The start of the new NFL league year is around the corner (March 14 at 4pm ET) and teams are really starting to feel the pressure of making the right moves in free agency to make a run at SUPER BOWL LIII. Oh, and the 2018 SCOUTING COMBINE is happening right now as well, so teams are starting to feel the pressure of drafting the right players to make a run at Super Bowl LIII and other future Super Bowls. Before that, teams need to decide what to do with their own players. Contract extensions could still potentially happen but more importantly, some teams will franchise tag their best players. Some teams have already done that (See: DETROIT LIONS DE EZEKIEL ANSAH and MIAMI DOLPHINS WR JARVIS LANDRY), and other teams have until March 6 at 4pm ET. So what’s going to happen?
- Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins– Landry would likely have been the most talented WR in free agency this year. The Dolphins have had disagreements with Landry over the last year or two, but they clearly put those on hold to ensure that they didn’t let such a talented player leave without any compensation. Maybe those disagreements will turn into a Super Bowl-winning trade for another team? If that does come to fruition, Landry probably won’t come on the cheap in terms of trade assets. He’s definitely not coming on the cheap salary-wise. Update: The Dolphins have given Landry and his agents the green light to seek a trade.
- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions– Yes, he’s dealt with some minor injury issues but let’s be honest: the Lions defense is…how to put this…ugh. While they have a couple of good pieces in the secondary in the form of CB DARIUS SLAY and S GLOVER QUIN, the unit is not close to championship caliber yet. They finished 6th-worst in total yards allowed and pass yards allowed, and they were also in the bottom half of the league in points allowed and rush yards allowed. The man preventing them from being last: Ziggy Ansah, who finished with 12 sacks last year. Considering the Lions have seven defensive players set to hit free agency, it was a good idea to keep the talented edge rusher around.
Will Get Done
- LE’VEON BELL, RB, PITTSBURGH STEELERS– If the franchise tag doesn’t come into play here, it may be the most shocking lack of franchise tag the NFL has ever seen. NFL and USA Today have him ranked #1 on the will-get-tagged list (ESPN has him on their list, too), and I’m not going to disagree with that. There’s just nobody that runs the way Bell does. Now or…ever.
- DEMARCUS LAWRENCE, DE, DALLAS COWBOYS– The BOISE STATE alum is the most recent example of the classic ‘having a career year in a contract year.’ Lawrence tied for 2nd-most sacks this season and, like Ansah in Detroit, is one of the lone and uber-talented bright spots on an otherwise lacking defense.
- LAMARCUS JOYNER, S, LOS ANGELES RAMS– Joyner is a great safety on a team that is losing their top 2 CBs to free agency (though they are getting a new top CB in the form of MARCUS PETERS from the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS). I don’t think the Rams can afford to lose another member of their secondary, despite what NFL, ESPN, and USA Today all think. This move will come at the expense of SAMMY WATKINS.
- KYLE FULLER, CB, CHICAGO BEARS– I don’t think the Bears necessarily SHOULD tag Fuller, but they should. Look, if Fuller was on any team in the top 75% of the league, he would absolutely walk into free agency. The Bears are not one of those teams and Fuller is just above average enough that they can’t afford to lose him and make their team any worse than it already is.
Won’t Get Done
- ANDREW NORWELL, G, CAROLINA PANTHERS– The Panthers are constantly complaining about how the referees don’t protect QB CAM NEWTON. It’s about time the Panthers step up and PROTECT HIM THEMSELVES. The All-Pro former undrafted free agent signee has been helping with that and should continue to help with that, but he won’t. Reports indicate that the Panthers intend to let him walk.
- ALLEN ROBINSON, WR, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS– NFL and ESPN both believe A-Rob will get tagged, but I’m going to have to side with USA Today on this one. Allen Robinson is an immensely talented receiver, but the Jaguars made their run to the AFC Championship game without his services last season due to him tearing his ACL in week 1. Also, the Jaguars have been pouring money into their defense and just gave QB BLAKE BORTLES a contract extension. I suspect that they will think they can make another AFC Championship game run without Robinson, and they might need to for cap space.
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams– See: Lamarcus Joyner
- SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS– Richardson is a good player, but the Seahawks spend enough on their defense as it is, and Richardson is by no means the best player on Seattle’s defense.
- CASE KEENUM, QB, MINNESOTA VIKINGS– If the Vikings are going to tag one of their three free agent QBs, it’ll be Keenum. However, coach MIKE ZIMMER sounded concerned when he discussed his team’s QB situation at the combine. I think Zimmer is one of the smartest coaches in the league right now. As such, I think SAM BRADFORD is definitely done in Minnesota because he has health issues and he’s the oldest. Case Keenum could come back, but I don’t think he will for two reasons: 1) His value is at a peak right now after leading his team to the NFC Championship Game so he and his agent know that he can get PAID and 2) This season was really the ONLY good season of his career and I doubt Zimmer will sell the farm for that, especially with all of the youth on the Vikes defense that will need to get paid in the coming years. TEDDY BRIDGEWATER makes the most sense because he was the one drafted by Minnesota and, because of his injury, his value will be at an all time low. The Vikings could sign him to a longer deal for cheaper and draft somebody (or pursue KIRK COUSINS, which seems to be a popular opinion coming out of the combine) to compete with him.
- JIMMY GRAHAM, TE, Seattle Seahawks– Jimmy is just not as good as he used to be in New Orleans. That and injuries will probably result in the Seahawks letting him leave.
- JUSTIN PUGH, G, NEW YORK GIANTS– …(…sigh…)…I almost put Pugh right next to Kyle Fuller for the same reason: he is a slightly above average player playing for a BAD team. I have watched more than enough Giants football to know that the o-line is…more like a d-line. That is, they seem more interested in the QB going to the ground than blocking for him (Poor Eli). So, why do I think the best player on that o-line should leave (that’s right, I actually want him to LEAVE, not sign a long-term deal)? Simple: It’s time to hit the reset button on the o-line. Trade down from the #2 pick and acquire multiple talented o-lineman in the draft. Besides, with all of his injuries he wasn’t doing much good for the line anyway.
That’s all for TheHaysWay today, comments/likes/follows are all appreciated, have a pleasant tomorrow and make every day a new best day ever!