Predictions for all 32 teams’ top free agents
Teams can start to negotiate with free agents on Monday. We know running back Le’Veon Bell won’t be back with the Steelers after sitting out last season. But will quarterback Teddy Bridgewater re-sign with the Saints? And where will safety Tyrann Mathieu be suiting up next season?
NFL Nation reporters make predictions for the top internal free agent on every team.
Scan through all 32 teams by division, or click here to jump ahead to your team:
Guard John Miller
With $80 million in cap space, the Bills certainly could afford to bring back Miller, their starting right guard the past four seasons. Miller, who was Pro Football Focus’ 25th-ranked guard last season, could command a deal in the ballpark of the three-year, $16.2 million contract Mark Glowinski signed with the Colts this offseason. Glowinski, a year older than Miller at 26, was PFF’s 17th-ranked guard.
Prediction: As the Bills look to overhaul their offensive line — they’ve already replaced coach Juan Castillo and his two assistants — the bet is Miller heads elsewhere.
— Mike Rodak
Offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James
The Dolphins’ previous staff was lukewarm on James, but the new regime seems to value him to fill an important hole. James has proved to be a reliable right tackle in Miami, starting 62 games over his five seasons. He is arguably the top right tackle set to hit free agency.
Multiple league sources at the combine said James could surpass $10 million per year in his new deal, a figure that would make him the second-highest-paid right tackle in the NFL. General manager Chris Grier said the Dolphins want to re-sign James, but he seemed willing to let the 2014 first-round pick test the market.
Prediction: The Dolphins will make a modest offer, but James will find a bigger deal in free agency and leave Miami. — Cameron Wolfe
Defensive lineman Trey Flowers
A versatile defensive lineman in his prime who has led the Patriots in sacks each of the past three seasons, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Flowers is primed to cash in with a big payday. The Patriots would naturally like him back, and whether that happens likely will be contingent on how high the bidding goes on the open market. That’s always hard to predict, because it takes only one team to up the ante to a level the Patriots aren’t comfortable reaching.
Prediction: The Patriots re-sign Flowers. — Mike Reiss
Defensive end Henry Anderson
He improved his market value dramatically in his first season with the Jets, recording a career-high seven sacks even though he drew double-teams on 60 percent of his pass rushes (a team high), according to ESPN pass-rush metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. The Jets want to re-sign Anderson, but they could get outbid if he hits the open market. He’s only 27 and getting better.
Prediction: It’s 50-50 on whether he returns, but if forced to pick — he’s gone. — Rich Cimini
Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley
The top tackler for the NFL’s top-ranked defense is the best run-stopper available in free agency. With Mosley in the middle, the Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (82.9) since he has been in the league (2014). Mosley could draw interest from the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals in free agency. He’ll likely command a contract in the range of $11 million per season, which would put him behind only Carolina’s Luke Kuechly among highest-paid middle linebackers.
Prediction: Mosley and the Ravens have both been optimistic about getting a deal done since the season ended. Baltimore typically doesn’t let first-round picks go after they’ve lived up to expectations. The Ravens will keep Mosley. — Jamison Hensley
Tight end Tyler Eifert
With all three starting tight ends scheduled to become free agents, retaining at least one is important. Eifert remains the best of the Bengals’ group, even with his extensive injury history. Eifert signed a one-year deal last season with only $3 million guaranteed. Another similar deal based on incentives would be expected if he returned. Signing him seems likely with the lack of other pass-catchers available on the team beyond A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.
Prediction: He’s back. — Katherine Terrell
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor
Taylor earned $16 million in 2018 to start three games and then back up Baker Mayfield. If he returns to Cleveland, it will be for far less. Taylor might see what’s out there in terms of starting opportunities, but if he can’t find that, he might have to sign with a team as a backup.
Prediction: The Browns give every indication they have moved on from Taylor. — Pat McManamon
Running back Le’Veon Bell
The Steelers’ decision not to tag Bell instantly makes the All-Pro back one of the biggest free agents of the signing period. Pittsburgh figured two franchise tags and one yearlong holdout were enough. And so Bell gets his wish: the chance to test his true value as an unrestricted free agent. He should be able to command $14 million-plus per year on the open market.
Prediction: Goodbye. — Jeremy Fowler
Safety Tyrann Mathieu
The safety signed a one-year deal last offseason with the Texans to prove himself, and he will be rewarded with a big contract for making that bet. In 2018, Mathieu had 70 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions and quickly became a leader in the locker room for Houston, making an impression on the coaching staff. At the combine, head coach Bill O’Brien said, “There’s no doubt that we would love to have Tyrann back.”
Prediction: Texans sign Mathieu to a long-term deal. — Sarah Barshop
Matthew Berry likes Colts running back Marlon Mack to be a high-volume workhorse fantasy player this season.
Safety Clayton Geathers
This would be a no-brainer decision for the Colts if Geathers didn’t have a history of injury problems. The safety never played a full season and missed a total of 23 games during his four seasons in Indy. What he has in his favor is that Colts GM Chris Ballard is a big believer in Geathers, who has the athleticism to play safety or as a hybrid linebacker in the defense. Ballard said during the combine that the Colts want to bring Geathers back.
“I love everything Clayton Geathers stands for,” Ballard said. “I watched a guy every week fight his tail off to get ready to play.”
Prediction: The Colts give Geathers another shot to stay healthy and re-sign him.— Mike Wells
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief
Moncrief signed a one-year deal with the Jaguars last March for a guaranteed $9.6 million and ended up catching 48 passes for 668 yards. Those were the second-highest catch and yardage totals of his career, but he caught just three touchdowns and made little impact. The Jaguars scored just two offensive touchdowns in their final five games, and Moncrief had just 14 catches in that stretch.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro
The Titans signed Vaccaro during training camp, and he fit in perfectly from the start, forming one of the best safety tandems in the NFL with Kevin Byard. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees loves Vaccaro’s physical play, which set the tone on defense last season. Vaccaro has been vocal about how much he wants to return to Tennessee, and Titans GM Jon Robinson said Vaccaro will be a primary target in free agency.
Prediction: It’s safe to say Vaccaro will be back with the Titans in 2019. — Turron Davenport
Cornerback Bradley Roby
Despite the Broncos being in red-alert mode at cornerback — they have three (including Roby) who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents — Roby’s time with the team is almost certainly over. A first-round pick by Denver in 2014, Roby was part of one of the league’s best secondaries in his first four seasons in the league. But when Aqib Talib was traded before the 2018 season, Roby moved into a starting role and didn’t fare all that well. Unless he somehow returns at the Broncos’ price, he almost certainly will get a better offer elsewhere.
Prediction: It’s goodbye. — Jeff Legwold
Cornerback Steven Nelson
The Chiefs might be choosing between re-signing Nelson this year or their other starting corner, Kendall Fuller, next year. The Chiefs like Nelson but believe Fuller has greater upside.
Prediction: Goodbye. Nelson will be a starter somewhere in the league in 2019 but not in Kansas City. — Adam Teicher
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams
The big-bodied deep threat will be one of the most coveted free agents in a thin WR market because of his durability and playmaking ability. However, the Chargers likely will not be in the running because they already have a replacement in Mike Williams. “It will be very competitive, but he’s earned it,” Chargers GM Tom Telesco said about the market for Tyrell Williams.
Prediction: Say goodbye. — Eric D. Williams
Running back Marshawn Lynch
And not just for box-office appeal, either. The hard-charging running back was playing his best football since coming out of a one-year retirement in 2017 when he went down for the season with a groin injury. Lynch, who turns 33 in April, made $2.5 million in base salary last season and had a cap number of more than $4.4 million, and he could probably be had for the same amount. But there are a few factors at play here, namely that Lynch is still recovering from the injury and has not said whether he wants to play in 2019.
Prediction: Lynch returns for a swan song. — Paul Gutierrez
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence refuses to show up to OTAs and the Cowboys’ offseason program until his contract issue is resolved.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley
No one has caught more passes for more yards from Dak Prescott since 2016 than Beasley. He has been a security blanket of sorts to the quarterback, including a 65-catch, 672-yard season in 2018. The Cowboys had discussions with his agent regarding a deal during the season and have touched base early in the offseason, but the team’s main focus has been on DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper and Prescott.
Beasley turns 30 in April, but he has missed just one game in the past five seasons. It might cost more than they want, but Beasley’s chemistry with Prescott makes him a better bet than signing a different free agent or selecting a receiver in Rounds 2-7.
Prediction: He signs elsewhere for more money. — Todd Archer
Guard Jamon Brown
Now that Landon Collins isn’t returning, Brown is next in line. He started the final eight games for the Giants after being claimed off waivers at midseason and helped stabilize the offensive line. Brown also should help provide some continuity and come at a reasonable price so they can still address right tackle.
Prediction: Good chance he returns. — Jordan Raanan
Linebacker Jordan Hicks
He has shown that he can be a difference-maker when healthy, like in 2016, when he posted five interceptions, 85 tackles and 11 passes defensed. Hicks has a fairly long injury history for a 26-year-old, however, and has missed 13 games over the past two seasons.
Prediction: He could be back in Philly if the money is right, but we’ll say he gets a more attractive offer elsewhere and moves on. — Tim McManus
Linebacker Preston Smith
Smith has started every game since the beginning of the 2016 season after joining the Redskins as a second-round draft pick in 2015, recording 24.5 sacks. He has not made enough game-changing plays, with only five career forced fumbles and four interceptions. But he’s only 26, is 6-foot-6, 260 pounds with excellent length and could play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 base front.
Smith will have his share of suitors, and the Redskins had yet to even engage him in any contract talks entering the combine. They knew the money would extend beyond their comfort level. Smith could be looking at around $12 million per year, a number that could go higher depending on how many edge rushers are re-signed before free agency.
Prediction: Smith signs elsewhere. — John Keim
Cornerback Bryce Callahan
Callahan, who had surgery to repair a broken left foot suffered in the Dec. 9 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, started 10 games in 2018 as the Bears’ slot corner. He had 45 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks. Slot corners have become more valuable in today’s NFL, and they will remain so with pass-heavy teams in the NFC North such as the Packers and Vikings. Callahan has put in four seasons with the Bears after signing as an undrafted rookie, so they know what they have in him.
Prediction: While Chicago would like to keep him, the bet here is an offer will come that’s too much to stomach. — Bob McClellan
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah
When he’s healthy, he’s one of the top pass-rushers in the game. He has registered double-digit sacks twice and is a nightmare for opposing offensive tackles. The problem is that he has struggled with injuries throughout his six seasons with the Lions — no more so than in 2018, when shoulder injuries limited his effectiveness. At this point, it’s nearly impossible to count on Ansah to play a full season and be healthy.
He is likely to get decent money on the free-agent market — although it’s possible he might have to take a one-year “prove-it” deal to cash in on a bigger payday in 2020.
Prediction: Prove-it deal or long-term deal, the Lions are likely to have a new top pass-rusher in 2019. Goodbye. — Michael Rothstein
Linebacker Clay Matthews
He has been a productive player for the Packers — and GM Brian Gutekunst said last week at the combine that he thinks Matthews still can be that — but he’s no longer a dominant pass-rusher off the edge. So what’s his value? That’s the hard part, which is why the Packers probably will let him test the market before they make an offer. Same thing for receiver Randall Cobb, who’s coming off an injury-filled season as he heads into free agency.
Prediction: Chances are someone will make Matthews an offer richer than anything the Packers will pay, and he’ll be gone. — Rob Demovsky
Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson
The Vikings placed a high priority on solidifying their 3-technique position last offseason when they signed Richardson to a one-year deal. While Anthony Barr was the first domino to fall ahead of free agency with Minnesota electing not to use the franchise tag on the linebacker, thus propelling him to the open market, the Vikings would like to keep Richardson for the long haul.
However, doing so will require Minnesota to pay the 28-year-old defensive tackle, who could command a similar market to Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett; Jarrett will earn around $15.2 million this season on the franchise tag.
Prediction: Richardson leaves. Given how loaded this class of defensive linemen is and the likelihood that some of the top defensive-tackle prospects will be there at No. 18, the Vikings will draft Richardson’s replacement. — Courtney Cronin
Running back Tevin Coleman
Coleman is a big-play threat whenever he touches the football and had been the perfect complement to Devonta Freeman. But the Falcons already rewarded Freeman with a contract extension worth $8.25 million per year, and GM Thomas Dimitroff admitted it’s hard to sign two running backs to lucrative deals.
Other teams around the league notice Coleman’s 29 touchdowns in 56 career games and see a guy who could come in and be a difference-maker, meaning Coleman is likely to secure $7-9 million a year from some running back-needy team.
Prediction: The Falcons already have told folks Coleman won’t be back, so they’ll let him walk into free agency. — Vaughn McClure
Wide receiver Devin Funchess
Funchess entered last season as the No. 1 receiver but was replaced by first-round pick DJ Moore as new offensive coordinator Norv Turner went with more speed. The team actually began saying goodbye after Funchess had five drops in a 20-19 loss at Detroit in November. It just doesn’t make sense to keep Funchess based on the money he will demand, the lack of salary-cap space and the young receiver talent on the roster in Moore and Curtis Samuel.
Prediction: The Panthers will say goodbye to the 2015 second-round pick out of Michigan. — David Newton
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater would be an ideal successor to Drew Brees one day. But the 26-year-old is ready for a starting gig now after proving to the league he has healed from a major 2016 knee injury. Another team should be able to offer him a bigger role and a bigger paycheck than New Orleans can. The one thing going for the Saints is that there aren’t many teams in the market for a veteran starter this year. But Bridgewater should be able to land a deal worth more than $10 million per year, even if it’s short-term.
Prediction: Bridgewater signs a one- or two-year deal elsewhere so he can further increase his market value — and maybe even return to the Saints when it’s done. — Mike Triplett
Linebacker Kwon Alexander
From talking to multiple sources around the league over the past few months and again at the NFL combine, Alexander should have a significant market, even for a player recovering from a torn ACL.
Prediction: With limited cap space prior to signing Donovan Smith, it’s unlikely the Bucs will be able to retain him. — Jenna Laine
Defensive end Markus Golden
All has been quiet between the Cardinals and Golden thus far, leading to the distinct possibility that Arizona moves on from the 27-year-old. Golden had 12.5 sacks in 2016, but he suffered an ACL injury the following season, missing 12 games. He spent this past season trying to get back to form, finishing with just 2.5 sacks.
Keeping Golden this season could be expensive as the league searches near and far for pass-rushers. If he signs a one-year “prove-it” deal — either with Arizona or elsewhere — he could command in the range of $7-10 million, and a multiyear deal would be significantly more than that.
Prediction: The Cardinals will either move on from him completely or wait until he tests the market. — Josh Weinfuss
Los Angeles Rams
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
Suh had a relatively quiet regular season with 4.5 sacks and four pass deflections, somewhat surprising numbers given the amount of attention opponents paid to two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. But Suh, a nine-year veteran, proved in the playoffs that he still has dominant playmaking ability in defending the pass and the run. Suh played last season on a one-year, $14 million deal and will test the market, where he’s certain to earn another significant payday with his postseason performances in mind.
Prediction: The Rams will say goodbye to Suh, with the cost too high and their willingness to turn to younger players. — Lindsey Thiry
Defensive back Jimmie Ward
The 49ers already put the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould, ensuring they control his rights for 2019, and re-signed guard Mike Person. From there, they don’t really have any other must-sign free agents. Ward has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, which could make him a bargain for a team looking for a talented player who needs some good health luck and to finally settle in at one position. The Niners would actually like to bring Ward back under the right contractual conditions, but he’ll probably find a landing spot that can provide more opportunity and security.
Prediction: Goodbye. — Nick Wagoner
Linebacker K.J. Wright
Frank Clark got the franchise tag and it’s almost certain that Earl Thomas will sign elsewhere, which means Wright is the Seahawks’ biggest free-agent decision. He’ll be 30 in July and missed 11 games last season because of a knee injury, so it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks making it a priority to re-sign him, especially with the way they got burned on third contracts for veterans such as Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett.
That said, Wright has been a pillar of Seattle’s defense and was “phenomenal” — in GM John Schneider’s words — when he came back late last season. There’s also value in his locker room presence.
Prediction: The market will bear an offer that tops the $6.75 million Wright was making from the Seahawks, and they’ll say goodbye in favor of cheaper alternatives such as Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffin or a drafted player. — Brady Henderson