20 Key Franchise Additions From the 2017 NFL Free Agency

Some of the best additions to some very competitive teams.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Age: 25.  

Franchise Tagged by Steelers

Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best running back in the NFL. He’s a prolific back, and dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. Bell caught 75 passes in 2016. Bell is on the younger side at 25, and still has a solid 10 years left as a back. The only concern regarding Bell is his tendency to get suspended for drug tests. Le’veon’s Franchise tag shows how he is definitely a top 5 back in the NFL, and he will definitely continue to scare defensive backs.

Eric Berry, S, Chiefs. Age: 28.

Re-signed with Chiefs (6 years, $78 million)

It’s astonishing that just recently Eric Berry was battling for his life against cancer. Now, he’s one of the top safeties in the NFL. Berry should continue to perform at an All-Pro level for at least four more years, as he just turned 28. Berry will continue to control the game with his remarkable 9 Interceptions from the 2016 season.

Kevin Zeitler, G, Bengals. Age: 27.

Signed with Browns (5 years, $60 million)

Kevin Zeitler is one of the jewels of the 2017 NFL free agency class. He’s been one of the top guards in the league over the past several seasons, possessing no weaknesses in his game. There’s no reason for Zeitler to decline either, as he’ll turn just 27 in March. He has been a solid in his block protection, and has reported significant increase in his speed, and athleticism in the offseason.

Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 27.

Re-signed with Cardinals (5 years, $83 million)

The Cardinals stole Chandler Jones away from the Patriots, and they’ll be the clear winners of the trade if they manage to re-sign him. Jones is a stellar pass-rusher who routinely records double-digit sacks each year. He’s only 27 in February, so he still has at least four seasons of high play remaining in the tank.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers. Age: 28.  

Franchise Tagged by Panthers

Kawann Short is an explosive defensive tackle who generates a great pass rush and also a force to be reckoned with on the run game. Short registered 11 sacks in 2015, a very high number for a defensive tackle, and while he didn’t get to double digits last year, he was still an extremely dangerous player.

Calais Campbell, DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 31.

Signed with Jaguars

Calais Campbell is one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL. He’s outstanding in every aspect of the game, placing tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and clamping down against the run. He would be a five-star free agent, however, turning 31 in September flashes some danger signs when picking up the Pro-Bowler.  

 T.J. Lang, G, Packers. Age: 29

Signed with Lions (3 years)

T.J. Lang missed some time with a foot injury this past season, but still performed as one of the top guards in the NFL. The one downside is that he’ll turn 30 at the end of September, but interior linemen can usually play on a high level well into their mid-30s.

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 28.

Franchise Tagged by Chargers

Melvin Ingram is a potent edge rusher. He’s collected close to 20 sacks over the past couple of years, and  also a force to be reckoned with against the run. He has about three more years of high-level play, so he’s definitely deserving of a huge contract.

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 28.

Re-signed with Giants (4 years)

Jason Pierre-Paul should be given lots of praise for performing on a very high level despite his fireworks accident two summers ago. Pierre-Paul clocked seven sacks in 12 games, but missed the end of the season when he needed hernia surgery. Pierre-Paul was great in every aspect, and just turned 28. He has a few years of high caliber play remaining and should  

A.J. Bouye, CB, Texans. Age: 26.  

Signed with Jaguars

A.J. Bouye came out of nowhere to have a Pro Bowl season for the Texans. Bouye was just a reserve/special-teamer prior to 2016, but he inexplicably turned into a shutdown cornerback. I’m hesitant to give him anything more than four stars because he could be a one-year wonder, but Bouye is set to earn a big contract this offseason.

Jamie Collins Sr., OLB, Browns. Age: 27.  

Re-signed with Browns (4 years, $50 million)

Jamie Collins is an extremely talented linebacker with no physical liabilities. He excels the most in coverage, but can also blitz effectively and stop the run. The Patriots traded him because he clashed with the coaching staff, which is a concern, but Collins’ overall talent makes up for that.

Trumaine Johnson, CB, Rams. Age: 27.  

Franchise Tagged by Rams

Trumaine Johnson is an excellent cornerback who has about four more years remaining in his prime, given that he just turned 27. While Johnson struggles to tackle players during key moments, but he’s outstanding as a cover cornerback.

 

 Larry Warford, G, Lions. Age: 26.  

Signed with Saints

Larry Warford had an injury-prone 2015 campaign, but he rebounded this past season. Providing Matthew Stafford with some excellent blocking, the Lions were considered one of the most powerful offenses of the league.  Warford turns just 26 in June, and with Drew Brees at the helm, the sky is the limit for him.  

Johnathan Cyprien, S, Jaguars. Age: 27.  

Signed with Titans

John Cyprien was a second-round pick in 2013 who had failed to live up to his billing – until this past season. Cyprien had an incredible 2016 campaign, as he performed as one of the top safeties in the NFL. Just 27 in July, Cyprien is going to receive a big contract for his great performance last season.

Tony Jefferson, S, Cardinals. Age: 25.

Signed with Ravens

Tony Jefferson evolved into one of the better safeties in the NFL last season. Given that, as well as the fact that he turns just 25 at the end of January, Jefferson could be offered a huge contract this offseason. The only thing I’d worry about is that Jefferson is a bit of a one-year wonder.

Brandon Williams, NT, Ravens. Age: 28.

Re-signed with Ravens (5 years)

Ozzie Newsome recently said that Brandon Williams is one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. Williams has played like it at times, though he had a bit of a down year in 2016. Still, he’s a terrificrun-stuffing nose tackle.

Chris Baker, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 29.  

Signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $15.75 million)

Chris Baker was the lone bright spot on the Redskins’ dismal defensive line this past year. He was a force against the run, and also generated a good amount of pressure on the quarterback. He collected 4.5 sacks, which is a solid number for a player at his position. The downside is that Baker turns 30 in October, but he should be able to play on a high level for at least two more years.

Logan Ryan, CB, Patriots. Age: 26.

Signed with Titans (3 years, $30 million)

Logan Ryan struggled to start the 2016 campaign, but bounced back and performed on a very high level once again down the stretch. Ryan has been great the past two years, and he’s only 26 in February, so he should be able to play well for quite a while.

 

Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals. Age: 35.

Signed with Rams (3 years, $36 million)

Andrew Whitworth would be rated at five stars if it weren’t for his age. He’s been one of the top left tackles in the NFL for a very long time. However, he just turned 35 and could begin to decline at some point in the near future.

Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Browns. Age: 28.

Signed with Redskins (1 year, $8 million)
Terrelle Pryor didn’t quite reach Charles Woodson’s projected 1,800-yardage mark, but he established himself as a dynamic weapon and a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Pryor is still learning the position and had to deal with pedestrian quarterbacks all year, so he could be even better in the next couple of seasons.

 

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