In what could be the most unpredictable and fun NFL free agency in years, it’s impossible to guess where some of the biggest stars may land. Teams can contact and negotiate with players starting Monday. Here are our predictions, which, like all sports predictions anyone makes, are certain to be wrong.
Le’Veon Bell, RB – Indianapolis Colts. As well as the Colts offense run this year, relying heavy on the tight ends and a hodgepodge of running backs, it was exposed in the playoffs vs Kansas City. Unable to move the ball, they badly needed an electric talent. The addition of Bell would entice me to toss down some futures Super Bowl money on Indianapolis. Darkhorse: Tampa Bay Bucs. Imagine if Bruce Arians did for Bell what he did for David Johnson.
Trey Flowers, DE – Indianapolis Colts. It’ll be interesting to see how the Colts spend their money, because they have a ton of draft picks, and don’t have room on a talented roster. Flowers gives immediate help on the edge, and potentially in the playoffs, a chance for payback against the Patriots. Darkhorse: NY Jets. We know they need pass-rushers, and they’d love to tweak the Patriots, but at the same time, do they really want a guy Bill Belichick wouldn’t sign?
Earl Thomas, Safety – San Francisco 49ers. Could Richard Sherman sell him on staying in the division? San Francisco is definitely going to be interesting next year, given the cap room, high draft pick, and starters back from injury. Darkhorse: Dallas Cowboys. It seems too obvious, though there doesn’t seem to be a logical path financially, especially after the unexpected Jason Witten move. Unless Thomas is willing to play at a discount.
Nick Foles, QB – Jacksonville. Seems like a formality, as a report from Philadelphia said the Super Bowl-winning QB will sign there. Problem is, it’s a massive downgrade in talent at every position Foles is working with (OL, WR, TE, RB, etc). Darkhorse: Washington Redskins: Jay Gruden could do some things with him in Washington. Plus division familiarity. But I’d imagine the Eagles wouldn’t cut him loose if they knew Washington was an option.
Landon Collins, Safety – Washington Redskins. Staying in the division would certainly be fun, and remember, the Redskins cut their thumper, DJ Swearinger, in December. A combination of Collins and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, assuming he’s retained, is certainly good on paper. Darkhorse: Tampa Bay Bucs. The worst secondary in the NFL could certainly use a leader.
Dante Fowler, edge rusher – Jets. New York needs a pass rusher badly – both NY teams do, actually – and Fowler had a strong season with the Rams. Are his locker room issues in Jacksonville behind him? Darkhorse: Indianapolis Colts.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB – Miami Dolphins. Florida guy who is only 26 feels like a safe QB choice assuming the Ryan Tannehill era is over in Miami. Even if Bridgewater isn’t 100% healthy, he’s a stopgap anyway, until the Dolphins spend a Top 5 pick next year on a QB. Darkhorse: Tennessee, where Marcus Mariota hasn’t stayed healthy for all 16 games in any season, and has only 24 touchdowns to 23 interceptions over the last two years on a team ready to contend for the playoffs. If the price drops enough on Bridgewater, going to Tennessee–where they have had Matt Cassel and Blaine Gabbert start recently–makes sense.
CJ Mosley, linebacker – Oakland Raiders. Lots of cap room plus no leader on defense, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Darkhorse: Baltimore Ravens. Really depends if he feels disrespected with the Ravens first offer.
Anthony Barr, OLB – Baltimore Ravens. The #4 DVOA defense has lost safety Eric Weddle, and may lose CB Jimmy Smith and LB CJ Mosley. With Terrell Suggs turning 37 in October, the idea of Barr rushing the passer with Za’Darius Smith (8.5 sacks) and Matt Judon (7 sacks) is enticing. Darkhorse: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers would certainly love it.
Sheldon Richardson, DL – Tampa Bay Bucs. Richardson was a first round pick who had a dominant start to his career, but let it all go to his head and he’s bounced around to Seattle and Minnesota since. Is he the replacement for 31-year old Gerald McCoy? Darkhorse: Kansas City Chiefs.
Tevin Coleman, RB – New York Jets. In the event the Jets don’t go after Le’Veon Bell – and I’ve written they don’t necessarily need him – Coleman makes sense in a 2-back system. Adam Gase turned Kenyan Drake into a machine last year in Miami; he might do the same for Coleman. And Coleman would save them money to spend elsewhere (OL, DE). Darkhorse: Jacksonville Jaguars, who remember, ended last year beefing with Leonard Fournette.