Free Agency 2019: Rumors and Predictions for Key Offseason Targets

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2019

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

NFL free agents will often weigh factors such as location, salary, the potential to win and prospective role in the decision to sign a new deal with another squad.

The top talents may have their sights set on a preferred club, but the majority of veterans visit multiple teams before agreeing on a contract. 

Typically, front offices re-sign top-notch pass-rushers. As a result, the New York Jets may have a creative approach to generating pocket pressure. Will Gang Green land and repackage a Pro Bowl off-ball linebacker as an edge-rusher?

Free agents, who didn't have starting roles in recent years, could commit to a club that expects to expand their workloads. An All-Pro talent may have been restricted because of limited snaps.

We'll take a look at the latest free-agency rumors and predict where notable players sign in the coming days and weeks. 


New York Jets Interested in Linebacker Anthony Barr? 

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Linebacker Anthony Barr's appeal isn't confined to teams that run a 4-3 base scheme. The Jets have the four-time Pro Bowler high on their wish list, per The Athletic's Connor Hughes: 

Connor Hughes @Connor_J_Hughes

A player on the #Jets radar: LB Anthony Barr. They’re very — very — high on him. Wouldn’t be surprised if they offer him the most money when market opens. They’ll be in it for him until the end.

Barr served as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 alignment through five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. If he signs with Gang Green, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will look to optimize his pass-rushing skills, according to Hughes:

Connor Hughes @Connor_J_Hughes

The Jets believe he has most potential as pass rusher. https://t.co/i5Twm6iMoF

At UCLA, Barr recorded 23.5 sacks between the 2012-13 terms. He's no stranger to rushing the quarterback, but the Vikings utilized him as an off-ball defender responsible for stopping the run and short-area coverage. The 26-year-old has 13.5 sacks on his pro resume. 

Because of the potential role change, Barr could demand a more lucrative deal as a pass-rushing talent. With $93.1 million in cap space, the Jets have more than enough financial capital to invest in his transition. For a team that's not guaranteed a shot at Nick Bosa or Josh Allen in the upcoming draft, it's a logical acquisition. 

Prediction: Barr signs with the New York Jets


Philadelphia Eagles Prepared to Target Running Back Tevin Coleman?

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 30: Running back Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons high steps into the end zone to score in the third quarter of the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
Will Vragovic/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons selected running back Ito Smith in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The pick signaled a change in the backfield.

Devonta Freeman signed a five-year, $41.3 million extension during the 2017 offseason. He's not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

On an expiring contract, Tevin Coleman is the odd man out.

Coleman should land on his feet during free agency. He's coming off his best campaign, racking up 1,076 yards from scrimmage as a fill-in starter for Freeman, who landed on injured reserve with a groin injury.

The 25-year-old's versatility should attract several teams that view him as a lead ball-carrier or a complementary component in the backfield.

According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Philadelphia Eagles will toss an offer at Coleman:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Elsewhere on the RB market, this was me concurring with @AnthonyLGargano’s info earlier. I believe he’s right when he says the Eagles will be players for Coleman. They’ll have company, though. https://t.co/s5b8ElQBCC

The Eagles hold the No. 25 overall pick in the draft and two second-round selections. Why would the front office pay a premium price or compete with suitors for Coleman with an opportunity to address the position with an early-round pick on a rookie deal?

Philadelphia doesn't need a 20-carry tailback—just a talent capable of running between the tackles on early downs. 

The Jets could make a splash at running back. New York Daily News' Manish Mehta predicted Gang Green will release Isaiah Crowell once the team signs a tailback.

General manager Mike Maccagnan would have to pay top dollar for a versatile running back such as Le'Veon Bell. Instead, he could pay less for Coleman, who possesses a similar skill set. His best days may be ahead as the featured asset in the backfield. 

According to Draftanalyst.com's Tony Pauline, the Jets have a profile preference for ball-carriers on the open market: "I'm told the New York Jets will target second-tier running backs during free agency."

Coleman has yet to reach his ceiling, but the sky would be the limit for him in New York.

Prediction: Tevin Coleman signs with the New York Jets


Carlos Hyde Scheduled to Meet with Kansas City Chiefs 

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Carlos Hyde #34 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the ball during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at TIAA Bank Field on November 18, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars released running back Carlos Hyde Friday, and he is already in the mix for another job.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the fifth-year veteran for a visit:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Free-agent RB Carlos Hyde, released Friday by the Jaguars, is scheduled to visit Saturday with the Kansas City Chiefs, per source. Hyde could be a complement to Chiefs’ RB Damien Williams.

Hyde had a rough year. He signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Cleveland Browns last March. General manager John Dorsey traded him to the Jaguars for a fifth-round pick. Jacksonville let him go in a cap-space clearing frenzy Friday—probably to create space for quarterback Nick Foles.

Assuming the Chiefs seriously consider Hyde a strong fit for their backfield, the 28-year-old could sign up to play in an offense on the rise.

In 2018, Kansas City ranked No. 1 in points scored and yards with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes under center.

Hyde only caught 10 passes for 33 yards last season, but he hauled in 59 receptions during the 2017 term with the San Francisco 49ers.

Alongside Damien Williams at running back, Hyde could also serve as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Mahomes wouldn't have a shortage of options in the intermediate passing game. 

Prediction: Carlos Hyde signs with the Kansas City Chiefs


Cleveland Browns Eyeing Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams?

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Tyrell Williams #16 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the ball after catching a pass against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of their NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Oa
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Aside from Golden Tate, Tyrell Williams may have the most active market at wide receiver. His agent should have a call log filled with teams lining up to sign the 27-year-old.

Looking at Williams' resume, his production isn't comparable to a top-flight wideout. He has accumulated 155 receptions for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns in four seasons.

However, the 6'4", 205-pound wideout has been the second fiddle to Keenan Allen over the last two years. Mike Williams emerged as a playmaker at the position in 2018. Running back Melvin Gordon averages 5.3 targets per contest since 2017.

Williams could log another 1,000-yard season with more looks in the passing game. In 2016, he saw a season-high 119 targets.

According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, the Cleveland Browns will pursue him: "A league source told cleveland.com that the Williams will 'be of strong interest' to the Browns when the legal tampering period begins on Monday."

Although the Browns seem like they're on the way up after a 7-8-1 season, the Indianapolis Colts, who are also interested in Williams, per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, offer a more attractive setting.

The Colts will have the most cap space ($102 million) to start the 2019 offseason, which allows them to outbid the Browns. Second, this club won a playoff game in the last campaign. Finally, Andrew Luck tops Baker Mayfield in the quarterback hierarchy.

It's hard to turn down a good shot at the postseason, a four-time Pro Bowl signal-caller and potentially more cash from a contender.

Prediction: Tyrell Williams signs with the Indianapolis Colts


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