There was a great deal of money thrown around in NFL free agency this offseason – more than $1 billion in guaranteed money, to be exact. A number of star players changed teams thanks to lucrative contracts, and they’ll be sure to impact their new teams in 2017.
As fun as this year’s free agency period was, it’s never too soon to look at some of the top players set to hit the open market in 2018. There are a large number of stars with expiring contracts ahead of the 2018 season, which means they could potentially change teams, as many did this offseason.
Here are 20 of the top players available, excluding those who are likely to sign extensions before next March.
Likely to sign extension
QB Drew Brees, Saints
QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
DT Kawann Short, Panthers
CB Desmond Trufant, Falcons
QB Kirk Cousins, Redskins
Unless the Redskins somehow make him a long-term offer he can’t refuse, Cousins will most likely become a free agent for the third straight year in 2018. There will be several teams lining up for his services if that’s the case, including the 49ers and potentially the Browns – assuming they don’t find their franchise saviors this year.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots
There’s still a lot to be determined this offseason regarding Garoppolo’s fate, but he’ll be a free agent next year unless he’s traded and signs a long-term deal beforehand. The Patriots could opt to franchise tag him, but it’s highly unlikely he would get an extension in New England with Tom Brady still around, and paying a second QB starter's money on a franchise tag could be difficult.
QB Sam Bradford, Vikings
Bradford will likely be Minnesota’s starter in 2017 with Teddy Bridgewater’s future in doubt, but beyond this season the Vikings have question marks at quarterback. Bradford is only under contract for one more year, at which point the team will have to decide whether he’s worth an extension, or whether there are better options out there.
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RB Devonta Freeman, Falcons
The Falcons have said they’re looking to extend Freeman’s contract before it expires next offseason, but it remains to be seen whether a deal will be reached. Freeman wants to be paid like an elite back, but Tevin Coleman is a capable three-down replacement.
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RB Carlos Hyde, 49ers
Hyde has endured three injury-plagued seasons in San Francisco, so a change of scenery is likely in the cards for him. He can be a 1,000-yard back when healthy, but that just hasn’t happened enough for him up to this point.
WR Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
Is Landry simply a one-trick pony who thrives in the slot? Or is he truly a No. 1 receiver? That’s a decision the Dolphins will have to make soon because some team is bound to pay him very well next offseason. He certainly can catch a high volume of passes, recording a record 288 receptions in his first three seasons.
WR Julian Edelman, Patriots
Edelman has been the face of New England’s receivers group for years, but that could change next offseason. With Brandin Cooks now in the mix and Edelman being 30, the Patriots may not want to re-sign their veteran wideout.
WR Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
Jeffery signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, so his stay in Philly could be short-lived. Unless Philadelphia feels inclined to sign him long-term during the season, he’ll likely hit free agency next year. If he plays well, he could reset the wide receiver market with a huge deal.
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WR Terrelle Pryor, Redskins
Pryor turned down an offer from the Browns, instead opting to sign a one-year deal in Washington. The Redskins need receivers with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson gone, but keeping Pryor around after another potentially great season will be tough. Look for him to hit the open market again next March.
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LT Nate Solder, Patriots
Solder has been one of the Patriots’ most consistent offensive linemen, and they’d probably like to keep it that way by re-signing him. He’ll be the top left tackle available if he hits free agency next year.
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TE Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
Graham is a player who can transform the tight end position as we know it, similar to the way Gronk has. Unfortunately, injuries and a not-so-great fit in Seattle have prevented that from happening with the Seahawks. He’ll be a hot commodity in free agency if he can stay healthy.
TE Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Eifert is one of the best receiving tight ends in the game when healthy and can be a dynamic weapon offensively. The Bengals have lost a number of key offensive players in recent years, so he’s not likely to escape, but you never know with Cincinnati.
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DE Ezekiel Ansah, Lions
The Lions are probably trying to figure out what exactly Ansah is, seeing as he went from 14.5 sacks in 2015 to just two last season. Health played a role in his decreased production, but he needs to show some more consistency if he wants to land a big contract next year.
DT Dontari Poe, Falcons
Poe signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Falcons this offseason, hoping to prove 2016 was just a down year for him. He has a ton of potential, he just needs to play with more consistency. He should do that in Atlanta.
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DL Sheldon Richardson, Jets
Richardson could find his way out of New York this offseason if the Jets opt to trade him, but in all likelihood, he’ll become a free agent in 2018. He has all the talent in the world, but there is some baggage that comes along with him.
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OLB Melvin Ingram, Chargers
Ingram will go through a bit of a trial period this season in Gus Bradley’s new defense, and that will likely determine whether the Chargers want to keep him around for the long haul. If he doesn’t fit well, Ingram could hit free agency once again. If that were to happen, he’d be able to land a lucrative deal instead of the franchise tag he's on now.
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CB Xavier Rhodes, Vikings
Rhodes has to be a happy camper with the recent deals Stephon Gilmore and A.J. Bouye signed, signaling a big payday for him next year. The Vikings would like to keep him around after losing Captain Munnerlyn this offseason, but that could prove to be difficult – just as it was for Jacksonville and Buffalo.
CB Trumaine Johnson, Rams
Johnson is one of the top young cornerbacks in the game, as he showed two years ago. The Rams have tagged him for the second year in a row already, which means they’re not fully committed to him long-term. If that’s the case, Johnson will cash in next offseason.
SS Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
Chancellor is a known commodity in the NFL as one of the best enforcers in the secondary. However, there’s clearly a disconnect between he and the Seahawks. Seattle may not want to sign him to another big extension, this time for more than the $28 million deal he signed a few years ago.
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SS Kenny Vaccaro, Saints
Vaccaro doesn’t get much attention, seeing as he plays on one of the worst defenses in the NFL. But he’s a versatile weapon in the Saints’ secondary, playing both strong safety and covering players in the slot. Tony Jefferson got a big contract this offseason, and Vaccaro would likely follow suit in 2018.