Surprise NFL free agents who might not be signed until training camps | Launderer’s report

0 out of 8

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    We’re at an interesting time in the 2022 NFL offseason where a second wave of free agent signings could be happening. Teams have needs that weren’t met in the draft, and several quality free agents remain unsigned.

    Additionally, players signed now — after 4 p.m. ET Monday after the draft — won’t count toward next year’s top-up formula. This is one of the main reasons why the market slowed before the draft and could recover.

    The New Orleans Saints, for example, waited until Wednesday to sign star safety Tyrann Mathieu and won’t risk missing out on a potential compensatory pick for a deceased player like Terron Armstead or Marcus Williams.

    However, while we will likely see the market recover, several notable veterans may remain in the market until training camp. The following eight players may be key contributors in 2022, but could remain available when camps open due to factors such as age, health, projected role, position value and other specific reasons. to the player.

    We’ll dive into both the benefits these players can offer and why they might still be available in August. The players are listed in alphabetical order.

1 of 8

    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Kicker Michael Badgley lasted just one game last season with the Tennessee Titans, who released him after missing a field goal and an extra point in Week 1. However, he landed with the Colts in Indianapolis in October and had a solid, if unspectacular, season. .

    In 12 games with Indy, Badgley made 85.7% of his field goal attempts and 39 post-point tries. Although he didn’t convert a field goal over 50 yards, he was reliable enough to make his way onto a roster in 2022.

    However, Badgley could remain unemployed just before the season. Teams are likely to let their kicking competitions go on while viewing Badgley as a veteran fallback option. The 26-year-old can be useful, but teams will prefer a younger, cheaper option with a bigger leg – Badgley is 3 out of 10 on attempts over 50 yards in his career – if they can get it.

    Badgley only signed with the Titans in September last year, and he could face a similar schedule in 2022. Expect him to fill a role that isn’t solidified during camp. and the pre-season.

2 out of 8

    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Like Badgley, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga is likely to join a roster as a late-season insurance option. The former Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers veteran has been a reliable starter at the right tackle, but has struggled to stay on the pitch recently.

    Bulaga started 30 games for the Packers in 2018 and 2019. However, his 2017 campaign was cut short by a torn ACL, and the 33-year-old has only appeared in 11 games over the past two seasons. A back injury has cost Bulaga six games in 2020, while back and groin injuries have limited him to just one start in 2021.

    Due to his injury history, teams may not want to risk overstretching Bulaga in OTAs and early in training camp. He has 122 career starts and is not expected need a lot of time to get up to speed by week 1.

    Bulaga played well in his first season with the Chargers in 2020, recording no penalties and two sacks allowed in 10 appearances, according to Focus on professional football.

    Due to his injury history and age, he probably has little interest in joining a program early. A late-camp signing would be a win-win situation for Bulaga and his next team, who may not put pen to paper until they assess their pre-season tackling needs.

3 out of 8

    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Tight end Jared Cook is another aging veteran who probably doesn’t want to fight more than necessary in the summer heat. The two-time Pro Bowler is 35 and has a long history of stepping into new situations and being productive.

    Cook, a 2009 Titans third-round pick, has played for six different franchises. He’s passed the 500-yard mark in at least one season for five of them. Last season with the Chargers, Cook caught 48 passes for 564 yards and four touchdowns.

    The South Carolina product may be a reliable low-end starter — he’s only missed four games in the last five years — but he’s unlikely to be a team’s first pick. Cook is likely a one- or two-year option at best, and teams will go for youth and upside if they can get it.

    However, Cook has shown time and time again that he can step into a new attack and be a key cog in the passing attack. He’s the best pass-catching tight end on the market, and if a team isn’t happy with their inside options at the start of preseason, they’ll call Cook.

4 out of 8

    Stephen Maturity/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bears released quarterback Nick Foles last week, leaving a former Super Bowl MVP on the open market. The 33-year-old is an attractive deep or bridge option, although he may have to wait until pre-season to get his next opportunity.

    Teams know what Foles is at this stage of his career. He helped the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl in 2017 and was a Pro Bowler in 2013, but the 10-year veteran is nothing more than a top starter or backup.

    Foles’ last major opportunity came in 2020 when he made seven starts for the Bears but didn’t play well enough to keep Mitchell Trubisky on the bench. Teams in need of a starter won’t be rushing to sign Foles, especially as Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo loom as potential victims.

    Teams in need of a backup quarterback probably won’t be rushing to sign Foles either. Veteran mates of his ilk don’t come cheap – Andy Dalton signed a one year, $3 million deal with the Saints this offseason, while career backups and incoming rookies are.

    Expect a team to sign Foles only after evaluating what they have at quarterback. That might not happen until the start of pre-season, although an injury could speed up the process.

5 out of 8

    Sportswire/Getty Images icon

    Cornerback Joe Haden may be 33 and coming off a bad season – he allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 100.1 in 2021, but the three-time Pro Bowler is respected by his peers. Buffalo Bills pass thrower Von Miller, for example, tried to recruit Haden to his new team.

    “We’ve definitely talked about Buffalo, we’ve definitely talked about him coming here. I don’t know what the delay is,” Miller told reporters.

    The “hold-up” is probably a two-pronged entity. At his age, Haden probably isn’t interested in fighting for a spot in minicamps and OTAs. He also won’t be seen as a long-term answer, meaning teams will assess what they have in young players, including rookies, before turning to someone who is likely nearing the end. of her career.

    It should also be noted that several younger veteran cornerbacks, including Trae Waynes (29), Kyle Fuller (30), Vernon Hargreaves III (26) and Mackensie Alexander (28), are still available. Moving to Haden won’t be a priority as the market isn’t dry.

    However, it will be a big surprise if Haden isn’t picked up at the start of training camp. He has 148 career starts, including 11 in 2021, and can start in 2022.

6 out of 8

    Sportswire/Getty Images icon

    Jerry Hughes is now a complementary, albeit valuable, pass-rusher. He recorded just two sacks with Buffalo last season, but produced 26 quarterback pressures while playing 52% of defensive snaps.

    The 12-year-old veteran, who turns 34 in August, has attracted interest this offseason. The Cleveland Browns, for example, eyed Hughes, according to Mary Kay Cabot from The Browns, however, will likely try to re-sign free agent Jadeveon Clowney before turning to an aging vet like Hughes.

    Clowney is 29 and just completed a nine-sack season.

    The presence of guys like Clowney, Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and Melvin Ingram in the market means a team has little reason to switch to Hughes immediately. It can be a big contributor, but other tip options are available.

    Expect Hughes to land with a squad only after in-house talent has been further vetted and after the veteran passer market has picked up.

7 out of 8

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Without his age (33) and his injuries, there is virtually no chance that receiver Julio Jones will still be available. The seven-time Pro Bowler is a future Hall of Famer but has been limited by hamstring injuries the past two seasons.

    In the running-focused Titans offense, Jones had just 434 yards and one touchdown in 10 games in 2021.

    Because Jones has struggled to stay healthy, there will be no incentive for his next team to work him at camp or play him in preseason. He’ll want the 11-year veteran to be as healthy and fresh as possible for the games that matter.

    There’s really no need to sign Jones before camp. Even as a late addition, he will carry some risk of injury. Expect a team to move on Jones only after concluding his receiving corps isn’t deep or talented enough.

    Still, it will be a major shock not to see Jones play in 2022. Two years ago with the Atlanta Falcons, he played just nine games but finished with 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns while providing a passer’s note of 126.5 when targeted.

8 out of 8

    Sportswire/Getty Images icon

    Without an injury, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi wouldn’t make it be available. The Bears offered Ogunjobi a three-year, $40.5 million contract at the start of free agency, but canceled the case after a failed physical.

    Ogunjobi suffered a foot injury that required surgery early in the Cincinnati Bengals’ surprising playoff series.

    Before the injury, however, he was a breakout star. While he enjoyed four promising seasons with the Browns before joining Cincinnati, the 27-year-old made a difference with the Bengals. He finished the 2021 season with 49 tackles, seven sacks and 24 quarterback pressures. If healthy, he’ll be an instant impact starter wherever he lands.

    Ogunjobi will land on a 2022 roster but may not join a team until training camp. The longer the recovery time given to him, the more likely he is to pass the medical checks that a new contract will require.

    In the case of Ogunjobi, the teams will probably play the waiting game. In theory, a franchise could give him an extra three months of recovery while still making him an addition at the start of camp. That franchise might even be Chicago, which did not exclude again trying to sign the five-year veteran.

    Advanced statistics of Professional Football Reference unless otherwise stated.

Christy J. Olson