by Rob Joyce
It’s the start of the new league year in the NFL, which means free agents are available to sign with anyone. We’ve already seen some deals get done (Matt Forte is a Jet, Chris Long is going to the Patriots, Mike Wallace to the Ravens, among others), and we even saw a fairly big trade (Chandler Jones goes from New England to Arizona). Still, there are a lot of big names on the market ready to be signed.
Here’s who is left that should draw the most interest in the coming days and weeks:
1) Russell Okung:
Sure, he’s coming off shoulder surgery, but that could make him slightly more attractive to teams that are more cap-strapped. It’s not too often a good 28-year-old left tackle hits the open market and he won’t cost an absurd amount of money, but that’s what is happening with Okung. The former Seahawk is garnering interest from the Giants and Lions, though a return to Seattle isn’t out of the question yet.
2) Reggie Nelson:
The Bengals’ safety tied for the league lead in interceptions last year, but it appears his days in Cincinnati are over at age 32. Coming off his first Pro Bowl, he had perhaps his best season ever, but there aren’t many teams lining up to sign a safety to a long-term deal when he’s on the wrong side of 30. Still, he can make an immediate impact for any secondary in 2016, especially for a team like Minnesota or Washington.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick:
Speaking of older players coming off career years, enter Fitzpatrick, who led the Jets to a 10-6 record and set personal bests with 3,905 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. It’s seems he’s not going back to New York, but at age 33 he’s not a quarterback of the future for anyone else, either. He’ll be a nice stopgap for a team, whether that’s the likes of Denver or someone else.
4) Arian Foster:
He’s a much bigger name than he is an effective player at this point, but he should still have a spring in his step once he fully recovers from an Achilles surgery. The 29-year-old had three injury-riddled seasons before being cut by the Texans, playing just 25 of a possible 48 regular-season games. However, he is a year removed from a 1200-yard and eight touchdown season. A team like Dallas seems like a fit, as they have Darren McFadden but will probably need someone else, or if Seattle wants to splurge they could place him in a backfield with Thomas Rawls.
5) Nick Fairley:
He’s not quite the dominant presence he was once projected to be, but he was the second half of a quality 1-2 punch in Detroit with Ndamukong Suh and last year in St. Louis was a good situational lineman on a D-line dominated by Aaron Donald. The Eagles and Jets are among the early favorites for the 28-year-old.