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2018 NFL Free Agency Thread

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  • 2018 NFL Free Agency Thread

    NFL free agents who will get paid more than you think in 2018


    6:23 AM CT
    Field Yates
    ESPN Insider

    We're days away from the end of the season for 20 NFL teams, which means we're that much closer to free agency, which officially begins March 14. The clock is ticking.

    The major storyline entering free agency this year will center on the potential quarterback carousel, which could include Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Bradford, Josh McCown and more.

    But it's not always the household names who draw significant interest in free agency and result in significant financial investments. One case that exemplifies this was when the Bills lured defensive back Micah Hyde from the Packers on a five-year deal worth up to $30 million. Getting Hyde was a coup for the Bills, even if it wasn't a move that generated the same number of headlines.

    So who could be this year's version of Hyde? Last December, I detailed a few under-the-radar guys who could get bigger deals in 2017 than most think, and I hit on a few, including Mike Glennon, Tony Jefferson and Ronald Leary.

    Here is the 2018 version of unrestricted free agents to keep an eye on:


    Trey Burton, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
    Age: 26

    Jimmy Graham headlines the 2018 class of free-agent tight ends, but it's not a particularly strong group overall. After Graham, in fact, Burton might be the only tight end worthy of a multiyear deal, and that includes the Bengals' injury-prone-but-talented Tyler Eifert. Burton hasn't put up huge numbers playing with Zach Ertz -- he has 59 catches and six touchdowns over the past two seasons -- but he can do a bit of everything: Burton is a strong route runner and has some separation speed, and he is athletic enough to chew up yards after the catch. He has also been an impact special-teams player. He could be a starter in the NFL.


    Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Los Angeles Rams
    Age: 27

    Joyner, who is in the prime of his career, checks off many of the traits team covet in free agency. He's versatile, having absorbed a safety role this season after mostly playing cornerback previously, and he has terrific instincts and ball skills -- he has three interceptions in 2017. The 2014 second-round pick is undersized at 5-foot-8, but he is a willing and capable tackler, and he plays in a position group that is especially desired in free agency. Teams can use him to cover the deep middle of the field and can bring him closer to the line of scrimmage to match up against tight ends. I expect a substantial market for Joyner, and the Rams also have decisions to make about three other defensive backs who will be unrestricted free agents: Trumaine Johnson, who played on the franchise tag in 2017, Cody Davis and Nickell Robey-Coleman.


    Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 25

    I don't usually like player-to-player comparisons, but Richardson compares favorably to the Dolphins' Kenny Stills, who got a big deal this past offseason. Stills is known for his speed, but he has shown in a more prominent role this season that his game includes much more than that. Richardson has blazing speed, too, though there's much more to his game, as well. He has a penchant for some remarkable catches and has overcome two ACL tears. He has 44 catches and six touchdowns this season, and there could be multiple suitors for a potential No. 2 receiver such as Richardson.


    Andrew Norwell, OG, Carolina Panthers
    Age: 26

    One recent free-agency trend that isn't going away in 2018: top-tier offensive linemen cashing in. With the ever-present difficulty of grooming college linemen into ready-made starters as rookies, a few high-end veteran linemen have seen robust markets. Norwell could be next, as the Panthers might not be able to afford him with large cap commitments already set for linemen Matt Kalil, Ryan Kalil and Trai Turner. It wouldn't surprise me to see Norwell, who played on a restricted free-agent deal in 2017 and made $2.75 million, get $10 million per season on his next contract. The massive former undrafted free agent is due for a big raise.


    E.J. Gaines has been a consistent defender for the Bills since coming over in the preseason. Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports

    E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills
    Age: 25

    When the Bills traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins to Los Angeles in the preseason, the centerpiece of the package they received was a 2018 second-round pick. 2014 sixth-round pick Gaines, however, was also acquired, and he has exceeded expectations. He has been a reliable part of Buffalo's secondary and is now set to hit the open market. Quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive backs are usually the highest-paid spots in free agency, which should set up the productive Gaines for a bigger deal.


    Patrick Robinson, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
    Age: 30



    The 2010 first-round pick has emerged as one of the league's best slot corners after signing a cheap, one-year deal in the offseason. He has played almost 70 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps and has contributed on special teams. The reality of today's NFL is that almost any successful defense is going to rely upon at least three cornerbacks who can provide starting-level ability. Robinson has shown a nose for the football this season with 15 passes defensed and four interceptions, which could lead to another payday despite him turning 31 as the 2018 season begins.


    Ryan Jensen, C, Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 26

    The center position should be viewed as invaluable, as a reliable center can do an immense amount for an offense before the snap in terms of communication and setting the protection in addition to his contributions after the snap. 2013 sixth-round pick Jensen brings a ton of nasty to the offensive line, playing with tone-setting toughness that teammates respond to and gravitate toward. He's unafraid to mix it up with massive interior defensive forces. Jensen, who is making $1.8 million in 2017, has played 99.8 percent of the Ravens' offensive snaps this season, his first as a full-time starter. He's a stud.

    _________________________________________________

    I would very much be interested in a guy like Paul Richardson. Elite speed and very under utilized at this point in his career.

  • #2
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

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    • #3
      7 Big-Name NFL Veterans Who Will Be Cut This Offseason
      Joe Schiller
      06 Feb 2018

      Now that the 2017 NFL season is officially over, teams are setting their focus on free agency. Just over two months away, it's always a dramatic and entertaining time as players are cut, signed and moved all around. Cap flexibility is of the utmost importance, and many teams will look to get rid of dead weight to help their cause. With that in mind, here are seven veterans who could find themselves searching for a new team this offseason.

      7. Mike Glennon

      Mitchell Trubisky is the future in Chicago, which means Mike Glennon's time is done. Signed to a three-year, $45 million contract last offseason, Glennon started four games before being benched in favor of the rookie. The Bears have an opt out in that contract this offseason, and while it will result in $4.5 million dead cap space, it's a move the Bears will absolutely make.

      6. Doug Martin

      Doug Martin has battled injuries and plenty of off-the-field issues in recent years. Needless to say, he's not the same running back that rushed for 1,402 yards in 2015. Martin is now 29 years old and passed the typical age you see for a featured running back in the NFL. The Buccaneers need to get younger at the position, so they can't keep relying on the inconsistencies of a veteran.

      5. Aqib Talib

      Aqib Talib would be a surprise cut coming off a great season, but for the Broncos it makes complete sense from a financial standpoint. He is owed $12 million next season, and with limited cap space, the Broncos are in desperate need of a quarterback. If they want to be in play for Kirk Cousins, John Elway and his staff will need to reach deep in their pockets. They already tried to package Talib in a trade for Alex Smith, so it would be surprising to see him as a Bronco for much longer.

      4. Jeremy Maclin

      The Baltimore Ravens were just atrocious at wide receiver this season, and Jeremy Maclin was part of the problem. He had high expectations coming into Marty Mornhinweg's system, but finished with a career-low in receptions and receiving yards. The connection was never there between him and Joe Flacco and it makes sense for both sides to move on.

      3. DeMarco Murray

      It's out with the old and in with the new for the Tennessee Titans. DeMarco Murray is now 29 years old, and has seen his best days enter the rearview. He battled injuries the entire 2017 season while Derrick Henry took over the biggest load at running back, and it's clear Henry is the starter from here on out. The Titans can release Murray with no dead cap hit whatsoever, and that's the best-case scenario.

      2. Michael Crabtree

      It was a mediocre season for the Oakland Raiders as a whole, and that includes Michael Crabtree. He was the team's top wide receiver, but amassed just 618 receiving yards. There's a very real chance Crabtree could be released despite a $7 million cap hit next season. It's an entirely new system under Jon Gruden's control, and he'll want to bring his players in. That means Crabtree could very well be the odd man out.

      1. Adrian Peterson

      Adrian Peterson claims he wants to continue his career for four more seasons, but he might want to focus on finding a new team -- any team -- first. Peterson's 2017 season was a carousel ride that sent him to New Orleans and then to Arizona. He played six games before going on season-ending injured reserve with a neck issue. With the return of David Johnson, there's no need for Peterson to return.
      2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

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      • #4
        Murray would be an interesting player to bring back behind Elliott if he wanted to.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mschmidt64 View Post
          Murray would be an interesting player to bring back behind Elliott if he wanted to.
          I would do it. Crazy that he is still only 29, seems like he has been around for awhile. But I still think he could spell Elliott as well as anyone in our system.

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          • #6
            Mike Glennon is a big name?
            #Fire Garrett

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            • #7
              ~scans the list for Dez's name~

              ~walks away heartbroken~

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Rev View Post
                Mike Glennon is a big name?


                I was thinking the same thing.

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                • #9
                  2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

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                  • #10


                    Is John Elway obsessed with collecting shitty QBs?

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                    • #11

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                      • #12


                        Rumor is Cleveland is going after him to be their vet starter and then taking another QB high, supposedly Darnold.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by boozeman View Post


                          Rumor is Cleveland is going after him to be their vet starter and then taking another QB high, supposedly Darnold.
                          I have always liked McCarron. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds.
                          Since Day One

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by L.T. Fan View Post
                            I have always liked McCarron. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds.
                            He is a shined up version of Mike Glennon and a douchebag to boot. They'll be sorry if they throw a buttload of money at him.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by boozeman View Post
                              He is a shined up version of Mike Glennon and a douchebag to boot. They'll be sorry if they throw a buttload of money at him.
                              Maybe maybe not. If he delivers all will be right with the world.
                              Since Day One

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