The ongoing pandemic has made it quite tricky for most sports leagues. The NBA was stopped in the middle of its season and MLB couldn’t finish its spring training. With that said, the NFL has shown that it can succeed after their successful online draft.
The football season continues to march forward as it always does. After the draft is always the best time for free agents to sign. So far, the top surprising moves include Jameis Winston going to New Orleans and Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady to Tampa Bay. However, there are still a bunch of free agents left on the market who could very well contribute and start for contending teams.
Here are five to keep an eye on in the following weeks.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Flacco, Eric Reid, Darqueze Dennard, Kelvin Beachum, Damon Harrison, and Mike Daniels
While these players are notable names on the market, they aren’t quite as impactful as their free agent peers.
No. 5: Logan Ryan (Cornerback)
Logan Ryan is coming off a spectacular season with the Tennessee Titans. He notched four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and a career-high 4.5 sacks. His 2019 season was capped off by a pick-six on Tom Brady to send the Titans to the AFC championship game.
Ryan and the Titans had no mutual interest in partnering with one another. The seven-year veteran said, “Tennessee really never offered me a contract. They never really talked extension or free agency. They never really tried to bring me back.”
At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Ryan has shown he is one of the most versatile corners in the game. He has displayed his skill as a blitzer, run defender, and a good coverage man.
As far as destinations, Ryan might be headed to the Big Apple after multiple reports suggested the New York Jets were close to signing him to a one-year deal.
No. 4: Everson Griffen (Defensive End)
Everson Griffen had a bit of decline this past season in comparison to his 2017 season as he had fewer tackles and sacks.
However, going into his 11th season, Griffen can disrupt in the pocket. While he did have fewer sacks, he still managed to bring down a quarterback eight times this past season. He even managed to snag an interception so the talent and tenacity is certainly still there.
The now-former Minnesota Viking never got to agree to a deal because his team was constrained by the salary cap. Griffen was apparently looking for $8 million to $10 million for his services which could be a reason why he has yet to sign.
The Pro Bowler has been linked mostly to the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is in need for defensive depth so it makes sense for both parties. Plus, Griffen played for Pete Carroll in his collegiate days at USC.
No. 3: Larry Warford (Guard)
A three time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints, Larry Warford is the best guard on the market. The former Saint is a menace when it comes to defending his runners, not to mention the fact that he is only 28 years of age with more than a couple of years left as a player. It’s crazy to think that he might not even hit his prime just yet.
Warford was recently released by the Saints. This could very well be because of his hefty contract. Regardless, you don’t make three Pro Bowls by accident.
Any team that signs Warford is massively upgrading their run game. While he has his struggles protecting the pass, Warford is an experienced player with a lot of meaningful games in his short career so far.
No. 2: Jadeveon Clowney (Defensive End)
Prior to entering the NFL, Clowney was one of the most hyped high school prospect simply because of how dominant he looked. This led to three years in college before being picked first by the Houston Texans.
As a Texan, Clowney was named to three Pro Bowls, a Second-Team All-Pro, and one of the best pass rushers in the game.
One major reason as to why he is still a free agent is his injury concerns. Clowney just had surgery to repair a core muscle injury following the season. Signing a player who is easily worth more than $15 million should come with the insurance that he can play a full season.
As far as destinations go, there are plenty on the market. The Seahawks could very well re-sign him at the right price but there are dark horses to consider like the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and even the surging Indianapolis Colts.
No. 1: Cam Newton (Quarterback)
The only skill position player on this list, Cam Newton is desperately looking for a new home. The former MVP has surprisingly not found one yet. With quarterbacks like Jameis Winston, Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Marcus Mariota making moves to different teams, you have to wonder what the market is for a former MVP like Newton.
Of course, nobody can act all that surprised since the former Carolina Panther has been riddled with injuries these past years. A surgery to repair his throwing shoulder and a Lisfranc injury in the preseason was more than enough to scare teams away.
A normal player would have found themselves retiring under these circumstances. However, Newton is not a normal player. The 6-foot-4 quarterback has repeatedly said he feels healthy and that the injury should be healed come the regular season.
There are a handful of teams that could use Newton. The Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles but they could still be in contention. The Los Angeles Chargers could also benefit from him until Justin Herbert is ready to start. However, there is one team that makes perfect sense for him: New England.