2016 NFL Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Next Year's Available Players

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIIJanuary 8, 2016

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, eyes the receiver during NFL football practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles are already looking for a new head coach. Could a new quarterback be on the horizon, too?

Sam Bradford was brought to Philadelphia because Chip Kelly thought he was a better quarterback for his offense than Nick Foles. Now, Kelly is gone and the Eagles might be starting over once again.

Meanwhile, also in the NFC East, Kirk Cousins may go from a fourth-round pick drafted to back up Robert Griffin III to becoming one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in football.

Here's your latest in the free-agent rumor mill as we approach Wild Card Weekend.


Sam Bradford "Won't Be Motivated" to Return to Eagles

The search for Kelly's replacement continues, as Adam Gase appears to be the possible favorite to land the Philly job unless the Miami Dolphins swoop in at the 11th hour.

Whoever becomes the next head coach of the Eagles, a new starting quarterback could be in order, according to the MMQB's Peter King.

After a 19-touchdown, 14-interception campaign, Bradford will test the free-agent market for the first time in his career since being drafted No. 1 overall by the St. Louis Rams in 2010. It appears the honeymoon could only last a year, as King reported that the desire for Bradford to stay in the City of Brotherly Love has diminished:

Bradford won’t be motivated to return to Philadelphia over any other team now that free agency looms. His agent, Tom Condon, is a get-the-most-you-can-regardless-of-team guy, and Bradford isn’t crazy about Philadelphia the city anyway. He probably wishes there was a team in his favorite place, Oklahoma City. And who’s to say the next coach—current offensive coordinators Adam Gase of Chicago and Doug Pederson of Kansas City are popular early names—will want Bradford at $18 million a year or more?

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here.

First, no team should be offering anything remotely close to $18 million to Bradford, who has never been to the playoffs in his six-year career. The threat of him getting hurt once again remains large, and he's thrown double-digit interceptions in the three seasons during which he's started at least 14 games. He's not worth that price tag.

Second, the list of teams in need of a starting quarterback is not that long. Other than the Eagles, the teams with an immediate need at quarterback are the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and maybe the Houston Texans.

Cleveland and San Francisco may address those needs in the NFL draft, both picking in the top seven.

The team to look out for is San Francisco, especially if the 49ers make the daring move and hire Kelly as their next head coach. Kelly took the chance on Bradford when his career seemed over. He would be a reasonable stopgap at the right price, should the 49ers draft a quarterback with that seventh pick.

If not, and if Bradford doesn't want to stay in Philly, then Bradford will be a backup somewhere next year.


Redskins Looking to Lock Up Kirk Cousins

The Washington Redskins are preparing themselves for a tough playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and the guy leading them into battle against Green Bay may be getting paid.

Cousins had one of the best seasons by a Redskins quarterback in the last decade, throwing 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and leading them to the NFC East title. Once this season ends for Washington, whenever that may be, the first order of business will be to lock up Cousins to a long-term deal, per ESPN's Josina Anderson:

What a ride it's been for Cousins.

He was taken in the fourth round by Washington in 2012 and was expected to be the backup to RG3. The Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor led the Redskins to the NFC East title his rookie year, and Cousins became the most valuable trade chip in the NFL.

Fast-forward four years, and Griffin III could be on a one-way trip to Dallas while Cousins is set to be the quarterback of the future for Jay Gruden's team.

Should the Redskins lock up Cousins to a long-term deal, it may come with a major cost that could make the former Michigan State quarterback one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. Per Sportrac (h/t NFL Network's Rand Getlin), Cousins could make slightly more than $20.5 million per year on his next deal.

This could be a move that has Dan Snyder written all over it, taking a huge gamble on a quarterback after one winning season.

But these are the times the Redskins are in, and it's easy to see Cousins as a Redskin for a long time.


Bears Open to Signing Alshon Jeffery to Long-Term Deal

Had the Chicago Bears star receiver played all 16 games this season, he could've set career highs in almost every receiving category.

In only nine games, 807 yards and 54 catches are really good numbers. But injuries plagued Jeffery's year, and his absence was one of the reasons why the Bears clawed to a six-win season.

Jeffery is going to be the most coveted playmaker on the market this offseason, and the Bears are making him a top priority, per John Mullin of CSNChicago.com:

Conventional wisdom has tilted toward assuming Alshon Jeffery’s injuries will stop the Bears from risking a long-term contract on the player despite him already ranking eighth in receiving yards and 10th in receptions in franchise history.

But indications now are that the Bears are seriously interested in the possibilities of a long-term deal with the highly productive wide receiver who is squarely in his playing prime. If contract numbers cannot be mutually agreed upon, the Bears still can secure Jeffery for one year with their franchise tag, or at least extend their negotiating window without Jeffery going uncovered into free agency next March.

Jeffery is going to command a lot of money this offseason. Teams like the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions (if Calvin Johnson retires) and Baltimore Ravens, to name a few, could use a big-play receiver like the 6'3" Jeffery.

With that said, it's imperative for the Bears to sign Jeffery as soon as possible. With the possibility of Gase leaving, Chicago needs to keep as much continuity offensively as it can. There's already growing speculation that Matt Forte is leaving, and it's too soon for the Bears to make last year's No. 1 pick, Kevin White, the top target for Jay Cutler.

Chicago's offense can be great next year, but only if Jeffery comes back. The Bears won't let him get away that easily.