NFL Free Agents 2019: Rumors and Predictions for Players with Multiple Suitors

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2017, file photo, Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas stands on the field before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Seattle. Holdout safety Earl Thomas reiterated Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, he wants to be traded if the Seattle Seahawks aren’t willing to offer him a contract extension.(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)
Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

The 2019 edition of NFL free agency officially kicks off at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but teams can actually begin contacting players on Monday. This means several deals will effectively be in place before they can actually be signed.

While this "legal tampering" period might not seem like a big deal, it definitely serves a purpose. It ensures that multiple teams can get a crack at top free agents before they completely come off the market.

There will be plenty of teams with multiple suitors in free agency this year, too. Here, you'll find the latest buzz and predictions on some of them.


S Earl Thomas

The safety class in free agency is deep this year. Players like Tyrann Mathieu, Lamarcus Joyner, Darian Stewart and Glover Quin are all expected to be available alongside former Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.

Logically, it would seem like this deep of a group would push the demand for Thomas down, especially since he's 29 years old and finished two of his last three seasons on injured reserve.

However, Peter King of ProFootballTalk.com has reported that several teams are already showing interest.

"Thomas is a highly respected player with motivation to stick it to Seattle, with the ability to be a playmaking centerfielder and a good hitter too," King wrote. "Houston, San Francisco, Dallas and Kansas City all could be players for Thomas."

Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs could be out from this group because of Thomas' potential price tag. According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Dallas Morning News, the three-time All-Pro is looking to become the NFL's highest-paid safety.

Both the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers are projected to be in the top-10 in salary cap space, according to Spotrac, but the 49ers have one advantage.

As King pointed out, Thomas is eager to stick it to Seattle. Joining the 49ers would give Thomas the opportunity to do that twice a year.

Prediction: 49ers sign Thomas to a four-year deal.


DE Trey Flowers

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The New England Patriots recently made a deal to acquire defensive end Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles. While this may seem like it signals the end of Trey Flowers' time in New England, a return cannot be completely ruled out.

"Bennett's arrival shouldn't automatically close the door on Flowers' return—it's more likely to affect Adrian Clayborn's return for a second season—as it's a trade the Patriots would have made regardless of Flowers' free-agent status," Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wrote.

While Clayborn does still have $2 million in dead money on his contract, releasing him would save the Patriots nearly $4 million in cap space. That's a notable chunk of cash that could be spent on Flowers.

While New England may be able to retain Flowers, they aren't likely to overpay to do so—otherwise, they would have simply used the franchise tag. The price for Flowers could quickly get out of New England's range.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora believes we could see a "bidding war" between the Detroit Lions and the Tennessee Titans over Flowers. This makes perfect sense, as both Lions head coach Matt Patricia and Titans head coach Mike Vrabel have ties to the Patriots organization.

The Titans and the Lions are projected to have a similar amount of cap space, so one team massively outbidding the other seems unlikely. The fact that Patricia directly coached Flowers as New England's defensive coordinator could give Detroit the edge.

Prediction: Lions sign Flowers to a five-year deal.


Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Though 30 years old, Los Angeles Rams guard Rodger Saffold should be one of the top offensive-line options available in free agency. He is versatile, having played both guard spots and at left tackle during his NFL career. Saffold was also named a second-team All-Pro in 2017.

The Rams would probably love to have their starting left guard back for another run, but the price tag may simply be too steep.

"Rams guard Rodger Saffold, unlikely to return to the Rams, will likely go to the highest bidder—and Arizona could be in play," King wrote.

According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, the New York Jets are also interested in Saffold.

The Arizona Cardinals and the Jets both make sense as Saffold-suitors. Both have second-year quarterbacks in need of upgraded pass-protection, and both reside in the top half of the league in terms of projected cap space.

The Jets, though, only trail the Indianapolis Colts in terms of cap space. Saffold may also have reservations about playing for the Cardinals after spending nine seasons with the rival Rams.

Prediction: Jets sign Saffold to a three-year deal.


*All contract and cap information via Spotrac.