The NFL’s 15 Most Intriguing Players This Offseason

1. Tony Romo

Arguably the biggest name on the market, Tony Romo is likely to be donning a new jersey this upcoming season. Romo has already been linked to the Broncos, Texans, Jets, Bills, Bears and even the Chiefs. There are, however, concerns about his health – he’s only started 16 games four times in his nine seasons as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. The last time Romo played at least 15 games, he threw for 3,705 yards and 34 touchdowns. At 36, he is still a player that could lead a team to the Super Bowl.

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2. Jimmy Garoppolo

Tom Brady’s fifth Super Bowl ring serves as a reminder that he is far from retirement. This creates questions surrounding their promising young backup quarterback. Garoppolo is a free agent after the season, so there is plenty of benefit to be had for trading him to garner additional assets. But then again, Bill Belicheck may see Garappolo as the future star of the franchise, and are still interested in keeping him until Brady decides to call it quits. Nevertheless, eyes will be on Jimmy Garoppolo throughout the offseason.

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3. Kirk Cousins

The Washington Redskins like what they have in their 28-year old QB, but it clearly hasn’t been enough for the front office to commit to a long-term deal with Cousins. Franchise tagging him will cost the team around $24 million, and they could opt to trade him instead of settling for a third-round compensatory pick if he leaves. Teams that are in need of a signal caller like the 49ers, Bills and Bears could all be potential suitors. With how valuable quarterback play is these days, Cousins’ situation is certainly worth watching.

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4. Adrian Peterson

It’s hard to imagine that after playing his entire 10-year career with the Minnesota Vikings, Peterson will be playing for a different team in 2017. The future Hall of Famer has rushed for over 11,000 yards in his career along with 97 touchdowns. His 2016 campaign was cut short due to a knee injury, and his health will be closely monitored in the coming weeks. The Vikes elected to release Peterson and his massive contract, but it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility that Peterson re-signs with his original team. He has overcome adversity time and time again, and teams around the league will be lining up to get a chance to sign the star running back.

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5. Alshon Jeffery

The Bears won’t be using the franchise tag a second consecutive time on Alshon Jeffery, making him a free agent. The 26-year old wide-out has been riddled by injuries and suspensions over the past few years, but has shown flashes of being an elite level receiver when on the field. Some teams will be apprehensive in shelling out an Antonio Brown-like deal to Jeffery, although he should still command a large contract due to the relative shallowness of available receivers. A sentiment used quite often in sports, if Jeffery is placed in the right situation and can stay on the field, he could develop into one of the very best receivers in the league.

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6. DeSean Jackson

With the Redskins salary cap situation and abundance of wide receivers, it’s unlikely that the Redskins will be able to retain both Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Garcon and Cousins have a unique rapport, making DeSean the more expendable of the two. With Jackson likely to hit the open market, rumors have been swirling around a potential Philadelphia reunion. While that return has plenty of buzz surrounding it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also be in the mix for Jackson’s services. Quarterback Jameis Winston has been vocal about his desire to play with Jackson – who would complement star wide out Mike Evans quite nicely. The Rams and Titans are in the market for a receiver as well, making Jackson a highly targeted commodity this offseason.

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7. Jamaal Charles

After suffering a season ending knee injury last season, Charles watched as Spencer Ware blossomed into Kansas City’s feature back. After being hurt in just one season in his career prior to 2015, Charles has now only suited up for 8 games in a Chiefs uniform in the last two years. In his last full season, Charles put up over 1,300 total yards and 14 total touchdowns. Charles shouldn’t struggle to find another team to play for in 2017. When healthy, his ability is unquestioned and could serve as a valuable piece to any team’s running attack.

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8. Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 season is remembered for just about everything other than football. For a refresher, Kaepernick took over as the San Francisco 49ers QB after former starter Blaine Gabbert struggled early on. Kaepnerick’s play was at the very least passable, but wasn’t enough for San Francisco to commit long-term, especially considering his enormous contract. The 49ers have the second pick in the draft, and will likely have their choice at any of the top quarterbacks available. His age and shaky accuracy could deter potential suitors, so the pickings could be slim for the polarizing quarterback.

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9. Josh Gordon

Following a promising preseason, Gordon surprisingly checked himself into rehab. With a potential return impending, the former Baylor product is likely to garner plenty of attention for a team searching for a wide receiver. Off the field issues have surrounded Gordon for the entirety of his tumultuous career, but a team will almost certainly take a chance on a player with this much talent. A return to the Browns is unlikely – this means that the restricted free agent could end up signing with a contender. All things considered, if Gordon can stay on the field, he’s an increasingly interesting commodity to monitor.

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10. LeGarrette Blount

The bulldozing Blount racked up 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2016, capping off the best season of his career with a Super Bowl victory. Despite New England’s love for their lead back, Blount almost surely will listen to other offers around the league. At 30 years old and already fitted with two Super Bowl rings, the Oregon product could opt to seek out his last major deal as a pro rather than chasing additional jewelry. But with a deep class of backs, he may command less money than he anticipated. A return to New England is probable, but Blount should have options.

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11. Tyrod Taylor

When the Buffalo Bills gave Tyrod Taylor his massive contract extension, they hoped they would see their investment pay off. Albeit losing his star receiver Sammy Watkins for a majority of the season didn’t help, Taylor struggled with his accuracy throughout the year and his slender frame doesn’t resemble that of a franchise quarterback. He’s owed an additional $13 million in 2018 which the team would like to restructure, but reports say Taylor is unlikely to take a pay cut. The trade market for Taylor is sparse, making a release more likely than anything. Buffalo might be better off keeping their quarterback and hoping the return of Watkins and another year under his belt will develop him into the quarterback they were looking for.

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12. Victor Cruz

After an emotional farewell to the New York Giants, Cruz hits the free agency market to join the second team of his career. Cruz’s production has taken a massive hit since his major injury in 2014, but there are several teams out there that are in need of a veteran wide receiver. Last season, Cruz was buried on New York’s depth chart, only posting 586 yards and 1 touchdown. One dark horse landing spot could be the New England Patriots, who always place an emphasis on acquiring undervalued commodities.

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13. Jay Cutler

Cutler has all the tools to succeed in the NFL, but his competitive spirit and propensity to turn the ball over in crucial moments have been criticized for years. In his limited time last season, Cutler had 4 touchdowns and 5 picks to go along with a 78.1 rating. Those aren’t numbers you want to see, but the 33-year old wasn’t exactly surrounded with ideal talent. His contract continues through 2020, which makes it more than likely that he won’t last too much longer with the Bears. Considering his talent though, it shouldn’t take too long for Cutler to find a new home.

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14. Doug Martin

After an injury riddled 2016 season, it was troubling to hear that Doug Martin was entering a drug treatment facility. Following an exceptional 2015 resurgence, Martin had a disappointing 2016, playing in only eight games, averaging 2.9 yards per rush. But at 28, Martin could still serve as a productive running back – it just may not be for the Bucs. His top dollar contract makes him a likely target to be cut, and teams lacking a lead running back could take a shot on the talented Martin.

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15. Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben still hasn’t let anyone know what he is going to do next season. After the defeat to the Patriots in the playoffs, Pittsburgh’s long time quarterback stated that he was mulling his options, including retirement. But with star tailback Le’Veon Bell getting the franchise tag and Antonio Brown recently receiving a massive extension, the Steelers are clearly gearing up for another deep playoff run. It seems as if Roethlisberger is trending towards continuing his career, but the Steelers will be scrambling if he does indeed decided to call it quits.

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