2019 NFL Free Agents: Buzz, Predictions for Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant, More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2019

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Carson, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

We're already heading into the second full week of the NFL preseason, which means the regular season is right around the corner.

By now, teams should have a good idea where the weaknesses on their roster are, which is why we could start seeing some of the remaining quality free agents start to come off the market.

The Arizona Cardinals, for example, recently worked out free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree. Though Arizona took steps to upgrade its receiving corps earlier in the offseason—drafting KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella—it clearly feels like it lacks veteran depth at the position.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, however, the Cardinals and Crabtree couldn't come to an agreement:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

After working out for Arizona on Monday, free-agent WR Michael Crabtree received an offer from the Cardinals; but the two sides could not agree to terms, per sources. Crabtree remains a free agent, looking for a new team.

This means Arizona could soon turn its attention to other veteran free agents, like Pierre Garcon or Mike Wallace. It's more likely, however, that the Cardinals will try to poach a receiver off the waiver wire following roster cuts.

This also leaves Crabtree, who had 607 yards and three touchdowns last season, free to sign with a receiver-needy team before the start of the season. The New York Giants, who are dealing with Sterling Shepard's broken thumb and Golden Tate's looming suspension, could provide a logical landing spot.

While it may not be New York who comes calling for Crabtree, someone probably will. It just might not happen until after 53-man rosters have been set and the waiver wire has been thoroughly examined.

Don't be surprised if Crabtree latches on with a team in the first month of the regular season.

What else is going on in the free-agent market? Let's take a look.


Saints are the First Choice for Dez Bryant

Wide receiver Dez Bryant spent all of last offseason and part of the regular season looking for work. Though he is just 30 years old, Bryant is no longer a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver, and the torn Achilles he suffered midseason won't help his chances of landing with a team now. 

However, Bryant already has a team in mind for when he gets back to 100 percent: The New Orleans Saints.

"Whenever I get right, I'm going to hit my agent up and I'm going to let Kim know, 'Hey let's go, I'm ready to go. Make sure you call the Saints first. I owe them,'" Bryant told CBS Sports' Tiki and Tierney

It was New Orleans that finally took a chance on Bryant after the midway point of 2018, only to have him suffer the injury almost immediately. The Saints would be a logical landing spot, if and only if they believe he is back to 100 percent and still has something to offer.

Realistically, though, the Saints probably won't have a need for Bryant, who is more of a possession receiver at this point. They added tight end Jared Cook in the offseason, and he should fill that role.

Prediction: Barring an injury, the Saints won't show interest in Bryant


Buccaneers Looking for Safety Help

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

While injuries could lead a team like the Giants or the Saints to pursue a veteran free-agent receiver, health problems already have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking for safety depth.

"The thing that's interesting is you don't think going into your second preseason game you'll have four safeties. It's hard with continuity,'" safeties coach Nick Rapone said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa worked out former Oakland Raiders safety Marcus Gilchrist and are still presumably looking for veteran safety help. If they don't eventually sign Gilchrist, there's another notable safety out there the Bucs could take a chance on.

Three-time All-Pro Eric Berry remains unsigned, likely due to his recent injury history. He suffered a torn Achilles in 2017 and missed most of last season with a bone spur.

The Dallas Cowboys took a look at Berry earlier in the offseason and continue to "monitor" him, vice president of player personnel Will McClay told 1310 The Ticket (h/t The Athletic's Jon Machota).

With the Buccaneers hurting at the safety spot, it would make sense for them to do the same.

Prediction: Buccaneers work out Berry before Week 1


Falcons Claim Danny Etling

The New England Patriots turned former college quarterback Julian Edelman into one of the league's premier slot receiver. They apparently had thoughts of doing the same with former LSU quarterback Danny Etling this offseason. However, the experiment didn't go far, and the Patriots recently waived the second-year pro. 

The Atlanta Falcons were quick to claim him, according to Field Yates of ESPN:

Field Yates @FieldYates

The Falcons have claimed former Patriots QB/WR Danny Etling off of waivers, per source.

The question is whether Etling will stick in Atlanta. The fact that he can provide depth at both receiver and quarterback should help his chances. However, he's still in the middle of a position switch and won't have much time to prepare in Atlanta's system. 

Expect the Falcons to give Etling a look over the final two weeks of the preseason, but ultimately, don't expect him to make the final 53.

Prediction: Falcons sign Etling to the practice squad