The first several days of NFL free agency have come and gone, and while dozens of players have signed new contracts – including the majority of colleague Frank Schwab’s Top 25 from the days before the market opened – there are a few big-name players still looking for work, particularly on defense.
Some of those players weren’t anticipated to be free agents based on contract; guys like Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey are a few of those who saw themselves cut by their former teams and are now on the market, which may have meant a resetting of the board for some teams.
Here’s our list of the top 10 available free agents:
10. RB DeMarco Murray: He wasn’t scheduled to hit free agency, but the Tennessee Titans had other plans, and released him earlier this month. Murray’s 3.6 yards per carry on 184 chances last season likely played a role in his release, though in 2016 he had 1,287 rushing yards. He could still be productive as a veteran in a rotation, and visited with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
9. C Mike Pouncey: According to Pouncey, he approached the Dolphins looking for a contract extension and a pay raise, and when the team balked, he asked out. Though he played all 16 games in 2017, the first time he made it through the full season since 2012, Pouncey’s history of hip injuries concerned the Dolphins and will likely concern other teams as well. Pouncey visited the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
UPDATE: Pouncey didn’t leave town without a deal as he and the Chargers agreed on a two-year contract.
8. CB Orlando Scandrick: The 10-year veteran asked the Dallas Cowboys for his release and it was granted Saturday. Scandrick has missed 11 games over the past three seasons due to injury, and he’s 31 now, so it’s tough to gauge what his market will be. He may have to accept a one-year “prove it” deal and gamble on himself.
7. S Tre Boston: Speaking on players gambling on themselves, Boston did last year, signing a one-year contract with the Chargers. He played well, starting 15 of 16 games with five interceptions, eight pass break-ups and 79 total tackles, so it would look like his gamble paid off. But the market for safeties has been slow to this point.
6. S/CB Kenny Vaccaro: The fifth-round pick in 2013 is generating some interest, but his most recent history likely has teams taking a long look: in 2016, Vaccaro missed four games to a PED suspension (he claimed it was Adderall), and last year, he finished the season on injured reserve with a groin injury.
5. LB NaVorro Bowman: Bowman has received a contract offer from the team he ended last season with, the Oakland Raiders, but is testing the market to see what other interest he might have. Highly respected and undoubtedly talented – he’s a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler – Bowman will turn 30 this week.
4. DB Morgan Burnett: He lined up all over the field for the Green Bay Packers last season, including linebacker, but also missed time due to injury. But again we see that there’s a depressed market for safeties this year, and Burnett has yet to draw a lot of interest.
3. S Eric Reid: The 26-year-old lined up at both safety spots and linebacker last year for San Francisco, and had 66 total tackles and two interceptions in 13 games. But there’s been little interest shown in him so far, and Reid hasn’t been quiet about why that might be: he was the first player to join former teammate Colin Kaepernick in kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem, and believes he’s being blackballed as Kaepernick was.
2. DT Ndamukong Suh: He’s 31 years old, but Suh is still one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. In 16 games with the Dolphins last season, he had nine tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits and 4.5 sacks. He’s scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Rams, Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Schultz reported.
Update: Ndamukong Suh tells me he is planning to visit the #Rams. Another rising contender officially in the mix.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 19, 2018
He has visited the Saints and Titans, but is seemingly taking his time with a decision.
Ndamukong Suh tells me that his visits w/both the #Saints and #Titans went well. While he has yet to speak w/Drew Brees, he really enjoyed Sean Payton and DC Dennis Allen. Also realizes how much TENN has to offer as a playoff team w/a formidable D-Line. Both teams were impressive
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 19, 2018
1. NT Johnathan Hankins: Hankins was a victim of a coaching change; the 26-year-old signed a three-year, $30 million free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts last year, but Indianapolis is switching defensive schemes, so Hankins surprisingly got the heave-ho on Saturday. Arguably the Colts’ best defensive player last season, it didn’t take long for him to get suitors: Hankins visited Washington on Sunday.
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