It is March 22 as I am writing this, nine days after NFL free agency opened. Over 200 players have signed new deals, but some still remain unsigned. Teams usually break the bank in the first few days to pursue the best and hottest free agents on the market, so the ones that remain may not be lucky enough to secure a lucrative, long-term deal.
A season ago, Geno Smith was a great example of someone who took their prove-it deal and did exactly that. After not being expected to win the starting job, all Smith did was throw for 30 touchdowns, lead the league in passing touchdowns and light a spark under the young Seahawks. After his breakout season where he won Comeback Player of the Year, he was rewarded with a 3-year, $75 million contract. So who will be this year’s Geno Smith?
LB Bobby Wagner: After playing his first 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner signed a one-year contract to chase a ring with the Los Angeles Rams. Wow, did that backfire. The Rams’ most memorable moment from last season was demolishing the pathetic Denver Broncos on Christmas Day.
Best Fit: Buffalo Bills. If Wagner is truly chasing a ring, what better team to join than the Bills. The Bills lost LB Tremaine Edmunds to the Bears earlier this offseason and are in need of a new man in the middle. Wagner could actually improve the Bills defense that took a step back in 2022. He posted a 90.7 PFF grade while playing for the Rams, and could be a cheap addition for a Bills team desperate for a championship.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.: Another former Ram that joined the team to chase a ring, but the difference is, Beckham Jr. actually got one. After tearing his ACL in the Rams’ Super Bowl win against the Bengals, Beckham spent the entire 2022-23 season rehabbing that injury. After being linked to the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings among other teams, he went unsigned and remains there to this day.
Best Fit: Minnesota Vikings. Hah. Yea, not only would I love Beckham to sign with the Vikings, he would actually fit in nicely with Kirk and the Boys. After losing Adam Thielen to the Panthers this offseason, the Vikings would be fine with K.J. Osborn as their number two receiver, but I would prefer if he was not. I love K.J. but I think he thrives as a no. four option behind Jefferson, Hockenson, and now Beckham. He has already played in coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense, not to mention he went to LSU. Come on now. He’s signing with us.
EDGE Jadeveon Clowney: What a career Clowney has had. Everyone remembers his iconic hit from when he played at South Carolina, but he has been kind of disappointing in the NFL, considering he was the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played last season with the Cleveland Browns, but I bet you didn’t even realize it. It remains cloudy for Clowney’s future, but he will be picked up.
Best Fit: Chicago Bears. As much as I hate to admit it, the Bears would actually be a great fit for Clowney. He has not earned the right to a long-term contract, and the Bears have cap space to give him a one or two year deal worth a considerable amount of money. He would also fill a hole for the Bears, who traded Robert Quinn at the trade deadline. For a young team trending in the right direction, Clowney would make a great addition to a Bears defense that should rebound in 2023.
WR D.J. Chark: Mikey, I know you’re going to love this one. The LSU product Chark broke out in 2019, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the Jaguars, but has not hit the thousand yard mark since. He played a solid role on an upstart Lions team in 2022, upping his value considerably. But I guess maybe he didn’t, considering he hasn’t found a team yet.
Best Fit: New England Patriots. Despite signing JuJu Smith Schuster, the Patriots still have a hole at WR. Kendrick Bourne seems to have fallen out of favor, Devante Parker is nothing special, and Tyquan Thornton didn’t show much in his rookie season. Enter Chark, who has shown that he can make plays and be a solid receiver. Mac Jones regressed significantly in 2022, so the Patriots should do everything in their power to help him return to the Pro Bowl caliber QB we saw in his rookie year.
CB Marcus Peters: At this point in his career, Peters is nothing more than a stopgap in the secondary. He has shown that he has first-team All-Pro talent, but it has been four years since he played a full season. He still has some gas left in the tank, and a team may be able to squeeze out one more productive season.
Best Fit: New York Giants. Why? Bobby McCain is expected to start alongside Adoree’ Jackson. That’s why. The Giants ranked 22nd in pass defense defense-adjusted over average last season, and have done nothing to address that yet this offseason. Peters would make the Giants cornerback room solid, as he and Jackson could hold down the boundary and let Darnay Holmes play his natural role in the slot. Even if he does sign back, they won’t be able to beat the Vikings again in the playoffs. I think.
Okay, I have to cut it off here, I would love to write about more, but my editor needs this story in right now. Skol.
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@my.smsu.edu
Header Photo: Guys Juice WRLD is dropping a song on Friday. Drop all of this football stuff, we have bigger things to focus on. (1075 The Fan)