The hysteria of the draft is wearing off as the NFL moves to a calmer part of the offseason. But big names are still available in free agency, and now that teams have a clearer picture of their needs post-draft, those names may start flying off the board.
Teammate Albert Breer noted that starting Tuesday, free agent signings no longer count against a team’s compensatory pick formula. Compensatory picks have become an obsession (which, in NFL parlance, means that good teams have cared about it for years and now that people are writing about it more teams will catch on). Unhinged, hungry general managers everywhere could rush to the buffet. Here’s a look at the best left out there:
1. Ziggy Ansah, DE
The soon-to-be-30-year-old hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2016, but did log 12 sacks in 2017 and four over a seven-game stretch in 2018. The former first-round pick could be a solid addition for a team searching for help on the edge.
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT
Suh, 32, is one of the greatest defensive players at his position in the modern era. I think back to the Super Bowl, where he was effective early—had the Rams produced some offense we might be talking more about his impact on the game plan. Suh might be a part-time player, and an expensive one at that. But there’s always room for a versatile tackle who specializes in pissing people off.
3. Zach Brown, LB
One of Pro Football Focus’s best linebackers last season, Brown is under 30 and will probably have suitors. If you missed out on Devin White or Devin Bush in the draft, you may need to look to someone like Brown for help.
(UPDATE: Does Howie Roseman subscribe to the Morning Huddle? The Eagles announced they signed Brown five minutes after this hit inboxes.)
4. Eric Berry, S
Health is obviously a concern for Berry, who has played in three games over the last two seasons (torn Achilles and heel bruise). Still, I think back to what his old defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, used to say about Berry’s singular ability to destroy an opposition’s game plan. He could be one of the most fortuitous gambles of the offseason.
5. Tre Boston, S
Boston is only 26 and had a good season in Arizon last year—79 total tackles, three QB hits, three interceptions and nine passes defensed. While he may be bummed out that other teams don’t see the value, he’ll get his chance to prove them wrong.
6. Donald Penn, OT
Penn just turned 35, won’t be cheap and won’t play any special teams. He made it through four games last year before getting placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. But he was a productive player not so long ago, recently professed his desire to continue playing, and could be a solid option for teams who whiffed on the offensive line class in this draft.
7. Nick Perry, OLB
He had 18 sacks between 2016 and 2017 in Green Bay, and Perry could be a nice chess piece for a defense looking to fill a hole before training camp. It helps that he’ll still have some gas in the tank.
8. Shane Ray, OLB
A potential career realignment could be in order. Just 25, Ray recently visited the Seahawks (and had a few whiffs earlier in the spring). He logged just two sacks over the last two seasons, but a change of scenery could bring out what he does best.
9. Michael Crabtree, WR
The former first-round pick is a long way from his 2016 season, when he logged his last 1,000-yard campaign. He’ll still be a red zone threat for a team that may need to upgrade their receiver depth.
10. Jamie Collins, OLB
Hard to believe his tenure in Cleveland is over. Once a symbol of the new-life Sashi Brown Browns, Collins is back on the market. His value has tanked a bit since becoming a defensive stalwart in New England, but linebacker is a position of need for a lot of teams.
11. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT
The former first-round pick may be far away from his past as an effective hybrid lineman in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense, but there is still room for players who can stretch the line and play multiple gaps.
12. Bennie Logan, DT
He had a down season statistically in Tennessee, but at one time Logan was a desirable set piece on a defensive line. Now 29, we might soon be hearing from teams still worried about their ability to stop the run.
13. Danny Shelton, DT
The big-bodied tackle had some action early in free agency but is still available. Like Logan, a team looking for run support will give him a call. He was solid in that regard for the Patriots last year.
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