Free agency gives NFL teams an opportunity to address their major issues by going after the top players in the NFL who are no longer under contract.
It is a way to put a fix on an issue and at least help a team get a temporary fix for the upcoming season or longer.
The ideal way to build long-term strength is finding consistent success through the NFL Draft, but every team has weaknesses. Even teams like the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have problems that they need to address.
A free agent who is at the top of his game can provide immediate help, while even the most talented rookies often take time before they start to produce at a peak level in the NFL.
In this piece, we take a look at the top free agents on the market and make predictions on where they will land. We take a specific look at three of the top four players on our list.
Rank, Player, Team, Predicted Landing Spot
1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans, Houston Texans
2. QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars
3. DE-OLB Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Chiefs
4. DL Trey Flowers, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins
5. RB Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets
6. DE Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins
7. DE Frank Clark, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals
8. SS Landon Collins, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons
9. LB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Ravens
10. DT Ndamukong Suh, Los Angles Rams, New England Patriots
Clowney has been a scary player throughout his career with the Texans, as he has often worked in tandem with All-Pro J.J. Watt to dominate on defense.
The Texans have regularly had elite defensive players in their lineup, and Clowney's explosive get-off at the line of scrimmage have made him a consistently scary player.
The 26-year-old earned more than $5.5 million last year, and he should be able to increase that number dramatically if he hits the open market. Clowney had 9.0 sacks, 47 tackles, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries last year for the Texans. He goes into his sixth NFL season with 29.0 career sacks, and there is every reason to believe that the 6'5", 255-pound pass rusher is heading towards the peak years of his career.
The Texans have a decision to make on Clowney, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweeted that the team is "contemplating" using the franchise tag on the star pass rusher in order to keep him in the fold.
While that move would ensure that Clowney remains with the team, most players who get to this point in their careers look forward to free agency and testing the market to determine their worth in their chosen profession.
When players are tagged it means they'll get paid significantly, but the inability to determine their own fate does not regularly lead to a satisfied player.
QB Nick Foles
Foles is the top quarterback who is available as a free agent, and while he has been the Eagles' backup quarterback for the last two years, he has a dynamic resume and is likely to receive a substantial reward to sign with a new team.
The Eagles said last week that they would not use the franchise tag on Foles and he would go to free agency without the threat of the team making sure he did not leave.
Foles took over from Carson Wentz in 2017 after the starting quarterback suffered an ACL injury late in the season. While the injury caused momentary panic in Philadelphia because the Eagles had been the best team in the NFL during the regular season and Wentz had established himself as an MVP candidate prior to the injury, Foles was not overwhelmed by the assignment.
He led the Eagles to playoff victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings before outdueling Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII and leading Philadelphia to a 41-33 triumph over the New England Patriots.
As NFL teams contemplate their best free-agent moves, the Jacksonville Jaguars have emerged as the favorites to sign Foles, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
Several other teams could emerge as contenders for Foles' services, but the Jaguars clearly have a need at the position. After reaching the AFC title game following the 2017 season, Jacksonville took a big step backwards last year and ineffective quarterback play was a primary reason.
Foles has demonstrated that he can play his best football in the biggest games, and he would appear to be a major step up for the Jaguars or any team that signs him.
DL Trey Flowers, New England Patriots
Flowers has been one of Bill Belichick's most important defensive performers, and he heads into free agency after recording 57 tackles, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles during the 2018 regular season. He added to his value with six tackles and 2.0 sacks in the postseason.
Flowers is a versatile player who can impact the opponents' running game and make big plays as a pass rusher. The Patriots don't have a lot of superstars on the defensive side of the ball, and the combination of Flowers and linebacker Dont'a Hightower have been two of their most impactful defensive players.
Flowers is reportedly coming off "minor" shoulder surgery, per Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.
It is difficult to get a read on what the Patriots are going to do because Belichick is not going to provide much of a road map for his offseason plans.
However, Boston sports radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub tweeted that the Miami Dolphins are the front-runners to ink Flowers to a new contract.
It makes sense for any division rival to go after a key New England player, and Miami head coach Brian Flores served as Belichick's top defensive assistant last season. Flores clearly knows how valuable a player Flowers is, and he would upgrade the Miami defense. The Dolphins ranked 29th in yards allowed last season.
In addition to Flores, former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has a full understanding of Flowers' abilities. Patricia will be starting his second season as head coach of the Detroit Lions, and while the Lions ranked 10th on defense last year, a player of Flowers' ilk would help the Lions to become a more consistent and dangerous team.