August 11, 2022 7:48 am

1 Free Agent Still on the Market Who Can Help Each NFL Team in 2022

Following the initial burst of signings around the NFL, the 2022 free-agent market has slowed to a crawl.

However, it’s not because the remaining group is unimpressive. Potential starters like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tyrann Mathieu—who recently said it’ll “be a while” before he signs a contract—are among the unsigned players.

In short: All 32 teams are still exploring free agency.

Right now, the looming 2022 NFL draft presents a timing obstacle. Teams may prefer a rookie for certain vacancies, while low- and mid-tier players may be patient to wait until the draft ends to reassess the best opportunities for regular snaps.

But as the draft approaches, each franchise has an intriguing fit to address a current need on the roster.

Arizona Cardinals: A.J. Green, WR

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The proverbial ship has probably sailed on A.J. Green as a team’s top receiver. The former All-Pro struggled in 2021 when an injured DeAndre Hopkins missed time.

But the Arizona Cardinals need a couple of wideouts, Houston Texans Jerseys  and Green should be a comfortable, short-term option.

Not only is the club interested in re-signing him, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, but Green also hasn’t received much interest from other teams.

Arizona can do much worse than bringing back someone who caught 54 passes for 848 yards last season. Green’s familiarity with Kyler Murray is a real positive, especially as Arizona tweaks the receiving corps following Christian Kirk’s departure.

Atlanta Falcons: T.Y. Hilton, WR

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If he doesn’t return to the Indianapolis Colts, T.Y. Hilton might be limited to a one-year “prove-it” deal.

Since his peak in the mid-2010s, the four-time Pro Bowler has slipped off the national radar. Injuries limited him to 10 appearances in both 2019 and 2021. Last season, Hilton recorded career-low marks of 23 receptions, 331 yards and three touchdowns.

But the Atlanta Falcons—fresh off an exorbitant dead-money trade of Matt Ryan to Indy—don’t need a superstar wideout. They’re heading toward a tough 2022 campaign.

Hilton, though, can provide a much-needed veteran presence to a receiving corps currently headlined by Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe and Auden Tate beyond flex tight end Kyle Pitts.

Baltimore Ravens: Calais Campbell, DL

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Terrance Williams/Associated Press

The fit is obvious, and recent comments are helping.

Calais Campbell spent the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, and they are hoping to bring him back. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, head coach John Harbaugh said general manager Eric DeCosta and Campbell are “talking regularly.”

The 14-year veteran would be a useful piece for a defensive line in need of greater depth. Campbell is past his prime, sure, but he could contribute at either D-end or tackle.

Perhaps the Ravens are just waiting on him to return from Egypt first.

Buffalo Bills: Chris Harris Jr., CB

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Under the assumption the Buffalo Bills can’t create space for Stephon Gilmore, they’ll need to find a different option at the position.

But they absolutely must add a cornerback.

That, of course, is not shocking news. Tre’Davious White is recovering from an ACL injury and might not return until November or so. Levi Wallace left for the Boston Red Sox Jersey  Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. One way or another, the Bills will be adding a cover man.

Chris Harris Jr. might be out of Buffalo’s price range. However, the former All-Pro would be a wise addition for a secondary that knows White’s return will bolster the unit anyway.

Carolina Panthers: Duane Brown, LT

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Right now, the Carolina Panthers are in a bit of a holding pattern. Will they target a quarterback early in the draft? If that happens, there’s less need for a one-year veteran option like Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as Sam Darnold’s backup in 2022.

Let’s assume a first-round QB.

Carolina has clearly put an emphasis on upgrading the line, acquiring both Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett. Still, the Panthers could use a true left tackle. Brady Christensen gives them flexibility and reduces the outright need, but he might be a better fit at guard to keep Bozeman—also a versatile piece—at center.

And with the most projected cap space in the league, Carolina can afford Duane Brown. He started 61 of 65 games for the Seattle Seahawks over the past four seasons.

Chicago Bears: Quinton Spain, OG

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Signing an offensive lineman is rarely a flashy move. For fans of the Chicago Bears, though, it should be a welcomed sight.

The entire point of this offseason is to start building around Justin Fields while not sacrificing long-term flexibility. Chicago won’t be a fantastic team next season, but 2022 certainly isn’t a throwaway season like it might be in Atlanta, for example.

Right or wrong, the Bears seem headed for the campaign with Teven Jenkins and Larry Borum as the starting tackles. So, strengthen the interior spots. They swiped Lucas Patrick from the rival Green Bay Packers and could snag former Cincinnati Bengals starter Quinton Spain, as well.

Spain should be a relatively inexpensive piece, and his strength—run blocking—is a key area for Chicago to upgrade.

Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB

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Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

Go for it.

After reaching Super Bowl LVI, the Bengals have attacked their greatest need and overhauled the offensive line. On paper, they’re already a stronger roster. But as the AFC loads up on quarterbacks, Cincinnati has extra reason to bolster the defense.

Projected for nearly $16 million of cap space post-draft, the Bengals have the ability to make an appealing offer. Gilmore would immediately become the team’s top cornerback, too.

In the not-too-distant future, Joe Burrow will sign a huge extension. Though fully deserved, it will limit the Bengals’ opportunities for taking a swing at the best free agents.

Go for it now, Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns: Jadeveon Clowney, DE

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Why break up a good thing?

Jadeveon Clowney posted nine sacks in 2021, his first season as a member of the Cleveland Browns. The South Carolina product registered 37 tackles and generated 22 pressures, too.

According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Clowney’s agent said there is “mutual interest” in a reunion.

Clowney’s main strength is defending the run, but placing him opposite Myles Garrett seems to have unlocked his much-desired pass-rushing upside. Keep the band together, Cleveland.

Dallas Cowboys: Trai Turner, OG

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During the 2014 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys planned to select Trai Turner had they not traded up for Demarcus Lawrence.

How about a full-circle signing?

This offseason, left guard Connor Williams left for the Miami Dolphins, and the Cowboys released right tackle La’el Collins. Although they have a couple of in-house Boston Red Sox Jerseys  options to consider, they’ve been relatively quiet in free agency and could use a veteran.

Turner, a five-time Pro Bowl guard, can immediately slot in as a starter. He’d give Dallas—which should be eyeing offensive linemen in the 2022 draft—a steady blocker on a short-term contract.

Denver Broncos: Kyle Rudolph, TE

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Entering his age-33 season, Kyle Rudolph is approaching the twilight of a successful NFL career. And the 2022 campaign might be his final chance for a true bounce-back year.

Since 2019, he’s managed just 93 catches for 958 yards and eight touchdowns. Rudolph played only 48 percent of offensive snaps with the New York Giants last season, dropping from his previous career-low mark of 72 percent on the Minnesota Vikings.

This is basically a make-or-break season for Rudolph’s value.

The Denver Broncos are a wise landing spot. They shipped Noah Fant to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson trade, which creates an opportunity for Rudolph to earn regular snaps and catch passes from a top-tier quarterback.

Considering his recent performance, Rudolph could be a low-risk bargain for the Broncos.

Detroit Lions: Takkarist McKinley, Edge

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Kirk Irwin/Associated Press

Considering the likelihood of another losing year, the Detroit Lions should take a swing on upside.

Health issues have derailed the once-promising career ofTakkarist McKinley, a first-round pick of the Falcons in 2017. He notched 16.5 sacks in his first three seasons, but groin and Achilles injuries held McKinley to 15 combined appearances in 2020 and 2021.

Pending his Achilles recovery timeline, McKinley may start 2022 on the injured list anyway. Detroit can patiently wait for his return and hope for a late-season jolt to the pass-rush group.

Green Bay Packers: Will Fuller V, WR

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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

“If you look at our roster right now, we definitely need to get some speed in that room,” Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur said recently, per Matt Schneidman of The Athletic. “We need a legit guy that can take off the top of the coverage.”

LaFleur made that comment after Marquez Valdes-Scantling headed to the Kansas City Chiefs. Though inconsistent, MVS tallied 17.5 yards per grab on his 123 receptions over four seasons.

Will Fuller V has similar upside with a stronger resume.

Last season with the Dolphins, a broken thumb sidelined him for nearly the entire year. Before that, though, he caught 53 passes for 879 yards and eight touchdowns on the Houston Texans. While that campaign ended with a PED suspension, it doesn’t need to be a career-defining negative.

Fuller would provide the much-needed downfield element for Aaron Rodgers in his pursuit of a second Super Bowl title.

Houston Texans: Billy Price, OL

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Anyone works, really.

That’s not intended to disrespect Houston. In seriousness, how many foundational pieces do the Texans actually have?

The 2022 season will be spent identifying players with legitimate long-term potential for the organization. Solidifying the offensive line for the next quarterback—whether it’s Davis Mills or someone drafted in 2022 or 2023—must be a high priority.

Billy Price hasn’t matched the expectations of his first-round billing in 2018, but he’s started at both center and left guard. Houston’s greatest need along the offensive line is the interior, and Price is worth a gamble for this reconstructing roster.

Indianapolis Colts: Jared Cook, TE

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

In what feels like an annual tradition, Jared Cook is again a free agent likely en route to a comfortable landing spot.

Cook has played on six teams throughout his 13-year career, most recently for the Los Angeles Chargers. He reeled in 48 passes for 564 yards and four touchdowns last season.

That production isn’t eye-popping, but it would be a welcome sight for the Indianapolis Colts. Longtime tight end Jack Doyle retired this offseason, and the Colts—particularly after the win-now trade for Matt Ryan—might not be satisfied with Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson atop the depth chart at the position.

Cook is clearly comfortable with short-term agreements, and Indianapolis would benefit from his 500-yard potential and the opportunity to develop Granson at a lower-pressure pace.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Paradis, C

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Given the injury struggles Brandon Linder faced in eight NFL seasons, his retirement was hardly a surprise. Still, he leaves a major vacancy in the middle of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive line.

J.C. Tretter is the flashy name, but he’s probably out of the Jags’ price range following their free-agency splurge.

Matt Paradis, on the other hand, might be looking for a prove-it deal. Unfortunately for the Boise State product, a torn left ACL abruptly ended his 2021 campaign in November.

Jacksonville re-signed Tyler Shatley and may turn to him as Linder’s replacement. However, the Jags could add Paradis and protect the ability to use Shatley’s versatility in case a rookie underperforms or the oft-injured Brandon Scherff misses time.

Kansas City Chiefs: Jerry Hughes, Edge

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Among the litany of the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive concerns, upgrading the pass-rush group is a major one.

Fifth-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for his aggressive blitz packages, and the Chiefs create plenty of pressure. However, they’ve struggled to finish the job. Last year, Kansas City ranked 29th in the league with 31 sacks.

Jerry Hughes, who will be 34 next season, will not suddenly change that trend himself. But the veteran can help prevent a precipitous drop, especially if the Chiefs don’t re-sign Melvin Ingram. Hughes has averaged 4.5 sacks and 26.8 pressures since 2019.

Las Vegas Raiders: Daryl Williams, OL

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Winslow Townson/Associated Press

One of several cap casualties on the market, Daryl Williams is basically only available for financial reasons.

And the Bills’ loss could be the Las Vegas Raiders’ gain.

Las Vegas re-signed both Brandon Parker and Jermaine Eluemunor, but Parker struggled last season and Eluemunor only played 28 percent of snaps. It seems hopeful to consider either one a locked-in starter, even as they’re staying with the Raiders.

Williams, meanwhile, can play either guard or tackle. That’s especially valuable as the Raiders try to figure out which of those positions 2021 first-rounder Alex Leatherwood should hold.

Los Angeles Chargers: Brandon Shell, OT

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How about another right tackle for an AFC West squad?

While a return to Seattle shouldn’t be ruled out, Brandon Shell is exploring his options. He visited the Broncos before Denver ultimately went with Billy Turner instead.

But the Los Angeles Chargers are likely on the hunt for a right tackle as a possible upgrade to Storm Norton. Shell, who’s started 58 games in the past five seasons, would certainly be that.

As the Chargers aim to capitalize on the salary-cap flexibility Justin Herbert’s rookie deal provides, they should be stacking the roster as much as possible.

Los Angeles Rams: Kevin Huber, P

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Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Respect your specialists, folks.

Fans of the Los Angeles Rams likely already do, thanks to fake-punt legend Johnny Hekker and his 14 career completions. He was also a six-time All-Pro for, you know, punting.

As his memorable decade-long tenure comes to a close, though, the Rams need a replacement. Outside of the draft, the best available option is Kevin Huber. He’s played all 13 NFL seasons with Cincinnati and is a candidate to return, but he’s posted a top-10 net punting average in two of the past three years.

And, yes, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is the obvious name otherwise.

Miami Dolphins: Thomas Morstead, P

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You might not be excited to read about two punters in a row. However, the Rams and Dolphins have a combined zero punters on their respective rosters.

For the Brand!

Miami has once again engaged in an offseason spending spree, and it could reunite new left tackle Terron Armstead with an old teammate. He played eight of his nine seasons on the New Orleans Saints alongside punter Thomas Morstead, who split 2021 between the New York Jets and Falcons.

The 36-year-old Morstead ranked seventh in the league with a 42.0-yard net punting average last season.

Minnesota Vikings: Dennis Kelly, OT

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As the roster stands, depth is not exactly an area of strength for the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line.

The good news is Minnesota has both starting tackles with Christian Darrisaw on the left and Brian O’Neill opposite him. The bad news is current backup options Blake Brandel and Timon Parris have combined for 71 snaps in their NFL careers.

Yeah, the Vikings need someone like Dennis Kelly.

Kelly served as the Titans’ right tackle in 2020 and a valuable reserve for the Packers last season. He played 10 games with Green Bay, logging 47 percent of offensive snaps in those appearances.

New England Patriots: Ereck Flowers, OG

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Once considered a first-round bust, Ereck Flowers has reshaped that perception since shifting inside in 2019. He specifically played well for Washington that season and in 2021.

However, the now-Commanders released him for financial reasons, and the Patriots don’t have a second starting guard.

Ted Karras signed with Cincinnati, and New England dealt Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Michael Onwenu will probably replace one of them, but Flowers could snag the other spot ahead of James Ferentz or 2021 sixth-rounder Will Sherman.

New Orleans Saints: Damontae Kazee, S

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Julio Cortez/Associated Press

This may initially sound like a criticism, but stay with me: New Orleans has a bunch of mix-and-match pieces in the secondary.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has the versatility to play cornerback or safety. P.J. Williams is mostly a safety, but the veteran can slide to corner in a pinch. Marcus Maye is probably best suited as a box defender, though he could be the free safety.

Damontae Kazee is the ball-hawking complement to that utility group.

After picking off 17 passes in four seasons at San Diego State, he’s snatched 12 interceptions in basically four NFL seasons. Kazee missed the majority of the 2020 campaign with an Achilles injury, but he returned to start 15 games for the Cowboys last year.

New York Giants: Terrell Edmunds, S

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Similar to Detroit, this is a home-run swing predicated on the reality of the New York Giants’ below-average roster.

Terrell Edmunds registered 340 tackles as a four-year starter in Pittsburgh. While he managed just five interceptions and 21 total pass defenses along the way, Edmunds—who will be 25 years old next season—is theoretically entering his prime.

Edmunds has proven himself as a box safety. But if the Virginia Tech product continues to develop in coverage as he did in 2021, the Giants could be landing a steal.

New York Jets: Star Lotulelei, DT

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Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

Like his former teammate Daryl Williams, Star Lotulelei went to free agency as a result of Buffalo’s cost-cutting moves.

Lotulelei is an eight-year veteran who’d started nearly every game of his career until 2021. He notched 17 tackles with three sacks in 11 appearances for the Bills last season.

Moving forward, the Utah product can be a solid rotational piece. While not a flashy addition, Lotulelei would reduce the Jets’ need for drafting a top D-tackle. Instead, they could focus on upgrades at wide receiver, edge-rusher, cornerback and linebacker.

Philadelphia Eagles: Anthony Barr, LB

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After spending the first eight seasons of his NFL career on the Vikings, Anthony Barr is probably headed elsewhere, as Minnesota is unlikely to re-sign the veteran linebacker.

Why not reunite with a familiar coach?

Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator is Jonathan Gannon, who installed a similar scheme to the one Minnesota used in his four seasons (2014-17) as an assistant. Barr’s learning curve would be much simpler, and the Eagles plucked two former Vikings—Anthony Harris and Eric Wilson—out of free agency last year.

Health is the main concern for Barr, considering he played two games in 2020 and 11 in 2021. But at the right price, he’d be a knowledgeable voice who can offer steady production.

Pittsburgh Steelers: J.C. Tretter, C

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One of the league’s more surprising cap casualties, J.C. Tretter returns to the market after a respectable five-year run in Cleveland.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the money available to make their AFC North rivals metaphorically pay, too.

Tretter, 31, would immediately bolster the interior of the offensive line as the post-Ben Roethlisberger era begins. If the Steelers sign him, they’d also have the option to shift 2021 third-rounder Kendrick Green from center to his natural guard position.

Given the recent struggles of Pitt’s O-line, Tretter would also mark welcome return to devoting resources to the blocking corps.

San Francisco 49ers: Keelan Cole, WR

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Deebo Samuel can do darn-near anything on the field. However, the San Francisco 49ers need to avoid structuring an offense that requires he do everything.

Brandon Aiyuk caught 56 passes for 826 yards last season, giving the Niners a superb third option after Samuel and tight end George Kittle. And while Kyle Juszczyk has an important role by design, it’s not ideal that a fullback is the next target.

San Francisco needs an impactful No. 3 receiver, and Keelan Cole fits the billing. He’s averaged 37.4 receptions and 538.2 yards across five seasons with the Jaguars and Jets.

Cole’s consistent availability is a real positive, too, considering he’s only missed two games along the way.

Seattle Seahawks: Eric Fisher, OT

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Plan A for Seattle is re-signing left tackle Duane Brown and right tackle Brandon Shell. That could happen, but the appeal of playing for a contender may sway Brown and Shell elsewhere.

Plan B should be Eric Fisher.

Despite sending Russell Wilson to Denver, cutting Bobby Wagner, losing D.J. Reed and potentially the bookends of the offensive line, the Seahawks have played down the “rebuild” label.

Fisher would be a step in the opposite direction. Otherwise, the Seahawks could be down to replacement-level tackles—and entering 2022 in that condition doesn’t agree with what they’re saying.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rob Gronkowski, TE

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Alex Menendez/Associated Press

Cheating? Maybe.

Once Tom Brady’s monthlong retirement ended, attention soon shifted to his longtime pass-catcher. Rob Gronkowski hasn’t made a decision about the 2022 season, but he told JC Cornell of The Draft Network that it’s Tampa or nowhere.

Easy enough! And the Bucs unquestionably would like him back, considering he’s totaled 100 receptions for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns while providing good value as a blocker in two seasons on the team.

Tennessee Titans: Cole Beasley, WR

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Tennessee needs a stronger group of receivers but has little money to spend. Jarvis Landry and Emmanuel Sanders may be too expensive, and the Julio Jones experiment failed. Run down the options, and perhaps the Titans land on Cole Beasley.

During each of the past four seasons—one with Dallas and three in Buffalo—he’s reeled in 65-plus receptions.

Now, he’s not an explosive player. That’s never been Beasley’s game as a short and intermediate target out of the slot. But he’s a zone-busting wideout who can take advantage of soft coverage as defenses respect Tennessee’s star receiver A.J. Brown.

Washington Commanders: Kevin King, CB

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You never know what a change of scenery can do.

Kevin King simply didn’t work out in Green Bay, making 51 appearances over an injury-plagued five-season run. He occasionally had decent games, then would be a major liability. The hugely successful signing of Rasul Douglas signaled the end for King.

Nevertheless, it’s much too early to give up on King. The cornerback is only approaching his age-26 season, and a run of good health could provide the spark for a career turnaround.

Washington has a collection of unproven depth pieces, too, so aiming for King’s low-risk upside is a sound strategy.

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