Now that we are into the post June 1 period in the NFL and teams begin to prepare a bit more for camps I wanted to take a quick look at the top free agents still available this summer. Even though it’s a much smaller group on offense I figured I would start there and then do defense in a few days.
1. Cam Newton, Quarterback
Cam Newton is coming off some injury plagued seasons but remains the top QB available and only QB available that could slide into a starting job. If healthy Newton, who is a former MVP, could completely change the dynamic of a team. The teams that make the most sense are the Bills who are a playoff type team with a question mark at QB. They should also be pretty familiar with him. The Broncos would be the other team that seems playoff capable with a question mark at QB. The Giants are not a playoff team on paper but their GM should be familiar and having insurance in the event Daniel Jones is a disaster would be fine. Quite frankly any team with a questionable QB situation for the future should be looking here since at this stage Newton should be very cheap.
2. Jason Peters, Left Tackle
Even thought Peters is 38 I have been surprised that he remains available. He has still played at a high level for years and it is doubtful that he would be that expensive- he played last year for $6 million. Peters come with injury risk having missed 12 games in the last three seasons but if healthy there is no reason to think he would not be dominant. Peters likely does not want to play for a team not expected to contend for a Super Bowl which may be why he and the Browns have not been a match. Maybe he will just wait until the right situation comes across and if it does not just retire.
3. Larry Warford, Guard
Warford’s release kind of came out of nowhere, but when the Saints drafted another interior lineman Warford immediately became the odd man out. Like Peters this is surprising to see him still available as he has been a Pro Bowler the last three seasons and is just 29. Unlike Peters, who is likely a one year solution, this could be a long term match for someone. The Texans recently reworked the contract of guard Zach Fulton and they had been linked to Warford which leads me to believe that Warford is not coming cheap as the Texans will pay Fulton $5 million this season. There may be some belief that Warford’s play is amplified by Drew Brees which could be a consideration right now as well.
4. Demar Dotson, Right Tackle
The veteran tackle has started 30 games over the last two years and remains a steady veteran. While Dotson is not a great player by any stretch he can be a plug in tackle almost anywhere and likely give them a solid presence. Like with Peters the age is a concern and this is a short term option rather than a long term one. Dotson may be someone that is ends up signed after teams take a quick look at a few younger guys on their team and realize that this would be a much better option for them.
5. Devonta Freeman, Running Back
Freeman was all over the news last week reportedly turning down a contract offer from the Seahawks that likely was in the $3 million range. If Freeman is not going to play for that number it’s unlikely he will land a job this season and should wait to see if an injury occurs to make a team more desperate. Freeman’s skill set does warrant a $4-$5 million contract but its rare that players who are cut off a down season, especially at this position, wind up earning that.
6. Ronald Leary, Guard
Leary who had been trending downward for some time fell off enough last year to effectively be released. Leary may best be suited for a backup role or a starting spot on a bad offensive line in desperate need of a veteran. He has enough name value and ability to land a job somewhere.
7. Taylor Gabriel, Wide Receiver
Gabriel was released by the Bears but could be a cheap option for a team with a very thin receiving corps. Gabriel has the talent to give you one or two monster games a year and then vanish for the rest of the season. That’s worth it on a low cost contract assuming he is healthy as he has had concussion issues. You could do far worse for a low cost veteran.
8. Kelvin Beachum, Left Tackle
Beachum was the best offensive lineman on the Jets the last few seasons and has had a relatively steady career. While he is not a dominant player he should be on a roster this year. Teams always need a tackle so his being available may be more about finding the right spot than being offered a spot. My guess is if he played on a team with other good players he would be a very solid addition. I would think he would be on a roster by the time camp begins.
9. Mike Person, Guard
Person should be able to fill a role for a team in desperate need for a proven veteran at a low cost. Person certainly does not have the ceiling of other available guards but you do pretty much know what you are getting in Person and you could do far worse than Person as the final addition on the line. Someone will likely be on the phone with him at the start of camp.
10. Josh Gordon, Wide Receiver
You cant have a list like this without mentioning Gordon. Nobody will deny his talent but he has demons and the question is whether or not he can truly get over his demons. He is going to play for the minimum and no guarantees but a team runs the risk of him moving up the depth charts only to vanish a few weeks later.
You can view the full list of NFL free agents on our free agency page.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.