With the Super Bowl impending this weekend, it’s time to sit back and relax and have fun — that is, for the casual fan. Certainly not for any general managers scrambling to prepare for the start of free agency. So as we await what will hopefully be a thrilling showing between the Bengals and Rams, it’s time for a free agency preview. We’re looking at six players poised to cash in.
Cynthia Hu: The 2011 number-two overall pick is one of the biggest names being thrown around, and as the offseason gets closer, there are many speculations on where the player will go. At the end of this year’s trade deadline, the Los Angeles Rams gave up 2022 second and third-round picks. That, combined with all the other picks that they gave up to make this year their Super Bowl run, makes it hard to believe that Von Miller was just a half-season rental. Though, he is turning 33 in March, so it’s hard to say for sure how long he’s going to be playing in the league.
Tad Berkery: Keep dreaming if you’re not a Green Bay Packers fan because Davante Adams is only a free agent by technicality. As a win-now team annually in go-for-broke mode due to the consistent disgruntlement of Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay is not going to lose potentially the best wide receiver in the game when they could franchise-tag him for about $20 million. However, locking Adams up long-term with a nine-figure deal should be Green Bay’s top priority. Adams is going to be with Green Bay next year; the question is just whether it will be on a long-term deal.
Hu: Let Chandler Jones leave. The Arizona Cardinals are already playing in arguably the roughest division in the NFL — the NFC West. They have to face the San Francisco 49ers, who have an insane D-line, the Los Angeles Rams, who might win the Super Bowl this weekend, and the Seattle Seahawks, whose future is up in the air but are still formidable to many teams. It’s crazy to think the Cardinals would be open to trading Jones, but as we know, anything is possible. The Cardinals are projected to only have $2.7 million in cap, so they likely won’t be able to afford Jones for what he’s worth. If he were to leave State Farm Stadium, I’m banking on him going to Miami, Denver or the Los Angeles Chargers.
Berkery: A torn ACL couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chris Godwin as a star in a contract year and playing on a franchise tag. But with Adams unlikely to make it to market, he’s easily the top option and a player who will be coveted by many teams. There’s not a team that shouldn’t be exploring a wide receiver. Imagine the Kansas City Chiefs pulling every string in the cap gymnastics book to give Patrick Mahomes II yet another elite weapon. Imagine Green Bay finally making Rodgers happy by giving him a high-end second wide receiver. Imagine Godwin giving the Washington Commanders a legit option alongside Terry McLaurin. Imagine Godwin turning a weak Baltimore Ravens wide receiver room into a solid unit.
Godwin’s landing spot likely comes down to cap space and which teams can perform the cap gymnastics necessary to add him; he’s a great player who will be scooped up happily by someone.
Berkery: Washington has all but confirmed that they won’t be bringing him back when their tight-lipped general manager proactively made a point to say that Brandon Scherff declined a contract that would have made him the highest-paid guard in NFL history. Scherff is going to be paid, and it’s not going to be a check coming from Washington. Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals see Scherff as the answer to their offensive line issues. The reality is that Scherff will have tons of suitors and, despite his lengthy injury history, is poised to become the highest-paid guard in NFL history thanks to his phenomenal pass protection skills. We’ll see which team gets to benefit from his sources in time.
Hu: Nate Solder is a standout left tackle for the New York Giants, playing arguably the second most important position in football after the quarterback. Similar to the Cardinals, though he would be a valuable asset to the team, they likely can’t afford him for another season. The Giants are one of nine teams that are working in the red zone, meaning they need to cut a substantial amount of money from their cap. For them, it’s currently almost $11 million. Solder’s last contract had an annual salary of around $15.5 million. So though Giants fans will be disappointed, Solder is going to head somewhere that can afford him and what he brings to the game.