The biggest free agents have been off the board for a while now, but there are still plenty of starting-caliber players available. Whether your team needs a veteran running back or a quarterback with experience, options exist.
It remains to be seen when the remaining players will be signed – some might have to wait until after the draft – but there are still good fits for each one. Adrian Peterson has a few suitors, and Colin Kaepernick should find a landing spot in the coming months.
Here are the best fits for seven of the most intriguing free agents still available.
RB Adrian Peterson: Raiders
Peterson’s list of potential suitors appears to be much thinner than he may have expected. Very few teams have showed interest in the veteran back, and his only visits have been with the Seahawks and Patriots. He left both places without a contract, and it could be a while before he lands one.
The Raiders make the most sense for Peterson, considering Latavius Murray left to replace Peterson in Minnesota. Oakland needs a first- and second-down back, which is about all Peterson is at this point in his career. Nothing more, maybe less.
The Patriots are also an obvious landing spot, but they could be using their interest in him to leverage LeGarrette Blount.
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QB Colin Kaepernick: Seahawks
Kaepernick has been a big talking point when it comes to the free-agent market, mainly because players like Matt Barkley and Geno Smith have gotten jobs while he hasn’t. It’s highly unlikely Kaepernick sits out the 2017 season due to a lack of interest from teams, so it’s just a matter of time before he signs somewhere.
That somewhere could be Seattle, which now has a backup quarterback issue. Trevone Boykin was arrested last month and could be released by the team. If that happens, Kaepernick could take his place – and should.
Kaepernick will probably have to settle for a backup job, and Seattle’s scheme fits his play style. That’s a huge factor in selecting his next team, in the event the starter gets injured.
DT Johnathan Hankins: Packers
Hankins figured to come off the market relatively quickly when free agency opened, but he remains on the market. Why? It seems as though his agents are playing hardball with teams like the Giants, who are interested in retaining the big defensive tackle.
With his contract demands reportedly being on par with Damon Harrison’s annual salary, it’s unlikely the Giants give in and re-sign him. If that’s the case, the Packers should pounce and have him replace Letroy Guion, who’s suspended for the first three games of the season.
Guion could be released by the Packers, which would make Hankins a good fit as a 1-technique in Green Bay. As long as his financial requests are reasonable, the Packers would benefit from adding him to the defensive line.
RB Jamaal Charles: Eagles
Charles and the Eagles look to be a match made in heaven. Doug Pederson is the head coach after spending time as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, coaching Charles with the Chiefs.
Charles is not going to be a three-down back, but the Eagles don’t necessarily need him to be. They have Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood on the depth chart, so Charles would work in as a complementary player.
If he has anything left in the tank after multiple knee injuries, the Eagles would be a team that could get the most out of him. Pederson is familiar with his style, and Charles could thrive in their West Coast offense. Signing him to a low-risk deal would be smart.
QB Jay Cutler: Texans
Cutler could easily wind up retiring and leaving the game of football at age 33. It would be somewhat surprising, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock given his aloof personality. But if he wants to prolong his career and have a shot at winning a Super Bowl, he should look at the Texans as a potential suitor.
Houston is desperate for a quarterback after Tony Romo retired Tuesday, leaving very few options for the upcoming season. Cutler isn’t Romo, but he can still sling it.
He has a big arm, is a savvy veteran who can make pre-snap reads and has plenty of experience as a starter – something Tom Savage or a rookie won’t have. He wouldn’t make them Super Bowl contenders, but Cutler would absolutely be better than Brock Osweiler was last season.
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RB LeGarrette Blount: Patriots
Blount, like the rest of the veteran free-agent running backs, remains available. That may not change before the draft, considering how strong the class is. It’s not that Blount is a bad running back, but his skill set doesn’t exactly fit in today’s NFL.
He’s a downhill runner who can’t run out of the shotgun or have success on third down, which limits his options. If he can find a team that only wants him to run out of sets where the quarterback is under center, he can succeed. A team like … the Patriots.
Blount revived his career in New England, and it’s a huge reason he’s remained a starter.
It’s no coincidence that he’s rushed for 2,205 yards in four years outside of New England and 2,917 yards in four years with the Patriots. This is a relationship that has to continue.
WR Michael Floyd: Bengals
Floyd entered the 2016 season looking to have a breakout year and land a lucrative contract in free agency. He did everything but that, catching 37 passes for 488 yards – both of which were career lows. Pair his lack of production with his off-field issues – he was arrested and charged with “extreme DUI” last season – and his suitors are thin.
The Bengals have never been shy about bringing in players with character concerns, from Vontaze Burfict to Adam Jones, and Floyd could be the latest. With Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones leaving last offseason, the Bengals have a clear need for a No. 2 receiver. Floyd is inconsistent and unreliable, but if Marvin Lewis can work his magic, it’s a worthwhile risk.