The NFL preseason continues to rumble on and with that, there are still a number of transactions that are taking place as teams get ready to make sure they have the perfect roster put together as they try to win a Super Bowl.
But there remains a number of players out there who are still waiting to get a call and a contract offer from one of the 32 teams out there.
We did come up with a top ten list of free agents back in May after the NFL Draft, but with more than a month having passed, things around the league have changed. Some of them have been snapped up, and in the case of Rob Gronkowski, he decided to retire and take himself off the list that way.
And so with the season getting ever nearer, it’s time to look once again at the NFL landscape and update the list of players who we think could make a difference to teams this season if they just picked up the phone and called them.
10 – Anthony Barr
Team last year – Minnesota Vikings
A middle linebacker who missed a large portion of 2020 because of a torn pectoral injury but who was able to bounce back with an impressive year for the Vikings in 2021.
He recorded 72 combined tackles including a career-high of 34 assisted tackles as well as a career-high 3 interceptions, this is despite only being available for 11 of the team’s 17 games.
At the age of 30 there is still enough left in the tank for the four-time Pro-Bowler and could be someone to be brought in not just for this year but also a few years beyond that for teams looking for someone coming off the edge.
9 – Eric Fisher
Team last year – Indianapolis Colts
The former #1 pick in the draft back in 2013, who spent a lot of his time with the Kansas City Chiefs before playing with the Colts last season, Fisher offers a very reliable presence on the offensive line, as barring an injury in 2019, he has never dropped below 80% when it comes to snap counts on offense.
Last year only allowed two tackles for loss whilst committing only eight penalties he could be areal asset to a team who are looking for stability whilst also being able to help groom younger players to take his spot in the future.
8 – Jason Pierre-Paul
Team last year – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As part of a Buccaneers defence that featured a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball like Shaquill Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea and Devin White, it was always going to be hard to stand out, but he still but up some impressive numbers.
31 tackles including 3 that were for loss to go along with 2.5 sacks, and this was despite playing just 12 of their 17 games in the regular season as he dealt with a torn-rotator cuff during the campaign.
Assuming it doesn’t give him any problems, then he could really come to the rescue of someone in need of a veteran presence on the defensive line.
7 – Will Fuller
Team last year – Miami Dolphins
It’s fair to say that last year could have gone better for Fulller, as he spent a large portion of the year away from the gridiron as he suffered a broken thumb in Week 4 and didn’t play a down after that, but his numbers before he came to the Dolphins are pretty impressive.
During his five years with the Houston Texans he put up 3,136 receiving yards to go with 24 touchdowns acting as an alternative option to the dominant DeAndre Hopkins, but clearly wasn’t able to reproduce that in Miami.
A suspension in 2020 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy is a marker against him, but if he can stay out of trouble, then he remains a strong option in rotation for a lot of teams to bring in.
6 – Sheldon Richardson
Team last year – Minnesota Vikings
Someone who has bounced around a bit with four teams in the last six years but has still been able to produce with whatever team he has rocked up with.
Dropped down from being a regular starter to a rotation option with the Vikings, only playing on 57% of their defensive snaps, but still was able to rack up 39 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks across the season.
At 31 he’s certainly in his later years, but could certainly add a plug in the middle of a defensive line for a team that needs a veteran presence.
5 – Cam Newton
Team last year – Carolina Panthers
It certainly has been something of a crazy two years for the former league MVP, ending up with the New England Patriots in 2020 before being usurped by Mac Jones and having to find solace back with the Carolina Panthers after being cut in preseason.
But in that short stint with the Panthers he showed that he still has some of that magic that made him league MVP to begin with, passing for 684 yards and 4 touchdowns whilst also rushing for 230 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Whilst chances of him being a starter are probably out the window, as a veteran backup or someone that can be used in certain packages, especially near the goal line, then he’s 100% worth considering being added back onto an NFL roster.
4 – Dont’a Hightower
Team last year – New England Patriots
Having skipped the 2020 season due to health concerns, the linebacker came back with a vengeance in the 2021 season, racking up a total of 64 combined tackles to go along with 1.5 sacks during a major bounce-back year for the Patriots.
Whilst he might be getting on a bit at age 32, he would certainly offer a major boost for a team on a short-term contract that needs help on the outside, whilst also being able to bring in the winning mindset that comes with a decade under the stewardship of Bill Belichick.
3 – Ndamukong Suh
Team last year – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Very much one of the veterans in this free-agent class at the age of 35, but even despite getting on a bit he’s still managed to show what he can do when he was in Tampa Bay last year.
27 combined tackles, 13 QB hits and 6 sacks certainly isn’t bad going, especially in a Tampa Bay defence that was stacked on that side of the ball.
But he is certainly someone that you can see being used in rotation, perhaps on 3rd-and-short or goalline situations and could be a very good pickup for a team seeking a plug in the middle of their line.
2 – Julio Jones
Team last year – Tennessee Titans
Another player who struggled when it came to having to compete with multiple options on his team last year after years of being a number one in Atlanta.
He too was the victim of a run-heavy team, this one led by Derrick Henry, whilst also competing with A.J Brown for targets through the air, but still managed to have 31 catches for 434 yards, averaging out at 14 yards a reception.
Whilst there was a run on wide receivers in this year’s draft, there might still be that one team that will want to have a veteran presence in the locker room to help guide them through, and Jones can certainly provide that role.
1 – Odell Beckham Jr
Team last year – Cleveland Browns/Los Angeles Rams
Whilst OBJ may well be labeled with off-the-field problems, things that have played a part in him leaving both the New York Giants as well as the Cleveland Browns last season, he showed late in the season that he is still able to be of use to someone out there with his play on the field.
He scored the first touchdown in the Super Bowl, but even before the big game, he managed to put up 5 touchdowns for the Rams following his trade from the Cleveland Browns.
He failed to finish the Super Bowl due to injury, but having had the offseason to heal, at the age of just 29 he’s someone that would really be an asset to any team in the league for the next few years.