NFL Best Free Agents Remaining: But Why Are They Here?

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

This year’s NFL Free Agency has been the best in NFL history, but the craziest part of all of this is that there are still elite players left as free agents right now. Players like Cam Newton, Jadeveon Clowney, and Everson Griffen still see their names on the market and not on a team. Here are the top 12 free agents, and our predictions for where they will go:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/DE

This one to me is actually mind-boggling considering his production. Now, to be fair, the Coronavirus pandemic has hurt the value of guys like Clowney, because the outside linebacker position was one that had an abundance of talent in this year’s NFL Draft, so teams could bank on a younger, cheaper player to develop and become a good linebacker. He was hurt last season and only played 13 games and only had 3 sacks, but he forced 4 fumbles, had his first interception and pick-6, deflected 3 passes, and had 13 QB hits, which is an average of 1 per game, which is pretty solid. The problem is that the idea of waiting a season and going for a small contract for this upcoming season, and then cashing out after next season is not as viable an option as it used to be due to the impacts of Coronavirus. That being said, Clowney is open to waiting for the summer to roll around and sign a big deal if it comes then.

Prediction: Jets Sign Clowney on 3-year, $52.5M deal, $39M Guaranteed

  1. Cam Newton, QB

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a few years ago, Cam Newton was coming off of a 15-1 MVP season, and a near Super Bowl victory. Now, Newton, having dealt with a few injuries, has been released by the Panthers and is now struggling to get a contract as even a backup for this upcoming season. Honestly, I think that Cam Newton is definitely starter material, but he just has to do his due diligence and wait it out this year and be a backup. Newton surely can still play at a starter level and play at a high level as well, I just do not see it being this season.

Prediction: Steelers Sign Newton on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal

  1. Everson Griffen, DE

Now this is a player who I understand why he is unsigned. 2 years ago, when the Vikings went to the NFC Championship Game, Griffin had 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. In the next 2 seasons combined, he has 13.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and no forced fumbles. The only number that has been near the same in 2017 is the QB hits, which he had 24 just this past season after 25 in 2017. Granted, in the 2018 season, Griffen did only play 11 games, so the stats look unusually low, but these past 2 seasons, Griffen’s low number of sacks really is costing him now come free agency time. 8.0+ sacks is something Griffen is used to doing, so seeing him now barely being able to get that is strange, and the health issues have not helped either. That being said, Griffen’s talent still warrants him getting a 1-year ‘prove-it’ deal, and then signing onto another deal of a bigger salary with the same or different team. 

Prediction: Seahawks Sign Griffen on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal to Replace Clowney

  1. Larry Warford, OG

Larry Warford was a surprise release a week ago by New Orleans, but a lot of it apparently had to do with the fact that he put on some weight and New Orleans did not like that it was happening during this offseason, so they let him go, and they also have a young, worthy replacement for him at Left Guard in Andrus Peat, who got a 5-year, $57.5M extension a few weeks back. Warford, despite the weight concerns, is still capable of being an elite left guard in the NFL.

Prediction: Warford Goes Back to Detroit, Signs with Lions on 3-Year Deal

  1. Jason Peters, OT

Jason Peters has been a monumental piece of the Philadelphia Eagles offense since 2009, protecting various NFL quarterbacks who achieved stardom through their years in Philly such as Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Carson Wentz. Jason Peters is a Super Bowl champion who is decorated with achievements such as being a 9x Pro Bowler, 2x First Team All-Pro, 4x Second Team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL 2010’s decade team is now at an older age of 38, but still has the fire to play into his 40s. He is currently a free agent coming off an average year at a price of $3.5 million, but is still holding strong communication with the Eagles and is being eyed on by the Broncos, Jets, and Browns as well, who all would perform much better with his veteran status.

Prediction: Peters re-signs with the Eagles to a 1-Year or 2-Year Deal

  1. Logan Ryan, CB

Logan Ryan is one of the NFL’s most elusive and underrated cornerbacks coming off an amazing season with the Tennessee Titans. The 29 year old is a sharp veteran, who has the ability to force turnovers and provide pass breakups during crucial plays. In 2019, finishing his contract with $9.5 million left for the year, Logan Ryan combined for 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 4 force fumbles. Teams that would benefit from Logan Ryan include the Dolphins, Eagles and Jets. Logan Ryan has commented about the Jet’s interest in him and how signing with the team he shared practiced fields with in college would make sense for him, but he is adament that he wants to sign with a “contender.”

Prediction: The South Jersey native signs with the Eagles to a 1-year Deal

  1. Carlos Hyde, RB

Carlos Hyde is one of the best players from the 2014 NFL Draft and also one of the best running backs to play the game in his time so far. After another 1000 yard season, this time with the Houston Texans (Carlos Hyde has jumped over a lot!), the free agent running back is looking for another team to call home for the 2020 season. After rejecting the Texan’s offer, Hyde sees interest coming from the Philadelphia Eagles, who need a veteran running back to mentor Miles Sanders. I don’t really see other teams very interested in him and there is major competition between three running backs to sign with the Eagles.

Prediction: Hyde stays a FA into the start of the season or signs a small deal with a rebuilding team

  1. Markus Golden, LB

Markus Golden is one of the NFL’s most underrated 3-4 edge rushers coming off a good season with the New York Giants. Last year, playing all 16 games, Golden acquired 72 tackles, 10 sacks, a force fumble and 1 defensive touchdown. When Markus Golden is healthy, he poses as a legitimate threat to any offense and will finish every season with double-digit sacks to his name. As of now, the Giants and Lions see interest in signing the electric edge rusher. 

Prediction: Markus Golden signs a 3-year deal with the Lions, fixing up that faulty pass rush

  1. Taylor Gabriel, WR

Gabriel is seen as a speedy playmaker but did not live up to the hype in Chicago. In two seasons with the Bears, Gabriel managed just 96 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. He also dealt with concussions and as a result Chicago released him to clear cap space. However, he is currently the top option on the WR market because he is still a talented player and has the speed to hurt defenses deep. He could be very serviceable to a team that needs a deep threat to complement their best receiver. 

Prediction: Gabriel signs a 1-year deal with the Packers to help stretch the field

  1. Cordy Glenn, OT

Cordy Glenn has been a solid player for the majority of his career. He is 30 years old and could be a great veteran presence for a team looking for a tackle. However, his 2019 season was suspect as he only played 6 games and had a tumultuous relationship with the Bengals which led to his release. He was suspended by the team at one point for “internal disciplinary reasons” and dealt with concussions which probably explains why he has not been signed yet. I can definitely see a team taking a gamble on him though because he was great when he played and is a serviceable starter. 

Prediction: Glenn signs a 1-year deal with the Vikings

  1. Mike Daniels, DT

Mike Daniels is coming off an injury-plagued season with Detroit. He played nine games due to foot and arm injuries and finished with nine tackles and just 1 sack. It is clear that he is not the player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful player. Before signing with the Lions, Daniels was one of the Packers best defensive players and an emotional leader. He can help mentor younger players, provide some solid IDL depth, and help stuff the run. 

Prediction: Daniels signs a 1-year vet min deal with the Cowboys and reunites with Mike McCarthy

  1. Delanie Walker, TE

Delanie Walker is another player who has been dealing with different injuries the past few seasons and was cut by the Titans due to the rise of young tight end Jonnu Smith. Walker has had a lot of success with Tennessee however and was the greatest tight end to ever play for them. He is 36 and is entering his 15th season in the NFL but I think he still has some left in the tank. He has always been productive for Tennessee when healthy and can provide endless options as a receiver and a blocker to change an offense. He could bring some good value to a team with a young tight end group.

Prediction: Walker signs a 1-year deal with the Patriots to help mentor Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi

2020 NFL Playoff Predictions: Who Wins the NFC East, and Who Can Beat Baltimore?

The 2020 NFL Playoffs are soon to commence, with many of last year’s better teams are fighting for better playoffs spots, such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, those fighting for dear life just to make the playoffs like the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams, and newcomers like the Buffalo Bills. In what has been one of the most interesting years for playoff races, here are my predictions for who makes it and what damage those teams could do:

Who Takes the NFC East?

Remember when Dallas started 3-0 after beating the Miami Dolphins and people thought they could win the Super Bowl? Well, whoever actually said and believed that might not have a job by the end of this year, because beating the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Miami Dolphins, teams that will have 3 of the top 4 draft picks come this May, is not an accomplishment. In fact, since then, they have only beaten one team that is .500 or over, which was last week against the Rams.

The Philadelphia Eagles, on the other hand, at one point looked like a team that had no chance of making the playoffs, first when they were 3-4 following blowout losses to Minnesota and Dallas, and then just 3 weeks ago, when they lost at Miami as part of their 3-game losing streak. Now, sure, the Eagles have lost every offensive weapon possible at some point during the season aside from their QB Carson Wentz, have had no secondary to work with all year, and have had play-calling and locker room issues. Yet despite all that constant adversity being faced, they sit here 7-7 with a home date this Sunday evening against Dallas, where the winner takes the East (if Dallas wins they will be guaranteed the East, while Philadelphia, although very unlikely they don’t win, need a bit to go in their favor).

In the division that has been the laughingstock of the NFL this year, one must make the playoffs and then prove that they are worthy of being there. The past two weeks, Philadelphia has looked like they have figured things out, with a new two-headed monster in the backfield with rookies Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, new wide receivers like Greg Ward stepping up and filling the voids at that position, and the defense finally being healthy, Philadelphia looks like a team who, while they may not make a playoff run, they look like a team that can give a fight. This Sunday, Philadelphia takes the win and division.

The 6-Seed Battles, Who Takes Which?

Currently, the NFC’s 6-seed is the Minnesota Vikings and the AFC’s 6-seed is the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Minnesota’s remaining schedule being at home against the Green Bay Packers, and at Chicago to play the Bears. Pittsburgh gets the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, both road games. If the Steelers were to lose one game, which would be the Ravens game, and the Tennessee Titan were to win one out of the two games remaining for them (they are at New Orleans and at Houston), then they would take the spot of the Steelers.

For Minnesota, if they lose out, and the Rams win out (they are at San Francisco and then at home against the Cardinals), then they would take the 6-seed. Aside from that, no scenarios seem very interesting to me. Pittsburgh will split their last two games, yet will keep the 6-seed, as I do not see the Titans beating either New Orleans or Houston. As for Minnesota, neither game is easy, as Green Bay could potentially be the 1-seed in the NFC, and the Bears are no cakewalk either considering how well their offense has played lately. Also, I see LA beating both San Fran and Arizona and seeing their way into the playoffs.

Who Can Challenge Baltimore?

In the preseason, I said that the Super Bowl would be Kansas City and New Orleans. While New Orleans looks like they are the favorites in the NFC (don’t count out the Packers, however), Baltimore is the CLEAR favorite to make the Super Bowl. All that being said, however, I still believe in Kansas City.

The early season challenges of not having a solid run game, and having a lack of weapons outside of Travis Kelce, have been fixed. The defense has stepped up mightily since last season, Mahomes has found his MVP-touch again, and the run game is getting back in shape, as LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams are picking up the slack. The Chiefs have also fixed their biggest flaw from last season, which was taking time off the clock on offense. The Chiefs were one of those teams that scored very quick touchdowns late in games, but then would set the opposing offense with too much time to score and run out the clock. This year, however, they have gone with more of a balanced attack which has allowed them to keep wins late in games. Come playoff time, that, along with the experience in favor of the Chiefs, is enough for me to believe that they present a challenge to Lamar Jackson and Co. and go to the Super Bowl. Don’t count them out.

The AFC Playoff Predictions: After Week 17

The AFC has had many surprises which you won’t even believe would have happened even before the season started. Here is what I think will happen after Week 17.

Number 1: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are winners of 11 straight games. They are led by 4-time MVP Peyton Manning. Another key part of their success has been Eric Decker becoming Manning’s favorite target, and Von Miller and Co. getting some big stops on D. There is no one stopping ‘em now. Though, they will lose in the Divisional Round to the Colts 34-31.

Number 2: New England Patriots

The Patriots had a strong offseason after losing the Super Bowl, making Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley great replacements for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They also got former Pat Jabar Gaffney, and Brandon Lloyd, who have had great seasons. They will lose to the Colts in the Divisional Round 31-29.

Number 3: Houston Texans

Houston has had the best season ever as a team. Arian Foster has improved, and Matt Schaub has played better than ever. On the D, JJ Watt is having a MVP-caliber season. This combo of offense and defense has made the Texans the most dangerous team in the NFL. They will lose to the Bengals in the Wild Card Round 31-10.

Number 4: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were the number 2 seed, then lost to the Steelers in OT 23-20, and the Redskins in OT 31-28. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are aging, and Lewis is injured. Terrell Suggs hasn’t been able to lead the team on a struggling D, though Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb is a shut-down corner. Joe Flacco has had an all-over-the-place-styled-season. Ray Rice had carried this team to some big wins early in the season. They will lose to the Colts in the Wild Card Round 44-20.

Number 5: Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck has made the Colts forget about Peyton Manning, and also, he is playing just like Manning, leading his team to huge come-from-behind wins in the 4th quarter. Rookie Wide Receivers T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery have had spectacular seasons. Reggie Wayne had been criticized and many said he was to old to lead the team and play as Andrew Luck’s go-to guy, though he changed that this season. Former Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Corey Redding was signed to a $10.5 million dollar contract, and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have had some great seasons leading this always-brilliant D. They will make it to the Super Bowl, though lose 38-26.

Number 6: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were the 6th seed last year, and will repeat that same result. Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and AJ Green have had great seasons. They will lose in the Divisional Round to the Broncos 38-33.