Best Free-Agent Option Remaining for Every NFL Team

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 11, 2020

Best Free-Agent Option Remaining for Every NFL Team

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The first week of the 2020 NFL regular season is officially underway, which means that any lingering free agents signed beyond this weekend won't require fully guaranteed contracts for the remainder of the year.

    That, combined with results and injuries from this weekend, should spur some action on the open market come Tuesday.

    With that in mind, here's a look—based primarily on positional needs and injuries—at the one player each team should be eyeing in free agency.

Arizona Cardinals: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals look primed to finally contend again in 2020, but the secondary remains a concern. That unit gave up a league-worst 109.9 passer rating last season, and not much has changed from a personnel standpoint. 

    Veteran safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might be able to help in that regard while serving as a perfect partner for standout Budda Baker. 

    Right now, Arizona has 2019 fifth-round supplemental draft pick Jalen Thompson penciled in next to Baker. While there's potential there, he surrendered completions on 83 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage as a rookie. 

    Clinton-Dix has bounced around the league of late, but he's still only 27, has compiled 16 career interceptions and has a Pro Bowl on his resume. Arizona should make a run at him to see if he might either help or supplant Thompson.

    And you might be thinking, Why not Earl Thomas? But we'll get this out of the way now: Thomas didn't land in any of the 32 spots on this list because his reported antics make him too much of a risk for good teams and his age reduces his value to bad ones.

Atlanta Falcons: CB Prince Amukamara

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons' top three cornerbacks—A.J. Terrell, Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield—are all below the age of 25, and Sheffield is dealing with a foot injury. They signed veteran Darqueze Dennard to help out in the slot, but they could use another experienced guy who can cover receivers outside.

    Enter Prince Amukamara, who has started 30 games the last two years as an outside presence with the Chicago Bears.

    The 2011 first-round pick intercepted three passes in 2018, gave up just two passing touchdowns in coverage last season and has recorded 22 passes defensed since the start of 2018.

    He might not have a lot ahead of him at the age of 31, but it's now or never for this Falcons team, and Amukamara would give them some badly needed experience and depth at a critical position.

Baltimore Ravens: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda's retirement was the only major blow to hit the stacked Baltimore Ravens this offseason, and they've already done their best to patch that up by teaming up incumbent starter Bradley Bozeman with veteran D.J. Fluker, sophomore fourth-round pick Ben Powers and rookie third-rounder Tyre Phillips. They at least have options there.

    So instead let's focus on a safety group that has abruptly lost 2019 Week 1 starters Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas by way of sudden releases.

    Returning strong safety Chuck Clark looks like a star in the making, but no other safety on the roster has started a game in the NFL.

    They oughta bring in somebody to push third-year sixth-round pick and Thomas replacement DeShon Elliott, and Clinton-Dix would make a lot of sense for that role. He's no Thomas, but there's no indication he would cause the type of problems Thomas did, and he's several years younger with a strong resume.

    It should be either him or another established free safety in Damarious Randall, who is a few months younger but has inferior career accomplishments.

Buffalo Bills: CB Ross Cockrell

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    Tim Ireland/Associated Press

    No, this isn't just a list of former Bears defensive backs. We're mixing it up this time with...a former Carolina Panthers defensive back.

    Actually, Ross Cockrell came into the league with the Buffalo Bills as a fourth-round pick back in 2014. He's since become somewhat of a journeyman, but he quietly surrendered a passer rating of just 68.6 on throws into his coverage while serving primarily as a slot cover man in Carolina last season. 

    The 29-year-old wouldn't be a season-saver for the Buffalo Bills, but he has experience both inside and outside and could push the returning Taron Johnson in the slot while also potentially filling in for injured vet Josh Norman against X or Z receivers.

    His versatility gives him an edge over Amukamara in this case, as Johnson was a missed-tackle machine who lacked consistency in slot coverage in 2019.

Carolina Panthers: CB Cyrus Jones

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Panthers, meanwhile, moved on from Cockrell and expensive veteran cornerback James Bradberry as part of a clear attempt to rebuild and get younger this offseason. That's why they wouldn't likely be in on somebody like Amukamara despite an obvious lack of proven talent at the cornerback position.

    Instead, a team thinking about the future should consider offering 26-year-old corner Cyrus Jones a low-pressure opportunity to get his career back on track.

    The 2016 second-round pick by the New England Patriots excelled as a return man early in his career, especially after moving from New England to Baltimore. He then jumped to the Denver Broncos, where it was discovered he had a congenital heart defect that required open-heart surgery. Now he's making a comeback, and there could be a role for him as part of the rebuilding Panthers.

    Carolina isn't a contender anyway and can afford to use the space on somebody with a high ceiling who might need time.

Chicago Bears: DT Damon Harrison

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Our first non-defensive back recommendation goes to the Chicago Bears, who lost nose tackle Eddie Goldman to a COVID-19 opt-out this summer and saw Nick Williams depart in free agency. As a result, they're left with 31-year-old journeyman John Jenkins, the undersized Roy Robertson-Harris and the underwhelming Bilal Nichols competing for Goldman's reps.

    In order to gain some talent and experience alongside Akiem Hicks up front, the Bears should pursue both Damon Harrison and Marcell Dareus.

    Dareus is a two-time Pro Bowler with an All-Pro nod on his resume, but that came back in 2014. Harrison is a year older, but he was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and was an effective 15-game starter with the Detroit Lions in 2019.

    That should give him an edge over Dareus, who is coming off core muscle surgery, but the Bears would be smart to decide based on the price.

Cincinnati Bengals: G Ronald Leary

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Maybe this weekend will provide a much-needed wakeup call for the Cincinnati Bengals in regard to their offensive line issues. Because while there's hope for second-year first-round pick Jonah Williams at left tackle and maybe even center Trey Hopkins, the rest of the line is a mess.

    The Bengals have been particularly neglectful of the guard position, where 2019 fourth-round pick Michael Jordan struggled mightily as a rookie but then walked back into a starting job next to underwhelming veteran Xavier Su'a-Filo.

    It couldn't hurt to bring in vet Ronald Leary, who has started 76 games the past seven years as a member of the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.

    The 31-year-old isn't a star, but nobody on the current market is, and his injury-plagued run in 2018 and 2019 might not be a large fear with a non-guaranteed, post-Week 1 deal.

Cleveland Browns: LB Nigel Bradham

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    With Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey both gone, the Cleveland Browns have one of the worst linebacker corps in the NFL. Maybe it'll require a Sunday run-in with Lamar Jackson and the dominant, run-first Ravens offense for Cleveland to realize it needs a boost in that area.

    Veteran Nigel Bradham could provide that.

    The 31-year-old vet has made 96 starts the last eight years as a member of the Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. At this point, he's best suited for a team chasing short-term glory, which is certainly how you'd have to describe Cleveland right now.

    Bradham's experience could help a unit that is likely to rely heavily on youngsters Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki and Jacob Phillips, while his coverage skills would complement strong run-defending veteran pickup B.J. Goodson.

Dallas Cowboys: S Eric Reid

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Frankly, Eric Reid is a better fit for the Cowboys defense than Earl Thomas.

    That's not to say Reid is as accomplished or as talented, but the emergence of free safety Xavier Woods made it easier to understand why Dallas didn't immediately pounce on Thomas upon his release from Baltimore.

    Unlike Woods, Reid is a tailor-made box defender who can even play a hybrid linebacker role in support of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. He'd also presumably come cheaper than Thomas and is three years younger.

    At 28, the former Pro Bowler has 98 career starts, 11 interceptions and 519 tackles under his belt. And he picked up four sacks last season in Carolina.

    He'd have a good chance to provide an upgrade over Darian Thompson.

Denver Broncos: Edge Clay Matthews III

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    With Von Miller out indefinitely with a major ankle injury, there isn't a single member of the Denver Broncos roster who recorded more than 10 quarterback hits or six sacks last season. A healthy Bradley Chubb should help, but it seemed obvious when Miller went down that Denver had to find a pass-rushing option.

    That has yet to happen, but it looks as though they've already made an effort with veteran edge defender Clay Matthews III.

    According to Mike Klis of 9News, Denver tried to sign Matthews in light of Miller's injury, but the two sides couldn't reach an agreement. That could mean the Matthews quest is over and the Broncos could turn their attention to somebody like Jabaal Sheard, Cameron Wake or Ziggy Ansah, or it could mean a tough Week 1 showing will lead John Elway to increase his offer.

    Matthews played just 56 percent of the defensive snaps for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, but the 34-year-old six-time Pro Bowler still put up eight sacks while forcing a pair of fumbles. He'd work out nicely in a situational role.

Detroit Lions: Edge Clay Matthews III

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions have to be in win-now mode, and they could certainly use another pass-rusher to complement Trey Flowers on the edge. They brought in Jamie Collins Sr. but lost Devon Kennard, and nobody else on the roster besides Flowers had more than two sacks last year.

    They need somebody who could ideally work with and provide a different approach than Da'Shawn Hand at defensive end but is also versatile enough to stand up, and Matthews fits that profile perfectly.

    He could at least help ease the eventual transition to rookie third-round pick Julian Okwara, who will likely need some time to adjust after a limited offseason.

    With time potentially running out on the long but unsuccessful Matthew Stafford era, a team with plenty of salary-cap space shouldn't hold back.

Green Bay Packers: TE Delanie Walker

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs more established targets. And while it seems he and the Packers are relatively satisfied with a somewhat deep but far from elite receiving corps, the team should at least try to add a veteran presence to a tight end group that caught a combined 25 passes last season.

    Marcedes Lewis looks washed at 36, and while there's hope for rookie third-round pick Josiah Deguara and fellow youngsters Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyan Jr., this is a team that can't afford to wait for dudes to develop in key roles.

    Maybe they'll come to that realization this weekend, in which case veteran Delanie Walker would be a great investment.

    Walker hasn't been healthy the last couple of years, but he wouldn't be asked to play a massive role in Green Bay. He did go over 800 yards while making the Pro Bowl as recently as 2017, and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported last month he's been training for the season and expects to play.

Houston Texans: DT Damon Harrison

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    With D.J. Reader gone and Eddie Vanderdoes a COVID-19 opt-out, it's pretty hard to get excited about a Houston Texans interior defensive line featuring Charles Omenihu and Brandon Dunn.

    And while the Texans did address the position by signing P.J. Hall earlier this offseason, it's not a good sign that the 2018 second-round pick lasted just two seasons with the Oakland Raiders and then failed a physical with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason.

    Thus, Houston should consider chasing Harrison or Dareus, both of whom would bring experience and talent to a team trying to compete right now. The former is a little more trustworthy based on the latter's recent injury situation, but a poor performance up front early in the season could and should push the Texans to call agents representing both.

Indianapolis Colts: CB Prince Amukamara

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts are gambling that veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes has something left in him after his game fell off a cliff last year in Minnesota, and they're hoping that second-year second-round corner Rock Ya-Sin can emerge in 2020, but what happens if Rhodes is toast and Ya-Sin doesn't flourish?

    Kenny Moore II is a stud in the slot, but T.J. Carrie is the only other cornerback on the roster.

    That should cause the Colts to keep Amukamara and fellow outside cover men Cockrell and Trumaine Johnson on their radar. But Amukamara is the top option among that group after surrendering just two touchdown passes in 15 starts last season in Chicago.

    He had a stronger 2019 season than both Ya-Sin and Rhodes, and yet he somehow remains unemployed while the Colts roll the dice in the defensive backfield. That could change soon.

Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Breeland Speaks

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars declared with their actions last week that they're focusing on their rebuild and thinking about their future, which is why it makes sense to take a flier on a young player who is unemployed because he has disappointed but has time to turn his career around.

    Third-year second-round pick Breeland Speaks is a perfect example.

    The high-motor, versatile Mississippi product failed to deliver in two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he's still only 24 and could chip in as a role player as part of a gutted defensive front while enjoying an opportunity to grow in a low-pressure spot.

    Maybe it won't work out in Jacksonville or elsewhere for Speaks, but there's little risk for a non-competitive team that is now loaded with salary-cap space.

Kansas City Chiefs: CB Prince Amukamara

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    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs proved again Thursday night they don't need to be lining up for anybody on the open market. The defending champs are stacked and have no major needs entering Week 2.

    That said, starting cornerback Charvarius Ward suffered a hand injury in the opener, fellow starter Bashaud Breeland is serving a four-game suspension, and the Chiefs lost Kendall Fuller in free agency. Before they travel to play the Los Angeles Chargers and Ravens, they might want to add a veteran corner for a boost.

    Considering that Rashad Fenton and Tyrann Mathieu can handle slot coverage, Amukamara probably makes more sense than Cockrell. He's experienced outside, not too old at 31, and he's been a fairly reliable starter throughout his nine-year career with the New York Giants, Jaguars and Bears.

    As you can tell by this entire exercise, it's surprising the steady cover man remains available.

Las Vegas Raiders: QB Blake Bortles

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    Marco Garcia/Associated Press

    Maybe incoming quarterback Marcus Mariota was never going to push Las Vegas Raiders starter Derek Carr for the starting job. Maybe. But that ain't happening so long as the 2015 No. 2 overall pick is sidelined with the pec injury that has him on injured reserve.

    Right now, that leaves Nathan Peterman as the only quarterback behind Carr on the active roster. Peterman has three touchdown passes, 12 interceptions and a 32.5 passer rating in three NFL seasons. You don't want him near the field.

    You don't really want Blake Bortles out there, either, but he has a respectable 103-to-75 career touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he's won 24 games as an NFL starter. If Peterman, Ryan Finley and Matt Barkley are worthy of roster spots in this league, so is Bortles.

    The Raiders shouldn't wait, because his phone might be the first to ring if another starter gets hurt. And while they recently signed DeShone Kizer to the practice squad, his career numbers are nearly as bad as Peterman's.

Los Angeles Chargers: S Eric Reid

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    This one is all about the loss of star safety Derwin James, which was another crushing blow to the Los Angeles Chargers. Veteran Adrian Phillips, who essentially replaced James when he was injured last season, is also gone, leaving free safety Rayshawn Jenkins and unproven sophomore Nasir Adderley in key roles entering 2020.

    Jenkins can play strong safety too, and the addition of Chris Harris Jr. could free up Desmond King II to move back to more of a safety role as well, but the Chargers could use one more established player at that position.

    So we'll go with the best all-around safety available not named Earl Thomas since he's on the back end of his career and Bolts head coach Anthony Lynn has already ruled that out. That's gotta be Reid, who has a strong resume as well as upside and the versatility to play multiple roles in L.A.

    Lynn sounds as though he's satisfied with his secondary despite the loss of James, but it might not take much for that to change. If it does, Reid should get the call.

Los Angeles Rams: G Ronald Leary

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Joseph Noteboom, Austin Corbett and David Edwards all struggled at the guard position for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, and Brian Allen didn't perform well at center. The Rams have reason to feel OK about Austin Blythe in the middle, but all of their guards should be on short leashes entering 2020.

    That means Leary should be on top of their call list.

    The 31-year-old longtime starter in Denver and Dallas peaked so high with the 2016 Cowboys that he earned a four-year deal worth more than $35 million from the Broncos.

    He might not have a lot left, but an upgrade is an upgrade, and his talent and experience could really help a team that is doing its best to cling to contention this year.

Miami Dolphins: DL Breeland Speaks

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins and Jaguars are in a similar spot.

    Yes, Florida. But also, Rebuildland. And while the Dolphins are a little further down that road than Jacksonville, the focus in 2020 should be on lining up for 2021 and beyond. There aren't many free agents left who are worthy of multiyear, prove-it deals, but the 24-year-old Speaks should be enticing to the Jags and Dolphins because his ceiling remains high.

    He's available because he started his career unimpressively and never gained much of a shot on the mighty Kansas City roster, but a player with wicked talent who was a second-round pick just two years ago is worthy of a flier.

    The Dolphins completely lack interior depth up front and have plenty of cap space, so why not?

Minnesota Vikings: CB Ross Cockrell

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks struggled so badly in 2019 that the team essentially gutted that part of the secondary by moving on from Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes. Now, three rookies, unestablished sophomore Kris Boyd and unproven third-year cover man Holton Hill are expected to support new No. 1 corner Mike Hughes.

    At 23, Hughes, who has five career starts under his belt, is the elder statesman at that position in Minnesota. That's pretty ridiculous, but the Vikes have almost no cap space to work with.

    Still, if they're going to make room for anyone, it should be Cockrell, Amukamara or at least a semi-established corner like Javien Elliott.

    Cockrell is more proven than Elliott and likely has more gas in the tank than Amukamara, and his versatility could come in handy considering the potential need for help in the slot as well as outside.

New England Patriots: TE Delanie Walker

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    When new New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was at his best last decade in Carolina, he relied heavily on tight end Greg Olsen. At around that same time, Walker went over 800 yards in four consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2017 as a member of the Tennessee Titans.

    Considering the three tight ends currently on the Patriots' active roster have caught a combined six passes (all of which belong to third-year seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo), the addition of a proven vet like Walker makes a ton of sense for New England.

    Fowler reported the team showed interest in the 36-year-old this summer. Now, we'll see if poor play from Izzo and/or rookie third-round picks Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi causes New England to pull the trigger when Walker's salary would be non-guaranteed next week.

    It would be a very Patrioty move, and Newton would likely be appreciative.

New Orleans Saints: Edge Clay Matthews III

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints don't have many holes on their roster, but they did show their hand by reportedly making a play for Jadeveon Clowney last weekend. That failed, but it's an indication they're interested in acquiring a pass-rusher to complement star Cameron Jordan on the edge.

    Matthews might be out of their reach financially, but that could change if he remains available as the season wears on. Alternatively, Jabaal Sheard and Cameron Wake could be veteran candidates to work with Marcus Davenport in edge support.

    But the target should be Matthews, who somehow pulled eight sacks out of his hat as a 33-year-old in 2019. He can serve as a rushing linebacker on passing downs and help rookie third-round pick Zack Baun get acclimated there, but he can also spell Davenport on the line if needed.

    Dennis Allen would have no complaints.

New York Giants: OT Cordy Glenn

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    I don't understand why the New York Giants didn't sign Cordy Glenn the moment left tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, but there's still time.

    Throwing shaky young quarterback Daniel Jones to the wolves with a rookie left tackle and career backup Cameron Fleming at right tackle is neglectful, especially with the defensively dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers on the Week 1 slate.

    Glenn is a left tackle and has been his entire career, but rookie first-round pick Andrew Thomas played on the left and right side in college and could have been introduced to the pro game on the right side with the veteran Glenn protecting Jones' blind side.

    But it's not too late for that, and that Week 1 Pittsburgh matchup could encourage Giants general manager Dave Gettleman to make an offer to the 30-year-old who was 95 career starts under his belt.

New York Jets: S Eric Reid

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    I mean, that Jamal Adams guy is gone, so the New York Jets have somewhat of an opening at the safety spot next to Marcus Maye. Bradley McDougald is a fine short-term replacement, but he's never been a consistently effective player and will turn 30 in November.

    The 28-year-old Reid likely has more tread on his tires, and he's proved he can do a little bit of everything. He often struggled mightily in coverage for the Panthers last season, but that could have been a fluke because it wasn't the case at all in 2018.

    While none of his 11 career interceptions came in 2019, the 2013 first-round pick out of LSU registered four sacks and 130 tackles for the Panthers.

    Reid has started 98 games in seven seasons, and he should be capable of helping the Jets in multiple ways for years to come. It's odd he's still on the market.

Philadelphia Eagles: OT Cordy Glenn

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    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    For now, it appears the Philadelphia Eagles are content with rolling out an offensive line featuring previously discarded 38-year-old Jason Peters at left tackle and a pair of spare tires at guard.

    But their Week 1 opponent, the Washington Football Team, is loaded up front. And they might use their five first-round picks in the front seven to alert Philly to the idea that it needs another established offensive lineman in light of injuries to Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks.

    The Eagles aren't oblivious. In fact, they reportedly hosted Glenn last week when Dillard went down. But nothing has transpired. It's possible they're hoping to survive Week 1 while testing the current line before pulling the trigger on a non-guaranteed contract for Glenn, but there's little doubt he should top their wishlist at the moment.

    The 30-year-old has struggled to remain on the field in recent years, but when healthy, he's been a steady pass-blocker throughout his eight-year career in Buffalo and Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Damon Harrison

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    By now it's obvious we're giving preferential treatment to Harrison over Dareus, but we've also noted the two belong in the same category. If you're going to chase one, you might as well chase the other. Both interior defensive linemen are in their early 30s and beyond their prime, but unlike Harrison, Dareus is coming off a significant injury/surgery.

    So we'll again nominate Harrison for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who saw Javon Hargrave get away on the free-agent market in March and will now turn to 33-year-old recent role player Tyson Alualu, former Ravens role player Chris Wormley and/or second-year sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs in support of stars Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward up front.

    That leaves room for Harrison or Dareus, with the former taking priority considering his solid 2019 campaign with the Lions. It's also worth noting that Snacks has missed just one start since his sophomore 2013 season with the Jets.

    He'll likely land somewhere soon, and Pittsburgh makes a ton of sense if the Steelers can afford him.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Hakeem Butler

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers roster is solid throughout, but the receiving corps has been hit hard by injuries this summer. Depending on how injured wideouts Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Richie James make out this weekend, they may want to bring in yet another option.

    Recently released Patriots veteran Mohamed Sanu immediately comes to mind, but he's primarily a slot guy, and San Francisco already frequently uses both Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis inside. Instead, it might be worth rolling the dice to see if a new environment can allow Hakeem Butler to flourish.

    The athletically marvelous 6'5" Iowa State product was caught up in a numbers game in Arizona this offseason, but it's too early to judge a 24-year-old fourth-round pick who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.

    Butler has every quality you want in a potential star, which is something the 49ers lack. If the receiving corps doesn't get it together quickly, it couldn't hurt to add him to the fray.

Seattle Seahawks: Edge Clay Matthews III

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    One more shoutout to Matthews, who makes a lot of sense for the Seattle Seahawks now that the Jadeveon Clowney ship has officially sailed.

    Seattle obviously has faith in young pass-rushing options like Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier, but with Clowney and Quinton Jefferson both employed elsewhere, a defense that tied for an NFC low with 28 sacks last season could use another established edge-rusher.

    Enter Matthews, who we mentioned put up eight sacks in essentially a part-time role with the Rams in 2019.

    The two sides were linked more than a month ago, but it might just take a shabby Week 1 performance from that defensive front to force the issue.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Ross Cockrell

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping they don't find out the hard way their secondary remains an Achilles' heel this season, but there's a chance Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and the New Orleans Saints will expose that unit in Week 1.

    If so, New Orleans might want to add a veteran corner who can either help out Jamel Dean opposite Carlton Davis outside or move inside to push Sean Murphy-Bunting. Both are potential liabilities as they seek to prove that moderate rookie success wasn't a fluke in 2019, and it's not as though the 23-year-old Davis is a proven option, either.

    The underrated and versatile Cockrell makes plenty of sense for that job, and the Bucs are familiar with his play after he intercepted Jameis Winston in one of their two meetings with Carolina last season.

    He'd also immediately become the only decent Tampa Bay corner who was at least in grade school when the Bucs won their Super Bowl in 2003.

Tennessee Titans: QB Blake Bortles

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    With Marcus Mariota now in Las Vegas, the Tennessee Titans are turning backup quarterback duties over to Bengals 2018 seventh-round pick Logan Woodside, who has never attempted an NFL pass.

    Considering that starter Ryan Tannehill missed 24 games over the course of the three-season span that directly preceded his 2019 arrival in Tennessee, that's a hell of a risk.

    The Titans oughta sign a veteran quarterback for insurance. Almost any will do. They have Trevor Siemian and Cole McDonald on the practice squad, but it's not a good sign he was beaten out by Woodside. So Bortles is probably the most ideal guy for the job.

    Tennessee's former AFC South foe is no longer viewed as a starting-caliber quarterback, but his experience and his not-so-ugly numbers could make him a solid spot starter in a pinch.

Washington Football Team: WR Hakeem Butler

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    Plenty of thought was also given to Cordy Glenn here, and few fans of the Washington Football Team would complain if the team were to sign both Glenn and Butler in support of sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins early this season.

    Still, Butler takes priority because recent middle-round picks Geron Christian and Saahdiq Charles at least have some upside as potential long-term left tackles in the post-Trent Williams era.

    There's a lot less optimism about Dontrelle Inman's future, and yet the 31-year-old career role player is essentially being handed a starting role opposite Terry McLaurin in place of the injured Kelvin Harmon.

    Washington has reason to believe Steven Sims Jr. can hold down slot receiver duties, which is why the tantalizing 24-year-old Butler makes more sense than slot-leaning free-agent wideouts like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, but any help might be appreciated by the time Monday rolls around.