NFL Free Agents 2016: Best Players Available at Each Position After Day 4
Now that Day 4 of the 2016 free-agency period has come to a close, it’s time to review who is still on the market. We have you covered as to who the best available players are at each position as the first weekend of free agency comes to an end.
The initial free-agent blitz that commenced has died down quickly. We haven’t seen much action take place the last two days. Regardless, there are quality players left at each position who could be difference-makers this upcoming season.
We’ve added some new names to our daily review to delve even deeper as we enter Week 2 of the free-agency period. The best players still available after Day 4 will be listed in alphabetical order on each page.
Don’t forget to leave your biggest takeaways from free agency thus far in the comments section below.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets
While Brock Osweiler received $72 million from the Houston Texans last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick is still on the market. They’re similar quarterbacks in terms of talent and ability to lead an offense if 2015 was an indicator of future performance. But Fitzpatrick, 33 years old, clearly is a short-term or stopgap option, while Osweiler has some upside. Fitzpatrick had a career-high 31 touchdowns and 3,905 yards in 2015 and should draw more interest than he has.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams have no interest in him.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III is the biggest wild card in the quarterback crop still available. He sat as the third-string quarterback for the Washington Redskins in 2015 as head coach Jay Gruden valued different traits than what Griffin could offer. The results for the team showed this was the best decision.
As for Griffin’s future, the question is whether he can regain his health and confidence from his rookie season in 2012. He’s struggled to grasp basic fundamentals such as footwork and an advanced playbook, so he’ll need time to develop. According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the New York Jets have been meeting with him the last two days.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel, the mercurial quarterback who can’t get past his off-field issues, is on the free-agent market after just two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. The 23-year-old will have a tough time finding a landing spot because he cannot be trusted as a person until he proves his commitment to football. The results from his short stint in Cleveland were certainly underwhelming compared to the hype.
According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, even the Dallas Cowboys have no interest in Manziel. He could be waiting years for his next shot if even Jerry Jones is willing to pass on him.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
The most powerful back on the market is LeGarrette Blount. The former New England Patriots back isn't just a plodder, though. For his career he’s averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Even at 29 years old, Blount would be a good short-yardage back for gap schemes.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Blount did not need surgery for his hip and will be ready for OTAs.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has an impressive resume, but his market will be slow to develop. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported he’ll be patient and wait until after the draft to make a decision. The former undrafted free agent had an amazing career with the Houston Texans, amassing 6,472 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns in seven seasons. But an Achilles injury and his upcoming 30th birthday mean his road to redemption will have to wait a little bit longer.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
At 5’10”, 224 pounds, Alfred Morris has been one of the most efficient backs in the NFL since entering the league in 2012. He began his career with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sixth-round pick. Since then, his numbers have dipped every season, and he seems to have lost some quickness.
Morris is only 27 and should benefit from a better offensive line than what Washington had in 2015. A zone-blocking team with another quality option to relieve pressure off Morris would be his best fit.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
A 13-year veteran who is the definition of a possession receiver, Anquan Boldin was released from the San Francisco 49ers. He finished 2015 with 69 receptions and 789 yards in a pedestrian passing attack, showing he can still provide support to a functional passing game.
According to Rand Getlin of NFL Network, Boldin is looking to join a playoff contender.
Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints moved on from a franchise leader this offseason when they released wide receiver Marques Colston. The move saved the team $3.2 million in cap space. Colston is their all-time leader in receptions (711), receiving yards (9,759) and receiving touchdowns (72). He is 32 years old and has seen significant decline the last two years, but he could get one more chance to contribute for a Super Bowl contender.
Vernon Davis, TE, Denver Broncos
Tight end Vernon Davis, 32, won his first Super Bowl in 2015 and is looking to extend his career another four or five years, per Josina Anderson of ESPN. The former sixth overall pick in 2006 is no longer the dynamic receiving threat as he once was, but he also hasn’t been a part of a good passing attack in recent years. A spread offense that creates space for Davis could be beneficial for him and the team.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Davis visited the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills
It seems as if Percy Harvin has been around forever, but he’s going to be just 28 when opening kickoff arrives. The enigmatic receiver is heading for his fifth team in as many years after the Buffalo Bills cut him last month. His production has halted, and visions of him becoming what his athleticism promised have faded. But all it takes is one healthy season and Harvin could recapture the electricity he once flashed.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets
Some players can be productive despite lacking great athletic traits or size. That’s what Jeremy Kerley has been in the NFL. The former New York Jets receiver is only 5’9” and 188 pounds but has found a niche as a slot specialist. At 27 years old, he can provide depth and special teams impact.
Zach Miller, TE, Chicago Bears
Teams that are looking for a solid receiving threat from a second tight end should be interested in Zach Miller. The 31-year-old had a career-high 439 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. He’s a good athlete who can be a tough matchup for linebackers in space.
Kelvin Beachum, OT, Pittsburgh Steelers
We’re starting to see the market move for Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum. The 6’3”, 303-pound lineman has versatility to play both guard and tackle, as he was originally taken as a guard before the team needed him to kick outside. He’ll be just 27 this summer, so he’s an intriguing option for both contenders and young teams.
According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, he’ll visit the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.
Jahri Evans, OG, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints moved on from right guard Jahri Evans this offseason to save $3.2 million in cap space. Their 10-year partnership was highly successful for each party as Evans provided elite-level pass blocking. He was still a good starter for the team in 2015 but stifled the transition to a zone-blocking scheme. He’s a short-term option for power-gap run offenses.
Russell Okung, OT, Seattle Seahawks
The former sixth overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft, left tackle Russell Okung is looking to cash in after a solid run with the Seattle Seahawks. He is good but not stellar because of his mediocre pass protection. The athletic zone-blocker is only 28 years old but is coming off a dislocated shoulder injury that will sideline him for five months.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, Okung has received interest from the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Geoff Schwartz, OG, New York Giants
Once a big free-agent signee, 29-year-old Geoff Schwartz is back on the market. Numerous injuries have accumulated since his last free-agent go-around. He hasn’t finished a 16-game schedule since 2013 and has only done so twice since 2009. That being said, Schwartz is a very good guard who can slide out to tackle if need be. He’s a great athlete who was impactful whenever he was on the field.
Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys
A troubled but talented defensive end, Greg Hardy will be a fascinating individual to watch during free agency. He’s supremely talented and only 27, but he comes with a history of domestic abuse and locker-room issues. His reputation and personality could keep him on the market for a while. He’ll be an instant-impact starter if he does sign somewhere.
Akiem Hicks, DE, New England Patriots
Finding 26-year-old, versatile defensive linemen who stand 6’5”, 324 pounds is not easy. Akiem Hicks should be a valuable commodity because of his skill set and age. He’s able to play as a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle. His stint with New England was successful as he rotated with several other quality linemen.
Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times reported the Bears are a major threat to sign Hicks.
Chris Long, DE, Los Angeles Rams
The former Los Angeles Rams defensive end and No. 2 overall pick is on the lookout for a new place to call home. He was a cap casualty prior to free agency as the Rams worked to re-sign in-house talent. He’s a good 4-3 strong-side defensive end who can provide run support and clean up sacks. He’s accumulated 54.5 sacks in his nine NFL seasons.
B.J. Raji, NT, Green Bay Packers
Any team that is searching for a 3-4 nose tackle should be interested in B.J. Raji. The former Green Bay Packers tackle has struggled returning to prior form due to injuries but can be an effective role player. At 29, Raji needs to put together another big season to earn one more significant contract. According to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, Raji could return to the Packers.
Paul Soliai, DT, Atlanta Falcons
A massive 1-technique in a 4-3 defense, the veteran Paul Soliai was released by the Atlanta Falcons to save cap space. The 32-year-old won’t be the type to fill the stat book, but he helps others make the money plays. He’s still a capable run defender and demands the attention of two blockers.
Zach Brown, LB, Tennessee Titans
A 26-year-old inside linebacker with experience in a 3-4 defense should draw interest at this point in free agency. Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Zach Brown tallied 90-plus tackles in his first two years with the team before missing 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle. He rebounded as a reserve in 2015 with 76 total tackles and two interceptions.
Junior Galette, OLB, Washington Redskins
Once considered a top pass-rusher for the New Orleans Saints, Junior Galette hit the free-agent market as damaged goods with a high ceiling. He tore his Achilles last fall before ever logging a snap for the Washington Redskins. He’s able to fit a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and is talented when he’s healthy, but that’s a significant injury to overcome.
Aldon Smith, LB, Oakland Raiders
Possibly the best player on the free-agent market is linebacker Aldon Smith. Unfortunately, he was suspended for one year due to substance-abuse issues. The talented pass-rusher will turn 27 in September and cannot be reinstated until November, so it’s unlikely he’ll find a new team or re-sign with the Oakland Raiders until then.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
A high-end slot specialist, cornerback Brandon Boykin has struggled to find consistent snaps the last two years. The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers both kept Boykin on the bench until they no longer could afford to, and he responded by playing well. He fits into man-coverage schemes with his excellent quickness. At just 25 years old, Boykin would be a solid acquisition on a long-term deal.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons are interested in the slot corner.
Nolan Carroll, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
The best press cornerback still on the market is Nolan Carroll. The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles are now in the mix to re-acquire the 29-year-old, according to Tim McManus of 97.5 The Fanatic. He’s an average starter but should be a bargain signing, given the impact he can bring.
Casey Hayward, CB, Green Bay Packers
The market for cornerbacks seems to have dried up quickly as Casey Hayward is now the best overall secondary player available. He is very talented and can fit in the slot or boundary and be above average. At just 26 years old, he is a solid bet to provide an upgrade for any zone-coverage defense.
Patrick Robinson, CB, San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers cornerback Patrick Robinson is looking to find a long-term contract after putting together a solid 2015 campaign. The 28-year-old would bring speed and decent size to a secondary that utilizes off-man and zone concepts. According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, he received interest from teams such as the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears earlier in the week.
Rashad Johnson, FS, Arizona Cardinals
A rangy but solid tackler, Rashad Johnson is a potential impact safety who is still on the market. He’s been hidden in a deep Arizona Cardinals secondary and is already 30 years old, but on a short-term deal he could be a steal. Johnson has experience as a single-high and Cover 2 safety.
Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported Johnson met with the Tennessee Titans.
Walter Thurmond III, SS, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s surprising that a talented strong safety capable of playing cornerback is still available after Day 4 of free agency. Walter Thurmond III successfully moved positions in 2015 and should cash in, as many teams need an upgrade in the secondary. But he may not be interested in continuing his career.
According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Thurmond may want to retire.
Eric Weddle, FS, San Diego Chargers
Free safety Eric Weddle is taking his time to decide where he will likely spend the last several years of his career. Still a playmaker at a position that lacks impact players, Weddle could be a tremendous value at the right price. The former second-round pick played through a groin injury that landed him on injured reserve in 2015, which limited his production and effectiveness.
His decision will come Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Weddle is deciding between four offers.
All stats used are from Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Ian Wharton is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.