After the initial wave of NFL free agency, a number of impact players remain available on the open market. Where could they be headed? Here are the best team fits for 11 notable remaining free agents.
This was not going to be a sales pitch for Beckham to reunite with the Browns, even before Cleveland dealt for Elijah Moore. Dallas' trade for Brandin Cooks seems to take the Cowboys out of the running, too. What's left is a handful of teams with differing motivations for adding a veteran talent like Beckham. Kansas City always seems to be in the market for receiving talent (e.g., Kadarius Toney, acquired during the 2022 season), and Beckham would certainly fit. I'm going with the Jets, though, because Aaron Rodgers' decision to facilitate a trade changes everything for New York, a city Beckham knows intimately from his time with the Giants. The Jets are in win-now mode and still have room at the position -- having signed Mecole Hardman and Allen Lazard and subtracted Moore -- to add a veteran like Beckham, who can still create a few highlights per week. He shouldn't cost too much, either, due to his difficulty staying healthy in recent years, including a 2022 season spent on the sideline. As Rodgers said last week, "Who wouldn't want Odell on their team?"
A week after the negotiation window opened, Wagner remains available for hire. He's had a year to process the anger he felt after Seattle released him, and after the Rams' repeat bid failed in 2022, Wagner just might be feeling the pull of the place that was his only NFL home up until he played in Los Angeles last year. Seattle already made one free-agent signing at the position with Devin Bush, but it's still thin at middle linebacker. Adding Wagner back into the mix with Bush makes plenty of sense and would right what Wagner perceived as a wrong when the Seahawks cut him. Seattle is pursuing a return to the postseason with Geno Smith, and if anyone knows about success in Seattle, it's Wagner.
Clowney's two-year stint in Cleveland ended in ugly fashion, his frustrations with former defensive coordinator Joe Woods boiling over to the point that he didn't even play in Week 18. Joining another AFC North team would be fitting for Clowney, even if Woods is no longer with the Browns. This is about more than that for Clowney and the Ravens, though: Baltimore has plenty of young talent in its front seven and recently released Calais Campbell, leaving a void at defensive end that Clowney could easily fill. In the way Cleveland was once attractive because of Myles Garrett's presence, Baltimore could seem like a favorable spot, with the likes of Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo playing off the edge.
Ngakoue went from playing effectively for a team that reached the playoffs in 2021 (Las Vegas) to one that never had much of a chance to reach the postseason in 2022 (Colts). His next destination comes down to one primary question: Days from his 28th birthday, is Ngakoue interested in more money or chasing a title? With roughly $16 million available in cap space, the Saints might offer the best middle ground between the two. New Orleans has an experienced defense that has proven to be effective in recent years, a defensive-minded coach and an offense that might finally get closer to what it was in the Drew Brees era, now that Derek Carr is on hand. Oh, the Saints have a clear need at edge rusher, too.
I chose Kansas City as the best fit for Chark ahead of free agency, and I'm sticking with it after a week and a half of player movement. The Chiefs have room to add a veteran receiver, especially after JuJu Smith-Schuster left for New England, and they could use an experienced player like Chark to add a threat downfield. Despite only being 26 years old, Chark shouldn't cost too much, given the current state of an underwhelming receiver market. Plus, sometimes it's easy to leave a few dollars on the table to play for the defending champs.
UPDATE: Chark has signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.
Outside of an extension for Laremy Tunsil, we haven't seen massive contracts given to most offensive linemen in this new league year. Even Orlando Brown Jr. didn't get as much as some may have anticipated. This could help explain Risner's inability to find a team at this point; sometimes it's wiser to wait out the market than take the first deal that a team slides across the negotiating table. Buffalo was my choice for Risner ahead of the start of free agency, and although the Bills signed Connor McGovern, they could still use another addition, either for depth or the starting lineup. Signing Risner to a team-friendly deal would give Buffalo this type of depth and allow him to battle it out with Ryan Bates for the starting right guard job along a line that has needed help for a couple of years.
The Raiders have their quarterback. Now they need to address the offensive line, specifically the revolving door that has existed at right tackle. Wynn spent most of 2022 at the position for the Patriots, making for an easy transition in Las Vegas. He'll have some familiarity with the Raiders, too, thanks to the presence of Josh McDaniels, who has already spent plenty of time this offseason reuniting with former Patriots in Las Vegas. This fit makes too much sense.
Peters is (or the Ravens are) slow-playing his first experience with unrestricted free agency. GM Eric DeCosta said earlier this month that Peters is a player he hopes to re-sign, but after failing to get a deal done, Peters remains available. At 30 years old, Peters isn't in line to cash in with a team willing to pay him large sums to man cornerback. A return to Baltimore might make the most sense for him. It certainly does for the Ravens, who have fought through issues with depth at the position in recent years and could use his veteran experience, even after he struggled to return to form in 2022. Peters could be a semi-safe option for the Ravens while also giving them the flexibility to draft a younger corner.
This is contingent upon whether the Saints can convince Yannick Ngakoue to come to the Big Easy. Floyd is older than Ngakoue and they are somewhat similar, but with the Saints needing a replacement for Marcus Davenport up front, either makes sense. Finding a home for Floyd is a little more difficult, but as he proved in Los Angeles, he still has plenty of juice. Joining a Saints team that hopes to return to the postseason in 2023 makes a lot of sense for Floyd, especially after how things ended in Los Angeles.
Look, we know the Aaron Rodgers era is finished in Green Bay. But with Jordan Love ascending to the starting job in Matt LaFleur’s offense, the Packers will need to find a new QB2. When healthy, Bridgewater has proven to be a quality backup to younger quarterbacks. Adding an experienced passer behind Love makes sense as an insurance policy, especially as the franchise wades into uncharted waters for the first time in 16 years.
The Browns waved goodbye to Jadeveon Clowney before the 2023 league year even began, leaving a significant void opposite Myles Garrett. They've added a nice group of under-the-radar defenders up front, including Ogbo Okoronkwo, but it feels as if they can't be done signing additional contributors, especially considering how new coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to run his defense. A return home for Clark, a Cleveland kid who's looking to add another ring to his collection, feels beneficial for both parties -- and for Garrett.