The NFL regular season has put a lid on. The stats are done and analyzing begins soon. Yet, before I dive into countless articles about 2017 stats and what trends stood out. I’m going to do an entertaining, prediction article. We’re less than 70 days away until March 14th. The day the new season opens and the frenzy of free agents are whirled around.
If there is anything I hate more than raisins in this world, it’s when players re-sign. I live to see the greats in multiple uniforms. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the players who stay on one team their whole career like Brady, Jeter, Yzerman and Kobe. Be that as it may, the excitement for the beginning of a new football season is comparable to Christmas morning for me in my younger years.
Last year did not disappoint with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and a plethora of players changing colors. It’s always some of the most exciting hours in football. Your mind starts racing with the possibilities for your favorite team. Your mind goes wild thinking of how offenses will shine with their shiny new toys.
So in this article I’m going to predict some of the top skill position free agents, who could be hitting the open market in 2018. I won’t predict any player to re-sign with the team they played for in 2017.
QB Kirk Cousins: New York Jets
Kirk Cousins has been held in Washington on a franchise tag for two consecutive years. If he is finally allowed to roam the open market, he may find a perfect match in New York. The Jets have the fourth most salary cap space. They’ll be looking to bring in a few high priced players. The Jets are in need of a quarterback that can win and manage a game. Cousins will be looking for a pay day and a team that is on the up and up. This seems to be a perfect match.
QB Case Keenum: Denver Broncos
The breakout player of the year and arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the playoffs this year, will be looking for a decent paycheck this offseason. Keenum is still young and will probably be pursued very heavily by his 2017 team, the Minnesota Vikings. However, in this article no player is allowed to re-sign.
The second big name quarterback to leave the NFC will be Keenum as he gets a nice-sized contract from John Elway. Denver is still an elite team, with a gaping hole at quarterback. Paxton Lynch isn’t working out and Trevor Siemian just isn’t the player Denver had hoped. Signing Keenum would give this offense a newly needed spark.
QB Sam Bradford: Washington Redskins
Sam Bradford has had a tough time staying healthy in his NFL tenure. Yet, when he does he’s shown the ability to perform at an elite level. Bradford had the Vikings rolling this season before he went down with an injury.
It’d be odd if the Vikings didn’t re-sign either of their quarterbacks, but if they decide to let Bradford sign elsewhere and Cousins has left for the Big Apple, Washington will be looking to spend some of their $51 million on a signal caller that can get them to the postseason now.
RB Le’Veon Bell: Houston Texans
It’s going to be the biggest story leading up to Bell putting ink to paper. Where will Bell end up? The Steelers have the third lowest cap space available for this offseason ($2,468,048). Bell will be looking for a big pay day, deservingly so. He’s been one of, if not the best running back for the past four years.
There are some off-the-field issues and the realistic knowledge that Bell plays one of the toughest positions. Spending a majority of your team’s money will be risky on a running back. Houston has the seventh most cap space to spend and is showing major signs of phasing Lamar Miller out. They have an explosive, up and coming team with a great, young quarterback and the league’s best receiver. It will be a great fit for Bell.
RB Carlos Hyde: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin looks awful and the Buccaneers see it. Peyton Barber showed some glimpses that he could potentially be a good running back. I don’t think they will sit with just Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers on their roster.
Tampa Bay has the fifth most cap space available this year and they have shown they will make a major splash on day one when they signed DeSean Jackson on the first day last season. They’ll need to do it again this season and hope they can get their team on the path we all know they’re capable of being on.
RB Dion Lewis: Indianapolis Colts
Coming into the 2017 season with seemingly the longest odds to be the starter for New England, Dion Lewis put his head down and came to work every day. Lewis got his chance and ran away with it. Proving to be a viable starter in the NFL, he will be looking to be an every down player on a team that can afford to pay him.
Indianapolis has the league’s third most money to spend and will be trying to replace Frank Gore, I assume. The Colts will be hoping to get Andrew Luck back which will open holes for the running game. Lewis will be put in a good position in Indy and I think he will do a lot of damage there.
WR Jarvis Landry: San Francisco 49ers
The Dolphins have just under $9 million of open cap space to spend and I don’t foresee them spending it on Landry. So then it’ll turn into an all-out bidding war for the possession receiver.
The 49ers have the most money to spend with a new, undefeated as a starter, quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. They have a very good deep threat in Goodwin and still have an effective Pierre Garcon. Landry will fit this team’s mold just right. The Jimmy GQ to Landry connection will become deadly.
WR Allen Robinson: Washington Redskins
In this scenario the Redskins no longer have Cousins, but did reach to get Bradford and are now bringing in the final piece of their puzzle. Allen Robinson brings instant WR1 ability with Terrelle Pryor not working out, along with Josh Doctson not living up to potential.
The Redskins, who never seem scared to spend their money, will go drop top dollars to sign Robinson to a long-term deal. The Redskins will look drastically different, but improving themselves at the receiver position is a must target this offseason.
WR Sammy Watkins: New York Jets
Sammy Watkins was traded during his final year of his contract. Los Angeles knew that going into the trade, but thought it’d be a good idea to bring him in for a year trial run per say. With almost $50 million to spend, the Rams will do their best to keep the young speedster. Yet, in my world, you can’t resign. So Watkins will look to go back to the AFC East and go join Kirk Cousins in New York.
We saw how Cousins played with the speedster, DeSean Jackson, and with receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, defenders won’t be able to double Sammy all the time. The Jets are looking to overhaul, and with the amount of money they have going into this offseason, it seems like now is the best time to go for it.