Predicting NFL Free Agency

It’s that time of the year again. While everyone is filling out their brackets and arguing about snubs, the NFL is about to have the biggest off-season in recent memory. This is probably the most stacked free agency period I’ve seen and there are several high impact future signings that will shape teams run to a potential championship. Trying to predict things may be a fools errand, but it’s something I can’t seem to get away from, so here we go.

Quarterbacks

Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints

Brees hits the market for the 2nd time in his career, but even with the Vikings calling, I can’t realistically sit here and think that Brees is going to leave New Orleanse

Prediction: Brees stays in New Orleans on a 3 year deal

Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins

Cousins fate with the Redskins was sealed after they traded for Alex Smith, and with plenty of suitors it’s tough to pick the right team. We know the Vikings and Jets are the top two teams in the running, it’s just about whether Kirk wants the biggest pay day, or an easier shot at winning a Super Bowl.

Prediction: Kirk Cousins signs with the Minnesota Vikings on a 3 year deal, with the highest percentage of guaranteed money in NFL history.

Case Keenum – Minnesota Vikings

Keenum went on one of the more improbable runs of recent memory, helping the Vikings get to the NFC Championship game only to lose to the Eagles. Everyone will be waiting on the Cousins domino to fall, but no one more than Keenum. I’m sure Keenum’s first choice would be to head back to Minnesota, but if they land Cousins, I predict he’ll find himself in a similar situation. Where all he has to be is good enough, and if he makes a few plays, his star wide receivers and elite defense can help carry the team to a Super Bowl appearance.

Prediction: After Cousins signs with the Vikings, Case Keenum signs with the Denver Broncos.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter reports that Case Keenum intends to sign with the Denver Broncos when free agency opens Wednesday March 14th.

Sam Bradford – Minnesota Vikings

We’ve all seen that Bradford has the talent, but it’s his health that’s held him back in his career. At this point he’ll be seen as a bridge starter, or one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league.

Prediction: Sam Bradford signs with Buffalo, as the bridge starter to their future first round rookie quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are still very high on Bridgewater, but the gruesome knee injury he suffered almost 2 years ago is still a huge question mark. I imagine he’s done in Minnesota, and heads somewhere where he can compete for a starting job.

Prediction: Bridgewater signs with the Arizona Cardinals

AJ McCarron – Cincinnati Bengals

McCarron won his arbitration deal so he could become an unrestricted free agent. Like Bridgwater, he’ll sign somewhere where he can compete for a starting job. I think he’ll sign with a team that also drafts someone in the first round, similar to what the Seahawks did with Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson.

Prediction: McCarron signs with the New York Jets

Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends

Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars

The top weapon on the market, I think he ends up leaving the Jaguars for a quarterback upgrade, and a team with a whole lot of cash to spend.

Prediction: Robinson leaves the Jaguars, signs with the San Francisco 49ers

Sammy Watkins – Los Angeles Rams

Maybe the most frustrating WR in the league, Watkins has shown the capability of a #1 receiver, but injuries and inconsistency have plagued him so far in his young career. I think he’s the guy that gets a 1 year show-me type deal, similar to what Alshon Jeffery got last year.

Prediction: Watkins signs with the Chicago Bears

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks

Early reports have come out that he’s unlikely to return to Seattle despite the requests of Russell Wilson. And the top two suitors for him are the New Orleans Saints and the newly aggressive Green Bay Packers. Even though Aaron Rodgers has been reportedly

Prediction: Jimmy Graham goes back where it started, signs with the New Orleans Saints

Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers

Running backs are about as hard a market to find in this day and age with so many coming out of the blue. Hyde won’t get a big deal, or a long deal due to his injury history, despite his obvious talents.

Prediction: Hyde resigns with the 49ers

DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans

Recently released by the Titans, I expect Murray to have a strong market, even though I also expect him to be on his last legs because of the heavy workload the last few seasons.

Prediction: DeMarco Murray signs with the Detroit Lions

Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Similar to Sammy Watkins, Martin is as on again, off again as they come for running backs. He was really bad this last year, so chances are he has a great year, that seems to be his thing.

Prediction: Martin heads west, signs with the Oakland Raiders

Adrian Peterson – Arizona Cardinals

Unfortunately, I think Peterson is just about done in the NFL. He had a good first game with Arizona last year, but he really tailed off afterwards. If he gets picked up at all I think it’s sometime during the preseason, so I’ll throw out a team that he’s always wanted to play for, and one that loves to make a splash.

Prediction: Market is dry for Peterson, but signs with the Dallas Cowboys for a preseason tryout.

Defense

Ndomukong Suh – Miami Dolphins

Make no doubt about it, he’s the biggest defensive name now on the market. He’s expected to be released so the Dolphins don’t have to have his $28M hit on the cap. I do expect the money to be big for him once again, and he’ll demand it as it’s likely his last big contract at the age of 31.

Prediction: Suh is the latest big splash signing of the Cleveland Browns

Malcolm Butler – New England Patriots

After what happened in the Super Bowl, we can all assume that his time in New England is done. There will be no shortage of suitors though. He’ll push for a contract similar to what AJ Bouye got from the Jaguars last year, but it’s likely he’ll get significantly less, due to the SB issue and his somewhat down year.

Prediction: Butler signs with the Cleveland Browns

Trumaine Johnson – Los Angeles Rams

Was the Rams #1 corner until they went and traded for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. He’ll have plenty of suitors, but I don’t think he’ll get the type of contract he’s looking for. Might take a while for him to sign if he expects to get a yearly salary close to the franchise tag he got the last two seasons.

Prediction: Johnson signs with the Green Bay Packers

Muhammad Wilkerson – New York Jets

Was cut by the Jets recently and has made a few visits already. He should get a pretty good contract because he’s a very talented pass rusher. He might be the biggest impact defensive signing of the summer.

Prediction: Wilkerson stays in the AFC, signs with the Kansas City Chiefs

Dontari Poe – Atlanta Falcons

The athletic freak signed with the Falcons after the Chiefs for some reason let him walk. He was productive once again, and I think he’ll get a long term deal this time around for a team needing help on the inside.

Prediction: Poe heads northeast, signs with the Buffalo Bills

There are many more free agents on the market this year, but these are the top ones I think you should keep an eye on. It’s a great time of the year, and I hope you have fun refreshing Adam Schefter’s Twitter feed.

What do you think will happen in free agency? Let’s start a conversation on Twitter @AFewGoodMics, @thomas_mooney1

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