Are you ready to play celebrity match game? Or something close to it?
We are now on the cusp of the start of the 2020 NFL League Year -- perhaps -- and the official beginning of free agency. Transactions will become official. The salary cap will kick back in. Bad teams will throw crazy money at middling players -- who deserve every penny they get, by the way -- and will end up getting, for the most part, only incrementally better or worse. Get your popcorn ready!
Once the franchise tags (and possibly a bunch of transition tags, too, depending on whether the new CBA vote passes) are in effect, this class of free agents will lose a lot of luster and star power. But there will be power moves to be made, and there are a host of pending free agents who seem to make an awful lot of sense for particular teams. In many of these cases I anticipate the interest to be mutual. But there are certain players who just look like a great match with particular franchises.
Here are some potential free agent marriages that I believe would make a lot of sense for all parties involved (okay, in the case of many of these players it's going to make more cents than sense, but that's how it goes this time of year and cash is king). To be clear, I am not reporting these moves will happen and I'm not predicting them, but just stating that, to me, they would be great fits. And I also wouldn't be shocked at all if several of them do come to fruition.
This franchise always covets deep speed. It has never shied away from players who have some, um, let's say blemishes on their record. Jon Gruden ain't afraid of taking risks, and they've been trying to replace Amari Cooper since dealing him to the Raiders (that long and distinguished Antonio Brown era in Oakland really was something else).
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It's been forever since the Jets had any kind of difference-maker on the edge. They have all kinds of money to spend and a rookie GM who can't fill all of these holes through the draft. Huge market team that is making sitcom characters die. Let'$ go JetS. Do it for Larry David if nothing else. Maybe he'll even make a donation. I could see them being a fit for Dante Fowler, too, even if they were to land Clowney.
I still believe if Brady goes anywhere this one makes the most sense, on field and off. Would be totally un-Chargers like, but it's time for them break out of the same 'ol, same 'ol. Tom will listen very intently if you give him a reason to.
Makes all the sense in the world to reunite this QB with his former coach. The Bucs make a lot of sense too. That will be Rivers' market. If the Colts lose out here, Nick Foles may be the consolation prize.
If Brady does depart, Teddy could step in. Josh McDaniels can cater the offense to him, Bridgewater won't flinch having to replace a legend – he's been through so much already at such a young age – and the financial commitment won't be massive.
Cardinals -- Amari Cooper
Their drafts have not been good, by and large, for a long while. Yeah it's a deep receiver class, but there are holes to fill all over this defense, too. Wanna help Kyler Murray jump up another notch in Year 2? Go get the best young receiver on the market.
He finally found his hands in Tampa. The speed was never a problem. The route running has improved. This burner would make for a more economical replacement of sorts for Cooper. Not that there is any excuse for Jerry Jones to lose Cooper, especially in a hypothetical bidding war with Arizona, but for the sake of this exercise I'll put him here.
Them sitting out the A.J. Bouye trade tells me this always-aggressive front office has a few aces in the hole, and corner is the biggest issue on the roster. This guy would make an immediate impact on that secondary and could be lined up in a variety of ways.
Giants -- Joe Thuney
They've re-set the offensive line market just a few years ago … might as well do it again! Heaven knows they still need the help! Go back to the Patriots well and hope Thuney does what Nate Solder has not to this point.
Skins -- Austin Hooper
They have been wiped out at the TE position, which not that long ago was a position of strength. A quality TE is any young QB's best friend. Washington also lacks for any depth at WR (but it's a great draft for that) and it's a weak TE draft. Oh and it lacks a feature back as well. Throw Dwayne Haskins a bone.
They could use two of these three given the state of the defensive line due to age, injuries, departures. This is a management team that desperately needs to get much better, ASAP, and wasn't shy to throw around money a year ago. I suspect they will be doubling down around the line of scrimmage.
That secondary needs help. The Bengals aren't huge spenders and this guy won't come cheap, but safety is still more manageable than a lot of other position and they need help from the outside badly on this side of the ball.
Sanders had a huge impact on a young offense a year ago when he arrived in San Francisco. He showed a willingness to block his butt off in that run-centric attack. Would be huge for Hollywood Brown and Lamar Jackson. An alpha who will sell out to make plays. This front office knows the MVP needs an upgrade in weapons and I think Sanders would be the perfect fit on a short-term deal at this stage of his career.