Logan Ryan and Other NFL Players Who Need to Be Signed Immediately
Just this week, it was reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that Logan Ryan, who is one of the most accomplished 20-something-year-old free agents in the NFL, is selling himself to teams as a safety rather than a cornerback.
And now, the longtime corner will actually have a chance to give interested organizations a firsthand look at his skill set for the safety position.
That's because the NFL has also lifted its COVID-19-based prohibition on tryouts at team facilities, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, who shared a league memo detailing the change as well as restrictions that will remain in place regarding testing and numbers.
That development could result in action for Ryan, but he's not the only well-known veteran loitering on the market way later than expected in this odd offseason.
Here are five lingering free agents who should find homes ASAP.
DB Logan Ryan
Ryan might not be young (he turned 29 in February) and he might not be a star (he's never been an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler), but he's also not old by defensive back standards, especially if he can indeed convert to safety. He's also well-accomplished as a two-time Super Bowl champion with 17 career interceptions and 85 career starts with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.
Even without knowing how a potential move to safety might go, it's fair to call him versatile. As a cornerback, he has spent plenty of time both outside and in the slot.
And while he did surrender five touchdowns in coverage while working primarily as a slot corner last year in Tennessee, he gave up a sub-90 passer rating on throws into his coverage, and he became the first player since 2016 to record at least four interceptions, four sacks and four forced fumbles in the same season.
With that in mind, he can't possibly remain unemployed much longer.
Best fit: New England Patriots
A return makes a lot of sense considering Ryan's history there, his versatility and the fact the Pats are loaded with salary-cap space following a slew of opt-outs. Safety Patrick Chung was among those who opted out, and fellow safety Devin McCourty is 33. Ryan would likely crack the top four at corner as well.
EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
It sure looks as though Jadeveon Clowney's expectations as a free agent were not met.
At the start of the new league year, ESPN's Dianna Russini reported the three-time Pro Bowl edge defender was seeking a deal worth about $20 million per year, while NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Clowney hadn't "found the market he expected."
Around that time, the Seattle Seahawks had an offer on the table for the 27-year-old to return at a rate of $18.5 million annually, according to Corbin Smith of Sports Illustrated. But either that wasn't the case or Clowney declined, because a couple of weeks later, Russini reported Clowney had dropped his asking price to $17-18 million per season.
The soft market might have had to do with the fact Clowney is coming off core muscle surgery and a season that was somewhat derailed by injury. Somebody might have been willing to look past that for an elite sack artist, but the 2014 No. 1 overall pick has never put together a double-digit-sack campaign.
Still, he's a superb run defender with top-notch pass-rushing skills, and he flashed his playmaking ability with four forced fumbles despite starting just 11 games in a tough year with Seattle. So watch for somebody to take a close look in the coming days and then pull the trigger on a lucrative short-term deal.
Best fit: Cleveland Browns
They lead the league in cap space, according to Spotrac, and Clowney would represent a tremendous upgrade over Olivier Vernon opposite Myles Garrett. Just imagine that duo. Cleveland is putting all of its eggs in this basket, so chasing Clowney is logical.
QB Colin Kaepernick
I mean, you probably suspected this was coming, right? There's been plenty of speculation that Colin Kaepernick will finally land an NFL job in light of the fact he famously protested against police brutality and racial inequality before those issues became the focal point of nationwide protests this spring and summer.
Those protests have received significant support, and the league itself has finally begun to embrace causes that were supported by Kaepernick years ago. Some owners might now figure that signing him will help on and off the field while causing less blowback than in the past, and now teams can finally take an up-close-and-personal look at him.
Kaepernick is only 32, which is young in the quarterback realm. In his last NFL season, he threw 16 touchdown passes to only four interceptions in 12 games. He's got game-changing ability, and we've seen it in big moments.
That should be more than enough to earn a backup job somewhere, especially if that somewhere contains a high quantity of fans who are more inclined to applaud such a move.
Best fit: Los Angeles Chargers
Yeah, they've got first-round rookie Justin Herbert, but the Bolts should probably make this a redshirt year for the Oregon product after such a limited offseason. Beyond that, presumed Week 1 starter Tyrod Taylor doesn't move the needle, and there's not much value in third-stringer Easton Stick. An early-season battle between Taylor and Kaepernick could work wonders for the Chargers in their campaign for attention in the L.A. market.
S Eric Reid
Eric Reid's unemployment could be—and could have been—tied to Kaepernick's. After all, the two were teammates in San Francisco, Reid was an outspoken supporter of Kaepernick's, and he also lingered as a free agent in 2018 before the Carolina Panthers gave him a shot.
But the Panthers released the 28-year-old former Pro Bowler this offseason, and now he's again out of work for longer than many would have expected considering his on-field accomplishments. But we might soon gain a better feel for his market in a world that allows free-agent visits.
It should be strong. Because while Reid was often a mess in coverage in 2019, that could have been a fluke because it wasn't the case at all in 2018. And while none of his 11 career interceptions came last season, the 2013 first-round pick out of LSU recorded four sacks and 130 tackles.
Reid's career hasn't gone as planned, but he still possesses the tools to be a star for years to come.
Best fit: Dallas Cowboys
Two of the best fits are the Cowboys and New York Jets, but Reid's been critical of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Jets owner Woody Johnson has come under fire over allegations of racism. But maybe one (or both) might want to improve their football teams while also potentially helping to repair their public images. Just a thought. We'll go with Dallas because the Cowboys are probably closer to competing and could really use a player just like Reid in the strong safety spot.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.