In just a few days, free agency will begin in the NFL. This hasn’t stopped some players, such as Cam Newton, Pernell McPhee, and Younghoe Koo, from agreeing to deals early, but the official start date is March 17. Here are some of the free agents who could make big impacts next year.
Bud Dupree, Edge
Dupree posted 8.0 sacks in just 11 games last season across from TJ Watt before getting injured. He posted 28 pressures in those 11 games, which had him on pace for 41, 8th in the league. Dupree is only 28 and has a track record of being able to get to the quarterback. The ACL tear might give teams reason to pause, but that’ll also likely lower the price tag on a talented pass rusher.
Joe Thuney, G
Thuney hits the market after 5 years with the New England Patriots. Thuney committed just three penalties all year and only has 21 total penalties in his career. He headlined an offensive line that had a lot of moving pieces, yet still boasted one of the top rushing attacks in the league last year. The offensive line has become quite important as of late, and Thuney will be an instant boost. Thuney is only 29 and is one of the better guards in the league.
Yannick Ngakoue, Edge
Ngakoue hits the open market after bouncing around from Baltimore to Minnesota. The former Jacksonville standout was traded for the remainder of his deal before now hitting free agency. Ngakoue is just 26, making him one of the premier free agents in this class. He posted 8.0 sacks last season and has 45.5 for his career.
Hunter Henry, TE
Henry, just 27 years of age, has quickly made a name as one of the top tight ends in the league. While he has had some injury troubles in the past, Henry would represent an upgrade at the tight end position. Unless you’re the Chiefs, Raiders, 49ers, Lions, or Ravens, you should be interested in the former Charger. Henry was a popular franchise tag candidate, but the Chargers elected not to tag him.
Sammy Watkins, WR
Watkins, still just 28 years old, is one of the top free agents at the wide receiver position. Watkins carries the pedigree of a Super Bowl champion and a strong number two wideout in Kansas City. While he has said he’d prefer less money to try and win championships in Kansas City, if he goes elsewhere, he’ll be a nice addition to the wide receiver room.
Mitch Trubisky, QB
It’s not a great year for QB-needy teams, except in the draft, but Trubisky is definitely one of the more intriguing names on this list. He’s one of maybe two quarterbacks (Alex Smith, maybe) available that could potentially start for most teams interested in him. He posted a 67 % completion rate and a 93.5 quarterback rating while battling injury and Nick Foles for playing time.
Curtis Samuel, WR
Samuel, while listed as a wide receiver, took plenty of snaps at running back with the Carolina Panthers last year. While Samuel’s numbers don’t blow you away, when you take into account that he was receiving passes from a broken Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, and Teddy Bridgewater, that becomes a little bit more clear. He’s 25, making him a tantalizing prospect for teams in the market for a wide receiver.
Will Fuller IV, WR
Perhaps the best free-agent receiver is Fuller. Fuller was on pace for almost 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns before being suspended. He had just three drops in 11 games, making him one of the premier receivers in the game, let alone this year’s free-agent market. Fuller is likely to be the name atop any team’s list of potential wide receiver signees.
Keanu Neal, S
Neal, 26, posted 100 tackles last season for the Atlanta Falcons. He only had one interception, but Neal plays more like a run defender, evidenced by the number of tackles. The secondary free-agent market isn’t incredibly strong, but Neal is an enticing addition nonetheless.