Squawka NFL

Nine to sign: The hottest remaining free agents in the NFL

By Stuart Dick

Published: 11:00, 2 April 2022

Just like the Black Friday sales, NFL teams stormed through the doors of free agency on March 16 in search of the ultimate game changers to add to their rosters.

More than any offseason in living memory, teams were aggressive with their moves to punctuate a breathless news cycle during the second half of March.

We had the Jacksonville Jaguars spending big, the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders trading for superstar quarterbacks AND the GOAT Tom Brady unretiring.

Fear not if your team was not heavily involved in that first wave of big deals, because there is plenty of talent still for sale on Cyber Monday. With the second phase of free agency set to continue, we look at nine players who are yet to find a new home:

WR Julio Jones

Julio was released by the Tennessee Titans after just one injury-plagued season in the AFC South. Now aged 33, Jones is likely on the downside of his Hall of Fame career, having registered 879 receptions, 13,330 yards and 61 touchdowns. He enjoyed six successive 1,000-yard seasons earlier in his career with the Atlanta Falcons, and there is no doubt he still has enough in the tank to compete in 2022.

WR Odell Beckham Jnr

Another wideout still on the market is newly-crowned Super Bowl champion Odell Beckham Jr. Unfortunately for OBJ, he suffered a significant knee injury as the Rams beat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, and that will hamper his preparations for 2022. At 29 years old, Beckham certainly has age on his side and will likely find a landing spot nearer the start of the season, once his return from injury is timetabled.

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C J.C. Tretter

The 31-year-old Tretter was released by the Cleveland Browns at the end of the 2021 season and he has yet to find a new home. He made 90 starts for the run-heavy Browns offense, powering the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to excellent statistical seasons on the ground. Alongside his playing prowess, Tretter is also in his second term as NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) President, showcasing his leadership and demonstrating how well regarded he is by peers around the league.

DT Akiem Hicks

If you need a rotational nose tackle/3-technique who can still offer you plenty in the run game, look no further than Akiem Hicks. At 6’4” and 335lbs, Hicks is a space-eater inside who has 387 tackles, 40.5 sacks, six fumbles and six recoveries during his illustrious career to date. He enjoyed his best years in Chicago, where he recorded 8.5 and 7.5 sack seasons in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

It’s hard to claim that former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney has lived up to the hype his draft position produced. He has shown glimpses of elite talent during a nomadic existence in the NFL. Since leaving the team that drafted him, the Houston Texans, Clowney has had one-year stints with Seattle, Tennessee and Cleveland. The 29-year-old, however, enjoyed one of his best seasons to date in 2021 tallying nine sacks and 37 tackles. Expect another one-year deal, potentially with a team close to contending.

LB Joe Schobert

28-year-old linebacker Joe Schobert certainly has all the tools you want in a linebacker. A total of 661 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 10 interceptions – he can do it all but fits best as a run stuffer. He’s made 80 starts in his six-year career, led the NFL in tackles in 2017 and made the Pro Bowl that same season. If a team is in need of a hard-nosed ‘backer, he is your man.

CB Stephon Gilmore

Former New England Patriot Gilmore is still looking for a new home after a half-season stay with the Carolina Panthers. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has had a tough time over the past two seasons – starting just 14 games for the Patriots and Panthers in that time. Stephon has 427 tackles, 27 interceptions and 116 pass deflections to his name as well as First Team All-Pro honours on two occasions.

S Terrell Edmunds

The 25-year-old Edmunds remains on the market, and he should find a long-term home in the second phase of free agency. Terrell has played 64 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers since he was selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The safety has racked up 305 tackles (including 200 solo), three sacks, five interceptions and defended 21 passes. He started all 17 games last season and should earn a handsome payday in the near future.

S Tyrann Mathieu

‘The Honey Badger’ is still out there. The former Super Bowl champion is looking for a new team after his deal with the Kansas City Chiefs expired. Mathieu remains a premier playmaker in the secondary – he is a three-time First Team All-Pro, a three-time Pro Bowler and an NFL All-Decade 2010s member. Tyrann has more than 600 career tackles, 26 interceptions, 76 pass deflections and three defensive touchdowns. The 29-year-old still has one last big contract in him and it should come very soon.

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