Remember back in grade school when you were picking teams for gym class? Remember those poor few who were always last to be selected? I am willing to bet all the contents in my wallet that Adrian Peterson was never one of those kids. But AP sure has to be feeling that same despair, as he’s being served an extra-large slice of humble pie in free agency.
Adrian Peterson and a handful of other household names find themselves still standing in the diminished crowd waiting to be picked, while their peers were welcomed to their new teams with enthusiastic high-fives. Not to worry, fellas; your time is coming soon. Well, most of you, anyways.
Though I don’t have a timeline on when they’ll sign, I do have the odds on where AP and his band of “rejects” will wind up. Let’s start with the gun-slingers.
Before you go and say, “Hey! Tony Romo isn’t a free agent,” let me stop you and ask this: do you believe Romo will be a Cowboy next season? Now, may I carry on?
Though Romo isn’t technically “free” to sign with any team yet, Jerry Jones is not going to ship him to a franchise entrenched in a rebuild. The possibilities for the 36-year-old, who has only played in five games over the last two seasons, have basically dwindled down to two: Denver and Houston. There is a very slim chance Romo is involved in a three-team trade involving Washington and San Francisco. But Washington would be foolish to agree to that trade.
Both Denver and Houston already have Super Bowl-caliber rosters everywhere except QB. Each would see their odds get a lot shorter by adding Romo. Trevor Siemian is a decent option for Denver, but his ceiling doesn’t appear to be too high. Houston, on the other hand, would love to have even a decent option on the roster. The team gave up a second-round pick just to get rid of Brock Osweiler and his disastrous contract, freeing up the necessary cap space to make a significant move. Until they do, the Texans are left with Tom Savage as their starter.
I don’t see either team pulling the trigger on a trade for the veteran signal-caller. Instead, they’ll wait until Jerry Jones’ hand is forced. Being the more desperate team, I expect Houston to be more aggressive than Denver.
Houston Texans: 9/8
Denver Broncos: 5/4
The Cutler domino needs a little bump from Romo’s in order to fall. The Bears’ all-time leading passer may have to settle into a backup role, depending on where Romo ends up. With the Jets signing Josh McCown earlier this week, one of the more plausible landing spots for Cutler was scratched off the list. If Romo signs with Houston, there is no way Denver brings Cutler back; if Romo signs with Denver, Houston would be wise to take a flier on the 33-year-old.
There are a few backup spots that could attract Cutler. Carson Palmer was extremely ineffective for Arizona last season, and may have been benched if the Cards had a worthy backup. The same can be said about Eli Manning with the Giants, as well; Cutler would just have to beat out Geno Smith in training camp. Either of those options would come with a massive pay-cut, of course.
Then again, Cutler could always follow his buddy Brian Hoyer down to the Bay Area. Are two bridge QBs better than one?
Houston Texans: 7/2
San Francisco 49ers: 9/2
Arizona Cardinals: 11/1
New York Giants: 14/1
For football reasons, there isn’t a single team who is considering bringing Kaepernick in to be their starting QB. For non-football reasons, no team has shown much interest in the polarizing pivot as even a backup. This will all change soon, regardless of what critical tweet from Donald Trump will follow.
Let’s remember that Kaepernick was one play away from winning a Super Bowl. He is a capable QB, but needs to be in the right system. Of course, the Cleveland Browns come to mind. Hue Jackson could design an offense similar to what he had planned for Robert Griffin III last year. But the best fit for the outspoken QB would be in Buffalo. Kaepernick has a similar skill-set to Tyrod Taylor, and would fit the offense Rick Dennison is going to run. The former 49er is a much better insurance plan than Cardale Jones.
Buffalo Bills: 3/1
Cleveland Browns: 7/2
I promise this is the last non-free agent on my list of free agents. It’s just too juicy of a story not to talk about.
After one horrible season as a Texan, Osweiler now finds himself preparing for OTAs with the Cleveland Browns. It seems like a just punishment, right? However, the initial reports suggested the Browns would cut the former second-round pick if they couldn’t find another taker. Osweiler is still a Brown, but it may not be for much longer.
Osweiler serving as a bridge for whomever Hue Jackson drafts isn’t likely when you consider the attitude issues stemming from his time with the Broncos and Texans. Hue Jackson is trying to change the culture in Cleveland, and that kind of selfishness is unwelcome. You can bet Jackson and Osweiler will have a lengthy sit-down before any decision is made.
If Osweiler is released, there won’t be much of a market for the QB who posted a 72.2 passer rating last year. Look for a franchise with a lot of uncertainty at the position to contemplate bringing Osweiler in. Having played for John Fox before, the Bears may be willing to give Osweiler an opportunity to check his ego and sit behind Mike Glennon.
Cleveland Browns: 2/1
Chicago Bears: 9/1
Jacksonville Jaguars: 12/1
The seventh and most recent member of the 2,000-yard club continues to wait, as potential suitors have opted for other free agent options in their backfield. AP has watched the Seahawks sign Eddie Lacy, the Vikings sign Latavius Murray, Green Bay re-sign Christine Michael, and Oakland pursue a retired Marshawn Lynch. So what’s left for Peterson?
If Oakland (can I still call them that?) is not able to woo Lynch out of retirement, Peterson would likely be the next choice. If the former Viking does not want to wait around, there are a few other options. The Giants desperately need a ground game to take some pressure off Eli Manning; the future of Doug Martin in Tampa Bay is very uncertain; and Carolina could use a complement for oft-injured Jonathan Stewart.
The Packers are still an option, too, as Christine Michael hasn’t been great at holding down a job in the past. Winning a championship in New England will also continue to tempt the 32-year-old.
New York Giants: 6/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 13/2
Green Bay Packers: 7/1
Carolina Panthers: 8/1
New England Patriots: 10/1
Here’s a wild stat for you: last season was the first time in Jamaal Charles’ nine-year career that he did not average at least five yards per carry. For his career, the former Chief averages 5.5 yards per tote. Yet he, like Peterson, awaits a new home.
Teams that would be interested in Charles’ services are likely viewing him as a pass-catching specialist. After injuries to both knees, and only appearing in ten games over the last two years, no one is going to be counting on Charles carrying the load. If the 30-year-old can offer some work between the tackles on early downs, that’s a bonus.
Indianapolis would be a great fit. Frank Gore can still handle the tough running; Charles could spell him for ten touches per game. He would be valuable as an underneath threat, in particular, with opposing teams having to focus on Indy’s potent vertical passing attack. The Eagles fall into the same category, but would have to clear some cap space to make a deal possible.
Indianapolis Colts: 5/2
Philadelphia Eagles: 4/1
New York Giants: 6/1
Green Bay Packers: 9/1
After fellow defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Chris Baker came off the market, you would have expected Johnathan Hankins to start receiving a lot more attention. The 320-pound run-stuffer was a crucial part of the Giants’ second-ranked rush defense last season. But reports suggest Hankins has not received the lucrative, long-term deal he is demanding.
The longer this gets drawn out, the more likely it is Hankins will re-sign with the Giants. But there are a number of teams who have glaring holes on the interior of their defense and should be willing to up their offers. The Raiders are the most obvious case. Oakland had the 23rd-ranked rush defense in 2016, yet are more concerned with pulling Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. How Al Davis of Reggie McKenzie.
The Colts are another team that needs to bolster its defense (even more). After acquiring edge rushers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, Hankins would be the perfect fit in the middle. The big DT could also receive some interest from the Texans if they can’t spend their available cap space on Tony Romo. Vince Wilfork is likely to retire, and those shoes are too big for DJ Reader to fill.
New York Giants: 2/1
Indianapolis Colts: 9/2
Oakland Raiders: 5/1
Green Bay Packers: 12/1
Houston Texans: 12/1
Photo Credit: Public Domain.
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