Training camp is just under a month away, and there are still plenty of useful veteran players available in free agency.
With that in mind, let’s add one more piece to all 32 NFL rosters via a free agent signing or trade. Here’s one move every team in the NFL should make before training camp.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
ARIZONA CARDINALS: Re-sign DI Corey Peters
Peters is biding his time in free agency before he decides on his next destination. That could include a return to the Cardinals, who ranked 27th in Ben Linsey’s defensive line rankings.
ATLANTA FALCONS: Trade for RB D’Ernest Johnson
Johnson was a restricted free agent but signed a one-year contract with the Browns rather than inking his tender. An acquiring team would take on his $1.065 million salary plus up to $1.2165 million in incentives. It would only make sense for the Browns to trade Johnson if they hold onto Kareem Hunt. The Falcons added Damien Williams, re-signed Cordarrelle Patterson and drafted Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round but could still use a young running back with potential. It came in a smaller sample, but Johnson actually led all running backs with a 90.6 rushing grade in 2021.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Sign WR Will Fuller
The Ravens are currently set to start 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and James Proche at wide receiver after trading away Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals and losing Sammy Watkins in free agency. Fuller has had trouble staying healthy, but he could be a reasonable facsimile of Brown if he’s looking to play in 2022. The Ravens were identified as an attractive landing spot for veteran wide receivers, per one source.
BUFFALO BILLS: Sign CB Xavier Rhodes
The Bills have All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White coming off a torn ACL, and 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam is projected to start on the other side of the field with Taron Johnson in the slot. Buffalo lacks veteran depth at cornerback, and Rhodes, 32, was still effective over the past two seasons, generating a 74.8 coverage grade.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Trade for QB Baker Mayfield
It’s unclear what the Panthers would do with Sam Darnold if they acquire Mayfield, but trading for the Browns' discontent quarterback would give Carolina a much higher ceiling this season. Mayfield struggled through injuries in 2021 but put together an 87.5 overall offensive grade through his first three NFL seasons. He deserves a starting role somewhere, and Carolina, Cleveland and the Seattle Seahawks represent his best options.
CHICAGO BEARS: Sign WR Emmanuel Sanders
The Bears are dead last in Ben Linsey's wide receiver corps rankings. Sanders is no longer in the prime of his career at 35 years old, but he would help solidify the unit for second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: Sign DT Eddie Goldman
The Bengals lost defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi in free agency, and they only replenished the position by drafting Florida’s Zachary Carter in the third round. Goldman, 28, struggled in 2021 with a 39.8 overall defensive grade after opting out for the 2020 season, but he earned an 83.7 overall defensive grade across the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: Trade for QB Jimmy Garoppolo
This is dependent on the length of Deshaun Watson’s eventual suspension. If Watson is banned for an entire season, then the Browns would be in better shape with Garoppolo as their starter over Jacoby Brissett. Baker Mayfield is still on the team, but fences would need to be significantly mended if he is to play for the team this season.
The Browns currently have over $42 million in salary cap space, per OverTheCap.com. If Watson is suspended an entire season, his contract would toll and he’d be on the books for only $10 million next year, meaning Cleveland no longer would need to carry that cap space over into 2023. That makes the addition of Garoppolo even more reasonable.
The Browns are set to compete with the roster they’ve built for this season. Garoppolo would give them a better chance of winning than other options.
DALLAS COWBOYS: Sign LB Anthony Barr
Cowboys fans have been pushing for their team to sign Barr. Dallas’ need at linebacker is dependent upon how Micah Parsons splits his time between linebacker and the edge.
DENVER BRONCOS: Sign LB Anthony Hitchens
DETROIT LIONS: Sign CB Jackrabbit Jenkins
The Lions have young cornerbacks with potential in Jeff Okudah, Jerry Jacobs and Amani Oruwariye, but Okudah is coming off a torn Achilles and Jacobs tore his ACL in December. Jenkins is still a solid starting cornerback at 33 years old.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: Sign WR T.Y. Hilton
The Packers, along with the Colts and Patriots, were another team identified by a source as an attractive landing spot for veteran wide receivers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is currently set to throw to Watkins, Allen Lazard, rookie Christian Watson and Randall Cobb. Hilton could add another field-stretching element to Green Bay's offense.
HOUSTON TEXANS: Sign WR Cole Beasley
The Texans’ wide receiver corps has some potential with the addition of John Metchie III and the potential advancement of second-year pro Nico Collins, but they still ranked 30th in Ben Linsey’s wide receiver corps rankings. Beasley comes with some baggage, but the NFL no longer has significant COVID-19 restrictions in place, and he certainly still belongs on an NFL roster based on his recent play. He could fill the spot Danny Amendola played in 2021.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Sign WR Julio Jones
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Sign CB Chris Harris
The Jaguars have a solid top three at cornerback with Shaquill Griffin, Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell, and one of those players will likely be manning the slot. But none of them are obvious fits for the position — Williams played heavily outside with the Los Angeles Rams despite his smaller stature — and in an era when teams go four wide, it would be nice to have another option and more certainty with a player like Harris.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Sign EDGE Carlos Dunlap
The Chiefs lost Melvin Ingram III to the Dolphins in free agency and are currently set to start Frank Clark and rookie George Karlaftis on the edge. They could use another rotational rusher, and Dunlap, 33, was efficient for Seattle last season with a 72.1 overall defensive grade, 15.3 percent pass-rush win rate. He’s received interest on the open market and is deciding on the best fit, per a source.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Sign LB Dont’a Hightower
Hightower, like Jamie Collins, is a player who could benefit from playing in a New England-style defense, and former Patriots assistant Patrick Graham is now heading Las Vegas’ unit. Hightower, 32, would probably be best used as an early-down run thumper or a situational blitzer at this point in his career.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Sign OL Daryl Williams
The Chargers still have questions at right tackle. Williams split his time between guard and tackle last season but has been better protecting the edge rather than playing inside over the past two years. He's earned a 77.6 grade at right tackle and a 63.1 mark at right guard.
LOS ANGELES RAMS: Sign DI Ndamukong Suh
The Rams only really seem to make splash moves. Suh has also expressed interest in signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, but heading back to the Rams would give him a chance for another Super Bowl ring.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: Sign LB Jamie Collins
One source indicated that Collins fits best in a New England Patriots-style defense and that he might need to wait to sign with a team until after rosters become depleted due to training camp injuries. The Dolphins ranked 25th in Seth Galina’s linebacker unit rankings and are headed by former Patriots cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer.
Collins earned an 81.0 overall defensive grade last season with New England after getting released by the Detroit Lions.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Sign LB Alexander Johnson
Johnson earned an 81.9 overall defensive grade while playing under new Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in Denver. He tore his pectoral in October but would add another effective option to a Vikings group that already includes Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Sign EDGE Trey Flowers
New England should add Flowers, who left in free agency after the 2018 season, on a second stint. It wouldn't be out of the question, considering Jamie Collins' three stints with the team.
Flowers has an 89.8 PFF grade since entering the NFL in 2015. They play different roles, but the Patriots would benefit from adding another edge defender after releasing Kyle Van Noy this offseason.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Trade for RB Kareem Hunt
It would only make sense for the Browns to trade Hunt if they keep D'Ernest Johnson. The Saints are bracing for a suspension for running back Alvin Kamara after he was charged with felony battery in February in Las Vegas for the Pro Bowl. If it’s a lengthy suspension, the Saints need a better replacement than Mark Ingram, Tony Jones and Abram Smith. Kamara and Hunt could coexist in New Orleans’ backfield, as well.
NEW YORK GIANTS: Sign LB L.J. Fort
The best years of Fort’s NFL career came in Baltimore under defensive coordinator Don Martindale, who now heads the Giants’ unit. Fort could slot in as a starter next to Blake Martinez.
NEW YORK JETS: Sign LB Kwon Alexander
This is a bit of an obvious one since Alexander played on the San Francisco 49ers when Jets head coach Robert Saleh was defensive coordinator. The Jets ranked 26th in Seth Galina's linebacker unit rankings.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Sign DB Jimmy Smith
The Eagles are set at cornerback with Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Avonte Maddox, but they could use an upgrade at safety. Smith has dabbled in the position over the past two years and, at 34 years old, would benefit from a full-time switch.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Re-sign CB Joe Haden
Haden, 33, remains unsigned but still appeared to have more in the tank last season. He has offers currently on the table, per a source. Even with Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety, the Steelers ranked 28th in Mike Renner’s secondary unit rankings.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Sign C J.C. Tretter
With Alex Smith retired, it just makes way too much sense for Tretter to head to San Francisco and solidify an offensive line that lost Alex Mack and Laken Tomlinson this offseason. The 49ers ranked 14th in Mike Renner’s offensive line rankings. Tretter was PFF’s seventh-highest ranked center last season.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Sign LB K.J. Wright
Wright recently said he’d only play for the Seahawks since that’s his home base. With Bobby Wagner gone, Wright would add a veteran presence and thread to the old Legion of Boom days for Seattle.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Convince TE Rob Gronkowski to unretire again
With Gronkowski retired and O.J. Howard on the Buffalo Bills, the Buccaneers are left with Cameron Brate and rookie Cade Otton at tight end. They could certainly do worse than those options, but a mid-season return from Gronkowski could boost them into a Super Bowl run.
TENNESSEE TITANS: Sign WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The AFC South isn’t exactly chock full of wide receivers right now. The Titans ranked 26th in our wide receiver corps rankings, and if the Titans want to keep their hold on the division, it would behoove them to add another playmaker for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to join Robert Woods (coming off a torn ACL) and rookie Treylon Burks.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Sign LB Joe Schobert
Schobert, 28, is just two years removed from signing a five-year, $53.75 million contract with the Jaguars yet remains unsigned since being released by the Steelers in March. Washington is counting on a second-year leap from Jamin Davis but would benefit from a veteran presence at linebacker.