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2019 NFL Free Agency Guide

2019 NFL Free Agency Guide

As the 2019 NFL League year approaches we'll dive into our annual Free Agency Primer, highlighting notable players set to hit the open market at each position, their potential market value where applicable, and a few thoughts going forward. Keep up with the upcoming chaos @spotrac.

 

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Quarterbacks
PlayerTeamPOsAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Nick Foles PHI QB 30 $5.5M $19.2M The Eagles did Foles a solid by letting him walk this spring, and he'll very likely be rewarded with a healthy contract in Jacksonville. Something to the tune of the 3 year, $54M contract they recklessly handed Blake Bortles last March makes sense.
Teddy Bridgewater NO QB 27 $6M $6M It's tough to value a player who's barely played a down since coming back from a horrific injury, but that's what a few teams are trying to do this spring. He's got a chance to be a great value for a team in need (Washington, Miami, Tampa). But don't sleep on teams like the Pats, Chargers, or Steelers bringing him in for their upcoming Post-Hall of Fame QB window.
Case Keenum DEN QB 31 $18M $10M Ok, so technically he's not yet a free agent at the time of this piece, but all signs point to him becoming available with the acquisition of Flacco. Keenum's value is in the tank right now, so a team in need can grab him at top backup pay most likely. A stopgap signing for Washington makes a lot of sense here.
Tyrod Taylor CLE QB 30 $15.25M $6M

Taylor gave way to Baker Mayfield fairly quickly last season, so his time as a legitimate starting QB may be nearing an end. But he makes a lot of sense as competitive backup option for teams like the Ravens, Texans, Rams, or Saints.,

 

 

Running Backs
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Le'Veon Bell PIT RB 27 $14.5M $16M While his calculated market value can't get above $11M because of a dying market around him, a 2-year comparison between Bell & Gurley has Bell 12% ahead, which would mean a $16M AAV for the 27-year-old. It seems a likely ask for teams like the Raiders, Ravens, Eagles, Texans, Colts or Jets to entertain.
Tevin Coleman ATL RB 26 $804,843 $5.3M Coleman has been the guy behind Freeman for the past 4 seasons in Atlanta. He'll get a chance to seek a starting role & contract this March, but shouldn't break the bank in doing so. He's the likely Plan B for teams missing out on Bell.
Mark Ingram NO RB 29 $4M $3.5M Nearing that dreaded 30-years-old mark, Ingram saw his touches and production drop in 2018 thanks to a wide open Saints offense. There's reason to believe he's still a worthy 2-year contract candidate this March. He has Philadelphia written all over him.
T.J. Yeldon JAC RB 25 $1.4M $3.5M Yeldon makes the list because he's still relatively young (25), and hasn't taken much of a beating as the #2 to Fournette the past few seasons. Character & Effort questions will turn some teams away, but a moderate price tag for a a high-ceiling guy will have him signed.
Latavius Murray MIN RB 28 $5M $2.5M Murray fell out of favor almost immediately in Minnesota, but still managed 6 rushing TDs in 2018. He's got a chance to be this year's Doug Martin, on a near minimum salary, but still very productive in a specific role. A return to Oakland actually makes sense.

 

Wide Receivers
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Tyrell Williams LAC WR 27 $2.9M $9.6M A legitimate deep threat for Philip Rivers the past 3 seasons, he'll be a top target for teams who need to go over the top of secondaries more in 2019. The Packers & Panthers come to mind for Williams.
Adam Humphries TB WR 26 $2.9M $10.4M Humphries is likely on plenty of team's wishlist boards right now, as he appears to be the next version of Adam Thielen. He won't break the bank as a slot receiver, but his production can't be ignored.
John Brown BAL WR 29 $5M $6.1M Brown will enter free agency as the cheaper, but older, option to Tyrell Williams. He settled into a nice role in Baltimore, and quite frankly should be brought back by the Ravens for another go.
Devin Funchess CAR WR 25 $1.3M $8.9M Funchess didn't fill up the stat sheet in his four years in Carolina, but he did manage to find the end zone regular. He's a strong target for teams looking to improve their red zone production. The Bills, Lions, & 49ers are fits here.
Golden Tate PHI WR 31 $6.2M $10.2M Tate was the big deadline acquisition in 2018, and settled in nicely with the Eagles for the stretch run. He'll be a perfect #2 option for Tom Brady in New England for the next two seasons.

 

Tight Ends
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Jared Cook OAK TE 32 $5.3M $7.1M He's the most productive TE on the open market, but also one of the oldest. But coming off back to back career seasons in a lowly Raiders offense should keep him in good standing for a deal. He earned almost $6M in 2018, but that price tag might jump to $7M plus based on his production.
Jesse James PIT TE 25 $622k $6M James was an adequate option in the passing for Pittsburgh, but a well-rounded TE to boot. He's struggled to find the end zone early in his career, but the 25-year-old will garner a multi-year deal based on his potential.
Tyler Kroft CIN TE 26 $750k $5.2M 2018 was supposed to be the breakout year Kroft, finally taking the reigns over from Tyler Eifert in Cincy. A broken foot put that to rest, but the 26-year-old can run routes, find the end zone, and block for the running game. He's got a chance to cash in nicely on a team like the Bills, Falcons, or Texans.
Dwayne Allen NE TE 29 $7.35M $2.5M He's certainly not a $7M TE, but he was a viable 6th offensive lineman at times for the Patriots. Teams that will be relying heavily on the run game in 2019 should be high on Allen, notably the Bills, Ravens, Cardinals.
Tyler Eifert CIN TE 28 $5.5M $6.4M Injuries have stolen what was lining up to be a really nice career. If he's healthy, a likely near-minimum deal for Eifert could be one of the better values of the entire offseason. In the little time he's played the past two seasons he's still producing at a $6M+ level. While teams won't touch that price point with him due to age/injury history, he's got real a chance to be a steal.

 

Offensive Linemen
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Trenton Brown NE OT 26 $583k $14.4M Buyer beware: Linemen who look great on the Patriots don't always translate elsewhere. But Brown appears to be a truly talented blindside blocker. He's got a chance to approach Nate Solder's $15.5M per year value.
Matt Paradis DEN OC 29 $2.9M $10.8M A broken leg derailed a likely big-time extension candidate for the Broncos in 2018. Assuming he can pass his physicals, this is has Ryan Jensen's $10.5M deal written all over it.
Daryl Williams CAR OT 27 $709k $7.8M The advanced metrics aren't too kind to Williams, but he's arguably the best available Right Tackle on the market. Because the Bills need one, and appear to be OK signing every Panthers' cast-off, this seems like a done deal.
Rodger Saffold LAR OG 31 $6.3M $7.1M The Rams can't afford to keep everyone, and a 31-year-old guard is tough to re-sign, but they should really be sitting hard on letting Saffold walk this March. Jared Goff is only as good as the guys in front of him.
Ja'Wuan James MIA OT 27 $9.3M $6.8M The Dolphins never fell in love with James over the course of 5 seasons, but a change of scenery could push-start a nice career. He's arguably the second best available right tackle on the open market,

 

Defensive Tackles
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Sheldon Richardson MIN DT 28 $8M $9M Played out 2018 on a "show-me" deal with the Vikings and was a viable run-stuffer, with a bit of pass-rush production as well. While price tag likely won't change too much, he'll be pushing for a multi-year contract this offsaeson.
Ndamukong Suh LAR DT 32 $14M $15.4M Suh was a quiet, productive piece of an outstanding Rams DL in 2018. While they likely can't afford to bring him back, he's still worth a high price point to teams with cap to burn, though his $15M+ calculated valuation might be ambitious for age 32.
Timmy Jernigan PHI DT 26 $12M $8.5M The Eagles opted-out of the final two years of Jernigan's deal, which was much too rich in a declining DT market. It's very possible the two sides work out a restructured deal before free agency gets here.
Danny Shelton NE DT 26 $2.9M $5M The former 1st-rounder has been reduced to a solid run-stuffer, and will be paid accordingly. Star Lotulelei's $10M per year deal is an unlikely ceiling here.
Darius Philon LAC DT 25 $600k $5M It's somewhat surprising that the Chargers appear poised to let both Philon & Corey Liuget walk this March. At just 25, Philon appears to have prime years ahead of him, and has pass-rush production already on the resume. He's a sleeper for a major pay day next week.

 

EDGE Defenders
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Trey Flowers NE DE 26 $709k $15.7M I know the Patriots never pay these kind of players, but this seems like a really tough one to let walk. Flowers has a chance to surpass the $20M per year mark based on his production, and the fact that the other top EDGE players were franchise tagged.
Ezekiel Ansah DET DE 30 $17.1M $13.6M Ansah played half a season on an expensive franchise tag, so it's understandabel that Detroit will let him walk this go around. Brandon Graham's recent $13M+ deal seems to be a good target for the oft-injured pass rusher.
Za'Darius Smith BAL OLB 26 $690k $9M Smith is a total dark-horse this offseason. He's an all-around producer off the edge, and is just now hitting his prime years. He's a good fit to replace Clay Matthews in GB.
Shaquil Barrett DEN OLB 26 $2.9M $7.1M Barrett was the low man on the totem pole on a strong Broncos line the past few seasons, which has his valuation tempered. He'll get a chance to be someone's number one pass rusher this offseason, and should be right there with Za'Darius Smith in terms of price.
Dante Fowler Jr. LAR DE 25 $5.8M $9.1M Still just 25, Fowler's production and effort improved mightily when he joined a crowded Rams' defensive line. His limited resume over the past few seasons will keep his value moderate, meaning he has the potential to be a steal this spring.

 

Linebackers
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Kwon Alexander TB ILB 25 $689k $10.2M An ACL injury plus the Buccaneers willingness to let him walk raises some eyebrows, but a 25-year-old Alexander remains the best available interior linebacker on the market. All of the above temperes his value down to around $10M right now.
Anthony Barr MIN OLB 27 $3.1M $8.3M The Vikings just simply ran out of money to allocate to their defense. Barr's a hell of a player to hit the open market. He's also an OLB that doesn't often rush the pass, so the price-point won't break the bank.
C.J. Mosley BAL ILB 27 $2.1M $10.6M It's telling that the Ravens are willing to part with the 27-year-old captain of their defense (among other cuts), but for a team in need of a leader & a tackling machine, this will be a steal. Just feels like a Raiders kind of move...
Jordan Hicks PHI LB 27 $748k $8.3M Hicks poses a durability red flag, but when healthy has been solid across the board. His lack of elite production in any major stat category will keep his price-point low, offering strong value for teams willing to take a chance on him.
K.J. Wright SEA OLB 30 $6.75M $5.1M Speaking of taking a chance, Wright suffered a bad knee in injury in 2018, putting his short-term future in question. He'll need to find a landing spot where he won't be asked to do too much, and it's very possible he links back up with Sherman in San Francisco.

 

Cornerbacks
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Bryce Callahan CHI CB 27 $1.9M $6.3M The best available slot-corner on the market should price himself out of Chicago's capabilities, putting teams like the Panthers, Ravens, and Redskins in line.
Kevin Johnson HOU CB 27 $2.5M $4.8M Injuries (concussiosn) have Johnson's grades and value tempered right now, but unlike many of the other available CBs, Johnson has shown he can be a legitimate shut down defender. If he's healthy, this has value-signing written all over it.
Steven Nelson KC CB 26 $729k $10M It's obviously a weak CB market if we're including anyone from KC's secondary, but Nelson's age and advanced metrics put him in a nice spot to compete for a starting role elsewhere.
Bradley Roby DEN CB 27 $1.7M $11.5M A new regime in Denver, and a questionale new contract forth-coming for Chris Harris appear to be pushing Roby to the open market. He's a legitimate starting CB and could be the financial bread-winner of this free agent CB class.
Ronald Darby PHI CB 25 $1.1M $10,8M Darby was valuing at starting CB money before his ACL gave way in Novemeber. The 25-year-old has plenty of time to heal up and hit his prime in stride. Someone's going to snag him at a value right now, and would be smart to do so with a multi-year deal to allow for him to come back slowly.

 

Safeties
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Landon Collins NYG FS 25 $1.5M $8.6M Advanced stats have crushed Collins over his first few seasons, but the 25-year-old has plenty of time to his his prime in stride, especially with a change of scenery. It's possible he becomes Earl Thomas' replacement in Seattle next week.
Earl Thomas SEA FS 30 $10M $12.5M Earl Thomas gave the Seahawks a pretty good indication of his intentions this March as he was carted off the field with a broken leg. With that said, even at 30, a healthy Earl Thomas is still worth near $10M on the right team. The Texans feel like a fit.
Tyrann Mathieu HOU FS 27 $7M $9M Mathieu had a quiet but productive "prove it" year in Houston, but the Texans appear poised to move on. He'll likely be seeking a multi-year deal this March, and the Colts/Ravens seem to make a lot of sense.
Adrian Amos CHI FS 26 $628k $8M Amos isn't the best coverage safety of this lot, but he makes up for it with speed, tackling, and leadership from the backfield. Tennessee loves these typeof players.
HaHa Clinton-Dix WAS FS 26 $2M $9.6M The Packers decision to trade HaHa plus the Redskins decision to not tender him for a few more years are both somewhat puzzling, but Clinton-Dix will land on his feet quickly this March.

 

Special Teamers
PlayerTeamPOSAge2018 AAVMarket ValueThoughts
Jason Myers NYJ K 28 $705k $4M Myers was 90%+ in both FGs and PATs in 2018, putting him on track for a nice pay raise in 2019. He's likely a $4M per year man soon.
Stephen Gostkowski NE K 35 $4.3M $3.8M Gostkowski showed signs of being human in 2018, as his FG % dipped under 85%. It's tough to imagine the Patriots won't try to bring him back on something near minimum if he's not offered a significant contract elsewhere.
Pat O'Donnell CHI P 28 $1.5M   O'Donnell was a bottom-half rated punter in terms of Net Yardage and punts inside the 20, but he appears to be the class of this free agent punter class.
Matt Bryant ATL K 44 $3.3M   It's understanable that the Falcons couldn't afford to keep Bryant at his current price, but the 44-year-old hit 95% of his FG & 94% of his PATs in 2018. It seems he'll find a team if he wants to.