NFL Free Agents 2019: Latest Rumors and Predictions Ahead of Market's Opening

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

The Chiefs appear likely to franchise pass-rush specialist Dee Ford.
The Chiefs appear likely to franchise pass-rush specialist Dee Ford.D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

When the 2019 NFL league year begins March 13, a number of teams will attempt to make a big splash with their free-agent signings.

That's the date that teams can present contractual offers to free agents and bring them into the fold. The kickoff time for the start of free agency is 4 p.m. ET.

While the NFL Draft is still considered the primary tool for addressing long-term success, free agency gives teams a chance to turn weaknesses into strengths. Finding the right pass rusher, offensive tackle or quarterback can deliver a jolt of confidence to any organization and help propel it to contender status.

The Chicago Bears did that last year when they signed free-agent wideouts Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, along with tight end Trey Burton. Those additions, along with new head coach Matt Nagy and a trade for game-breaking pass rusher Khalil Mack, helped the Bears go from a last-place team to NFC North champions.

There are a number of key players who are scheduled to become free agents, but there may be one fewer than anticipated as the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to put the franchise tag on outside linebacker Dee Ford.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted that the Chiefs have no intention of letting Ford leave without compensation. The Chiefs are switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 set-up in 2019, and there are no guarantees that this will be beneficial for Ford.

As a result, the Chiefs may end up trading Ford, who had 13.0 sacks last year and was one of the Chiefs' few effective defensive players last year.

Giants strong safety Landon Collins should be one of the most valuable players available in free agency, and like Ford in Kansas City, he is clearly one of New York's best defensive players.

He led the Giants with 96 tackles while batting down four passes and forcing a fumble. More than the numbers, Collins is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league, and he is clearly the kind of player who will attract attention on the market.

There are hints that the Giants will franchise Collins, and that is not something that the 25-year-old will accept willingly. 

Longtime Giants reporter Ralph Vacchiano of SNY tweeted that Collins could hold out throughout the summer if the Giants prevent him from signing a free-agent deal with another team by franchising him.

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Eagles say ’thank you' to Nick Foles ✊ (via @Eagles) https://t.co/UwdoJPD7nK

The biggest name on the quarterback market is Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles. The organization announced this week that the team would not stand in the quarterback's way and prevent him from going on the open market.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been considered the leading team for Foles' services, but any team that does not have stellar quarterback play could use his services.

One would assume that includes the Washington Redskins, who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a broken tibia and fibula. However, the Redskins may be willing to turn over the offense to Colt McCoy, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.

Head coach Jay Gruden gave McCoy a compliment when speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Always looking for competition for sure," Gruden said, per Redskins.com managing editor Jake Kring-Schreifels. "You know Colt had a great opportunity last year, and unfortunately he got hurt, but everybody knows the organization feels very good about Colt if he's the starter, but competition is very good, especially at the quarterback position."

McCoy suffered a broken leg last year shortly after Smith's injury.

Foles goes into free agency with a superb postseason resume. He led the Eagles to postseason victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings before he outdueled Tom Brady and Philadelphia defeated New England in Super Bowl LII.

He also led the Eagles to a late-season rally that enabled them to make the playoffs in 2018. Philadelphia defeated Chicago in the wild-card round before suffering a narrow defeat to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional playoffs.

Foles has demonstrated the ability to win clutch postseason games like few other backup quarterbacks in league history, and he has earned an opportunity to determine his worth on the open market.