Projecting the Best NFL Player-Team Fits Remaining on the Free-Agent Market
Free agency has been in full swing for over 48 hours now and there has already been a flurry of activity. Starting on Tuesday, big names have been signed and taken off the open market quickly.
Some teams have been very active early on, while others sit back and wait for a chance to strike. The teams that have not been active are looking for players that can fill a role at a value that they deem worthy.
There is still plenty of talent left in free agency as activity continues throughout the NFL. However, which teams are best suited to lure one of these remaining free agents off the market?
Certain factors need to be in place for this to happen. To lure in a potential free agent at this point, there must be some allure to the player, as well as a good fit for him with the team.
Without further ado, let's break down eight of the best player-team fits remaining in the free-agent market.
Justin Forsett: Oakland Raiders
In three of his four years in the league, Forsett has averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry. He is not a touchdown machine but makes for a great change-of-pace back. Also, Forsett has very fresh legs with only 341 carries in his NFL career.
In Oakland, Forsett would be in a backup role behind Darren McFadden. McFadden is no stranger to injury, which is why it should be important to the Raiders to sign a back that could fill in with success.
Forsett has the ability to spell McFadden with enough frequency to keep the feature back's mileage at a manageable level. If McFadden would happen to sustain an injury again, Forsett should be able to come right in and pick up where he left off.
Last season, Forsett made only $555,000 and should not demand any kind of increase in salary. The Raiders are currently set with $19 million in cap space. Signing Forsett at a low price would allow the team to maintain a healthy cap allowance and keep building toward the future.
Adrian Wilson: Cincinnati Bengals
Adrian Wilson is a do-it-all strong safety. Wilson is not shy about dropping in man coverage, patrolling center field, stacking the box in run support or blitzing the quarterback. A 12-year veteran, Wilson has played his entire career with the Cardinals. However, he appears to have gas left in the tank.
Last season, the sixth-ranked Cincinnati Bengals defense had one gaping hole—strong safety.
The Bengals tried four different starters at the position alongside reliable free safety Reggie Nelson. Each of these players ended with mixed results.
Once the season ended, the Bengals were left without a strong safety yet again.
Some think that the Bengals will be a favorite to go after one of the top safeties in this year's draft class, such as Florida's Matt Elam. Even if that is the case, a veteran safety that could help mentor the rookie at the position would be priceless for Cincinnati.
Wilson, aside from being a leader, will also come at a low cost. Even though the Bengals are currently set with $42.6 million in cap space, they have been relying mainly on re-signing their own players this offseason. Getting a veteran starter at around $1.5 million a year would not hurt the budget one bit.
Finally, what is appealing for Wilson?
First off, he remains an NFL starter. Secondly, he will now play for a contending football team. Lastly, he will not need to take a decrease in pay.
This situation seems to work very nicely for both parties.
Karlos Dansby: Baltimore Ravens
Karlos Dansby is coming off of the best statistical tackling season of his nine-year career. He recorded 134 tackles last season with the Dolphins, only to be a salary cap casualty this offseason.
Enter Karlos Dansby.
Dansby proved last season that he has plenty left in the tank and can be a solid contributor to any defense. Dansby commanded a high salary last year of $8.8 million. The Ravens currently sit $11.3 million under the salary cap.
Baltimore certainly cannot afford a highly priced front-loaded contract for Dansby. But at this point there may be no need for such a deal.
Given his veteran status—he's entering his 10th season in the NFL—Dansby should be open to a lower salary, especially from a contending team. There also has not been a huge market for him thus far in free agency which would play into the Ravens' favor.
In this deal, the Ravens would get a quality starter at linebacker and Dansby would be able to continue to play at a decent salary for the defending Super Bowl champions.
The need is there for the Ravens and the fit is there for Dansby.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Oakland Raiders
Ryan Fitzpatrick was released by the Bills after a lackluster year in Buffalo last season. He has stated since his release that it may be time to take on a backup role in the league. If he goes that route, where could his services be utilized?
Last season, Carson Palmer continued his streak of inconsistent play and bad decision-making. This led to Pryor getting some reps toward the end of the season.
If the Raiders are to bank on Pryor this season, they should have a top-tier backup on the roster as well. That is exactly what Fitzpatrick is at the moment.
Fitzpatrick will be able to come in and lend some veteran experience to the young quarterback in an effort to kick-start his career. If Pryor does fail with the starting role, all is not lost as Oakland could plug Fitzpatrick in at quarterback from there.
The Raiders would be gaining not only a backup, but a mentor as well.
Last season, Fitzpatrick only made $2.8 million as a starter. Now, as a backup, he would command an even smaller figure. The Raiders are currently $19 million under the salary cap, which makes this pairing seem that much more likely.
Ahmad Bradshaw: New York Jets
Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled though some injuries in the past but looks to rebound this season with a new team. He certainly has the capability of remaining a starter after only playing six years in the league and carrying the ball 921 times in that span.
Greene lacked burst out of the backfield and seemed to run blindly into his offensive line on numerous occasions. What the Jets lack is an explosive running back that can make a cut to the outside when needed.
With the quarterback situation not getting any better for the Jets, one big way they can make a positive change is to integrate a new element in the running game. If they can open things up on the ground, it could allow more time for a below-average quarterback under center.
Dustin Keller: New York Giants
Dustin Keller has been one of the few bright spots on the Jets offense over the past five seasons.
Keller can step right into a starting role at tight end for most teams. He has above-average speed at his position, great hands, sharp route running and decent blocking skills.
This is when tight end-needy teams like the New York Giants need to step up.
Bennett has a very similar stature and skill set to Keller, which should make the transition very easy. The Giants should be worried about this position—they may lose Victor Cruz as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Eli Manning relies heavily on his tight ends and will need an especially good pass-catching replacement for the coming season, especially if Cruz is no longer available.
Keller was paid $3 million by the Jets last season and may seek a slightly higher pay rate while testing free agency. The Giants are in a bit of a situation, having only $3.1 million under the salary cap.
However, if they are to continue to contend, they will need to pull some strings and offer the right terms in a contract to Keller to get the job done.
Greg Jennings: Cleveland Browns
Yes, at first it seems like an impossible idea. But after ironing out some hard facts about the player and the team, it suddenly does not seem like such a murky idea anymore.
Jennings has played his entire seven-year career with the Packers and has posted three different 1,000-yard seasons with the club. Jennings, before last season, also averaged at least 14 yards per reception in every season.
The Browns, on the other hand, have not seen a receiver like Jennings in quite some time. The entire Browns offense is currently being restructured, and they have lost receiver Josh Cribbs to free agency.
The largest ingredient that is currently missing in this offense is a clear-cut No. 1 receiver and veteran leadership.
Jennings brings both of these things to the table.
So, this is all great for the Browns, but what does Jennings get out of it?
Jennings would be featured at the starting receiver once again and would not have to take a pay cut to do so. Yes, Jennings is used to playing for a winning organization and some would say that he would want to continue to do so. However, he could be a catalyst in a remodeling of a very promising offensive system.
To go along with his star-studded status in Cleveland, Jennings would also be making top dollar. Jennings made $3.8 million last season in Green Bay. Currently, Cleveland is $33.7 million under the salary cap. This means that Cleveland could potentially entice Jennings to come aboard and make more than he did while at Green Bay.
It seems like it could be a win for both parties.
Aqib Talib: Washington Redskins
Aqib Talib has been a controversial cornerback ever since he joined the NFL in 2008. His play on the field and his actions off the field have both been erratic.
However, if Talib can settle down and maintain some stability in those areas, he could potentially be one of the more dangerous cornerbacks in the NFL.
The Redskins just released a controversial cornerback of their own in DeAngelo Hall. Hall demanded a high salary and was a constant distraction on the field. The Redskins made a healthy decision to part ways with Hall after the season concluded.
To fill the void that was left behind by Hall, Washington could take a player just like Talib. At this point, Talib has been passed from the Buccaneers to the Patriots and now waits as a free agent. This cannot sit well with Talib.
He should be ready for a fresh start with a young, up-and-coming team where he can prove that he can be the solid playmaker he was supposed to be coming out of college.
What better place to showcase your talents and revamp your career than the Robert Griffin III-led Redskins?
This team has jelled over the past year. They are ready to come out strong to prove they are contenders yet again in 2013. Talib should want to be a part of that more than anything.
As far as the price tag goes, it should not be an issue to get a deal done between these two parties.
The Redskins have $9.1 million in cap space and Talib should not demand such a high salary after his recent departure from two teams in one season. This would be a very smart move for both Talib and the Redskins.