With NFL free agency grades being handed out all over the blogosphere, you’d imagine that the new season is here already and the signing period is all but over.
If your team isn’t completely geared up for a playoff run in 2016 yet, don’t fret. There are still plenty of free agents available who could make major contributions to teams in the coming season. Here is a list of the top 10 remaining free agents. (Will update with each signing)
(Updated: 3/28/2016) Alfred Morris signed to Dallas Cowboys, Robert Griffin III signed to Cleveland Browns, Nick Fairley signed to New Orleans Saints.
No player in the NFL had more interceptions than the former Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. He also averages over 50 tackles a season and is a versatile defender. The market for quality safeties is slim so we should begin to hear some interest in Nelson soon. Nelson is 32 years old, which could allow a team to have him for a short term contract and at a fair price.
Now five months removed from his ruptured Achilles, Arian Foster is expected to be fully ready for camp with whichever team he is with for the 2016 season. Although he has a history of injuries, the 30-year-old running back is undeniably one of the most dynamic backs in the league. It is certainly a worry that he has only started one full season in his career, but with a team that could give him a smaller workload, Foster could be a valuable piece.
Greg Hardy is a free agent again just one year after the Dallas Cowboys gave the troubled defensive end a shot. Hardy managed to pick up six sacks in only 12 games and now hopes to contribute to a new team. With piling off-the-field issues and confrontations with teammates, the debate is far more about ethics than it is about talent.
Many people thought that the New York Jets season was in jeopardy when quarterback Geno Smith suffered a broken jaw before the year began. Luckily Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and had his best season to date, with career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. The 33-year-old QB has had a rough start to his career but brought the Jets to a solid 10-6 record in 2015. Although he is aging, the QB market is not very strong and the draft class is also weak at the position, so Fitzpatrick should be the most sought after QB for teams that want to compete right away.
Aldon Smith is yet another defensive player with all the talent you could want, but the biggest of headaches to come along with it. He is a repeat offender of NFL conduct rules and now he is an unrestricted free agent. A big problem with signing Smith is that he is serving a yearlong suspension and cannot be reinstated until November. Smith had 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons but has not been allowed to play a full season each of the last three years. Smith will still only be 27 years old when he gets off suspension and could provide a team with one of the best defensive players in the NFL for a low price.
The former Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin has hit the free agent market and the market for him up until this point is bare. The same could be said however for the receiver market in general however, which adds some value to the veteran. Boldin has been one of the most reliable targets in the NFL since he has been here. Boldin will likely be taking a one-to-two-year deal seeing as how he will be turning 36 this coming season. Boldin could still be a solid second option for a lot of teams and a great third for a few.
Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton shines at times as a great interior defensive lineman. He fills the gaps well and can bring good energy to the defensive line as a rotation player. Knighton had a down-season last year with the Washington Redskins including his underwhelming performance in the playoffs where he only recorded a single tackle. At 30, the next team to bring Knighton in will be looking for him to be in better shape than he entered 2015 in. If he does this, and perform the way he did later in the season last year, a team could be getting a valuable piece.