Around the NFL  

 

Best team fits for notable remaining free agents

Print

The best players available in this year's free agency period are mostly long gone. Just one week after the gates officially opened to untold riches and hype, only four of the original top-30 free agents on our big board remain available.

That number will continue to dwindle in the coming days as teams look for bargains, with some intriguing names still yet to find a home. Below is a look at the best fits left for some of the most compelling free agents still on the market:

Adrian Peterson, running back

This isn't going as planned. After waiting 10 seasons for freedom, Peterson expected to be wined and dined like an all-time great. He and his father publicly listed places he'd like to go to, as if they'd be handing out roses for teams lucky to catch his eye. The rest of the NFL has responded by treating the seven-time Pro Bowler like every other running back over 30.

Aside from a visit to Seattle, Peterson has appeared to receive precious little interest from teams. The Seahawks signed Eddie Lacy instead, and I suspect cost was the primary reason why. The Vikings reportedly were ready to pay Peterson a competitive salary, but they moved on to Latavius Murray after Peterson's situation dragged out and Peterson's father dragged the team's offensive line.

Peterson rightly sees himself as a legend who led the league in rushing in 2015, the last time he was healthy. Teams can't be faulted, however, for seeing a guy who turns 32 years old next week and doesn't help on passing downs. Traditional "running down" backs like Peterson who want the ball 25 times per game -- without providing pass-catching savvy -- are getting phased out.

Peterson has value if he adjusts his expectations. Perhaps teams like the Bucs, Packers or Raiders will be willing to take a chance if he embraces being a role player and the salary that comes with it: $5 million or less. Tampa would be a particularly intriguing offense. Coach Dirk Koetter loves power running between the tackles and Peterson would round out a star-studded supporting cast around Jameis Winston.

BEST FIT: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback

Robert Griffin III's career might be over. Kaepernick, on the other hand, deserves another chance at a backup job after some positive moments as a starter in San Francisco. The silence surrounding Kaepernick's free agency doesn't require a conspiracy theory of some "blacklist." This is how second- and third-tier free agents get handled. (Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith silently nod somewhere.)

Kaepernick is not a natural fit in every system. It's hard to see him ever joining Bill O'Brien's quarterback room in Houston, for example. The Broncos showed interest in Kaepernick at this stage last year, but he wasn't willing to take a pay cut to join them. While Denver looks out of the picture now, the Broncos' old coordinator, Rick Dennison, is running the offense in Buffalo. Kaepernick would make sense as a backup to Tyrod Taylor. Then again, so would former Dennison pupil Brock Osweiler, if the Browns release him. The previous two sentences would have blown my mind in 2013.

BEST FIT: Buffalo Bills

Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle

NFL fans don't know Hankins well after his first four years in the league, but it's surprising to see NFL teams share the apathy. The defensive tackle market has been slow to develop throughout free agency, with Dontari Poe also still available and Bennie Logan not signing a contract until Monday. Turning 25 years old at the end of the month, Hankins boasts impressive upside and experience as a three-year starter for the Giants. How many 320-pound run stuffers have a seven-sack season on their résumé?

Our No. 3 free agent still available, Hankins has generated suboptimal buzz. He looks destined to wind up on a short-term deal with a team looking for value. The Falcons, Colts, Dolphins and Packers should be in the market for a defensive tackle like Hankins, with the first three teams meeting with Poe. The Colts already have shown an eye for value early in free agency. Getting Hankins at a discount rate would make a lot of sense.

BEST FIT: Indianapolis Colts

Jamaal Charles, running back

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Charles has been forced to wait to find a serious suitor. He's scheduled to meet with the Seahawks even after the team signed Eddie Lacy, which sounds like a date Pete Carroll was too polite to cancel.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported before free agency that Charles' primary objective was to sign with a Super Bowl contender. Two AFC teams come to mind. The Steelers extracted great value from DeAngelo Williams after he turned 30 and could use a backup to Le'Veon Bell. The Broncos have questions in the backfield because of injuries to C.J. Anderson and the shaky rookie season of Devontae Booker. Charles might have to rely on his vision and patience to wait out the right opportunity. Teams may not want to sign him until after seeing how April's draft, with its loaded class of running backs, pans out.

BEST FIT: Denver Broncos

Chase Daniel, quarterback

Four years after one of the silliest "Making the Leap" articles ever, could Chase Montana finally get a chance to start?

"I believe I'm a starter in this league," Daniel told WIP in Philadelphia after requesting his release last week.

Daniel's rough preseason last year helped torpedo his chances of starting with the Eagles and could diminish interest this time around. Realistically, only the Browns and Jets have jobs available. It wouldn't be surprising if the best offer for Daniel comes from his old friends in New Orleans, where the Saints need a backup for Drew Brees. But that wouldn't be any fun. That's why he should jump at any interest from the Jets, who could provide a true chance to start. Be careful what you wish for.

BEST FIT: New York Jets

Print

Fan Discussion