These NFL Players Are Still Free Agents And We Have No Idea Why

Every day, time slowly progresses away from one thing and closer to another. One day to the next, one week to the next, and an ending always breeds a beginning.  

In this case, we all witnessed the end of one season and the optimistic impending beginning of the next NFL season. Now, with an offseason like no other (insert pandemic clause here) and as we begin to spend our abundant free time digging into holes on our favorite team’s roster, it will blow your mind which free agents are out there for teams looking to find answers at crucial positions. 

Whether these players below are a victim of the unprecedented circumstance and limited availability for meeting with team physicians and coaches or not, I will preface the remainder of this by saying that I don’t believe these are the top available free agents, but these were the most interesting and unexpected people on the wire.

Jadaveon Clowney – DL/OLB

Majority of the readers have seen this man play in our beloved Seahawk uniform. However, his focus on receiving an elite-level salary is higher than ever. The Seahawks do not hold a strategy of investing loads of money into free agents like Clowney and his production makes it hard to warrant a $20 million-plus salary per year. 

His career production has been deceiving as well; we all saw the game against the 49ers where Clownery became a one-man wrecking crew with five QB hits, five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles—one he returned for a touchdown. But the rest of the year? He can be a bit injury-prone and statistically is average at best in the most important category: sacks. 

Beyond the Niners game (and a huge hit in the Outback Bowl five years ago), it’s hard to point out his bonafides that would warrant the massive extension he is seeking. So Clowney stands at an impasse for the Seahawks to move forward with re-signing him after trading for him one season ago, and many other teams aren’t buying what Clowney is selling, either.

Best Fit – Tennessee Titans

First, let’s start by saying that Tennessee has the cap space. A third of the league is unable to even sniff the salary Clowney is seeking. But more importantly, Tennessee is hoping to improve upon their trip to the AFC Championship game, and Clowney along the defensive line could be a great place to start. 

Clowney has a run-stuffing ability that very few possess and even though the sack numbers haven’t been there in his career, the all-around nature of his play with his physical abilities would be an asset for a Titans defense with Jeffrey Simmons on the end and DaQuan Jones inside.

The Titans need to grab Clowney while he is still available, because I’m sure the Cleveland Browns are close behind.

Eric Reid – DB

Unlike Jadaveon, Eric Reid was released this past offseason by the Panthers. In stunning fashion, the Panthers look to be in full rebuild mode. 

Since losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots 5 years ago, they have also lost Luke Keuchly—a generational linebacker and the defensive nucleus—and with one foot out the door is Cam Newton—a league MVP. 

Combine a losing season and a coaching overhaul and Reid found himself out of a job. Known for his work with the 49ers for most Hawks fans, Reid received a $22 million contract extension 13 months ago from the Panthers that included a $9 million signing bonus, all of which is now an afterthought.

Best Fit – Seattle Seahawks

Oh yes, I went there. 

Truth be told, the great Seahawks defense that played deep into January always had an anchor on the back end with Kam Chancellor. The best part of Reid’s game currently is his prowess to come down into the box and make a tackle, read the run and cover. 

Eric Reid can complement the type of play the Seahawks have been missing more than anyone on the market or in the draft. He was a tackle machine last season with 130 total tackles. His thumping mentality would be a welcome addition over Bradley McDougald, who recorded half as many tackles last season. 

Reid is a year younger than McDougald and can take a bit off the plate of the aging Bobby Wagner.  Not to mention, it would be a great jab to the Hawks biggest rival in the division, the San Francisco 49ers, who let him walk only a couple years ago. 

I see Eric Reid staying in the NFC, but the Seahawks would benefit the most from adding him.

Davonta Freeman – RB

The Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl a few years ago on the shoulders of some amazing performances from Freeman in the postseason. And as fast as it comes, it quickly goes for running backs in this era and the shuffle continues. 

Atlanta made a decision to bring home Todd Gurley III from the Rams and that made the once heroic Davonta Freeman the odd-man out.  A two-time Pro Bowler and multiple double-digit touchdown seasons have been overshadowed by an injury plagued 2018 season and a career-worst 2019 season. At just 28 years old, this proven back may have plenty of gas left in the tank and something to prove.

Best Fit – Buffalo Bills Over Chicago Bears

The Buffalo Bills have something to prove in a wide-open AFC East. They should be aggressive in replacing the ageless wonder, Frank Gore, and a restructured offensive line and Josh Allen’s ascension could help revitalize the running backs’ career.  

I like Freeman’s chances of getting a prove-it deal with a second-year option with the Bills and helping them improve on their 2019 playoff run. If he can be half of the back he was in 2017, he would be a great bargain and still better than Gore was last year for the Bills.  

There are plenty of teams in the NFC looking to add a running back, including the Eagles and especially the Bears, so Freeman will be a commodity for someone this coming season, and he is the most interesting free-agent running back still available.

Taylor Gabriel – WR

Once a teammate of Devonta Freeman, Taylor Gabriel was a speedster and a deep threat, given the nickname “Turbo” in Atlanta. Taking his talents to Chicago, he managed to outrun most defenses and had a career year for yards in 2018. However, in 2019, his production was cut in half with only 375 all purpose yards and seemed to fade in the wake of the QB controversy and the lackluster arm strength of Mitchell Trubisky. 

The Bears made a decision to release Gabriel to free up some cap space, but it may come at an unforeseen price.

Best Fit – Green Bay Packers

Green Bay’s second year head coach Matt LaFluer saw Gabriel up close and personal as a member of the Falcons coaching staff in 2016. Not to mention, the Packers have a need at wide receiver and also have a knack for picking up Chicago castaways. 

With an aging Aaron Rodgers who loves to stretch the field still, the need for a deep threat still exists. The under-development of Marques Valdes-Scantling and not drafting any wide receivers in a particularly loaded 2019 draft class, the Packers find themselves behind the eight ball in keeping up with the variety of weapons needed to succeed in today’s game. 

Gabriel won’t need double-digit targets every week or to duplicate his 2016-2018 self to be an asset in Green Bay.