NFL Free Agents 2018: Top Rumors and Updated Predictions
After what could classify as a false start, the NFL’s oddly named legal-tampering period erupted Tuesday, with major dominoes at seemingly every position falling into place.
Granted, none of the deals for soon-to-be free agents can become official until the new league year opens Wednesday at 4 p.m ET, meaning we still have wiggle room for some of the rumors to fall through or create drama.
But for the most part, we can expect most of the reported deals to be wrapped up, which could make for a boring start to free agency—most of the guys agreeing to deals they’ll sign and their representatives simply setting the market.
We don’t know the fate of every free agent just yet, though, so let’s take a look at some of the seemingly undecided rumors and nail down predictions on them.
For a moment, it looked like we had something cemented on former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Former, because CBS Sports’ Bryant McFadden reported Bridgewater and the New York Jets had come to terms on a deal. But a few hours later, ESPN’s Josina Anderson swooped in with an interesting development:
It’s certainly not too hard to believe Bridgewater and his representatives are taking their time finding him the best possible deal.
And why not? While rumblings of his connection with the Jets were brewing, other major pieces on the open market were settling.
Drew Brees re-upped with the New Orleans Saints, according to Jane Slater of NFL Network. Kirk Cousins plans to sign with the Vikings, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Sam Bradford intends on hooking up with the Arizona Cardinals, according to Schefter.
Bridgewater was never going to be the first quarterback off the market. Viewed as a risk because of the scary injury that cost him the entirety of his 2016 season, the former Louisville star is still a high-upside option who at his best completed 65.3 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2015.
But Bridgewater himself might have some pause about the Jets because they reportedly agreed to a deal with Josh McCown, according to McCown‘s agent, Mike McCartney.
We can’t expect this pause to last much longer, though, and ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported he might have a one-year deal with the Jets in place.
The only other team with a possible starting gig for Bridgewater is the Buffalo Bills, but even they might end up with a rookie anyway. Bridgewater wants to start, but the market and upcoming draft class dictate he’ll have to fight for a job. Doing so in New York might be his best chance to become a starter again.
Prediction: Bridgewater signs with the Jets
It’s interesting to see one of the league’s better left tackles still without a reported deal somewhere considering how difficult it is for a team to find a solid player at the position.
Yet here we are with Nate Solder, formerly of the New England Patriots. At first, it sounded like he was obviously headed to join the Houston Texans, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain.
But nothing further has come down the pipeline on this, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported the Cleveland Browns have an interest in the former Patriots star, saying the Browns are "still pursuing Solder as a possible replacement for Joe Thomas, who could retire."
But the Browns have been all over the offensive tackle spot since the opening of the legal-tampering period. They already agreed to terms with Seantrel Henderson, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, as well as Chris Hubbard, also per Rapoport.
These Browns have more money than most to spend, so a team like the Patriots will have a hard time fending them off and keeping a solid left tackle. It gets interesting when looking at the Texans, a team in need of better protection in front of Deshaun Watson.
The Browns are desperate, but so are these Texans, and only one of these two locales gives Solder a chance to win now. Considering we’ve heard whispers about retirement around him in the past, we can presumably think the best combination of winning and money will lure him to a team.
Right now, the best option still seems to be those Texans.
Prediction: Solder signs with the Texans
One unexpected addition to the free-agent pool arrived Tuesday when the Green Bay Packers parted ways with wide receiver Jordy Nelson, a move reported by Schefter.
In hindsight, maybe this wasn’t too hard to see coming. Nelson, now 32 years old, didn’t look like his usual self last season, catching 53 passes for 482 yards and six touchdowns. He’s steadily regressed over three seasons, and the Packers didn’t want to pay on his contract anymore.
The team chasing Allen Robinson, according to Rapoport, via his colleague Marc Sessler, was probably a strong hint at this move.
Still, Nelson isn’t going to be long for the market, and after a few hours, word popped up via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Oakland Raiders will have him in for a visit:
It makes perfect sense for the Raiders to roll the low-cost dice here on a veteran wideout who can stabilize the underneath passing game. After all, a year ago, it was Jared Cook—not Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree—leading the team in receiving with 54 catches for 688 yards and two touchdowns.
Nelson is bound to have other suitors on the open market, as reliable hands on a veteran at reduced speed or not is valuable in the right attacks. The Raiders, though, would be smart to make sure Nelson doesn’t want to field any other calls, as the Derek Carr-led offense needs some juice going into a new era.
Prediction: Nelson signs with the Raiders
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March 14, 2018 at 04:47AM