NFL Free Agents 2016: Predictions Based on Rumors Surrounding Available Veterans

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2016

Mike Wallace is one of the biggest names left on the market.
Mike Wallace is one of the biggest names left on the market.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn't be NFL free agency without Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III.

Alright, maybe that's not quite right, but the idea behind it is—free agency is the wildest time of year on the league calendar, maybe trumped only by the draft. The names on the market always seem to surprise, and while this year might appear to take the cake, folks will say the same thing next year.

Though the league is in one of the more interesting transition periods with Peyton Manning hanging up the cleats and an iffy quarterback class on the way. Quarterbacks once again rest as the headline act, but the most recent rumors below hit on various important areas. Let's take a look.


Russell Okung's Huge Market

Veteran linemen like Russell Okung always have massive markets.
Veteran linemen like Russell Okung always have massive markets.Ed Zurga/Associated Press

In a predictable turn of events, former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Russell Okung has a huge market for his services.

Okung is only 28 years old and coming off a season in which he ranked as the No. 26 offensive tackle in the league at Pro Football Focus, allowing just four sacks and drawing six flags.

In a way, offensive tackle continues to be more and more of a guesswork option in the draft. As quarterbacks have become harder to draft because the college game keeps making it simple to produce, those offensive linemen in the same system suffer the same pro setbacks.

Long story short, a proven guy like Okung blows up the market. Michael Silver summed up the current situation:

The fact Okung is high on the Detroit Lions says a lot about the situation. That's a big list of names, so it doesn't just seem like the Oklahoma State product wants to drive up his price before returning to Seattle.

No, it's easy for an offensive tackle to see the potential in Detroit and know the front office might overpay for his services because last year's line let Matthew Stafford get walloped to the tune of 44 sacks.

Look for the Lions to prevent Okung from leaving town once he lands.

Prediction: Okung signs with the Lions


Mike Wallace's New Deal

Wallace had a quiet season in Minnesota.
Wallace had a quiet season in Minnesota.Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

Remember Mike Wallace?

The guy with a mega deal only a few years ago now hits the market going on 30 years old after only sticking with the Minnesota Vikings for one season.

Wallace wasn't terrible with the Vikings while working with developing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but he wasn't great, either. The Ole Miss product caught 39 passes for a career-low 473 yards and two scores. His 12.1 yards-per-catch average the lowest of his career.

No longer looking like a must-have deep threat, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated revealed teams only want a piece of Wallace at a bargain price:

Wallace might not have much of a choice. Another deep class when it comes to guys who can speed their way down the field arrives in the next few months.

It's not hard to see why the Baltimore Ravens would have an interest, though. The team let Torrey Smith walk and didn't do much to replace him, needing a breakout from Kamar Aiken to stay afloat.

For Wallace, playing in the same bunch as Aiken and Steve Smith has to have some appeal. A return to Minnesota isn't off the table, but the better on-field potential seems to reside in Baltimore.

Prediction: Wallace signs with the Ravens


The Johnny Manziel Circus

Let the whirlwind of Manziel mania begin in earnest.

The Cleveland Browns announced they cut ties with the embattled quarterback Friday, starting up a massive batch of rumors.

The Dallas Cowboys remain the most common team mentioned in the same breath as Manziel. Dallas most understand a backup and eventual replacement for Tony Romo remains in the plans. 

Except it sounds like the Cowboys want no part of Manziel. According to David Moore of SportsDay, Dallas won't make any moves with the quarterback until certain parameters get met:

A source said the club has no intention of bringing the former Heisman Trophy winner in for a visit or signing him now that he's been released by Cleveland. That same source said the Cowboys won't pursue the quarterback and doesn't foresee the club having any serious discussions about him, "until he gets his life back in order.''

Manziel's life off the field is well documented at this point. On it, he never really developed well, appearing in nine games last season and completing 57.8 percent of his passes with 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns to five interceptions.

Expect the rest of the league to fall in line on this one. Mary Kay Cabot of pointed out that the Browns planned to release Manziel if they couldn't find a trade partner. They didn't, obviously, and each team passed on him in the waivers process.

For now, nobody will come calling about Manziel.

Prediction: Manziel goes unsigned through the draft


Stats courtesy of and are accurate as of Saturday. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter