Now that the 2019 NFL Draft has gone by and rookie minicamps are underway, coaches and front office officials across the league will look to bolster their rosters and address some positions that they were not able to add to in the draft with some veteran free agents that are still on the open market. Since signing unrestricted free agents no longer count against the compensatory pick formula, here are some perfect or ideal fits for some of the top remaining free agents:
• DT Ndamukong Suh to the Indianapolis Colts:
General Manager Chris Ballard has been strategic when dipping his toe into the veteran free agent market since he has been masterful in hitting home runs in the draft since taking over. Since they still have the most cap space in the league, signing the three-time All-Pro who turned it on late last season could prove to be a steal this late in free agency.
• RB Jay Ajayi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
When opted not to select a running back in the draft last month, it was assumed that the starting role would be a two-horse race between veteran Peyton Barber and their second-round pick from a year ago Ronald Jones who is looking to make a major leap in his sophomore season. However, adding the former standout back who was instrumental to the Eagles’ first Superbowl victory could form a three-headed monster of a backfield if Ajayi can stay healthy and Jones steps his production.
• LB Jammie Collins to the Jacksonville Jaguars:
With the surprising announcement that Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith made last week, the Sacksonville defense will be without their field general that patrolled the second level and ran the front seven. Collins could provide them with a one-year stopgap while Smith gets his “world in order” and be that speedy sideline to sideline tackling machine.
• S Eric Berry to the Dallas Cowboys:
They have been adamant about wanting to upgrade at the safety position dating back to last season when they were trying to orchestrate a trade for the All-Pro Earl Thomas when he was still a Seahawk. Now that Thomas is Baltimore and they didn’t address the position until late on day three of the draft, the reward of bringing in the vet who has missed a combined 23 games over the last two seasons due to injuries on a health incentive-laden one-year deal could be well worth the risk if he returns to his Pro Bowl form.
• WR Michael Crabtree to the Carolina Panthers:
Since they lost Devin Funchess in free agency and Greg Olsen has had troubles staying off of injured reserve with multiple foot injuries, Crabtree could provide former league MVP Cam Newton or rookie Will Grier, in the event that Cam gets shut down for the year due to the lingering effects of his injured shoulder, a big-bodied possession receiver with strong but sometimes inconsistent hands.
• CB Morris Claiborne to the New York Jets:
The resigning of the former top-five pick of the 2012 draft makes too much sense for both parties. The Jets didn’t address the position in free agency, or in the draft and Claiborne outperformed their big free agent splash signing Trumaine Johnson.
• DT Corey Liuget to the Cincinnati Bengals:
They fielded one of the worst defenses in the league last season and struggled mightily when it came to stopping the run. While they did select a defensive tackle in the draft (Renell Wren, Arizona State at 125 overall), they could use another huge run-stuffer up the middle of their leaky defensive unit.
• WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Green Bay Packers:
They went defense heavy in both free agency as well as the draft so providing two-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers with a giant redzone target could draw some of the coverage away from Pro Bowl receiver Devontae Adams and create one on one opportunities for their two dynamic tight ends in Jimmy Graham and rookie Jace Sternberger.
• DL Muhammad Wilkerson to the New England Patriots:
Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff specialize in taking discarded veteran players whose play has fallen off or whose production has taken a recent dip and giving them specified roles in which they can thrive and even revive their downtrodden careers.
• S Glover Quin to the Cleveland Browns:
They traded Jabrill Peppers to the Giants as a part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and even though they drafted a safety in the middle rounds (Sheldrick Redwine, Miami at 119 overall), adding a seasoned vet Quin will provide both steady play in the backend of their defense and veteran leadership in a young locker room swelling with lofty expectations.
• OLB Shane Ray to the Baltimore Ravens:
While they did land arguably the steal of the draft in Jaylon Ferguson of Louisiana Tech in the third round at No.85 overall, they lost their first and second leaders in sacks in free agency and it would not be fair to put the pressure of replacing 15.5 sacks on a rookie, even if that rookie is the FBS all-time leader in sacks and led the nation last year with 17.5 as a senior. Adding then former first-round pick to the fold will take some of the onus off of Ferguson and some of the other players (Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams) the Ravens hope will step up in the place of the dearly departed Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith and he should come at a relatively affordable price since he hasn’t been garnering a lot of attention or visits with other teams around the league.