2020 NFL Free Agency: 1 Move Every Team Should Still Make

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMarch 23, 2020

2020 NFL Free Agency: 1 Move Every Team Should Still Make

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    Scott Eklund/Associated Press

    The first wave of NFL free agency is complete, but league movement is far from over. Numerous players are still available with the potential to help squads this fall.

    While the market itself cratered with a rash of one-year signings/re-signings during the first weekend of the new league year, a few difference-makers still remain available for the right price.

    Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen, Logan Ryan and Jason Peters are the most recognizable veterans still waiting for deals commensurate with their ability. Jameis Winston remains the top quarterback still available, of course.

    Every fan loves to see their favorite team make splashy signings at the start of free agency, yet this is the point in the process when savvy organizations acquire talent to improve their roster without paying a premium. Not all of the names might be recognizable, but they can help in areas of need or serve as upgrades to previous performers.

    With that in mind, each team can improve its standing if it makes the following free-agent acquisition before the draft becomes the priority.

Arizona Cardinals: OT Germain Ifedi

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals started their offseason by re-signing left tackle DJ Humphries to a three-year, $43.75 million contract. But the team's offensive line isn't complete.

    Right tackle remains a concern.

    General manager Steve Keim could wait until the draft and use the eighth overall pick to select a tackle from an outstanding class. Or, he could hedge his bets by signing a veteran like Germain Ifedi. The 25-year-old blocker started 60 games over the last four seasons for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Adding Ifedi would provide the Cardinals with flexibility during the draft. The team could still take an elite tackle prospect if it wants, with Ifedi as the team's swing tackle, or decide to go in another direction altogether.

Atlanta Falcons: CB Xavier Rhodes

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    The Atlanta Falcons have very little financial wiggle room to make any deal. Currently, the organization has only $2.39 million in available salary-cap space, according to Spotrac. Any type of addition, including signing the team's future draft class, will require some roster maneuvering and creative accounting.

    Still, the organization needs cornerback help after releasing former Pro Bowl defensive back Desmond Trufant.

    Xavier Rhodes is a big name with three career Pro Bowl appearances, including last season. But he produced the second-lowest coverage grade by an outside cornerback since 2018, per Pro Fooball Focus. This could allow the Falcons to sign him to a cheap, prove-it deal to serve as Isaiah Oliver's bookend while Kendall Sheffield handles slot duties.

Baltimore Ravens: LB Nigel Bradham

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    The Baltimore Ravens linebacker corps, particularly the team's pair of inside linebackers, will look completely different in 2020.

    Both Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor are free agents. The duo combined for 110 tackles last season.

    Right now, L.J. Fort, whom the team re-signed to a two-year, $5.5 million deal in November, and Chris Board are the projected starters. Board has never started an NFL game.

    A veteran presence would help solidify the Ravens defense after Baltimore made significant additions along the defensive line in Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers, with one of the game's better secondaries behind them.

    Nigel Bradham can step in as an experienced starter and three-down linebacker to create a cohesive unit at all three levels. His 96 starts in eight seasons would easily make him the most experienced linebacker on the Ravens roster.

Buffalo Bills: RB Devonta Freeman

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    Last season, Frank Gore led the Buffalo Bills with 166 carries. Gore intends to keep playing, but the Bills appear to have moved on from the 36-year-old back.

    Devin Singletary now takes over as the Buffalo Bills' lead back, but the team could use a complementary piece in the backfield.

    Not long ago, Devonta Freeman was a two-time Pro Bowl running back, tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns and the highest-paid player at his position. Injuries slowed him down over the last two seasons, though.

    Still, Freeman is a capable runner and receiver who should sign a team-friendly deal to serve as a nice second backfield option. At worst, the 28-year-old is a more-than-capable third-down back.

Carolina Panthers: DT Shelby Harris

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    The Carolina Panthers appear to be rebuilding. Maybe. Sort of.

    It's kind of hard to tell since they moved on from veterans like Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, while the team is also intent on trading or releasing quarterback Cam Newton "very soon," according to The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue.

    At the same time, the front office signed and traded for veterans Teddy Bridgewater and Russell Okung, respectively, thus sending a mixed message. 

    A full teardown doesn't appear to be forthcoming.

    So, the organization should consider quality options, like Shelby Harris, who can help rebuild the defensive interior. The Panthers only have six defensive linemen on the roster, including the incoming Stephen Weatherly and Chris Smith. Harris, meanwhile, is coming off his best season with 49 total tackles, six sacks and nine passes defended.

Chicago Bears: OG Michael Schofield III

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    Kyle Long's abrupt retirement this offseason created a significant hole in the Chicago Bears offense.

    As of now, Corey Levin is the Bears' projected starter at right guard. The 2017 sixth-round pick started one game (with the Tennessee Titans) in three seasons.

    Guard is a position the Bears can address in the draft, even without a first-round pick. But general manager Ryan Pace should cover the team's bases since the offensive front lacks quality depth.

    Michael Schofield III started 16 games in three of the last four seasons. He can immediately be inserted with the first string. With experience at tackle, the 29-year-old offensive lineman also presents some positional flexibility if the Bears invest in a guard during the draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: EDGE Jordan Jenkins

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    Uncharacteristically, the Cincinnati Bengals have been quite active in free agency.

    The organization already signed one of the best young defensive tackles on the market in D.J. Reader. The front office provided the secondary with a boost by signing former Minnesota Vikings Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes.

    There's no reason to stop there when the franchise can still improve upon last year's 29th-ranked defense.

    Jordan Jenkins is interesting because he's only 25 and coming off a career-high eight sacks—which led the New York Jets.

    Jenkins can play SAM linebacker for the Bengals while doubling as a sub-package pass-rusher. This, in turn, will create flexibility within Cincinnati's defensive scheme as a multiple-front approach.

Cleveland Browns: EDGE Everson Griffen

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    New Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry promised to be aggressive, and the organization definitely has in free agency.

    The Browns already filled holes at right tackle (Jack Conklin), defensive tackle (Andrew Billings), linebacker (B.J. Goodson), nickel corner (Kevin Johnson) and safety (Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo). Cleveland's pass rush needs a boost, too, which may come at the expense of current defensive end Olivier Vernon.

    Vernon's contract has a non-guaranteed $15.5 million salary-cap hit this season. The 29-year-old pass-rusher is still a good player when healthy, but he's missed four or more games in each of the last three seasons.

    The Browns could land a more consistent on-field talent in Everson Griffen at a discounted price.

Dallas Cowboys: WR Breshad Perriman

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys didn't accomplish everything the organization wanted to achieve this offseason.

    Yes, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are now locked up through, at least, the 2020 campaign. But the team didn't retain fellow wide receiver Randall Cob, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Houston Texans.

    Cooper and Michael Gallup are an outstanding one-two punch in the passing game, though the Cowboys could use a third option to open up the offense.

    Breshad Perriman is one of the league's better deep threats. The 26-year-old big-bodied target developed nicely the last two seasons after being a first-round bust with the Baltimore Ravens. Perriman averaged 18.9 yards per catch with the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Denver Broncos: C Jon Halapio

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    Connor McGovern developed into one of the league's better centers with the Denver Broncos only to have the New York Jets sign him to a three-year, $27 million free-agent deal.

    The Broncos now have to decide whether they should move someone to center or address the position. The latter seems to be more prudent since Graham Glasgow, whom the Broncos just signed to a four-year, $44 million deal, had his best season at right guard.

    Austin Schlottmann could move to center. Or, the team can sign someone familiar with Pat Shurmur's offensive scheme.

    Jon Halapio became the New York Giants' starting center during Shurmur's tenure as head coach. The lineman is coming off a Week 17 ACL tear, but he would be an ideal insurance policy.

Detroit Lions: CB Ronald Darby

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    Yes, the Detroit Lions signed Desmond Trufant, but the organization did so after trading Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. Cornerback remains a concern after the Lions fielded last year's 32nd-ranked pass defense.

    So far, the Lions have concentrated more on the safety position with Jayron Kearse's signing and Duron Harmon's acquisition via trade.

    Justin Coleman is one of the league's better nickels, but Trufant needs a bookend.

    Ronald Darby is an injury risk who never played a full 16-game slate. He missed 20 games in three seasons with the Eagles because of ankle, hamstring, hip and knee problems.

    With great risk comes great reward, however, and the Lions could add an excellent cover corner if Darby signs and stays relatively healthy.

Green Bay Packers: WR Demarcus Robinson

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    Davante Adams needs help.

    Adams more than doubled the Packers' second-most productive wide receiver, Allen Lazard, in catches, targets and receiving yards.

    Yet, the Packers haven't added another receiving threat this offseason.

    After being so active a year ago with the signings of Za'Darius and Preston Smith to address an obvious need, this year's approach is somewhat surprising. Still, the Packers didn't have nearly the amount of salary-cap space to sign a high-profile free agent.

    With linebacker (Christian Kirksey) and right tackle (Ricky Wagner) already addressed, the Packers can sign a young and dynamic deep threat in Demarcus Robinson to play opposite Adams. The 25-year-old receiver posted career highs in Kansas City last season with 32 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns.

Houston Texans: DT Dontari Poe

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    No one other than Bill O'Brien has any clue what the Houston Texans are doing. It's hard to predict with any certainty what direction the organization plans to go in the coming months.

    With that said, the Texans lost an outstanding, young defensive tackle when the Bengals signed D.J. Reader to a four-year, $53 million free-agent deal.

    Reader can't be completely replaced, but the Texans can concentrate on adding a competent option.

    Dontari Poe's 2019 campaign came to a premature end because of a torn quad muscle. The Carolina Panthers subsequently released the 346-pounder, and while the two-time Pro Bowl defender isn't the same player he once was, he's still a quality alternative when healthy.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Robby Anderson

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    That Robby Anderson has yet to sign with a team may be the most baffling aspect of this year's free agency.

    Anderson was generally counted among the top available wide receivers before the market opened, yet he's received little to no interest.

    "No one's heard of any team making a legitimate run at him," The Athletic's Connor Hughes reported. "No one's heard of any type of salary coming his way." 

    The nonexistent market can play into a team's favor. The Indianapolis Colts, for example, still have a significant need at outside wide receiver and plenty of salary-cap room to reach a deal with Anderson.

    Wide receiver is the last position the Colts must address on offense to provide new quarterback Philip Rivers with a complete supporting cast.

Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Bashaud Breeland

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    In the space of six months, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded both starting cornerbacks, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, from their 2019 opening-day roster.

    At one point in time, Ramsey and Bouye were considered the league's best cornerback duo. Now, they're elsewhere and the Jaguars are left with a combination of D.J. Hayden, Tre Herndon, Parry Nickerson and the recently signed Darqueze Dennard. Hayden and Dennard have been better working over the slot.

    Whereas, Bashaud Breeland showed he can be the No. 1 cover corner for a championship-caliber defense. In fact, Breeland posted his best coverage grade in Super Bowl LIV, according to Pro Football Focus.

    The 28-year-old would immediately help a revamped Jaguars secondary.

Kansas City Chiefs: CB P.J. Williams

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    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs haven't been able to do much in free agency thanks to the Chris Jones franchise tag and Patrick Mahomes' eventual mega-contract extension.

    So, the Chiefs haven't made much headway in free agency except for adding offensive lineman Mike Remmers and cornerback Antonio Hamilton. Hamilton isn't a significant addition, but the reigning Super Bowl champs desperately need secondary depth since Bashaud Breeland remains a free agent and Kendall Fuller signed with the Washington Redskins.

    P.J. Williams primarily served as the New Orleans Saints' nickel corner, but the 26-year-old could have an opportunity to play inside and outside with the Chiefs and give Kansas City plenty of flexibility with Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton already on the roster.

Las Vegas Raiders: WR Devin Funchess

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    The Las Vegas Raiders knew their wide receiver corps needed a boost since no one at the position managed more than 49 receptions or 651 receiving yards last season.

    The organization signed Nelson Agholor, but he's on a one-year, prove-it deal. The Raiders can do the same with Devin Funchess, who missed all but one game last season with a broken collarbone.

    At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Funchess is a massive target, much like the 6'4", 205-pound Tyrell Williams.

    Imagine two towering targets in Williams and Funchess working outside the numbers with some combination of Agholor, Hunter Renfrow and possibly this year's 12th overall pick (CeeDee Lamb? Jerry Jeudy? Henry Ruggs III?) working from the slot.

Los Angeles Chargers: LT Jason Peters

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers don't have a starting-caliber left tackle on the roster after trading Russell Okung to the Carolina Panthers. Jason Peters has yet to find a home. The two seem like a natural pairing.

    Five-time Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner was the return in the Okung trade, while the organization made one of the best free-agent signings in right tackle Bryan Bulaga (three years, $30 million).

    Now, someone needs to protect the blind side of whoever starts at quarterback next season—whether it be Tyrod Taylor or a rookie draft pick.

    At 38, Peters is still one of the league's better left tackles and could mentor the Chargers' younger linemen, like Trey Pipkins and Trent Scott.

Los Angeles Rams: EDGE Markus Golden

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams already signed Leonard Floyd this offseason to bolster the team's pass rush. Why stop there?

    After all, Dante Fowler Jr. signed with the Atlanta Falcons, and the organization recently released fellow outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

    Floyd, meanwhile, is a lottery ticket because he's never lived up to expectations after the Chicago Bears made him the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. His sack production decreased in each season he's played.

    On the other hand, Markus Golden is a proven edge-rusher with a pair of 10-sack seasons under his belt. The 29-year-old would immediately help Aaron Donald by adding more of an edge presence. The Rams need that after losing 19.5 sacks between Fowler and Matthews.

Miami Dolphins: OT Cordy Glenn

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    The Miami Dolphins entered Phase 2 of their rebuild and splurged in free agency.

    The offensive line received plenty of attention with guard Ereck Flowers' and center Ted Karras' additions. They'll help solidify the interior, but the team still has a hole at left tackle.

    The Dolphins don't have a clear starting option to protect the blind side (or strong side if Miami does end up drafting left-handed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa).

    Cordy Glenn is an established veteran, though the 30-year-old blocker hasn't played a complete season since the 2015 campaign. Think of him as an insurance policy.

    Glenn can start at left tackle if the Dolphins don't land one with their three first-round draft picks. If they do, Glenn can back up four of the five offensive line positions.

Minnesota Vikings: CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

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    The Minnesota Vikings were forced to clear a considerable amount of money off the books this offseason, which led to the departures of Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.

    The cornerback market is depleted, and the Vikings don't have much to spend—$12.18 million, per Spotrac—but a couple of nickel options exist to replace Alexander.

    Nickell Robey-Coleman has been one of the league's best slot corners for years, but the Rams decided not to exercise this year's contract option.

    The 28-year-old defensive back may be willing to fit under the cap to play for a competitive Vikings squad, especially since the nickel market hasn't been flush (Alexander leads free-agent nickel backs so far with a one-year, $4.3 million deal).

New England Patriots: TE Tyler Eifert

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    The New England Patriots operated without a quality tight end during the 2019 campaign because the organization did little to replace the retired Rob Gronkowski.

    Last year's group—Benjamin Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Eric Tomlinson—combined to make 37 receptions for 419 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots require more from the position and need someone who can be a receiving threat.

    Tyler Eifert's career has been ravaged by injuries, but he played in all 16 games last season. In fact, his production (43 catches, 436 yards and three touchdowns) eclipsed the previously mentioned numbers by New England's tight ends.

    After playing in only 14 games during the previous three campaigns, Eifert proved he's a reliable target.

New Orleans Saints: S Vonn Bell

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    Change isn't always a good thing.

    Vonn Bell is the best available strong safety still on the market. The 25-year-old is an interesting option because he must be utilized correctly to maximize his value.

    The 2016 second-round pick is best working near or in the box as a run-support defender. He's an outstanding physical presence working from the secondary.

    Another team can't sign him and expect a major contribution against the pass, because he struggles in coverage, though he can line up over the slot if needed.

    As such, there's no team that better understands how to use Bell correctly than his previous squad, the New Orleans Saints.

New York Giants: S Damarious Randall

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    A reunion should be in order.

    Damarious Randall and Jabrill Peppers played well as the Cleveland Browns' starting safety duo during the 2018 campaign.

    The New York Giants acquired Peppers from the Browns in last year's blockbuster Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The Giants can now sign Randall as a free agent to improve the team's free-safety spot.

    Randall is a true sideline-to-sideline back-line defender with solid ball skills. But he doubles as a versatile defensive back who can line up at cornerback if needed.

    A starting quartet of Randall, Peppers, DeAndre Baker and the recently acquired James Bradberry, with Julian Love and Corey Ballentine part of the rotation, would be a formidable secondary.

New York Jets: EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Who is willing to pay Jadeveon Clowney what he wants? No team so far.

    The New York Jets should consider outbidding everyone else, though.

    According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the defensive end wanted to sign a long-term deal worth "upwards of $21 million per year" when free agency opened.

    The likelihood of him doing so at this point seems slim.

    However, the Jets have the financial capacity to sign Clowney at a healthy number and address a significant need.

    Currently, New York has the second-most available salary-cap space at $42.76 million, per Spotrac. Clowney is well worth the investment since last year's defensive front created little to no pressure outside of Jordan Jenkins, who is a free agent.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Rashard Higgins

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    The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to do anything about their wide receiver corps despite last year's embarrassing playoff run with only three healthy options.

    Locker room concerns linger regarding veteran target Alshon Jeffery. DeSean Jackson required core muscle surgery last season and will probably be a salary-cap casualty next offseason. Also, Nelson Agholor signed a free-agent deal with the Las Vegas Raiders.

    The Eagles can make a run at a young performer, like Rashard Higgins, who can immediately help the offense.

    Higgins dealt with an ankle injury early last season in Cleveland and then became a healthy scratch later in the campaign. But he's a good route-runner who earned Baker Mayfield's trust before dealing with the Browns' latest organizational implosion.

Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Jameis Winston

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers don't have an heir apparent to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges proved they can't fill the role. The franchise also lacks a first-round draft pick this year on account of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.

    It's time to think outside the box and emulate the Ryan Tannehill plan.

    A year ago, the Tennessee Titans traded for Tannehill to back up Marcus Mariota. Tannehill eventually took over as the starter when Mariota struggled and became Tennessee's franchise quarterback.

    Pittsburgh's situation is a little different, but the preparation shouldn't be. Roethlisberger is 38 years old and coming off season-ending elbow surgery.

    The franchise should seriously consider signing 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston to a short-term, prove-it deal. In the event of another Roethlisberger injury, Winston just might pull a Tannehill.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Taylor Gabriel

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    The San Francisco 49ers don't have the financial flexibility to make a significant free-agent signing since George Kittle is in line for a contract extension set to make him the league's highest-paid tight end and the team only has $13.8 million in available salary-cap space, per Spotrac.

    As such, the 49ers can only look at cheaper alternatives at positions of need.

    A perfect schematic fit remains available to address wide receiver after Emmanuel Sanders' departure. Taylor Gabriel produced one of his best seasons in Kyle Shanahan's system—35 catches for 579 yards and six touchdowns in 2016—when the 49ers head coach served as the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator.

    Gabriel isn't a true top target like the Niners need, but he could be a relatively cheap addition to help the offense's overall effectiveness.

Seattle Seahawks: DE Vinny Curry

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    The Seattle Seahawks defensive front needs edge help regardless of whether the franchise is capable of re-signing Jadeveon Clowney.

    Aside from Clowney, the rest of the Seahawks defensive line generated 15.5 sacks. Six of those sacks departed since Quinton Jefferson signed with the Buffalo Bills and Ziggy Ansah remains a free agent.

    Bruce Irvin's addition will help to a degree, but the Seahawks can't rely on just him after tying for 29th overall with only 28 sacks last season. 

    The 31-year-old Vinny Curry is coming off arguably his best year, and the Seahawks should pounce while he's peaking. According to Pro Football Focus, the eight-year veteran's 16.8 percent pressure rate tied for fifth in the league during the 2019 campaign.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Mike Daniels

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Tom Brady's addition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster makes the NFC South squad a destination team.

    The Bucs still have plenty of work to do on their roster, too. The front office retained edge-rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, yet Vita Vea could use a running mate at defensive tackle since Ndamukong Suh remains a free agent.

    Multiple teams tried to sign Mike Daniels after the Green Bay Packers released him last year. His first season with the Detroit Lions ended prematurely because of a foot injury, though.

    "I'm all the way healthy just for people who have the concern with my foot," Daniels told ESPN's Josina Anderson.

    A disruptive presence along the interior like Daniels would help round out Tampa's defensive front.

Tennessee Titans: CB Logan Ryan

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    Free agency is an opportunity for players to maximize their value. Some players remain adamant about their worth and won't come off a certain number, while others are willing to take less if the expected market doesn't materialize.

    Logan Ryan knows his worth. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the outstanding nickel corner won't take less than $10 million per season.

    Here's the problem: Very few teams can afford a cornerback with that price tag at this point in free agency.

    Ryan led the Tennessee Titans last season with 113 total tackles, and the Titans are one of the franchises with enough flexibility—$27.38 million in salary-cap space, per Spotrac—to meet the defensive back's demands. A short-term reunion seems like the wisest decision for both parties.

Washington Redskins: TE Delanie Walker

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Washington Redskins have next to nothing at tight end after releasing Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis' retirement.

    Jeremy Sprinkle and Hale Hentges are solid backup options, but Washington requires a starting-caliber threat at the position.

    The tight end market is thin, though, especially with Austin Hooper, Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron and Greg Olsen signing elsewhere.

    Delanie Walker is still available and would be an excellent addition as a receiver and veteran leader.

    The 35-year-old comes with question marks after missing 24 games the last two seasons with ankle problems. If healthy, the three-time Pro Bowler is a serious upgrade in the passing game for the short term.


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