical seasons in Southern California, only to be cast aside for Hunter Henry. As we’ve seen with Richard Sherman, Marquette King, and most recently with Derrick Johnson this offseason, players love to sick it to their old squads. This would also be a pretty nice match for a Broncos squad that needs help at this position for Case Keenum. After all, the team’s returning tight ends recorded a combined 17 receptions last season.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Sign NaVorro Bowman
As much as we’ve focused on Ryan Shazier being an inspiration after suffering a spinal cord injury last season, the Steelers now need to find a short-term replacement for the Pro Bowler. The team brought on Jon Bostic from Indianapolis in free agency. But he’s really nothing more than a depth player. That’s where a former All-Pro in Bowman comes into play. Sure he has not been the same player since suffering a torn Achilles with San Francisco back in 2016. But the dude still put up 127 tackles last season and remains a quality starter in the league.
Baltimore Ravens: Sign Adrian Peterson
This is all sorts of crazy, right? What better way to help Joe Flacco overcome himself than teaming him up with a washed veteran? As with the Chargers and Woodhead, a deal of this ilk wouldn’t bring any real commitment. The idea would be to sign Peterson and see what he might be able to offer during camp. He’s no longer the Hall of Famer caliber back we saw in Minnesota, but AD did display some flashes in Arizona last season. In fact, he tallied 135-plus yards in two of his first three games with the Cardinals. At the very least, he might be able to push Alex Collins and Buck Allen for a Ravens team that needs help on offense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sign Jeremy Maclin
Cincinnati seems to be smitten with Tyler Boyd as a No. 2 receiving option behind A.J. Green. Unfortunately, the former Pittsburgh standout regressed as a sophomore last season, putting up 225 yards in 10 games. Last year’s first-round pick, John Ross, has proven to be irrelevant in more ways than one. Meanwhile, veteran Brandon LaFell should be nothing more than a depth option at this point. A surprise release of the Chiefs last offseason, Maclin put up the worst performance of his career in Baltimore this past year. He’s still averaging nearly 850 yards over the past four seasons. The struggling Andy Dalton could use that veteran presence in the passing game. It would also come on a short-term deal with very little guarantees.
Cleveland Browns: Trade for Dante Fowler Jr.
Cleveland might not have the 2019 draft pick assets to work out a trade of this ilk without digging into its talent-stricken roster. Even then, the Browns have to continue remaining open to going away from the grain after just the second winless 16-game season in NFL history. In adding a player of Fowler’s ilk, GM John Dorsey and Co. would be setting its defense up quite well moving forward. Coming off an eight-sack performance with Jacksonville, the former first-round pick saw the fifth-year option on his rookie deal declined. If he is indeed moved, Cleveland would be the most logical landing spot. He’d be able to team up with Myles Garrett to form one of the best young pass-rushing tandems in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trade for Josh Gordon
If the Jaguars do indeed trade Dante Fowler Jr. before the start of next season, the idea would be to add talent at a position that might be lacking. That’s where Gordon and the Browns come into play. Jacksonville lost both Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson in free agency. Was the signing of Donte Moncrief and selection of D.J. Chark in the second round of last month’s draft enough to overcome this? We’re not too sure. Having committed to Blake Bortles on an extension, the Jaguars now need to give him the weapons to succeed on offense. Gordon is among the game’s most-talented receivers. When clean and out of trouble off the field, he’s a difference maker in every sense of the word. With Jacksonville finding itself as legit Super Bowl contenders, this is a chance the team can afford to take.
Tennessee Titans: Sign Tre Boston
As we have seen with Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro, the safety market was slow going during the first two waves of free agency. Now that the draft is complete and teams are in the midst of off-season programs, we can expect that to change. If so, Boston will be the first player at this position to come off the board. He put up a career-best performance for the Chargers last season, tallying 79 tackles, eight passes defended and five interceptions from the free safety position. The idea where would be for him to act as an upgrade over Jonathan Cyprien at strong safety next to All-Pro (and fan) Kevin Byard.
Houston Texans: Sign Tamba Hali
With Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus in the mix, it seems that Houston is already overloaded with pass-rush talent. But it just seems that way. Watt and Mercilus are coming off injury-plagued 2017 campaign. Clowney himself has an injury history that also has to be taken into account here. Let us not forget that Houston is relying on a bunch of players without proven experience at defensive end opposite Watt. At the very least, Hali could come in and be a situational pass rusher. Prior to being benched for the better part of last year, Hali averaged nine sacks over the previous seven seasons.
Indianapolis Colts: Sign DeMarco Murray
We absolutely love the selection of Nyheim Hines in the fourth round of last month’s draft. The North Carolina State product could be that third-down back with home run hitting ability every time he touches the ball. Second-year back Marlon Mack also showed flashes as a rookie. None of this means the Colts aren’t in the market for a veteran running back to help create balance on offense for Andrew Luck as he returns from injury. After adding guards with picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, Indy is committing itself to the run. Why not take a chance on a player in Murray who is one year removed from putting up nearly 1,700 total yards for the Titans?
New England Patriots: Sign Dez Bryant
Having moved Brandin Cooks in a trade earlier this offseason, the two-time defending AFC champs are going to be relying on a whole lot of unproven pass catchers for Tom Brady next season. That list includes a trio of players in Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Braxton Berrios who combined for a grand total of 12 NFL receptions last year. While Bryant has definitely lost as stop from his Pro Bowl days in Dallas, he would give Brady that consistent big body threat on the outside. It’s something the team simply doesn’t have. Unlike Dak Prescott with the Cowboys, Brady is not afraid to throw to the outside. That should help Bryant prove his worth as a capable starter with teams currently viewing him as nothing more than a washed-up receiver.
Buffalo Bills: Sign Brandon Marshall
Whether it’s rookie Josh Allen or veteran free agent addition A.J. McCarron under center next season, the Bills have a major problem on offense. It might start at quarterback, but we can’t have any real faith in the team’s current crop of receivers to help said signal caller out. As of right now Zay Jones and Kelvin Benjamin are slated to start next season. They combined to catch less than 43 percent of their targets in 2017. That’s just gross. At the very least, a veteran in Brandon Marshall would provide a consistent target as a possession receiver. Neither Jones nor Benjamin have proven they can be that guy.
Miami Dolphins: Trade for Teddy Bridgewater
Ryan Tannehill is coming off two separate ACL injuries. He missed the entire 2017 season due to the latest injury. That’s fun. What’s even better? Miami brought in Brock Osweiler to be his primary backup. Cue fans in South Beach swallowing vast amounts of Mojito’s on Sundays this fall should Brock see any action under center. At this point, the Dolphins would be smart to reach out to the division-rival Jets about trading for Bridgewater. He isn’t guaranteed a roster spot after New York spent a top-three pick on Sam Darnold and retained incumbent starter Josh McCown. It just makes too much sense.
New York Jets: Sign Coby Fleener
Just recently released after two unproductive seasons with the Saints, it seems that this former Colts pass catcher just wasn’t a fit in New Orleans. Having put up an average of 626 yards from 2013-16, Fleener still has upside as a catch-first tight end. That’s something the Jets are going to need, no matter who is under center next season. As of right now, their returning tight ends caught a combined 17 passes last season. That’s just not going to cut it.
Los Angeles Rams: Sign Brian Cushing
If there’s anyone who might be able to get anything out of this former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, it’s Wade Phillips in Los Angeles. By now, Cushing’s history is well known. Multiple injury-filled seasons and a plethora of PED suspensions. It led to him considering retirement earlier this offseason, only to put himself back out there on the market. For a Rams defense that’s loaded at every position outside of linebacker, Cushing would be a low-risk investment. Having played for USC, this would also be a homecoming of sorts.
Seattle Seahawks: Sign Colin Kaepernick
We already know that Seattle has flirted with the idea of signing this embattled free agent quarterback. Ignoring the politics of it all, this signing would make just too much sense for Pete Carroll and Co. With one of the league’s worst offensive lines in front of him, Russell Wilson continues to be a major injury risk. Sure he has stood up in the face of this at every turn, but Seattle is putting a lot of faith in Wilson remaining healthy in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Currently relying on Austin Davis to be Wilson’s primary backup, the Seahawks are playing with fire. Adding Kaepernick would be the obvious on-field upgrade. Whether this happens remains to be seen. We highly doubt it.
Arizona Cardinals: Sign Charles Johnson
It sure looks like Arizona will be relying on a group consisting of Olsen Pierre, Moubarak Djeri and Benson Mayowa to start at defensive end next season. Who? We feel your pain, Cardinals fans. After all, the three have combined for 14.5 career sacks. Clearly on the back end of his career, the 31-year-old Johnson failed to put up a single sack in Carolina last season. he’d be nothing more than a depth option. Though, the 11-year veteran is one season removed from being a major part on a surprising Panthers defense. That has to mean something given the lack of depth on Arizona’s defensive line.
San Francisco 49ers: Trade for Shane Ray
The one area San Francisco has refused to address during the young John Lynch regime has been pass rush. It didn’t even look at that position until Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. Even then, that was to select a player in Kentavius Street who will be red-shirted this coming season after suffering a torn ACL. Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner are the 49ers’ leading returning sack-getters from last season at three a piece. Meanwhile, Denver declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Ray’s deal after selecting Bradley Chubb No. 5 in last month’s draft. Given that Lynch boasts a strong relationship with Broncos GM John Elway, this is a deal that makes too much sense.
Minnesota Vikings: Trade for Jack Mewhort
It’s this scribe’s opinion that Minnesota dropped the ball big time in the first round of last month’s draft by not selecting guard Will Hernandez in the first round. He would have been a major upgrade over what the team is slated to throw out there in 2018. Alas, GM Rick Spielman once again opted to go cornerback early. Short of adding another player at this position, it’s going to be a major hole for the Super Bowl contenders next season. That’s why Spielman and Co. should call up the Colts about trading for a seasoned veteran in Mewhort, who might be the odd man out after Indianapolis exhausted a pick in each of the first two rounds on a guard this past April.
Green Bay Packers: Sign Bashaud Breeland
Breeland was among the most sought-after free agent corners heading into March. In fact, he signed a lucrative deal with Carolina before failing a physical. We have no idea whether the former Washington cover guy will be ready for the start of the season, but it’s a risk the Packers can afford to take. After missing out on corners in free agency, Green Bay doubled down on that position with its first-two picks, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. As talented as those two might be, Breeland would give Green Bay veteran and starting experience on the outside. He’d also likely come on a one-year, prove-it deal.
Detroit Lions: Sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Solely a slot corner at this point in his career, Rodgers-Cromartie has seen a limited market following his release from the Giants. It’s going to take a team with a major need at nickel to come calling. One of those teams has to be Detroit. At this point, Jalen Tabor would be lined up in the slot. He started just one game as a rookie, recording 11 tackles without a single pass defended. Why not give the young second-round pick some competition? Heck, Rodgers-Cromartie would act as an immediate short-term upgrade.
Chicago Bears: Sign Mike Mitchell
Mitchell has started 74 games over the past five seasons. He’s seen as a hard-hitting, get-in-your face safety with a ton of personality in the defensive backfield. That’s certainly something a Bears safety unit has been lacking. And while Mitchell is a bit long in the tooth and lacks coverage ability, he could easily transition over to strong safety in Vic Fangio’s defense. At the very least, Mitchell would give Chicago’s defense the attitude it’s seemingly lacking.
New Orleans Saints: Sign Johnathan Hankins
A surprise release of the Colts under first-year head coach Frank Reich, Hankins could very well be the best free agent remaining on the market. He would also fill a major hole for a Saints defense that yielded a surprising 4.4 yards per rush last season. New Orleans decided against addressing that shortcoming early in the 2018 NFL Draft, instead trading up for pass rusher Marcus Davenport. Hankins would be a dramatic upgrade over what New Orleans currently has along the interior of its defensive line.
Carolina Panthers: Sign Eric Decker
D.J. Moore was a tremendous first-round pick for the Panthers. After dominating Big 10 competition for a lackluster Maryland squad last season, he should be able to make an immediate impact. Though, Cam Newton and Co. remain a bit short-handed at receiver. After all, the team took a chance on veterans Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright during the free agency period. Neither provides that consistent target behind Devin Funchess at receiver. Having put up 50-plus receptions in each of his past five full seasons, the 31-year-old Decker would at least give Newton another option at receiver.
Atlanta Falcons: Sign Robert Ayers
Ayers might be facing a four-game suspension to start next season, but he has proven to be a quality pass-rush specialist in the past. The veteran has recorded an average of six sacks over the past five seasons. It’s been this consistent ability that should enable Ayers to see some late free agent action. In going to Atlanta, he would be the first pass-rush option off the bench behind youngsters Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley. It’d be a nice depth move for Atlanta.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sign Jeremy Lane
Tampa Bay did a tremendous job adding cornerback reinforcements in the 2018 NFL Draft, picking up M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in the second round. Both represented tremendous value and figure into the team’s long-term plans. But the Bucs would be foolish to believe either will make an immediate impact. With Brent Grimes on the back end of his career and Vernon Hargreaves looking to be a nickel guy, adding another outside corner makes sense. Recent off-field issues notwithstanding, Lane is the best of the bunch remaining in free agency.
Philadelphia Eagles: Sign Eric Reid
If there’s one city outside of Santa Clara that could handle Reid and his National Anthem protests, it’s Philadelphia. Just think about how the city helped free Meek Mill and the Eagles acquiring Michael Bennett. Here are two people in the forefront of the new “civil rights movement.” On the field, Reid would also be a major coup for the defending champs. He can play both safety positions as well as linebacker, as proven in San Francisco last season. In fact, Reid would be an upgrade over Rodney McLeod at one of the safety positions next to Malcolm Jenkins.
Dallas Cowboys: Trade for Earl Thomas
This seems to have already been settled. If the Cowboys were going to work out a trade for the All-Pro, it would have happened during the 2018 NFL Draft. Well, that’s nothing more than narrative street. Pete Carroll is not even sure at this point that Thomas will report to any of the Seahawks’ off-seasons activities. The further this draws on, the likelier it is that Thomas will in fact be moved. Having largely ignored safety in free agency and the draft, Dallas is in need of an upgrade. Thomas would be that guy.
Washington Redskins: Trade for Giovani Bernard
If the Redskins are not going to use Chris Thompson the way he should actually be utilized, why not add a player that fits what they’re looking for in a scat back? Now that Washington has added Derrius Guice in the 2018 NFL Draft, that idea has to be ramped up even more. Bernard finds himself expendable after Cincinnati selected Mark Walton last month. He could be had for pennies on the dollar. And with an average of 46 receptions over the course of his five-year career, the former second-round pick would be a boon for Alex Smith.
New York Giants: Sign Adam Jones
We still have no idea what’s happening with Eli Apple and that entire situation. New York also set forth to rid itself of an underperforming Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie earlier in the offseason. This leaves the team somewhat thin at cornerback. Why not go out there and sign a veteran in Adam Jones who has experience playing outside and in the nickel and can act as the team’s primary punt returner? It just makes too much sense.