As the NFL season turns to its second week, there are still several established — and potentially high-impact– players available on the free agent market, and teams desperately looking to upgrade key areas.
Whether it is the Dallas Cowboys or Chicago Bears‘ offensive line, depth along the Philadelphia Eagles‘ front-seven, or contending teams such as the Green Bay Packers or Tampa Bay Buccaneers scouring for receiver help, they are likely to find help to be had.
Here’s a look at the best fit for the top-five remaining NFL free agents:
1) WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The moment Odell Beckham Jr. is fully healthy to get back onto the field, he’s going to be an instant-impact, high-end starter for a team — most likely a contender — likely just in time for the stretch run.
Beckham was as explosive as ever down the stretch last season, after arriving in Los Angeles prior to Week 15, catching 27 passes for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns, before tearing his ACL pulling down a touchdown in the first half of the Super Bowl.
At age 29, Beckham has caught 531 passes for 7,367 yards and 56 touchdowns through the first eight seasons of his NFL career. He should have a robust market once he is healthy enough to begin his ninth.
Best fit: Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have kept a locker in place, waiting for Odell Beckham Jr.
Anyone who watched the opening night of the Rams’ Super Bowl title defense, a 31-10 drubbing inside SoFi Stadium, where just seven months earlier Los Angeles hoisted the Lombardi could see just how badly that offense missed Beckham’s big play ability and his presence in a rather listless offense.
As league sources told Heavy, “[Beckham] was downright miserable in Cleveland. He won’t go back to a place where he can’t get a ton of targets, and catch a ton of passes from a great quarterback,” and walking back into a role with Matthew Stafford, who he developed an instant rapport with last season, might be the best possible outcome, for both sides.
2) WR Cole Beasley
According to multiple sources in buildings around the league, there are as many as nine teams expressing interest in Beasley.
The 33-year-old Beasley certainly has the ability to be a legitimate weapon from the slot, and in the red zone, as well.
Beasley remains a free agent, despite producing the 10th-highest catch percentage n the NFL, over the past two seasons, and his 74.9 mark over the past two seasons is higher than the total of 22 receiving corps across the league.
Despite being relegated to a diminished role in 2021, Beasley still pulled down 82 receptions for 693 yards and a touchdown. Bills quarterback Josh Allen produced an 85.1 passer rating on Beasley’s 106 targets.
During the 2020 campaign, Beasley caught three of his six touchdowns inside the 20-yard line, so a contending team aiming for a consistent red-zone weapon to maximize trips inside the 20 would certainly benefit from adding Beasley.
Best fit: Green Bay Packers
As Green Bay’s Week 1 debacle underscores, the Packers’ receiving corps is in shambles. This is a team that desperately needs a veteran veteran presence both to help develop a young receiver room, but also for the sanity of two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Beasley would immediately arrive as the Packers’ most complete option in the passing game, while taking some of the pressure off rookie Christian Watson to play a significant role.
3) DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Jason Pierre-Paul is the most accomplished pass-rusher still available via free agency, most likely continuing to work back from myriad injuries suffered last season.
Pierre-Paul underwent surgery in February 2022, to repair an injured shoulder that plagued him for much of last season, while also dealing with a fractured finger.
While playing through pain for much of the season, Pierre-Paul produced 2.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss, while generating 24 total pressures in 12 games.
Best fit: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles boast the talent and depth to make a Super Bowl run in a rather wide-open NFC. And, with roughly $8.1 million in cap space, the spending flexibility to make a big splash such as signing Pierre-Paul, to replace Derek Barnett, who is out for the season.
Philadelphia would also offer Pierre-Paul the unique opportunity of facing the team who drafted him, the New York Giants, twice this season.
Given that the Eagles already boast a stable of talented edge rushers; Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, and Tarron Jackson, entering his second season, Pierre-Paul wouldn’t necessarily be asked to be a three-down player in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
If Pierre-Paul can still play at a high level, and contribute meaningful snaps, the Eagles could deploy a NASCAR front of their own, similar to the one Pierre-Paul was instrumental in delivering two Super Bowls to the Giants in, with Pierre-Paul, Graham, and Reddick all on the field on passing downs in a race to the opposing quarterback.
4) WR Will Fuller
Fuller’s 2021 season was derailed by an injured thumb, but he has shown throughout his career that he has the game-breaking speed to take the top off a defense and alter the trajectory of a game.
During the 2020 campaign, Fuller’s last fully-healthy season, he caught 53 passes for 879 yards and 8 touchdowns, while averaging a whopping 16.6 yards per reception. Further, Houston Texans quarterbacks had a prolific 132.5 passer rating on his 76 targets.
Fuller’s skill-set would certainly be an asset to a team looking to field a reliable pass-catcher to elevate the play of its quarterback, or round out a need at wide receiver.
Best fit: Dallas Cowboys
The offensive line might be the Dallas Cowboys’ most glaring weakness, but against Tampa Bay in the season-opener, it was clear that the receiving corps isn’t far behind.
Now, with Dak Prescott potentially sidelined for six-to-eight weeks, the Cowboys’ passing game has reached a crisis point. If nothing else, Fuller is a reliable veteran presence — with the potential to stretch the field, rounding out the Cowboys’ receiver triumvirate of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
5) OG Daryl Williams
There might not be a more versatile offensive lineman remaining on the open market than Daryl Williams.
Prior to playing much of last season at offensive guard in Buffalo, Williams has also spent time at both offensive tackle positions, throughout the course of his seven-year career.
Last season, Williams played 600 snaps at right guard, and 571 more at right tackle, while garnering a 67.5 overall grade. Williams’ ability to play across four different offensive line positions, should put him on the short-list of most teams looking to bolster their lines.
Best fit: Chicago Bears
The Bears’ offensive line is a mess, which is a total disservice to second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
Pro Football Focus lists the Bears’ offensive line as the 31st-ranked unit in the league, after a rocky showing against the San Francisco 49ers. Williams, despite allowing four sacks last season, produced a 72.4 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021, and could step in to provide immediate stability along the Bears’ line.
If the Bears are serious about Fields’ development, they need to address the offensive line, and bringing in a veteran with Williams’ body of work and postseason experience would be a significant step in the right direction, at least for the remainder of 2022.