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Where the top NFL free agents could sign before Week 1

Vincent Frank
Dez Bryant Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are going to have to cut their rosters down from 90 to 53 ahead of Week 1 of the regular season here soon.

That would normally put current free agents on the back burner when it comes to finding new teams. However, the dynamics this summer are a bit different.

Heading into what promises to be a wide-open 2019 campaign, teams are going to be looking for reinforcements wherever they can find them.

From a former Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl safety to an embattled free-agent quarterback, there are some solid options on the open market. Here, we look at the top-seven free agents and where they might land ahead of Week 1.

Eric Berry

This five-time Pro Bowl performer has not received a ton of interest since his former Kansas City Chiefs team released him during the spring. To an extent, it makes sense. Berry has played a grand total of three games over the past two seasons due to numerous injuries.

Even then, it is somewhat of a surprise that a veteran of Berry’s ilk remains unsigned. That should change after teams realize where they stand following Week 3’s action. One squad we fully expect to entertain the possibility of signing Berry is the Dallas Cowboys. They had him in for a workout during the offseason and need help at safety.

Muhammad Wilkerson

Wilkerson played just three games for the Green Bay Packers last season due to multiple ankle surgeries. That’s likely one of the primary reasons the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman remains unsigned at this late point in the summer. We’re not even sure how close to 100 percent Wilkerson is right now.

What we do know is that multiple teams could use his experience and previous success. Here’s a guy that combined for 85 quarterback hits and 36.5 sacks from 2013-17. In need of depth a long the line, signing Wilkerson would be the ultimate New England Patriots move. A late-summer addition on the cheap.

Jay Ajayi

It’s being reported that Ajayi is 100 percent healthy after suffering a torn ACL as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles last October. That came after the Boise State product put up 1,000-plus total yards in both 2016 and 2017. At 26 years old, this former Pro Bowl player still has plenty to offer.

Once rosters are cut down to 53 and teams realize where they stand at running back, we wouldn’t be surprised if Ajayi garnered a lot of interest. Among those teams, the Los Angeles Chargers seem to make the most sense. Starting running back Melvin Gordon is expected to be a holdout through the start of the regular season. Bringing Ajayi in would add proven depth to the roster.

Nick Perry

Perry was coming on strong for his original Packers team before missing seven games to injury last season. In fact, the former first-round pick had racked up 30 quarterback hits and 18 sacks in the past two seasons combined.

Still only 29 years old, there should be interest in Perry’s services once teams figure out where they stand in terms of a pass rush. This includes a Seattle Seahawks squad that traded away top edge rusher Frank Clark and saw rookie first-round pick L.J. Collier suffer a high-ankle sprain during training camp.

Dez Bryant

One has to wonder if Bryant will get a chance to prove that he’s capable of returning from the torn Achilles the former Pro Bowler suffered as a member of the New Orleans Saints last season. He appears to be fully recovered and ready to go. We’ve seen other veteran receivers who are seemingly in the back end of their careers latch on with teams recently. Bryant should be no different.

If this were to happen, it would likely have to be with a contender. The Carolina Panthers make sense in that they don’t have that true possession receiver for Cam Newton to rely on. Taking a chance on Bryant would help young pass catchers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.

Martavis Bryant

This former Pittsburgh Steelers standout just recently applied for reinstatement with the NFL after multiple suspensions during what has been a troubling young career. If the NFL were to oblige, teams would come calling at nearly every turn.

Just 27 years old, Bryant deserves another opportunity to prove that his substance abuse issues are behind him. He’ll get that opportunity, especially after playing at a high level during his run in Pittsburgh. Among those likely interested, the New York Jets could use another talented pass catcher for impressive young quarterback Sam Darnold. Given that this would come as a low-risk, high-reward proposition, it just makes too much sense.

Colin Kaepernick

Did you really think we’d ignore the most talked about free agent of the past decade? The Kaepernick backstory is well known. There’s no real reason to go into further details regarding the off-field dynamics. Instead, this has to be based solely on what we’ve seen from the former Super Bowl quarterback and the issues with depth around the league.

Most recently, the Philadelphia Eagles popped up as a potential option for Kaepernick. Given Carson Wentz’s injury history and the injuries Philadelphia’s other quarterbacks have suffered this summer, the team is in need of a proven backup. No, Josh McCown is not the answer. It also helps the city of Philadelphia as well as the Eagles’ franchise is seen as progressive.