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.
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.
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.