A week into free agency and a lot of the big names are already off the market. The quarterbacks are all signed up, the likes of Malcolm Butler, Andrew Norwell, and Nate Solder are all gone, and even some less impactful players such as DJ Hayden and Tavon Wilson have deals in place for 2018 and beyond.
So who is left on the open market for teams to sign before all attention turns to the draft?
Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle
Suh’s talents are well known. He is a monstrous defensive tackle that can rush the passer and play the run. He has picked up 51.5 sacks in his career, together with three All-Pro selections and five trips to the Pro Bowl. He received an impressive 91.0 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2017, ranking fifth among interior defensive tackles.
The problem with Suh is two-fold. He draws an awful lot of penalties from umpires for late hits and unnecessary roughness, and he doesn’t come cheap. Suh has racked up $100 million in guarantees alone in his NFL career. If you want to sign him you are going to have to set aside a lot of cap space, and that is not to every teams taste.
Bashaud Breeland, cornerback
By all accounts Bashaud Breeland should be off the market. He had agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal that included $11 million in guaranteed money with the Carolina Panthers until he failed his physical for an infection following a cut on his foot. The issue, which had been underlying since a problem in grade school, had been disclosed to the Panthers, but they still failed his physical.
If any team is willing to jump the gun with Breeland and sign him before the infection clears then they will be getting a solid NFL corner who is scheme-diverse and extremely capable. The $8 million a year deal is more than fair value for Breeland as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like the Bears or Packers take a shot at Breeland this week.
Pernell McPhee, defensive end/outside linebacker
McPhee is not your normal edge defender. He is big, strong, and technically brilliant. Against ill-disciplined tackles he can dominate, but if he can’t out-technique a tackle he will struggle to get consistent wins in pass situations.
Where he really excels in in the run game. McPhee is a legitimate monster of an outside run defender, with wonderful positioning and feel for blocking schemes. While that isn’t to everyone’s liking there should be a market for that talent. The likes of New England, Pittsburgh, and even Seattle could all use a big run-playing edge defender that can kick inside and bring pressure.
Eric Reid, safety
Reid is coming off a good season for the 49ers. He wasn’t amazing, but he was certainly above average that can play at multiple levels of the defense. He picked up two interceptions and three tackles for loss last year, finishing as San Francisco’s third-highest tackler and played some linebacker out of necessity as well.
He remains unsigned, he claims, due to his activism and his stance with the national anthem protests that hit the headlines again in 2017. Reid took up the mantle left in Colin Kaepernick’s absence and was very outspoken throughout the year. The belief is that ownership around the league has an issue and is preventing several general managers from signing him.
As a player, there is little doubt that Reid would be of use for several teams across the NFL. The only question is if someone will take the step to actually sign him.
Terrelle Pryor, wide receiver
Offensive players were snapped up almost immediately. From Sam Bradford to Carlos Hyde and John Brown, if you played offense chances were you’d be offered a contract fairly quickly.
The notable exception was Terrelle Pryor, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal this time last year with the Redskins. Pryor flopped in 2017, but his 2016 season where he registered 77 catches and 1,007 yards for the dreadful Cleveland Browns was a brilliant display of athleticism and effort. Pryor deserves an opportunity to show that he can recreate that season on a team that is not surviving at the bottom of the league and has a quarterback he can work with. It might only be $5 million or so, but if Pryor lands in the right situation he could ignite an offense in 2018.
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