2016 NFL Free Agents: Latest Rumors and Predictions on Reggie Bush and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2016

Reggie Bush is one of the top free agents left on the market.
Reggie Bush is one of the top free agents left on the market.Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

NFL free agency doesn't end because training camps begin.

Quite the opposite, really. The summer heat and return to the physical sport claim a handful of injuries every year and open up jobs for those available guys still looking for work.

Some free agents elect to brave the market and wait to see what opens up, too, whether it's to find homes where they are wanted and needed or to get the proper deals they deserve.

For teams in need, a few guys still headline the market with proven NFL experience and can provide a positive impact. Here's a look at the latest happenings around those big names and predictions for good measure.

           

Antonio Cromartie

Antonio Cromartie has yet to find a home, but recent rumors might suggest why.
Antonio Cromartie has yet to find a home, but recent rumors might suggest why.Seth Wenig/Associated Press/Associated Press

Monday was an eventful day for cornerback Antonio Cromartie. It wasn't because he inked a deal with a new team; rather, rumblings of his retirement due to health concerns popped up.

Cromartie, 32, was cut earlier this year by the New York Jets and hadn't made much noise on the free-agent market. A strong draft class and solid free-agency pool contributed to a notable lack of interest.

Health issues haven't helped, either, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport revealed Cromartie might instead hang up the cleats:

Cromartie wasn't too pleased about that suggestion and took to Twitter to voice his concerns. He also spoke with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News about the matter:

Drafted by the San Diego Chargers back in 2006, Cromartie has spent five of his last six seasons with the Jets, though last year, he failed to record an interception for the first time since his rookie campaign.

While he's far from the player who grabbed 10 interceptions in his sophomore year, Cromartie has plenty of value as a veteran presence and physical player. One can argue he's lost a step, but grabbing a corner his age to start on the outside isn't a good idea anyway.

Back in May, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted the Miami Dolphins had "internally discussed" signing Cromartie. It's an ideal slot for the veteran, as he'd fit in as a depth presence on a shaky secondary lacking recognizable names.

So long as Cromartie checks out medically, he's likely bound for Miami as a smart low-risk add this late in the summer.

Prediction: Cromartie signs with the Miami Dolphins.

          

Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush isn't in a hurry to find a team.
Reggie Bush isn't in a hurry to find a team.Tom Gannam/Associated Press

Reggie Bush had an odd ending to his season last year with the San Francisco 49ers, slipping on the concrete behind the benches at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Bush, now 31 years old, only played in five games, carrying the ball eight times. He's a veteran willing to wait out the market to land in the best possible situation—a place with the need and opportunity. 

Said situation might reside with the Buffalo Bills, according to Rapoport: 

The Buffalo backfield situation looks rocky at best, as the team needs someone reliable to rotate with starter LeSean McCoy.

Bush could be that guy. He has averaged 4.3 yards per carry in his career and has a couple of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. He's also averaged 7.5 yards per catch through the air, a huge number in a day and age where running backs must have the ability to do it all.

Buffalo isn't alone, though, as Bush said back in June a pair of teams have contacted him. It's hard to imagine a better opportunity than the Bills, though, because Bush could see significant snaps with Karlos Williams out for the first four games of the season due to suspension.

So long as Buffalo remains patient, the situation has to look appealing to a veteran searching for a home.

Prediction: Bush signs with the Buffalo Bills.

            

Ryan Fitzpatrick

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The New York Jets still don't have quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under contract. 

Or maybe we can put it a better way: Fitzpatrick still doesn't have the contract he wants from the Jets.

There aren't many other ways to write it, as the quarterback market has dried up. No team needs Fitzpatrick now, and throwing cash at him after perhaps already missing training camp doesn't make a ton of sense.

The Jets, according to Mehta, have sent a few offers the Harvard product's way.

"The Daily News has learned that the Jets have given the veteran quarterback multiple offers with the hope of bringing back their undisputed leader from a year ago before the start of training camp this week," Mehta wrote.

Long story short, the dispute comes down to guaranteed cash. Even Mehta agreed the Jets aren't hurting for cash and that this is odd: "The fact that the Jets have engendered ill will over a few million dollars with their team leader is baffling."

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It's a tough situation for all parties. Fitzpatrick is 33 years old, a journeyman who has played with six different teams. Last year, though, he tossed 31 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, leaning on the core of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker to smartly execute the offense. 

Eventually, the Jets will give up and hand Fitzpatrick what he wants. How could the front office not? The alternatives are Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg. Or translated, a bust and two inexperienced players versus a guy who threw 31 scores and won 10 games.

Easy. The Jets will fold and get Fitzpatrick back. More interesting will be how he and all parties get along after a headline-grabbing affair most couldn't have predicted before it happened.

Prediction: Fitzpatrick re-signs with the New York Jets. 

            

Stats are courtesy of NFL.com and accurate as of July 25. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.  

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