Who Should Your Team Sign in Free Agency

Who Should Your Team Sign in Free Agency
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Jackson celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins

Free Agency Headline grabbers

Geno Smith, Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady don’t often all appear in the same sentence but they could all be free agents in March (unless you believe TB12 is telling the truth about retirement this time). It’s widely expected the Ravens will franchise tag Jackson. Then they can either trade him or push his contract extension aside for another 12 months. What happens to the other two in this free agency round is far from clear cut though.  

2022’s Biggest surprise hits Free Agency

Free agent Geno Smith seems more than happy to stay in Seattle. He had a career year for the Seahawks in 2022, but can they afford him? The Seahawks are projected to have around $31.5 million next season. Franchise tagging a quarterback in 2023 should cost somewhere in the area of $32.5 million. Using the franchise tag on a 32 year old quarterback seems extreme but Smith did take Seattle back to them back to the playoffs.  

Free Agency’s Star Prize?

One veteran quarterback who won’t be franchised tagged in 2023 is Tom Brady. The former Patriot and Buccaneer made headlines as a tampering scandal made headlines in 2022. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was punished in 2022 for the alleged incident in 2019. Miami were a favourite to sign the free agent quarterback before his “retirement”, but Vegas still seems a better fit. Linking up with Josh McDaniels makes sense and they have Davante Adams, Hunter Renfroe and Darren Waller there to catch his passes. 

An unfashionable Free Agent

Jason Kelce is arguably the best center in the league. His pass blocking at the second level is a leading reason Jalen Hurts runs the ball so effectively. Kelce is not your typical offensive lineman though, he played both running back and linebacker in high school. He only switched to the offensive line when he went college in Cincinnati.  

The multi-talented polymath Kelce played hockey and baritone saxophone in high school. He has appeared in the FX sitcom “it’s always sunny in Philadelphia”. Kelce is also a podcast host alongside his brother Travis. In 2022 Kelce released a Christmas album with fellow linemen Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata. So, the 35-year-old Kelce will have plenty of options if he decides not to continue his football career. If the Eagles win the Super Bowl, he may decide to go out with the ultimate mic drop. 

When The Becoming a Free Agent Gamble Goes Wrong

In 2022 Allen Lazard played like a man whose entire future depended on his performance. It did, and he was a shadow of his former self. After rejecting a new contract last offseason Lazard proceeded to drop 40 of the passes Aaron Rodgers threw his way. When Davante Adams left for Las Vegas Lazard was expected to fill the gap left behind. It didn’t turn out that way, instead the Packers had to wait for Christian Watson to blossom to kick start their season. Lazard did catch 60 passes, 20 more than last year but his 7.9 yards per target was his lowest total since 2018.  

Spotrac calculate Lazard’s market value at over $12 million but with Packers needing to find $24 million to become cap compliant they might not be able to invest that in a WR2. Watson’s emergence hasn’t aided Lazard’s cause either and even with Randall Cobb likely to retire the Packers will have five receivers on their roster. There is plenty of scope for the Packers to rework contracts and convert existing salary to signing bonuses but with Aaron Rodgers possibly on the move Lazard’s future in Wisconsin is far from certain. 

Some Free Agency Other Surprises

Defensive back C.J Gardner-Johnson, Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones are free agents too. After his 2022 season Gardner-Johnson should be in line for quite the pay day. The 25-year-old made 67 tackles, six interceptions and a sack, the Eagles really missed him when he was injured.  

Jonathan Jones has stood out in the Patriots defensive backfield this season. He combined well with Devin McCourty to keep Tyreek Hill relatively quiet in two games. 2022 was Jones’ breakout season, the 29-year-old started 16 games for the first time. He made four interceptions, 69 tackles and forced three fumbles in 2022 for the fifth best defense in the league. The Patriots will have about $31 million in cap space heading into free agency (which puts them in the Tom Brady race too) so Jones could stay put.

Jaguar Free Agents 

Arden Key only started three games for the Jaguars in 2022. But as defensive linemen rotate in and out during games, he ended up playing 537 snaps. Key hadn’t played more than 434 defensive snaps since his rookie season in 2018. He only missed one tackle all season for the Jaguars and his five tackles for a loss is a career high. His 20 quarterback pressures is also a career high and his 27 combined tackles is the most since his rookie season. Key is a perfect fit for a Jacksonville defensive front who are designed to get into the backfield. After such a good season he’ll be expensive to re-sign. For their part the Jaguars need to save over $30 million before they can offer any free agents contracts. 

On the subject of Jacksonville’s financial jam Evan Engram is a free agent too. Engram’s 779 yards from scrimmage in 2022 is the most he’s recorded in a single season. His four touchdown receptions is the most since his rookie season in 2017. His catch rate of 74.5% is his best ever and his 465 yards after the catch is 77 more than his previous best. He also broke more tackles in 2022 than ever before. Engram and Trevor Lawrence seem to complement each other very well. He’s become Doug Pederson’s new Zach Ertz. Trent Baalke has some serious work to do retain Engram’s services. 

The conundrum

Isaiah Wynn is only 27 and what happens to him in the offseason will be fascinating. The first-round draft pick out of Georgia is possibly the Patriots best offensive lineman. He has only conceded 17 penalties in 35 games. He’s only started more than eight games twice in his four years in the league though. Spotrac calculate his market value to be around $15 million and while New England has plenty of cap room that’s a lot for an injury prone lineman. 

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