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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

15 best remaining NFL free agents

Jeremy Maclin

8. Jeremy Maclin, WR

Jeremy Maclin may be two years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, but he doesn’t necessarily have to replicate those kinds of numbers to be considered productive in the right spot. The veteran receiver earned a 73.3 Pro Football Focus grade in 12 games last season and finished third on the Baltimore Ravens with 440 yards. And while he’s no longer in a place to be a featured receiver, Maclin does still have the skills and football IQ to help supplement a unit and step in when necessary. A team like the New York Giants seems to make sense.

7. Bashaud Breeland, CB

Bashaud Breeland is an interesting free agent given that he shouldn’t be one. In mid-March, Breeland signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Carolina Panthers. However, the deal was voided after Breeland failed his physical due to an infected cut on his foot that was sustained in the Dominican Republic. And despite subsequent visits with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, Breeland remains on the open market. He suffered a down year in 2017, recording just one interception, but at 26 years old, he still provides quality young talent to a team in need.

6. Johnathan Hankins, DT

In mid-March, the Indianapolis Colts surprisingly released Johnathan Hankins one year after giving him a $27 million deal. More surprising than his release from the Colts is the fact that Hankins, who earned an 85.0 Pro Football Focus grade in 2017, is still a free agent. The 26-year-old Hankins is one of the better interior run defenders in the league, even grading out above Aaron Donald a season ago. He can also occasionally cause problems while rushing the passer. He’s better suited for a 4-3 defensive system, but has proven himself capable of playing in a 3-4 system. Hankins will eventually be signed, and at this late stage of the game, someone will be getting a great deal.

5. DeMarco Murray, RB

It was only two years ago that DeMarco Murray seemingly returned to dominance, gaining 1,287 yards and scoring nine touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans. But in 2017, Murray was forced to split carries with sophomore running back Derrick Henry, and his production took a hit as a result. Now, for the third time in four years, Murray will be looking for a new home. The good news is that there are several teams that could use some running back depth, so while Murray may not be looking at a starting role in 2018, there will be some opportunities as a No. 2 back. The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to mind.

4. Dez Bryant, WR

Dez Bryant may not be the elite, game-breaking wide receiver he once was, but there’s no denying he can still bring something to the table. The fact that Brandon Marshall got signed before Bryant is head-scratching, but eventually, Dez will get a call. After all, he’s already fielded an offer from the Baltimore Ravens, but ultimately turned it down because he’s willing to bet on himself and a one-year deal. Plus, there’s his obvious desire to play in the NFC East, allowing him to play his former team, the Dallas Cowboys, twice per season. That may not happen in the end, but the NFL has not seen the last of Dez Bryant.

3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB

Entering the offseason, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was an obvious potential salary cap casualty. Eventually, he became exactly that when the New York Giants reluctantly released the veteran cornerback who had played quite well for the team in a limited role. Although he failed to record an interception in 2017 and served a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, DRC still recorded a 77.2 Pro Football Focus grade, which is solid for a player in a dysfunctional situation and no real idea what he’s going to be doing on a game-by-game basis. The veteran still has some gas left in the tank and could be very valuable to a team looking for locker-room leadership.

2. NaVorro Bowman, LB

NaVorro Bowman is an absolute tackling machine, and if he were slightly younger, he would have owned the No. 1 spot on this list. Still, at 30 years old, Bowman is capable of being a game-changing linebacker for any team in need. Even after moving from the San Francisco 49ers to Oakland Raiders last season, there was no dip in production. In 15 games, Bowman recorded 127 tackles, six stuffs. 1.5 sacks and one interception. It was the fifth time in Bowman’s career that he eclipsed 125 tackles in a season. Pro Football Focus ultimately gave him a grade of 84.8, which was 11th-best in the league.

1. Mychal Kendricks, LB

When Mychal Kendricks was released by the Philadelphia Eagles, he immediately became the best available free agent on the market. Originally a second-round pick of the Eagles in the 2012 NFL Draft, the 27-year-old Kendricks was a six-year starter in Philadelphia, recording 459 tackles, 29 stuffs, 14 sacks and three interceptions in 85 career games. And although he did have a down year in 2016, recording career-lows across the board, Kendricks rebounded nicely in 2017 and helped lead the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title. Having already met with several teams, Kendricks won’t be floating around the free agent market much longer.

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