The NFL free agency outlook heading into the 2018 offseason
The 2018 NFL season is officially in the books; a new champion has been crowned and teams around the league have the task of rebounding in the free-agent market.
There are hundreds of players available from a slew franchises in the 2018 offseason. These are the top player on the market, where they might go and what makes them high impact players. Note: this is only covering players that are anticipated to go elsewhere. Players like Le’Veon Bell (more than likely headed back to the Steelers) will not make this list although he is a free agent.
Kirk Cousins – Landing spot: Arizona Cardinals
The initial big change in the quarterback market: Kansas City shipping Alex Smith over to the Washington Redskins, making Cousins future in D.C. very clear. Cousins has topped 4,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Despite being maligned by the Redskins in their reluctance to sign the Michigan State product, he is one of the better quarterback options on the market and is a mid-level franchise quarterback.
The Cardinals are a viable spot because the team is going to need another signal caller after a disappointing, but predictable, 2017 run from Carson Palmer. Arizona already has a defense set in place, along with a solid running back to run play-action off (something Cousins excels at). There may be some hesitation from Arizona about the money Cousins would like to receive, but the reset at quarterback is a must for the franchise.
Dion Lewis – Landing spot: Seattle Seahawks
Lewis has been a versatile back for the New England Patriots over the past three seasons and finished the 2017 season strong with 510 rushing yards in the final six games of the season.
He was the lead back for the Patriots, but after paying James White last season and with plenty of running backs on the roster, they may be reluctant to shell out the money Lewis desires.
The Seahawks have been a revolving door at running back, with seven starters in the backfield over the season. Seattle is transitioning from a defensive team; to an offensive one built around Russell Wilson, Lewis fights as a great three-down back with plenty of versatility.
Jarvis Landry – Landing spot: San Francisco 49ers
Landry has quietly been one of the elite receivers in the NFL over the past three season. He is in the top 10 in catches over the past three season and top 15 in yards in two of the years.
He is also valuable as a piece that can be moved all over the board. He has the talent and speed of an x-receiver, possibly the best hands in the league and plays everywhere.
Landry can line up outside, in the slot, the backfield or return punts. He has no qualms about going over the middle and can run the entire route tree. The LSU product is also only a 25-year-old, which means his next stop could be a lengthy one and makes him even more valuable.
His addition to the 49ers would not only give Jimmy Garoppolo a true no. 1 receiver, but also provide much-needed talent.
Ezekiel Ansah – Landing spot: Baltimore Ravens
Of the players on the list, this is the biggest boom or bust candidate both the team he is on or potential takers in free agency.
In his first three seasons with the Detroit Lions, Ansah racked up 30 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He was a monster to try and contain on both the inside and outside. But he took a dip in his fourth season, posting only two sacks in 13 games.
Last season he disguised a poor start with a very strong finish. Ansah recorded six sacks in the first 14 games of the season, cleaning up the year with back to back three-sack games finish.
It is possible for Detroit to double-down and stick with their pass rusher. But with all the holes they have at linebacker already, along with a need to find a three-down running back; the Lions could view Ansah as an expensive risk.
In step the Ravens. They have a proven system of developing defensive talent, along with a sturdy set of linebackers and a deep secondary to back up the line. He could step in with little pressure to produce big numbers immediately and develop in their system.
Malcolm Butler – Landing spot: Kansas City Chiefs
Clearly, New England is not the home of the scorned cornerback that was benched in the Super Bowl 52, despite his heroics in Super Bowl 49. From the reports at the beginning of the season, Butler was more than likely seeking a richer contract than the Patriots were willing to pay anyway, which made his days numbered.
However, Kansas City had problems with a shallow secondary and ended up getting stuck with the washed-up Darrelle Revis. Picking up Butler would not only provide depth but also give them a great cornerback to place in the nickel, based on need.