NFL free agency is almost here. Fans will be hoping their teams land the kind of superstar who can pave the path to Super Bowl glory. And the players are looking for the best possible fit -- not only to up their chances of winning a ring, but also to get paid, as they deserve.
Sometimes, it's in a player's best interests to find a new home. Sometimes, though, the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
I would like to present to you five free agents who are better off staying with their current team (provided they are getting a fair shake) and five guys who would be better off moving on.
Wide receiver Davante Adams should stay with the Green Bay Packers …
Look, I'm not sure what Aaron Rodgers was talking about the other night on Instagram, either. To me, it seemed like the kind of thing one of my mom's Bunco partners would post on Facebook after one too many White Claws. But here are some of the truths I hold right now: Looking past the offseason drama, Rodgers will be the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers in September. I know the last three years have been devastating -- in the playoffs, at least. But Rodgers is still playing at an MVP level, and you just don't walk away from that. As long as Rodgers is in Green Bay, there is no better spot in the world for Adams, who is coming off a career-high 1,553 receiving yards in 2021. He should totally stay, provided the Packers give him the loot he deserves.
... BUT Christian Kirk should leave the Arizona Cardinals.
Kirk, whose rookie contract is running out, had his best season as a pro last year. And you would expect the Cardinals to be pretty good again in 2022. But there is something unsettling about the recent apparent airing of grievances between the team and star quarterback Kyler Murray. And I wonder if we're heading into a situation where the Cardinals might regress a bit coming off an 11-win season. I'm not predicting this. But if I'm Kirk, I'd take a look at some of the teams that could use a wide receiver (hello, Chicago) and make the jump.
Wideout Mike Williams should stay with the Los Angeles Chargers …
I know this is easy for me to say, because Big Mike could be in for a huge contract with some other team out there looking for a wide receiver. (Again: hello, Chicago.) But I kind of like the situation he's in with the Chargers. Even when you take into account how well things have been going for the other team that shares SoFi Stadium, the Chargers were one of the most exciting teams in the league in 2021. Justin Herbert is really starting to become a superstar, and it is surely no coincidence that Williams put up career numbers last season (76 catches for 1,146 yards). Spending more time with a QB like that would have its appeal.
... BUT JuJu Smith-Schuster should leave the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was really telling that, when he hit the market around this time last year, JuJu wanted to stay in Pittsburgh out of loyalty and to prove that he still had it. But the one-year deal he signed obviously didn't work out the way that he wanted it to, with the receiver limited to five games by a shoulder injury. To cap it off, his return for the playoffs ended in elimination by a team that wanted JuJu last offseason -- the Kansas City Chiefs. I'm not sure if K.C. would still want to rekindle that spark, but never say never. Regardless of where JuJu might end up, though, talk that Mason Rudolph might start in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's retirement should have JuJu ready to bounce. Giving it a shot with one more year of Big Ben made a lot of sense. But staying with Rudolph, with all due respect, is not the same kind of risk.
Tight end Dalton Schultz should stay with the Dallas Cowboys ...
Fantasy dorks everywhere were screaming for Blake Jarwin a few years ago. But injury created an opportunity for Schultz in the final year of his rookie contract, and he took advantage of it, racking up 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. That he was able to do this on a team that also featured Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup is pretty impressive, and it's the kind of thing that could net Schultz a big payday. But there is a glut of available tight ends, which could hurt his market. And there is a long-term possibility with the Cowboys that I wouldn't want to walk away from at this point -- even if the most recent playoff loss was a bit devastating.
... BUT Rob Gronkowski should leave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And go join up with Tom Brady in San Francisco. I'm kidding. (Just sort of.) Of course, if Brady did somehow play for the 49ers, and San Francisco could run two-tight end sets with George Kittle and Gronk, well, that would be pretty fun to watch. Otherwise, going to Cincinnati to play with Joe Burrow wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Gronk, either. He could also head to Buffalo. Or Los Angeles. Either of the Los Angeles teams, actually. Go free, Gronk. At least until we see what the QB sitch is like in Tampa Bay.
Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney should stay with the Cleveland Browns …
Again, easy for me to say when it's not my money. And surely, the Browns would have to do much better than the one-year deal ($8 million plus incentives) they handed Clowney last offseason. But if Cleveland could free up some cap space -- say, by releasing Jarvis Landry -- and use some of that money to keep Clowney happy, it seems like a pretty good move. Don't forget, it was just a year ago when Clowney looked done in Tennessee, only for him to come roaring back while playing with Myles Garrett, reaching nine sacks for the first time since 2018. I would never fault a man for taking a bigger deal elsewhere, but looking at the long game, playing alongside Garrett on a team that should be pretty good isn't the worst idea.
... BUT Von Miller should leave the Los Angeles Rams.
The MVP of Super Bowl 50 pretty much cemented his Hall of Fame résumé by winning his second career title in Super Bowl LVI, catching fire with the Rams after a pedestrian final stretch of games with the Broncos. And I don't mind if, at 32 years old, he's going to play the kind of role where he's fine during the regular season, then comes to life when the playoffs start. If he wants to cash in on a huge payday, I'm here for it. He has nothing left to prove. And I understand there will be people who think Clowney should cash in while Miller should stay. But again, Von's legacy is set. So, for that reason, if I was him, I'd be out there getting paid.
Offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson should stay with the Atlanta Falcons …
The Patriots and Bears had an inkling of how you should use Cordarrelle, but it was the Falcons who took it to another level in 2021, when he broke 1,000 scrimmage yards (618 rushing, 548 receiving) for the first time in his nine-year career. From the Falcons' perspective, they need to do whatever it takes to make sure CP returns (especially when you look at the splits of how they performed with and without him). But this move makes sense for Cordarrelle, too. The Falcons might be the best squad in the NFC South right now. I know, that might seem like an odd thing to say about a group that just finished 7-10, but a lot has changed in that division recently, and I could see Atlanta being a surprise team of 2022. That said, a lot of that depends on CP sticking around.
... BUT Leonard Fournette should leave the Buccaneers.
Everybody should be jumping ship. Oh wait, pun intended! Playoff Lenny should be looking for a team that is a lock to, well, make the playoffs. And when you consider how little running backs are paid relative to other positions, if I'm one of the backs hitting free agency, I would be in no hurry to sign a contract and report to a team by training camp. If anything, I'm waiting for midseason to see if there is going to be a need on a contender, and then I'll show up. I'd want to take the approach Brock Lesnar does in WWE -- complete with the championship gold.