Where top 8 remaining free agents should sign

Analyst Mike Renner takes a look at where the top remaining NFL free agents should land this offseason.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Where top 8 remaining free agents should sign


With news breaking this morning that Nick Fairley will suit up for the Saints in 2016, the top remaining free agent exited the open market, leaving Bengals safety Reggie Nelson to move into the No. 1 spot. With some high-quality players sill available—many of whom sit on PFF’s original list of the best 75 free agents—naming a landing spot for each remaining free agent becomes an interesting task.

Below are team fits for the the top remaining NFL free agents as of Monday afternoon:

1. Reggie Nelson, S

2015 team: Cincinnati Bengals

Should sign with the: Oakland Raiders

Even after a hefty spending spree, the Raiders still have gobs of cap room. The only piece from last year’s squad that they’ve so far been unable to replace is Charles Woodson, and Nelson would go a long way towards dealing with that loss. In terms of coverage grade, Nelson’s 83.6 was only slightly behind Woodson’s league-leading 86.8.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

2015 team: New York Jets

Should sign with the: New York Jets

While the Broncos are certainly a possibility, too many arrows are pointing Fitzpatrick back to New York. It will be his second year in the system, with a vast array of weapons, and he’ll have limited expectations outside of a playoff berth. The only question is, can the Jets make it work with limited cap space?

3. Stefen Wisniewski, C

2015 team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Should sign with the: Cincinnati Bengals

At this point, the Bengals simply need some competency at the center position, and that’s what Wisniewski brings. Russell Bodine was comfortably the fourth-lowest graded center among starters a year ago, while Wisniewski finished at 12th.

4. Walter Thurmond, S

2015 team: Philadelphia Eagles

Should sign with the: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s unclear whether teams are pegging Thurmond as a safety—a position he excelled at with Philadelphia—or as a slot corner, where he spent the first five seasons of his career. In Tampa Bay, he could play both, as they’re currently bereft of either.

5. Leon Hall, CB

2015 team: Cincinnati Bengals

Should sign with the: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have re-signed two of their four secondary free agents, and Hall seems like a likely candidate to make it three. The market for cornerbacks over 30 is always limited, but the slot corner market is surprisingly sparse this year. Hall fits both of those categories, and while others may not value that, the Bengals don’t really have another capable replacement for him at the moment.

6. Greg Hardy, DE

2015 team: Dallas Cowboys

Should sign with the: Detroit Lions

I’m not sure which team to put as a good fit here, as there may not even be a market for Hardy. If the Cowboys soured on him so much that they reportedly have no interest, then others around the league may follow suit. He’s still a dominant 4-3 defensive end, though, and only 28 years old. The Lions would immediately have one of the most feared pass-rushes in the league if they added Hardy.

7. Manny Ramirez, C

2015 team: Detroit Lions

Should sign with the: Miami Dolphins

Miami already signed Kraig Urbik, but it’s inexcusable for the Dolphins to allow their guard position to deteriorate to the point it reached in 2015. Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner were our lowest-graded left and right guards, respectively, in the entire NFL. Ramirez was quietly the highest-graded lineman on the Lions’ roster, and he’ll be a stop-gap until one of Miami’s younger draftees can develop.

8. Terrance Knighton, NT

2015 team: Washington Redskins

Should sign with the: Green Bay Packers

Even the completely out-of-shape version of Knighton that we saw a year ago can still stuff the run with the best of them. His 6.1 run-stop percentage was almost double that of the recently retired B.J. Raji (3.1). Shoring up the nose tackle position would afford Green Bay more leeway to go best-player-available in Round 1.


| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • pobodysnerfect

    I’d be thrilled with Pot Roast in Green Bay. But with the draft being strong at DL and Thompson’s avoidance of anything that would interfere with a compensatory pick, I’d seriously doubt it.

    More likely New England.

  • Mike J.

    I’d love for my Bucs to sign Thurmond, but I suspect they are done with free agency.

    On a side note–doesn’t it seem like every player the Jaguars part ways with goes on to do well somewhere else??

  • Raul

    “It’s inexcusable for the Dolphins to allow their guard position to deteriorate to the point it reached in 2015.” And incredibly it is. It seems OG is the most disregarded position in the entire Miami Dolphins roster by quite some time

  • Keith Beckett

    Jets could offer a 10M$ contract to Fitzpatrick w/ incentives if he prefers that over the multi-year deal they have offered?

  • Adam Fogarty

    I hope the Raiders get Nelson them waiting is really starting to bug me it’s not like this draft is overflowing with star safeties and it’s one of the few weaknesses on this team stop sitting on your hands and make a move

    • david nordstrom

      Actually the Raiders have several options @ SS in their own locker room. Chill

      • Adam Fogarty

        Who? Larry asante? Nate allen? They both played like garbage last year

        • david nordstrom

          Allen was hurt most of the year. Asante really wasnt that bad. No could be DJ ( Led DB’s in tackles) maybe Carrie just sayin

          • Adam Fogarty

            Hayden is going to play slot, Allen was hurt but even when he was healthy played like crap, asante played better but still played below average

  • Calijustice

    If I could pull the trigger for the Raiders, I would snag Nelson for 2-3 years and grab Hillman for 3-4. That would allow the Raiders to draft the best player available that fits the system vice a need.

  • cka2nd

    Can someone please explain to me why the Vikings signed Michael Griffin instead of Reggie Nelson? Is Griffin a superior run defender, because he sure isn’t better against the pass? I’m really at a loss.

  • Runner1967

    Knighton would also be a good fit with PS.