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In just a few days, the 2022 NFL legal tampering period will open up. The new league year will then officially open just around 48 hours later. We have already seen some star quarterbacks change teams via trade. Elsewhere, notable veterans have been granted their release. It allows them to hit the free agent market right away, while also granting teams the opportunity to save more 2022 salary cap space.
Today, we will be looking into some potential fits for certain teams throughout free agency. This will be focused around the four teams in the AFC South. I will then have a similar article for the AFC North tomorrow. Who could become a new starter for either the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tennessee Titans? We will also list the current salary cap space for each team, as of this writing. Finally, we will list two potential fits at three top positions of need for each team. Let’s kick it off.
Current Salary Cap Space (via OverTheCap): $18.3 million, 13th Most In NFL
As a team in the early stages of a rebuild, the Houston Texans have many needs on defense. Why not address a unit that will be heavily influenced by new head coach Lovie Smith? We start with the need at linebacker. Why is this a need? Houston is scheduled to currently lose five linebackers to free agency in 2022. That includes Kamu Grugier-Hill, Christian Kirksey, Neville Hewitt, Eric Wilson and Hardy Nickerson Jr.
Potential Fits: Alexander Johnson and Reggie Ragland
Both are veterans and figure to be quite affordable. First, we have Alexander Johnson. The former Denver Broncos middle linebacker can surprise in space and in coverage. He could also take on a leadership role for the Texans. Meanwhile, Reggie Ragland could make a lot of sense. He could also counteract a skillset like Johnson’s. Ragland works confidently downhill. He can also add a bit of power at the point of attack and hang against nastier blockers upfront.
The Texans are scheduled to lose Desmond King to free agency. Meanwhile, Houston released Terrance Mitchell on Wednesday. Most of the remaining cornerbacks on the current depth chart are largely cast aways from other teams, or players that were not previously drafted high.
Potential Fits: Sidney Jones and Bobby McCain
Sidney Jones is someone who could fit in Smith’s defensive scheme, because of his quickness and length. Bobby McCain is not too bad when it comes to quickness either. However, he may present more reliable instincts. This is once again a pair of veterans who could handle a heavy workload. Mixing in with Lonnie Johnson, the Texans would pose a much more stout and larger set of cornerbacks than they would have had previously.
Need: Defensive End
The Texans are scheduled to lose a pair of defensive ends in free agency, in Jacob Martin and DeMarcus Walker. Jonathan Greenard has potential as a young building block. However, more depth and production is needed from the pass rush.
Potential Fits: Mario Addison and Al-Quadin Muhammad
Getting some veteran players to come to Houston in their current circumstance may be difficult. But, Coach Smith does his best work when he gets his hands on defensive linemen with size. Mario Addison and Al-Quadin Muhammad can both provide immense power. Their relentlessness as pass rushers should not be taken for granted as well. More importantly, both of these two are not just pass rush specialists. Addison and Muhammad could each provide a run stuffing ability at defensive end.
Current Salary Cap Space (via OverTheCap): $69.8 million, Most In NFL
Need: Wide Receiver
Who will be throwing passes for the Indianapolis Colts remains to be seen. The team traded away Carson Wentz after a one-year experiment with the former North Dakota State product. He is now back in the NFC East with Washington. No matter who the quarterback is, the Colts should not hesitate to add more wide receivers. They are scheduled to lose both TY Hilton and Zach Pascal to free agency. The only appealing one left on the depth chart is Michael Pittman. Sure, you have Parris Campbell. He has been highly unreliable, due to constant injuries.
Potential Fits: Allen Robinson and Jamison Crowder
There is potential upside that is two-fold for the Colts with players like this. Both Allen Robinson and Jamison Crowder can produce consistently at a high rate, when healthy. Robinson can still pose as a physical mismatch on the outside. Whereas with Crowder, his shiftiness from the slot can leave defensive backs guessing. At the same time, those two may not have to feel the pressure of dominating, so to speak. Indianapolis will not come close to abandoning the run game with Jonathan Taylor. These two could find a more relaxed role, in a sense, with the Colts.
Need: Offensive Tackle
Overall, the Colts are scheduled to lose four offensive tackles to free agency. This includes Eric Fisher, Sam Tevi, Matt Pryor and Julie’n Davenport. Right tackle appears to be set with Braden Smith. Left tackle is the immediate need, while greater depth could be found with a player that can play each side.
Potential Fits: Terron Armstead and Dennis Kelly
Terron Armstead is arguably the best left tackle available in free agency. That is especially true after we saw guys like Orlando Brown Jr. and Cam Robinson get hit with the franchise tag. Indianapolis has the most cap space, as of now. Why not utilize that on a powerhouse at left tackle in Armstead? Then with Dennis Kelly, he can provide immediate depth and step in at either side, if need be.
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Need: Tight End
Jack Doyle just retired. On the other hand, the Colts are scheduled to lose Mo Alie-Cox to free agency. Indianapolis has Kylen Granson. Though, he is more of a hybrid type and not a traditional field stretcher or someone who is going to win in space very often. Unfortunately for tight end needy teams, three tight ends were hit with the franchise tag (Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki, David Njoku). There are still a couple of available names that could fit.
Potential Fits: Evan Engram and Hayden Hurst
The fit of Evan Engram is going to be interesting for any team. Does using him more as a slot wide receiver type look more appealing? Plus, we know Hayden Hurst can win vertically and underneath alike. Possibly, his blocking would not be a downgrade for this run-heavy offense too.
Current Salary Cap Space (via OverTheCap): $38.7 million, 6th Most In NFL
The Jacksonville Jaguars are set to lose three total guards to free agency. This would be Andrew Norwell, AJ Cann and Will Richardson. We also know that more quickness could be needed during Jacksonville’s pass sets, given the new head coaching hire of Doug Pederson. Protecting Trevor Lawrence and revamping the offensive line is crucial.
Potential Fits: Laken Tomlinson and Jon Feliciano
Laken Tomlinson is a bit of an underappreciated player among pending free agents. Most recently with the San Franciso 49ers, he provides leadership upfront, as well as nimble footwork and controlling hand technique. Jon Feliciano was released by the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday. Arguably, he can be unmatched when it comes to nastiness or power at guard. Both of these guys can also bring more schematic versatility than some may think.
Need: Wide Receiver
As of now, the Jaguars are set to lose DJ Chark, Tavon Austin and Laquon Treadwell to free agency. They do have building blocks like Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault in place. Though, you can never have enough weapons for a quarterback who is on their rookie deal.
Potential Fits: Sammy Watkins and Jakeem Grant
Neither of these hold a lot of guaranteed value, to say the least. Nonetheless, where they do their most damage could fit best with Lawrence. Each of them can thrive off of designed throws or touches. For Sammy Watkins, that could come underneath. Jakeem Grant could create most of his magic as a slot wide receiver or in the quick passing game. We know that Pederson will likely look to bring in someone with elite speed.
Need: Outside Linebacker
Jacksonville is set to lose two players to free agency at outside linebacker. That would be Jihad Ward and Lerentee McCray. Outside of Josh Allen, production has been extremely bare from the pass rush. Former first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson has yet to claim a clear sense of results.
Potential Fits: Haason Reddick and Kyzir White
Each of these players are still fairly young. Haason Reddick should be let loose as a pass rush specialist. In fact, he has registered 23.5 sacks over the last two years in a more secured role like that. Kyzir White may be a bit unknown to the casual fan. However, he provides versatility, quickness and instincts from a hybrid type of play style.
Current Salary Cap Space (via OverTheCap): $3.7 million, 11th Lowest In NFL
Ben Jones has been a staple for the Titans over the last six seasons. Yet, he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and his best days may be behind him. Could Tennessee find a younger upgrade? Not only could they do that, but it also would not force the Titans to break the bank.
Potential Fits: Ryan Jensen and Ted Karras
Both of these players are tremendous fits for this offensive scheme. In a unit that is run-heavy and play action reliant in the pass game, each of these two blockers could slide in smoothly and punish opponents. Ryan Jensen brings a fierce and tenacious attitude to the fold. Moreover, Ted Karras is able to overpower defensive linemen with a stout anchor and heavy hands at the point of attack.
Need: Right Tackle
David Quessenberry is scheduled for free agency. Outside of Taylor Lewan, the depth is not that promising at offensive tackle. Adding an immediate starter at right tackle should not be out of the question for the Titans.
Potential Fits: Trent Brown and Morgan Moses
It may not be easy to outbid other teams for players like this. Though, neither of their contracts are expected to hold a market value that is too overly egregious in today’s day and age. Spotrac is projecting a market value of $10.5 million per season for Trent Brown and $7.7 million per season for Morgan Moses. You know what you are getting from each of these veterans. Most importantly, Tennessee could add even more size to their already large offense with adding either of these two blockers.
Need: Tight End
Three tight ends on the Titans’ 2021 depth chart are scheduled for free agency. This includes Geoff Swaim, Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt. Having tight ends who can dominate as blockers and win in the passing game underneath has been a focal point for Tennessee. Whether that was with Arthur Smith at offensive coordinator or currently with Todd Downing at offensive coordinator, we have been accustomed to a deep tight end room that is not necessarily spectacular for the Titans.
Potential Fits: Gerald Everett and Ricky Seals-Jones
Neither of these guys are elite or even above average in a lot of areas. But similar to those past Titans tight ends, they do their job efficiently and go largely unnoticed. Plus, each of Gerald Everett and Ricky Seals-Jones could provide sneaky good athleticism or quickness in space. They would not consistently be on the highlight reels. However, both Everett and Seals-Jones would be surrounded with similar styles within this offense.
Be on the lookout for FPC 2022 NFL free agency articles in the coming days. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
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