The 1 Free Agent Every NFL Team Must Let Walk Away This Offseason

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 27, 2020

The 1 Free Agent Every NFL Team Must Let Walk Away This Offseason

0 of 32

    Dan Kubus/Getty Images

    Welcome to Super Bowl week, when most of the football world is focused on one game between the league's two remaining teams from the 2019 campaign. 

    But the reality is that 30 fanbases are already thinking about free agency and the draft. And in six weeks, more than 400 NFL players will become unrestricted free agents. 

    You'll hear a lot about the guys your team should sign and should re-sign. Here are 32 who shouldn't be retained by their current teams. 


Arizona Cardinals: OT Marcus Gilbert

1 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    An argument could be made that it's time for the Arizona Cardinals to move on from soon-to-be 34-year-old center A.Q. Shipley, mainly because 2018 third-round pick Mason Cole could deserve a shot to play and progress inside. But Shipley has been a steady leader in the middle for Arizona, and sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray could benefit from continued continuity along the offensive line. 

    So the Cards should do their best to bring back Shipley as well as left tackle D.J. Humphries. At right tackle, it's a little more complicated. Justin Murray, who started most of the year in place of Jordan Mills (knee) and Marcus Gilbert (also a knee), doesn't appear to be the long-term answer after a tough campaign. 

    The Cards should strongly consider starting fresh on that side. Murray, Mills and Gilbert are all slated to hit free agency, and we're calling out Gilbert because he's coming off a major injury and is the oldest of the trio at age 31. 

    Somebody might pay the well-accomplished former Pittsburgh Steeler a decent salary for a prove-it season, but Arizona should instead invest in young talent to better support Murray for years to come. 

Atlanta Falcons: OLB Vic Beasley Jr.

2 of 32

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Outside of an All-Pro 2016 season in which he led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles, edge defender Vic Beasley Jr. has been a tremendous disappointment for the Atlanta Falcons. 

    But because the 2015 top-10 draft pick is a pass-rusher who could still have room to grow in the right environment at the age of 27, somebody will undoubtedly be willing to pay Beasley a relative premium for his services in 2020. 

    The Falcons should step away. 

    Beasley was held to eight or fewer sacks for the fourth time in his five-year career in 2019. He swings and misses a lot, he disappears far too often, and he takes far too many penalties (15 in the last two seasons alone). 

    The Falcons would be better off allocating money for tight end Austin Hooper as well as veteran pass-rusher Adrian Clayborn, who outplayed Beasley in 2019. After all, they're already paying big bucks to front-seven defenders Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones, and they'll soon have a decision to make on fourth-year first-round pick Takkarist McKinley at the same position. 

Baltimore Ravens: CB Brandon Carr

3 of 32

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens' midseason acquisition of ball-hawk cornerback Marcus Peters essentially spelled the end of the Brandon Carr era in Baltimore, especially once Peters performed extremely well down the stretch for the Ravens. 

    Carr is not technically guaranteed to hit free agency, but the organization has to decide whether to exercise a $7 million option in his contract by March 17. 

    That should be a no-brainer. 

    Incredibly, the soon-to-be 33-year-old has never missed a start in his 12-year NFL career. But he had zero interceptions and just six passes defensed in 2019. He doesn't make enough plays these days. 

    The Ravens have Peters outside as well as the younger Jimmy Smith if they decide to bring him back. If they feel they must choose between Carr and Smith, they have to go with the latter. And with Marlon Humphrey in line to get paid in the next year or two and Peters already making $14 million a year, that might be the case for a team that also will want to try to re-sign pass rusher Matt Judon. 

Buffalo Bills: CB Kevin Johnson

4 of 32

    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    It wouldn't be shocking if the Buffalo Bills decided to move on from impending free-agent defenders Shaq Lawson or Kevin Johnson. But Lawson is at least coming off his most productive year yet and has some upside at age 25. 

    Johnson will turn 28 this summer, and he didn't deliver on a one-year prove-it contract with the Bills in 2019. Somebody might still be tempted by the 2015 No. 16 overall pick, but Buffalo would be better off allocating that money to its other three top corners, all of whom are younger and are home-grown players. 

    All-Pro 25-year-old Tre'Davious White will soon require a hefty contract, 24-year-old 2018 undrafted free agent Levi Wallace is entering a contract year after starting all 16 games as a sophomore, and 2018 second-round pick Taron Johnson emerged as an intriguing presence in the slot in 2019. 

    The Bills have the salary-cap space to comfortably bring back both Lawson and Kevin Johnson, but with 2018 fifth-round corner Siran Neal also still in the potential mix, it's time to give up on Johnson and let somebody else chase the dream that he's a late bloomer rather than a bust. 

Carolina Panthers: OLB Bruce Irvin

5 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Both Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin, who were the Carolina Panthers' most active edge defenders in 2019, are slated to become unrestricted free agents in March. That likely means the Panthers have a big decision to make. 

    With 2019 first-round pick Brian Burns ready to take off and 2018 fourth-rounder Marquis Haynes also in the picture, it might be time for a team with somewhat limited cap space to shift its focus on the edge. The Panthers would be better off going young outside and paying top defensive end Gerald McCoy, who also has an expiring contract, along with Vernon Butler and Kyle Love up front. 

    It's quite frankly a toss-up between Addison and Irvin, who are both 32 years old and coming off decent seasons. But the former was slightly healthier than the latter in 2019, he had one more sack and one more forced fumble, and he probably has more tread on his tires because he was gently used in his first six NFL campaigns. 

    The Panthers might just keep whichever player gives them the best deal, but Addison looks like the slightly more sensible player to retain right now. 

Chicago Bears: LB Danny Trevathan

6 of 32

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    When veteran Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan went down with what turned out to be a season-ending elbow injury in November, Nick Kwiatkoski stepped in and performed well.

    Both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this March, and the cap-strapped Bears might not have the ability to re-sign both. 

    They should opt for Kwiatkoski, who is three years younger and likely a lot fresher than Trevathan. The former Denver Bronco is more of a proven commodity than Kwiatkoski, but he's missed 18 games in four seasons with the Bears and will be on the wrong side of 30 this spring. 

    The Bears are already paying Khalil Mack huge money and will soon have to pay fellow linebackers Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith. Considering that only five teams are projected to have less cap space this offseason, they'd be smart to save some money. The lesser-known Kwiatkoski might be a tad cheaper than Trevathan, and there's a lot more upside there after somewhat of a breakout season from the 2016 fourth-round pick.

Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green

7 of 32

    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    Newsflash: The Cincinnati Bengals weren't good in 2019 and won't likely be good in 2020. 

    Therefore, Cincinnati should avoid joining a bidding war to keep star wide receiver A.J. Green, who will likely draw big offers from teams in win-now mode but is too much of a liability for a team that is rebuilding. 

    The Bengals are certainly rebuilding following a 2-14 season, and the 31-year-old Green has now missed 29 games due to injury since the start of 2016. There's a very good chance that even if he battles back to play football in the fall for the first time since 2018, he won't be the same player he was before ankle injuries derailed his last two campaigns. 

    The Bengals have some quality young offensive pieces in Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, Auden Tate and Joe Mixon. It's time to forget about Green and focus on surrounding their quarterback of the future with young talent. 

Cleveland Browns: OT Greg Robinson

8 of 32

    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns have to force themselves to pull the trigger on a long-term answer at left tackle. The best way to accomplish that might be to part ways with veteran 2019 starter Greg Robinson, who gives up too much pressure, struggles as a run-blocker and takes far too many penalties. 

    They might have the cap space to bring back Robinson as a swing tackle, but somebody else will likely pay the 2014 No. 2 overall pick starter-caliber money. So Cleveland should just abstain and look for an upgrade in free agency and/or the draft to bolster protection on quarterback Baker Mayfield's blind side. 

    Cleveland yet again has a new-look coaching staff, and incoming offensive line coach Bill Callahan will likely look to make significant changes in an attempt to mold the line to his preferences. This is a good time to start fresh at the line's most critical position. 

    In other words: Adios, Greg. 

Dallas Cowboys: CB Byron Jones

9 of 32

    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys could theoretically bring back quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones. But that'd be extremely prohibitive, even for a team with nearly $80 million in salary-cap space.

    So since Dallas can't realistically let go of Prescott or Cooper without taking a big step backward on offense, Jones will likely have to go.

    He's probably their best corner, but that's the issue. A 27-year-old outside cover man with a Pro Bowl on his resume will likely command a large deal on the open market. Dallas can't afford to get involved in that game, especially with talented youngsters Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis already on the roster.

    The Cowboys should focus on Prescott and Cooper, let Jones strike gold elsewhere, re-sign the inevitably cheaper Anthony Brown and pick up another corner early in the draft.

Denver Broncos: CB Chris Harris Jr.

10 of 32

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Late last year, Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic that, prior to the 2019 trade deadline, the team offered him a three-year, $36 million contract. 

    Despite the fact that Harris is a 30-year-old who spent most of his career in the slot before moving outside full-time but generally struggling for Vic Fangio in 2019, he obviously rejected that offer. That indicates he isn't willing to take another hometown discount in Denver. 

    The Broncos are in solid cap shape and suffer from a lack of depth at corner, but they should still opt not to pay Harris anything more lucrative than they offered in October. It's just not worth it for a declining player who tied career lows with six passes defensed and one interception in 16 games last season. 

    The Broncos should look to get younger at that position, but they can also take solace in the fact that 2019 free-agent acquisition Bryce Callahan and 2019 offseason revelation De'Vante Bausby are returning from injuries. 

Detroit Lions: DT Mike Daniels

11 of 32

    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The Mike Daniels experiment didn't work out for the Detroit Lions. 

    Detroit signed the veteran defensive lineman soon after he was surprisingly released by the division rival Green Bay Packers in July, but Green Bay might have been on to something regarding Daniels' decline. The 30-year-old's tackle and sack totals plummeted in his final season there, and injuries were again a big factor in what was essentially a lost debut campaign with Detroit. 

    Daniels started just two games and contributed just one sack and 10 tackles to the Lions, who acquired interior defensive lineman Damon Harrison from the New York Giants ahead of the trade deadline. Harrison is actually five months older than Daniels, but he's coming off a strong, complete campaign and he's under contract for two more years. 

    The Lions should bring back A'Shawn Robinson to partner up with Harrison, since Robinson still has plenty of upside as a 24-year-old 2016 second-round pick. And in that case, it doesn't make much sense to pay Daniels to return. 

Green Bay Packers: LB Blake Martinez

12 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Blake Martinez isn't a bad player. The Green Bay Packers linebacker hasn't missed a start since his rookie season in 2016, and in the last three years, he has more tackles than anyone else in football. But those raw tackle numbers are likely to cause somebody to overpay a good-not-great 26-year-old. 

    Martinez excelled in coverage in his third season but experienced lapses there as well as in run defense in 2019. There's a decent chance the 2016 fourth-round pick peaked in 2018, and a Packers run defense that ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) needs to bolster the non-pass-rushing front-seven positions. 

    So while Martinez is good enough to return to the Green Bay roster in 2020, he shouldn't be in a featured role but will require too much money for a periphery role.

    The Packers need more playmakers away from the edges, and Martinez doesn't qualify as a playmaker. Time to give somebody else a shot in the middle. 

Houston Texans: CB Johnathan Joseph

13 of 32

    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph has had a hell of a nine-year run with the Houston Texans, but the two-time Pro Bowler will turn 36 in April. Considering that he picked off just one pass in an injury-impacted 2019 season, the Texans should move on instead of re-signing the impending free agent. 

    They're well-positioned to do so now that they have young first-round picks Vernon Hargreaves III and Gareon Conley, who were both acquired during the 2019 season. They'll certainly have to re-sign 2019 starter Bradley Roby, who flashed at times despite also dealing with injury problems last season. But Roby over Joseph is a no-brainer. 

    We could have just as easily gone with running back Lamar Miller here, considering that Carlos Hyde is coming off a strong season and Duke Johnson is on board. But Hyde is also slated to hit free agency, and he's not close to as old as Joseph. 

    Of course, it also wouldn't be surprising if Joseph were to walk away himself. 

Indianapolis Colts: K Adam Vinatieri

14 of 32

    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Like Joseph in Houston, there's probably a better chance kicker Adam Vinatieri retires than returns to Indianapolis Colts or signs elsewhere. But it does seem to be a fait accompli that Vinatieri is done in Indy after a horrendous 2019 season. 

    Vinatieri was the third-least-accurate kicker in the NFL this year. He missed a combined 14 field goals and extra points, including five field goals from inside 50 yards, and many of those misses came in crucial moments. 

    He's now 47 years old, he's coming off a season-ending knee injury, and ESPN's Mike Wells reported earlier this month that "the odds aren't high that the Colts will re-sign" the future Hall of Famer. Wells added that Vinatieri would have a tough time beating out Chase McLaughlin, who was nearly perfect in Vinatieri's stead down the stretch in 2019. 

    "We'll see. We liked him," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said of McLaughlin, per Wells. "You come in and you have to follow Adam Vinatieri, you've got a little something to you. He's got a really calm demeanor; he's got a process that he goes through to kick. We like Chase."

Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Marcell Dareus

15 of 32

    Harry Aaron/Getty Images

    There's no way the Jacksonville Jaguars will pick up a club option that would cost them $22.5 million to bring back defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in 2020, which means the soon-to-be 30-year-old is extremely likely to hit free agency.

    The Jags could still theoretically bring him back on a new deal, but they shouldn't. 

    Nobody in the AFC is projected to have less cap space than the Jaguars this offseason, and even in his career twilight, Dareus won't be cheap. Six years removed from his last Pro Bowl campaign and coming off a season in which he was limited to just six games, he also won't be worth it. 

    Jacksonville already has 2018 first-rounder Taven Bryan at that position, while fellow defensive tackles Abry Jones and Akeem Spence are slightly younger and cheaper options who shouldn't be any less reliable than Dareus at this stage. The 2011 No. 3 overall pick is no longer a factor at all as a pass-rusher and is only worth decent veteran money to teams that can actually afford spending it. 

Kansas City Chiefs: CB Bashaud Breeland

16 of 32

    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    This one's very much up for debate, because cornerback Bashaud Breeland has performed well these playoffs for the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs. But Breeland and Houston's Lonnie Johnson Jr. were the most penalized defensive backs in the league in 2019, and it's time for the Chiefs to upgrade the outside corner position while letting Breeland go in free agency. 

    Kendall Fuller is also a free agent, and although he hasn't lived up to expectations in K.C., there's still room for the 24-year-old to recapture the success he had early in his career. The Chiefs would be better off spending their money on him, and they've already got Tyrann Mathieu, 23-year-old starter Charvarius Ward and promising 2019 sixth-round pick Rashad Fenton on the roster. 

    With Fuller and Chris Jones taking priority, it's time to move on from Breeland. The 2014 fourth-round pick has lacked consistency throughout his career, and that's unlikely to change as he approaches his 28th birthday. 

Las Vegas Raiders: LB Vontaze Burfict

17 of 32

    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Vontaze Burfict was suspended for most of the 2019 season as a result of another dirty hit, but the jury is still out on if the controversial linebacker will join the Raiders as they transition from Oakland to Las Vegas. 

    The team would be better off moving on from the impending free agent. 

    The Athletic's Vic Tafur wrote this month that the Raiders "loved what the veteran brought to the team as far as experience, toughness and his ability to help younger players learn the defense" before he was suspended for the fourth time in his NFL career. But Tafur also noted that the 29-year-old, who has become widely known for dirty hits, "has said he is not going to change the way he plays." 

    That's a problem, and it's an indication Burfict isn't worth the Raiders' money. He hasn't played in more than 11 games since 2013, which is the last time he was a Pro Bowler. Las Vegas doesn't have a lot of other quality options at the linebacker position, but it is projected to have more than $60 million in salary-cap space as well as two top-20 draft picks. 

    It should let Burfict become somebody else's problem. 

Los Angeles Chargers: QB Philip Rivers

18 of 32

    David Eulitt/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Chargers have to walk away from both quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon III, but Rivers is the bigger name with the bigger price tag so we'll focus on the washed-up 38-year-old signal-caller. 

    The writing's probably on the wall after Rivers moved his family across the country at the start of the offseason, but he's also made it clear retirement isn't on the table. Regardless, his contract is up and the Chargers shouldn't give him a new one. 

    The Bolts are christening a new stadium as they try to capture the hearts of a fanbase that appears underwhelmed. Rivers, whose numbers plummeted in a 20-interception 2019 season, looks to be toast. He isn't going to win over new fans at this point. It's time for a fresh face (Teddy Bridgewater? Justin Herbert?) or even an old face that would bring new energy to the organization (Tom Brady? Cam Newton?). 

    There's no room for the declining Gordon after Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson excelled in 2019, but there's even less room for Rivers, who is likely to command well over $20 million somewhere in 2020. 

Los Angeles Rams: G Austin Blythe

19 of 32

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Austin Blythe started all 16 games at right guard during the Los Angeles Rams' 2018 Super Bowl season, and he showed off some versatility as a starter at both guard and center in 2019. But in both seasons he surrendered a lot of pressure and failed to help an interior offensive line that has become problematic in L.A. 

    The 2016 seventh-round pick appears to have his limitations, and that won't likely change as he approaches his 28th birthday. He's also coming off multiple shoulder surgeries.

    Rather than re-upping the soon-to-be free agent, the Rams should move on as part of a necessary offensive line overhaul.

    That won't be easy considering their lack of cap space and draft capital, but with all of their potential 2020 starting offensive linemen except Blythe and Andrew Whitworth under contract, the least they can do is avoid throwing new money at a liability. Guards like Blythe can be replaced in the middle rounds of the draft. 

Miami Dolphins: CB Aqib Talib

20 of 32

    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    This one ain't controversial. When the Miami Dolphins acquired cornerback Aqib Talib from the Los Angeles Rams midway through the 2019 season, it was obvious that the rebuilding Dolphins were taking on the veteran's cap charge in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

    Talib was already on injured reserved with a rib injury at the time, so he has never suited up for Miami. And he likely never will now that he's headed toward free agency. 

    The Dolphins are completely rebuilding the roster, and it's highly doubtful that Talib—who turns 34 next month—will still be a quality player by the time this team is good. In fact, an argument can be made that a guy with just two interceptions in his last three seasons is already no longer a quality player, especially when you take into account the injury factor. 

    Somebody looking for an experienced player to help them with a 2020 Super Bowl run will value Talib much more than the Dolphins should. He'll walk, and Miami will be better off as a result. 

Minnesota Vikings: CB Trae Waynes

21 of 32

    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings probably wish cornerback Xavier Rhodes was hitting free agency instead of fellow corners Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes. Those two still have growth potential and outplayed the fading and expensive Rhodes in 2019. 

    But that's precisely why Minnesota can't afford not to re-sign at least one of those two impending free agents, along with starting edge defender Everson Griffen. Griffen and Danielle Hunter were fire all season for the Vikes, and they can't afford to take a step backward on D. Same rule applies to safety Anthony Harris, who is coming off a breakout walk year. 

    Ideally they'd bring back all four aforementioned defenders, but the Vikes are projected to have almost no cap space, which means somebody has to go. It's practically a toss-up between Waynes and Alexander, neither of whom have delivered as high draft picks. But Waynes is an outside corner so he'll probably cost more, and he's about a year and a half older than his slot-dwelling teammate. 

    So reluctantly, we'll roll with him.

New England Patriots: S Devin McCourty

22 of 32

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    There are a lot of interesting potential free-agent cases for the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady is likely to hit the open market for the first time ever at the age of 42, two-time Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty is slated to do the same at age 32, and veteran front-seven defenders Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy also have expiring contracts. 

    The Pats love collecting compensatory picks by parting ways with declining vets, so don't be surprised if several of those established players wind up somewhere else in 2020. But there's still a good chance owner Robert Kraft decides to pay Brady for at least a swan song (and who could blame him?), while Collins and Van Noy are both still under 30 and coming off strong seasons. 

    But McCourty will turn 33 in August, and although he intercepted five passes in a solid 2019 campaign, he hasn't been a Pro Bowler since 2016. Somebody will likely pay him a premium because he's a big name with a great record for making plays, but the Patriots are unlikely to join a bidding war to keep a player whose best days are probably behind him. 

    Look for New England to move on and then use a high draft pick on a safety for the first time since it picked Jordan Richards in Round 2 in 2015.

New Orleans Saints: G Andrus Peat

23 of 32

    John Cordes/Associated Press

    For the New Orleans Saints, it can't be Drew Brees because you owe the guy $21.3 million regardless of what happens and the 41-year-old still gives them their best chance to win a championship after his highest-rated season yet. 

    But it also can't be Teddy Bridgewater, who is slated to hit free agency but might be Brees' heir apparent after the team won all five of his starts in 2019. 

    Because the Saints have limited cap space, and because those two quarterbacks should be prioritized, they'll likely have to let go of the next-most-expensive impending free agent on the roster. And that's gotta be either guard Andrus Peat or safety Von Bell. 

    Peat has been to a Pro Bowl, though, and he plays a slightly more expensive position. They're about the same age, so Peat will likely draw a bigger contract. But even if we call it a wash, the Saints have more insurance at Peat's position. The only other non-starting safety on the roster who is currently under contract beyond March 18 is 2019 fourth-round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, while they have veteran Nick Easton already on the payroll as a potential replacement for Peat. 

New York Giants: WR Cody Latimer

24 of 32

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Eli Manning has retired and the cap-rich New York Giants have little reason not to bring back key defensive players Leonard Williams and Markus Golden. As a result, there aren't a lot of well-known impending free agents on the Giants roster who should be shown the exit. 

    In a perfect world, they'd feel comfortable enough with the state of the offensive line to part ways with mediocre veteran right tackle Mike Remmers, but Nate Solder has become an even bigger fish to fry on the left side and Remmers won't likely be an expensive re-sign as he approaches 31. 

    Instead, we'll roll with wide receiver Cody Latimer, who also wouldn't likely cost too much to bring back but is taking up space. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are making the big bucks, but on the outside Latimer shouldn't take any more looks away from intriguing 2019 fifth-round pick Darius Slayton. 

    The 27-year-old Latimer caught just 35 passes and scored just three touchdowns the last two seasons with the Giants. Now, they should focus on their top three receivers and bring in somebody who can emerge in the years to come in place of a player who has probably hit his ceiling entering his seventh season. 

New York Jets: LB Neville Hewitt

25 of 32

    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    The New York Jets are loaded with generic, replacement-level players who probably shouldn't be brought back for more than the minimum salary in 2020. It's just wild how many scrubs are just lingering on the team's impending free-agent list, many of whom the league forgot about years ago. 

    It's a given that they don't need to bother bringing back a lot of those guys. Dudes like Albert McClellan, Paul Worrilow, Brandon Copeland on defense and Demaryius Thomas and Bilal Powell on offense, for example. 

    But because veteran linebacker Neville Hewitt played such a large role in place of the injured C.J. Mosley down the stretch in 2019, the 26-year-old linebacker's expiring contract has generated extra attention

    Hewitt put together a career year with the Jets in 2019, but the team should still pass on him in 2020. 

    That's mainly because they're paying Mosley a ridiculous $17 million average annual salary, but also because veteran Avery Williamson and 2019 fifth-round pick Blake Cashman are already on the roster. 

    Hewitt's decent 2019 showing was likely an anomaly for a player who earned just 11 starts in his first four seasons with Miami and the Jets. Hopefully, Gang Green realizes that. 

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor

26 of 32

    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    It's as simple as this: Nelson Agholor needs a divorce from the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Philadelphia Eagles need a divorce from Nelson Agholor. 

    The 26-year-old might still have a chance to become a great receiver in this league, but he'll likely have to attempt to do so in a new environment. He's almost become a caricature of everything wrong with the Eagles receiving corps, and his habit of dropping passes has essentially become a meme in Philly. 

    Agholor, who missed five games due to injury in 2019, was the only qualified player in the NFL to catch fewer than 60 percent of the passes thrown his way and average fewer than 10 yards per reception in 2019. But because he's a well-known name and relatively young, somebody will pay him a decent amount of money in 2020. 

    The Eagles have to know that's a bad idea. They need to rebuild their receiving corps, and the first step is waving goodbye to Agholor. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

27 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are projected to have almost no salary-cap space this offseason, which means they'll have some difficult decisions to make. 

    In a perfect world, they could bring back 26-year-old front-seven starters Javon Hargrave and Bud Dupree, but that might be impossible considering the potential price tags on both as they come off strong seasons. 

    If they can only keep one, they should focus on Dupree, who is the team's next-best pass-rusher after T.J. Watt. That's because they at least already have Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt up front, and those two make a combined average annual salary of nearly $22 million. 

    They also have veteran Tyson Alualu and 2019 sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs under contract along the defensive line, but they're lacking quality edge defenders beyond Watt and Dupree. 

    Thus, it might be time to part ways with Hargrave. 

San Francisco 49ers: WR Emmanuel Sanders

28 of 32

    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Emmanuel Sanders is a big reason the San Francisco 49ers are in the Super Bowl, but that doesn't change the fact he should probably be a one-year rental. 

    San Francisco is projected to enter the offseason with under $16 million in cap space, but the team has a long list of impending free agents that includes promising younger players like Arik Armstead, Emmanuel Moseley, Matt Breida and Kendrick Bourne. The latter three won't be unrestricted, but they'll still cost new money. 

    Sanders will turn 33 in March, and the 49ers are already loaded with talented pass-catchers. With Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor and likely Bourne under contract at receiver, there's just no room to bring back Sanders. 

    Somebody else will likely value him more than San Francisco does. 

Seattle Seahawks: DE Ezekiel Ansah

29 of 32

    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The Ezekiel Ansah experiment failed for the Seattle Seahawks.

    The 30-year-old defensive end again couldn't stay consistently healthy during his inaugural campaign with the Seahawks. He played just 32 percent of the team's defensive snaps and accumulated only 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits in 11 games. 

    Seattle has plenty of money to spend, but none of it should be spent on Ansah, who hasn't been to a Pro Bowl since 2015 and has just 6.5 sacks in 18 games since the start of 2018. He's been riddled with injuries, so much so that it's fair to wonder what he has left at this point. 

    The Seahawks should instead focus on bringing back impending free-agent edge defender Jadeveon Clowney before hoping 2018 third-round pick Rasheem Green or 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier can step forward to complement their three-time Pro Bowler on the edge. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Jason Pierre-Paul

30 of 32

    Will Vragovic/Getty Images

    Even if you don't believe interception-plagued quarterback Jameis Winston is the long-term answer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team has few other quality options and can afford to hit Winston with the franchise tag. After all, this franchise is projected to lead the league in cap space. 

    So instead, let's look to the edge on defense, where top pass-rushers Shaquil Barrett, Carl Nassib and Jason Pierre-Paul all have expiring contracts. Barrett is a must-keep after a 19.5-sack debut season in Tampa, while Nassib is almost five years younger than Pierre-Paul. 

    JPP had an impressive 8.5 sacks over just 10 games in 2019, but Nassib is a better all-around player with more room to grow. And he was penalized a lot less frequently than Pierre-Paul, as well. 

    The best strategy is probably to prioritize the two younger pass-rushers and let Pierre-Paul take his talents elsewhere.

Tennessee Titans: CB Logan Ryan

31 of 32

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    It's pretty clear the Tennessee Titans are moving on from quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was benched midway through a make-or-break year. That also probably means Tennessee will at least use the franchise tag to keep Mariota's replacement, Ryan Tannehill, who was the league's highest-rated passer this season. 

    Mariota would be a cop-out answer here, so this comes down to the team's other three key impending free agents: running back Derrick Henry, offensive tackle Jack Conklin and cornerback Logan Ryan. 

    Ryan is the closest to disposable. 

    Yeah, running backs are a dime a dozen in this era, but Henry is coming off a special season and looks like somewhat of an exception to that rule after carrying the Titans to the AFC Championship Game. This is one case in which paying a premium for a back is somewhat understandable. And you want to maintain as much continuity as possible along the offensive line, so they should make room for the talented Conklin, as well. 

    That won't leave much for Ryan, who is a good but not great slot cornerback. He's never been a Pro Bowler in seven seasons and will turn 29 in early February, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to throw a bunch of cash at him with top 2017 pick Adoree' Jackson and the highly paid Malcolm Butler already on the cornerback depth chart. 

Washington Redskins: OT Donald Penn

32 of 32

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    We'd love to finish off this list with an intriguing name, but the Washington Redskins don't have any intriguing free agents except guard Brandon Scherff, who should be a no-brainer re-signing as a 28-year-old coming off a Pro Bowl season. 

    Beyond that, few will likely object if they move on from veteran impending free agents Vernon Davis, Chris Thompson, Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, Ereck Flowers or Donald Penn. I'd still try to re-sign Keenum because he's the best option to work with Dwayne Haskins, while Penn is probably the biggest liability on the list. 

    What we're really saying is the Redskins must finally find a way to get star left tackle Trent Williams back after a lost season due to a holdout. But even if that doesn't happen, Washington can't afford to enter 2020 with the washed-up, heavily penalized Williams protecting its young quarterback's blind side. 

    Penn, who had a nice career but will be 37 in April, is probably done. 


    Salary-cap, contract and free-agent information courtesy of Spotrac.