NFL free agents who could get more money than you think


While the NFL world awaits the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes and the destinations of notable names such as Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Graham, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins and Malcolm Butler, here's a look at some of the lower-profile free agents who seem destined to get paid more than you might think, based on conversations I've had this week with team executives and people familiar with the 2018 free-agent marketplace:

Chase Daniel, quarterback

Daniel, 31, has started two games over nine NFL seasons ... and made more than $24 million. He probably won't get the $7 million per year he received from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016, but Daniel might come close. Plenty of teams need veteran backups behind young QBs -- including two with obvious connections to him, in Kansas City and Chicago.

Paul Richardson, wide receiver

Richardson has battled injuries and never topped 44 catches in a season. But he's still just 25 years old and is a speed threat when healthy. That has value. All the top receivers available (Watkins, Robinson, Terrelle Pryor, et al.) are out there for a reason. Don't be surprised if Richardson's market takes him to $8 million a year or beyond.

Trey Burton and Darren Fells, tight end

Burton, 26, is best known at this point for throwing the "Philly Special" touchdown pass in Super Bowl LII. But his receiving ability makes him a commodity, even with relatively limited action in four seasons with the Eagles. He could command $7 million to $8 million a year. Fells, 31, won't reach that amount, but his blocking ability figures to pay off for $4 million-plus. (Remember, Dion Sims signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Bears last March.)

Ryan Jensen and Weston Richburg, center

Andrew Norwell is set to be the big prize among interior linemen, perhaps receiving in the neighborhood of Kevin Zeitler's five-year, $60 million megadeal from a year ago. But don't sleep on Jensen, 26, who could become one of the NFL's highest-paid centers -- in the range of $7 million to $9 million per year -- after only one year as a starter. Richburg, also 26, finished last season on IR because of a concussion, but has said he was cleared in December (and missed only one career game before it). He could reach the $7 million range, too, if teams are comfortable with his health.

Preston Brown and Avery Williamson, linebacker

They're different players, so the pecking order depends on who you ask, but it's a short list of available quality linebackers. Brown and Williamson are still young (25 and 26, respectively), have been durable and productive, and could earn $7 million per year -- if not more.

A whole bunch of cornerbacks

Richard Sherman's release enhances the name recognition at corner, but there's already a lot of talent and depth at at the position. Trumaine Johnson is believed to be headed for $14 million to $15 million a year, and Rashaan Melvin is targeting eight figures, too. Prince Amukamara, E.J. Gaines and slot man Aaron Colvin all figure to land in the $6 million to $9 million range. If you can cover, you can get paid.

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.



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