Moving or Staying Part 1: Top IDP Free Agents this off-season

If your team is looking for pass rush help, then this is a good year to look at free agency. There are some impact players who could be available and instantly upgrade most any team. This is also a good year to acquire some quality help at linebacker. There are some things to consider with each of these players such as health, money asked for and whether their old team resigns or franchise tags them. This will be a two-part series, as we will look at who’s moving or staying put.

#1 DE –  Demarcus Lawrence This is the top prize in the 2019 free agent group, provided the Dallas Cowboys let him hit free agency. I predict that they will place the franchise tag on him for the second straight year and try to work out a long term deal. The problem with that is, he may not sign it and become a holdout. But if by some chance they don’t, then he will be highly sought after and wooed by the rest of league. Lawrence’s salary in 2018 was $17 million, and he’s expected to command $20 million or more in any new deal. He will be a major impact for whatever team can get him signed. He is one of the leagues top pass rushers, with double-digit sacks (25 total) the past two seasons. I see this being a holdout situation and the Cowboys eventually giving in. They can’t afford to lose a player of his caliber, but they don’t have a lot of cap room either. There is a long way to go in this fight yet, so stay tuned.

End result: Holdout

#2 ILB – CJ Mosley It’s absurd to me that players like Mosley and Lawrence can even get close to becoming free agents. These type of players are game changers and should be locked up without delay. Mosley has been one of the best ILB’s since entering the league in 2014. His production is elite as he’s averaged one hundred fifteen tackles per season, to go along with a total of eight and a half sacks and nine interceptions. He’s the leader of the defense and will command a huge payday if he hits free agency. The Ravens general manager Erik Decosta has said: “he’s going to do what he can to make sure Mosley remains a Raven.” It would be very difficult to replace his leadership and production if they don’t get him resigned. Mosley wants to be the highest paid inside linebacker in the league, or close to it. Currently, the Panthers Luke Kuechley owns that title at just over $12 million. That’s a small price to pay for a star player with HOF potential. I expect they get a deal done or possibly place the franchise tag on him

End Result: Staying Put

#3 DE – Frank Clark The Seahawks need just to pay Clark and be done with it. He has done everything they have asked of him and at a high level. Clark’s agent, Erik Burkhardt is on record saying they aren’t going to just do a deal early and then see the market reset this spring. So it looks like Clark will test the free agent waters and see what teams offer. He has produced thirty-two sacks total in the last three seasons for the Seahawks despite not having much help around him. I feel he’s a player much more likely to change teams and will be much cheaper than a player like Lawrence. Make no mistake though, he will have a big impact on his new team.

Result: Moving On

#4 OLB/DE – Jadeveon Clowney The Texans are expected to resign Clowney or at least possibly place the franchise tag on him. With the injury history of star DE JJ Watt and the lack of depth at the position, they can’t afford to not get a deal done with Clowney. He had some injury concerns of his own in the early part of career but seems to have gotten past that. Clowney is one of the league’s elite run stoppers and has untapped pass rush potential. He has totaled eighteen and a half sacks over the last two seasons combined and only seems to be getting better. Just like with Lawrence above, if for some reason the Texans let Clowney walk, then he will be getting paid handsomely really soon.

End Result: Staying Put

#5 SS – Landon Collins This is one player that I am going to watch closely when free agency opens. He has been one of the top strong safeties in the league for the past four seasons. Like with any top player, the franchise tag is always an option. Collins’s 2018 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. The Giants will surely use that to their advantage to try and keep his asking price down, but as long as he gets clean bill of health, there will be other teams more than ready to pay up. He’s a guaranteed lock for 100+ tackles each season. A big, strong, fierce hitter, but has some very good ball skills and a solid blitzing option. Landon can make plays all over the field in a variety of ways. His versatility is very attractive to any team considering his services. Players like Collins don’t come along very often, and it’s even rarer that they hit free agency.  I expect the New York Giants to try to get a deal done and keep him a Giant, but if they low ball him, which I expect to happen, then he could be on a new team in 2019.

End result: Moving On

#6 FS – Earl Thomas One of the more polarizing players and the second Seahawk on this list. He has all the talent in the world, but the entire league saw the distraction or mess that he was a part of this past season in Seattle. Despite that, Thomas has been one of the league’s best players, especially in the secondary. He has twenty-eight interceptions and ten forced fumbles for his career so far. He’s a playmaker and isn’t afraid to come up and hit you. A player like this won’t last long in free agency. As long as his medicals (broken leg in 2018) check out, he will be highly sought after. Again, we all know about the trade rumors and his desire to leave Seattle. Head Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that “he hasn’t spoken with Thomas recently,” but did call him “a great player.” I don’t know if this relationship can be repaired and I expect him to begin a comeback with a new team, possibly Dallas or Kansas City.

End result: Moving On

#7 DT – Ndamukong Suh Even at the age of 32, he’s still one the premier defensive tackles in the game. He’s as durable and reliable as you can find, as he’s only missed two games in his nine-year career. Suh got his first taste of free agency last season and was heavily courted by some teams. He went on numerous visits and ultimately decided to sign a one year $14 million deal with Rams, which ended with a Super Bowl run. A year later, he will get another shot at a big payday. Teams will once again line up with their checkbooks in hand. Will he want to stay in Los Angeles and try for another run with the Rams, or will he take advantage of what might be his last chance for a big deal? He’ll make a huge impact no matter whatever he decides to do. He recorded sixty tackles and four and a half sacks with the Rams in 2018. Suh is an elite run stopper who can provide a pass rush from the interior and has the versatility to kick out to defensive end.

End Result: Moving On

#7 DE – Trey Flowers Flowers is an exciting player to keep an eye on. Some will knock his low numbers, saying they don’t match the elite. But you have to consider he is playing in a system in New England where stars don’t exist. He has been roughly a seven-sack a year guy for the Patriots, but in right surroundings, he could be a 10+ guy. Flowers will be a cheaper option than those listed above but can be an impact player. He is exactly what you expect from a player in New England, but as we all know the Patriots don’t pay up when it comes to pending free agents. They have been an organization that believes in their coaching and drafting abilities, so that tells me that Flowers days in New England are over. I would like to see him go to a team that would let him play a little more freely, which should help his numbers increase. Not going to get a huge payday like those above, but should make a good amount.

End result: Moving On

#8 DT – Grady Jarrett The Falcons General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff, has already stated that getting Jarrett resigned is a top priority. Of course, Julio Jones is the top of the list, but Grady should be next. When a team immediately begins cutting veterans to increase cap space, it’s a clear sign they intend on resigning their top guys. I expect Jarrett will stay a Falcon. If he doesn’t get a deal and hit the market, he won’t be without a team very long. Suitors should line up quickly with offers. Garrett will be looking to command a contract in the $12-15 million dollar range. He put together his best overall season to date with fifty-three tackles, career-best six sacks, and three forced fumbles. Those are very good numbers for an interior defensive lineman.

End result: Staying Put

#9 OLB – Dee Ford There are some things for the Chiefs to consider when it comes to resigning Ford. Things like: how does he fit in new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnola’s 4-3 scheme, can he stay healthy, and ultimately, how much will he cost? Even though General Manager Brett Veach hinted at how they’d love to bring Ford back, those are all important questions that have to be answered. He had a career-best thirteen sacks last season, so you can see how productive he can be when healthy. It will be interesting to see how he plays with hand in the dirt as a 4-3 DE.  I would expect that the Chiefs could place the franchise tag on him as a way of seeing how he fits and does one more season before they commit long term.

End Result: Staying Put (Franchise Tag)

#10 DE – Ezekiel Ansah The two worst things for a free agent entering the final season of his contract are injuries and a coaching change. Both of those happened to Ansah in 2018. The organization brought in Matt Patricia to be the new Head Coach and Ansah suffered a shoulder injury that ultimately put him on Injured Reserve. He was franchise tagged last year at $17.1 million, but I don’t see them doing that again. Patricia has no ties to Ansah and he is coming off a significant injury. He will have to hope he can get a long term deal with the Lions or sign elsewhere. When healthy, he has top-level pass rushing abilities and has two seasons of twelve plus sacks. There will be a market for him, but not the huge dollars he wants. I think he will get offered deals in the $12-14 million per year range. A team willing to take the chance on him could get an impact player.

End Result: Moving On

#11 WLB – KJ Wright This is the third Seahawk to make a list. It’s clear there is an overhaul going on in Seattle after some key defenders have moved on. I believe Seattle would love to bring him back, but he will turn 30 during the season and coming off an injury, they will likely test the market. When he does, he will get a lot of attention, as I feel he is one of the more underrated players in the league. Health is a concern that teams will have to look at, but when healthy, he produces. Before last season, Wright had a string of four straight one hundred tackle seasons, at an average of 115 per. He also has eleven and a half sacks and ten forced fumbles on his career. Again Seattle would love to have him back, but they won’t be able to match the offers he’ll get in free agency.

End Result: Moving On

#12 FS – Lamarcus Joyner He was franchise tagged last season at $11.2 million, but the Rams won’t tag him again this year. After a solid but not great season, they will let him test free agency. They could offer him a long term deal but at way less money, at which he will balk. With that said I don’t think he’ll get a huge payday, but some team will look at his potential and offer him a decent deal. You can never have too much help in a pass-heavy league, and Joyner is a quality player. He had a career-best seventy-eight tackles last season, but his big-play numbers regressed. He would be best served to sign with a team that desperately needs secondary help.

End Result: Moving On

#13 FS – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix The Redskins traded a 2019 4th round pick to the Green Bay Packers for Clinton-Dix. It’s not often that you can trade for a sixteen game starter and impact player so cheaply. He was a great addition for the Redskins, as he finished the season with ninety-three tackles and three interceptions. He still has plenty left in the tank, and Washington would be wise to get him resigned, especially after they released DJ Swearinger and the arrest of Montae Nicholson’s arrest for assault. There is a clear need for Clinton-Dix’s playmaking skills. If Washington fails to get him under contract, then another team will for sure snatch him up.

End Result: Staying Put

#14 S – Tyrann Mathieu After refusing to take a pay cut last year, the Cardinals released him. It was a slow market for the Honey Badger, but he finally secured a one year deal with the Texans. He had arguably his best season in Houston after he changed positions from cornerback to safety. He tied a career high in tackles, with eighty-nine and had a personal best three sacks, to go along with two interceptions. The position change seems to have been a huge boost for Mathieu. If he hits free agency, teams will be drawn to his versatility to play both corner and safety. The Texans will likely offer him a long term deal after proving himself last season.

End Result: Staying Put

#15 LB – Kwon Alexander A classic case of a player that can’t stay healthy. Kwon tore his ACL last season in week six and missed rest of year. He is a tackling machine and leader when he’s healthy. While the Buccaneers would love to have him back, they just won’t pay up for a player with health issues. They will most likely let the market set his value and then make an offer based on that. It will be interesting to see what he gets offered in free agency. He has one hundred thirty plus tackle potential, but that all depends on health. The Bucs also got a good look at their depth behind him and Lavonte David, so if they may let him walk.

End Result: Moving On

dwinstead

Vol Nation & Titanup! Consumed with all things football! An avid fantasy football enthusiast and have over 15+ years experience in all formats. You can follow me at @DFF_DWIN.

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