No-Brainer NFL Signings That Should Happen Right Now

Alex BallentineJuly 20, 2022

No-Brainer NFL Signings That Should Happen Right Now

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    AP Photo/Matt Patterson, File

    There's usually a reason why an NFL free agent hasn't found a home at this point of the year.

    With rosters swollen to 90 before training camp starts, most players that are going to find a team for the season have found one. Yet, there are still players on the market who could fill vital roles.

    There are also teams that have glaring needs despite several opportunities to address them.

    Combine the two, and you have a handful of signings that seem like they should have been done by now. Here's a look at some signings that just make too much sense based on the player involved, recent performance and team situations as we get ready for training camps to open.

EDGE Carlos Dunlap to the Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers have won five games in each of the past three seasons. It's safe to say there's going to be some serious tension in Carolina if that doesn't change in 2022.

    The problem is they've taken some hits in free agency. Haason Reddick, Stephon Gilmore, DaQuan Jones and Morgan Fox all played important roles on defense last season, and all of them will be playing for different teams in 2022.

    The team's trade for Baker Mayfield signifies an interest in winning games this season. After all, it is Matt Rhule's third year as head coach.

    The Panthers also happen to be among the teams with the most cap space, per Spotrac. The $20.4 million at their disposal won't help them win games if they don't spend it.

    Adding Carlos Dunlap to their stable of pass-rushers would be a good investment. With Reddick going to Philadelphia, the Panthers are losing 11 sacks and making it easier to scheme against Brian Burns.

    2020 second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos needs to step up, but Dunlap showed enough juice in 2021 to be a contributor. He had 8.5 sacks and was one of few bright spots for the Seahawks last season.

    Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported that Dunlap met with the Panthers in June and the workout went well. With camp around the corner, it's time to pick up the phone and add him to the fold.

EDGE Trey Flowers to New England Patriots

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    The story of prodigal Patriots returning home is a tale as old as time.

    We've seen it before: A New England Patriots defender excels in Bill Belichick's defensive system only to leave for big free agency dollars. Then, the player fails to live up to the hype with his new contract and winds up back in New England at a much cheaper price.

    Whether it's Kyle Van Noy, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins or Patrick Chung, the Patriots have been masterful at getting the most out of their players and knowing when to—and when not to—pay up.

    Trey Flowers is in a position to be the latest chapter of that book. Flowers earned a massive five-year, $90 million contract with the Detroit Lions after a three-year stretch with 21 sacks in New England.

    Flowers' first season in Detroit worked out fine. He registered seven sacks and played in 15 games. In the two seasons since, he only played in 14 games and had 3.5 sacks.

    A New England reunion makes sense for both sides.

    For Flowers, it's an opportunity to get his groove back. For the Patriots, it's a chance to bolster their pass rush. Outside of Matthew Judon (12), Deatrich Wise Jr. and Josh Uche have the highest sack total of any returning player with just three apiece.

WR Julio Jones to the Baltimore Ravens

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    AP Photo/Matt Durisko

    The Baltimore Ravens have already shown they are willing to dip into the late-veteran free-agent market. They finally brought back Justin Houston on July 12 to round out their pass-rushing options.

    Now, it's time they do the same for their receiving corps.

    Trading away Marquise Brown made sense on draft night given the return of a first-round pick. But it also leaves them thin on experience in the receiver room.

    Rashod Bateman is going to be expected to rise to the role of WR1. That should be the case after the team used a first-rounder on him last season. However, the depth chart gets pretty dicey after that.

    Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace all have done varying degrees of part-time work within the offense.

    What the group needs is a veteran who understands how to succeed in the NFL. Julio Jones isn't the All-Pro player he once was, but he still fits that bill.

    Jones is a strong leader who would provide a great presence in the locker room. That alone is a good reason to sign him, but he can also still provide a big-bodied receiver for Lamar Jackson on the field.

    The 33-year-old has struggled to stay healthy. He's only made 19 appearances over the past two seasons, but he's also just one season removed from averaging 11.3 yards per target, which would have been the best mark among all Ravens receivers last season.

OT Bobby Massie to Las Vegas Raiders

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    The Las Vegas Raiders have a strong roster in nearly every area.

    The addition of Davante Adams gives Derek Carr a good trio of pass-catchers in Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. They have a good stable of backs with Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and rookie Zamir White.

    On defense, they added a productive pass-rusher in Chandler Jones and veteran cornerback help in the form of Rock Ya-Sin.

    The one area that's hard to get excited about is the offensive line. Without better protection for Carr and improved running lanes on offense, it's hard to see this team reaching its potential.

    Kolton Miller is a good starter at left tackle. The other tackle position is a bit of a mess, though. The Raiders are mostly betting on Alex Leatherwood figuring out the position in his second season. Last year, he posted a PFF grade of 45.0 while giving up eight sacks and drawing 14 penalties between snaps at tackle and guard.

    That's why it certainly wouldn't hurt for the Raiders to add a veteran tackle option. Bobby Massie is the best combination of health, experience and performance at right tackle, specifically.

    The 32-year-old played 796 snaps with the Denver Broncos last season. He earned a 70.0 grade from PFF giving up five sacks and getting flagged just once.

    If Leatherwood were to post those numbers this season, it would be a huge win. The Raiders could ensure they get that kind of play by signing Massie now.

C JC Tretter to the San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Franisco 49ers need a center. JC Tretter is a proven commodity at center. It doesn't get any simpler.

    He's been a starter for the Cleveland Browns in 80 games over the past five seasons, playing every snap in those games. In that time, he has given up two or fewer sacks per season while being an elite run blocker, per Sports Info Solutions.

    The Browns parted ways with Tretter to save money against the salary cap, making him a free agent. It's baffling that he's still available as rookies are starting to arrive at training camp.

    It was understandable that the Niners didn't jump on signing Tretter right away. They were awaiting Alex Mack's decision on whether to retire. Mack's announced his intention to call it a career on June 3.

    Thus far, the Niners seem content with their in-house options. Matt Barrows of the Athletic reported offensive line coach and run-game coordinator Chris Forester likes Jake Brendel at the position, and he'll have every chance to win the job.

    Brendel is a soon-to-be 30-year-old with just 250 offensive snaps worth of experience spread across four seasons.

    It isn't often that a player goes from journeyman to functional starting offensive lineman in the NFL. With Trey Lance taking over at quarterback, the Niners need stability at the position.

    Tretter can offer that right now.


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