NFL Free Agents 2019: Top Rumors and Predictions for Best Names on the Market

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2019

New England Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers #98 is seen against the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl 52 on Sunday, February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis. Philadelphia won the game 41-33.(AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The 2019 edition of NFL free agency is approaching, and things are really going to heat up just after the weekend.

Though teams cannot officially sign players until March 13, they can begin contacting players and setting up unofficial deals on March 11.

This year's free-agent class is stacked with plenty of high-end talent, and there is no shortage of rumors surrounding them. Below, you'll find some of the latest buzz, along with some predictions about were these standout players end up.


Martellus Bennett Could Reunite with Patriots, Trey Flowers Could be Out

One of the more intriguing storylines from Super Bowl LIII involved New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty and safety Devin McCourty. The two became the first set of twins to play together in the Super Bowl.

While Michael and Martellus Bennett are not twins, they are brothers—and the two seem to have some interest in playing in New England together.

Defensive end Michael Bennett has already joined the defending Super Bowl champions, as he was traded to New England by the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the Eagles also gave up a seventh-round pick in the deal and will receive a fifth from New England.

Ben Volin @BenVolin

Source confirms that the Patriots are trading for Eagles DE Michael Bennett. Heard they gave up a 5th and are getting back a 7th. Bennett is under contract for two more years and $15.7m. Low risk move for a veteran pass rusher. Could spell the end of Trey Flowers’ time in NE

Now, this transaction is significant for a couple of reasons. For starters, it could set the stage for a Patriots return from tight end Martellus Bennett.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Martellus Bennett is interested in ending his retirement and joining his brother in New England. Martellus was out of football in 2018, but he did appear in two games with the Patriots in 2017.

As it pertains to free agency, this move could also signal the end of Trey Flowers' time in New England. The versatile defensive end is one of the best defenders hitting the market, though it seems he would like to return to the Patriots for another Super Bowl run.

"This is number six," Flowers said during a recent Springfield Thunderbirds game. "We want seven."

With Michael Bennett on the roster, though, re-signing Flowers isn't quite as much of a priority. This should make it easier for another team to swoop in and sign him.

Prediction: Flowers does not return to the Patriots.


Bears Shopping Howard, Could Be Landing Spot for Peterson

There are few names bigger in this year's market than running back Adrian Peterson. While the future Hall of Famer is best known for his stellar early career, he's still capable of performing at a high level. He did produce a 1,000-yard season for the Washington Redskins in 2018, after all.

According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Chicago Bears could show interest in Peterson:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Tracking Adrian Peterson’s situation, if he doesn’t stay in Washington, I would mark the #Bears as a potential team to watch. Depending on what happens with Jordan Howard and the RB market, of course. Brad Childress is close with Matt Nagy. A thought for down the line, anyway...

Garafolo pointed to the connection between Bears head coach Matt Nagy and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Childress is actually set to join Nagy's staff this season.

Childress was head coach when the Vikings drafted Peterson.

While the Bears might seem like an odd fit at first—they have both Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard on the roster—it actually could end up making a lot of sense.

Chicago is actually trying to trade Howard, and according to Schefter, multiple teams have inquired about him:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Multiple teams approached the Chicago Bears at the combine last week and discussed a potential trade for RB Jordan Howard, per league sources. Discussions ongoing.

Howard saw his role shrink a bit in 2018 as Cohen moved to the forefront of Chicago's offense. If the Bears can get a quality player or draft pick in return for Howard, Peterson could then slide in and take over his role as a complementary back.

If the Bears only receive low-ball offers, though, it would make sense for them to let Howard play out the final year of his contract.

Prediction: Bears deal Howard for a Day-3 draft pick, but Peterson returns to Washington.


Dolphins Could Part With Cameron Wake

Edge-rusher Cameron Wake is about as close to a face of the franchise as the Miami Dolphins have on their roster. Wake has been sacking quarterbacks for the Dolphins since 2009 and has played for five different head coaches.

It doesn't appear, though, that Brian Flores will mark Wake's sixth.

According to Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Dolphins are planning to finally move on from one of the biggest names on their roster:

"While seeing Wake return for an 11th season with sights set on recording his 100th sack could have been a heartwarming story for the franchise, the Dolphins are steadfast in their plans to rebuild the roster with younger, cheaper talent in hopes of developing into a competitor for years to come."

While Wake won't be returning to Miami, someone is going to sign him after the start of free agency—pass-rushers are just too rare a commodity. It wouldn't be surprising to see Wake sign with another AFC East team, say, with former head coach Adam Gase and the New York Jets?

Prediction: Jets sign Wake to a two-year deal.