Best NFL free agents left on the market

Where will K.J. Wright sign?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The NFL offseason has primarily ended, at least in terms of the best players that were available on the market this year.  With that in mind, there are still quite a few capable players left to be signed that could bring a solid presence to the teams that sign them.  We should see some of these players being signed as the roster cuts get closer to 53, and as the first week looms closer, as injuries are bound to happen.  In this article, I will be going over the five most interesting free agents remaining, as well as what they bring to an NFL franchise.

Jurrell Casey – DT

First up we have the five-time pro bowl DT/DE in Jurrell Casey, who spent the greater part of a decade with the Tennessee Titans before a season in 2020-2021 with the Denver Broncos.  Casey’s main contribution to any team would be his capability to get into the backfield and bring down the QB and ball carrier with extreme force.  In his career, he has had 51 sacks and 85 tackles for loss, with 10.5 sacks in a season being his career-high and 13 TFL in another season.

K.J. Wright – OLB

This may be the most surprising remaining free agent to me, as K.J. Wright has performed at an extremely high level over the past few seasons.  In 2020, he had 11 TFL, 86 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 10 passes deflected, and an interception, which by his standards is slightly low but for league standards is extremely high quality.  If signed, he will provide strength to get into the backfield and blow up running plays, as well as his ability to make plays in coverage, seen by his double-digit pass deflections in 2020 and in 2019 (10 and 11 respectively).

Russell Okung – LT

Moving to the other side of the ball, we have a veteran tackle in Russell Okung.  Okung has started a combined 13 games in the last two seasons, which is not the best, however, he started 15 games in 2018 and 15 in 2017, and has performed extremely well in the past few years.  He has not given up more than 3 sacks since 2016, when he gave up 4, as he started in almost every single play that season (99% of snaps).  He still has what it takes to be a competent offensive lineman, and would be a great addition to teams in need of an offensive lineman.

Steven Sims – WR

Onto the skill positions, we have a recent cut by the Washington Football Team in Steven Sims.  Some may look at his stats and say “why is he even on this list, he barely had 300 yards in a season?”.  This addition to the list is purely on the mindset of potential, as Sims has heaps of it, however, he has not been utilized much by Washington in his two seasons there.  At only 24 years of age entering this season, his versatility across the boards is phenomenal.  He can kick return and punt return at a high level, having the most kick returns in the league in 2019 and a 91-yard return touchdown.  He is also able to rush the ball when given the chance, averaging 9.4 YPA on 9 attempts.  Overall, he has potential to make a roster and compete for starting receiver snaps.

Geno Atkins – DT/DE

Finally, we have a player many have forgotten about after last season, in Geno Atkins.  Something to keep in mind is the lack of stats from Atkins last year is both due to his lack of games played (8 played, 0 started) as well as the Bengals moving him out of position.  If moved back to DT and played there normally, he should be a very good addition to any front seven.   In 2014-2019, he made the pro-bowl every year and was an all-pro in 2015.  He had double digit QB hits In every year since 2015, and often went into the 20s in that category, as well as between nine and eleven sacks every year from 2015-2019.  He has juice left in the tank, I have no doubt of this.  He just needs a chance to play at his natural position.

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