NFL free agency is about to begin. When the first few major waves settle, several potential diamonds in the rough are likely to remain. There are always several dozen free agents with clear talent or a history of success who linger on the market for a while. Usually, that’s due to a recent history of injury, an unexpected down season or, quite simply, age. Those free agents tend to land one-year, prove-it deals. Sometimes the deals work out, sometimes they don’t.
Here’s a look at five impending free agents who could be looking at some of those one-year, prove-it deals.
If Jarvis Landry cannot resolve his contract situation with the Miami Dolphins this offseason, an offer from a particular AFC North team may be beckoning.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver took to Twitter on Saturday to post a cryptic message and soon had Baltimore Ravens safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson pop up in his mentions trying to recruit him to their team.
Landry, who is due to hit free agency next month, produced like an elite wideout in 2017, finishing with a league-high 112 receptions for 987 yards and nine touchdowns. But he is at an impasse in his negotiations for a contract extension with the Dolphins, who do not seem to want to pay him as such.
Should Landry and Miami ultimately split in the coming weeks, these Ravens may still face competition from another player hot on the recruiting trail.
Tony Jefferson paid homage to the late Sean Taylor by making the face mask on his helmet resemble the one made popular by Taylor.
Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of Taylor, who died as a result of injuries sustained after he was shot by an intruder in his home. Taylor was just 24 years old and made two Pro Bowl teams after being selected No. 5 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Redskins.
Taylor is the reason countless guys started playing the safety position and he is still held in extremely high regard by players around the league today. To do his part to honor Taylor, Ravens safety Tony Jefferson taped his face mask, a look donned by Taylor.
During the second quarter, Jefferson intercepted his first pass as a member of the Ravens. Given Taylor’s propensity to pick off passes, it’s fitting Jefferson’s first with his new team came on the day he chose to honor Taylor.
NFL superstars tend to receive many rewards, ranging from massive contracts to All-Pro nods and trips to the Pro Bowl. But in order to succeed at the highest level, all 32 teams still need role players and unsung heroes to help them along their journey.
Sometimes those role players receive the recognition they deserve — most often within the fan bases or cities in which they play. But frequently, they are not recognized the way they should be.
Each team has some hidden gems on their roster — here’s a look at one for each team.
Arizona Cardinals – Markus Golden, linebacker
Markus Golden is more overlooked than unknown, but at his current rate of development, he won’t be forgotten much longer. Golden finished the 2016 season with 53 total pressures, 41 run stops and 12.5 sacks. The 41 run stops were good for fourth-most among edge defenders in the NFL. Golden is in line for a Pro Bowl or All-Pro nod in 2017 if he continues at this pace. If that happens, the secret will be out.
Atlanta Falcons – Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle
Grady Jarrett was considered underrated in college and that remained true over his first two seasons with the Falcons. Even despite a strong performance in the Super Bowl, Jarrett hasn’t exactly seen his name in lights. If Atlanta didn’t choke the game away, perhaps that would be different, but for now, Jarrett and his 78.3 Pro Football Focus rating will continue to fly under the radar.
The Ravens have themselves and new safety and it appears a popular video game played a part in the team landing one of its newest players.
After spending the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Cardinals, Tony Jefferson recently signed a four-year deal with Baltimore worth over $30 million. He was reportedly being pursued by the Jets and Browns as well. However, among the factors that led Jefferson to choose the Ravens were the uniforms, which he says looked good on him.
“I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision,” Jefferson told NFL.com. “I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.”
Look good, play good. Right?
The Ravens were in need of help in the secondary after releasing Kendrick Lewis. They now boast a quality pairing at safety with Jefferson and Eric Weddle, who started all 16 games last season and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Having cool uniforms comes in handy sometimes, and don’t underestimate how much stock players put into Madden.