Players like JC Jackson, Terron Armstead, Allen Robinson, and Chandler Jones will go fast once free agency opens for business. But here are five names that could ascend into quality starters and major contributors that no one is talking about.
NFL Free Agency Is Here
Free agency is just a few days away and is sure to be a frenzy once the negotiating window is open. Teams will pay big money for equally big names as they hope to find the missing piece to their championship dream. However, signing the hottest commodities with the largest price tags doesn’t always guarantee super bowl success. What looks good on paper doesn’t always translate on the field.
Of course, you need good players to build good teams and while acquiring proven players is not a bad plan, you don’t have to bring in all the biggest names to find impact players. One of the beautiful things about football is when you’re dealing with so many athletes, a lot of talent can fly under the radar. You can find really good, young, and ascending talent without having to mortgage the future of your franchise.
Although, no starter level player comes “cheap” you can build core rosters by digging deeper into the free-agent pool to find more affordable options. Here are five players that are young up and comers that could develop into building blocks for hopeful contenders. These are players that have flashed potential and could be very solid contributors in the right situation.
Wide Receiver DJ Chark
Chark has flashed early in his career, however, has yet to fully live up to his potential. The former second-round pick of the Jaguars does have one 1000 yard season under his belt in 2019 and followed that up with a +700 yard season in 2020. His 2021 season was cut to just four games due to a fractured ankle. His stats in those four games are 7 receptions on 22 targets for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns, with a 22 yard per catch average.
There is some risk with the former LSU product coming off of an injury as well as some ups and downs, statistically speaking. However, at 6’4″ and 200 pounds with 4.34 speed, the upside is undeniable. Perhaps in the right system with consistent quarterback play and good coaching, Chark could develop into at least a solid number two option with tons of big-play ability.
Guard Alex Cappa
Alex Cappa was a small school darling out of Humboldt State who opened eyes during the senior bowl prior to the 2018 NFL draft. It was there he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round. At 27 years old, Cappa has three years of starting experience on a roster that won a super bowl. Last season he started all 17 regular season games, playing 1182 snaps allowing 5 sacks with only one penalty according to PFF with an overall grade of 74.2.
At 6’6″ and 304 pounds, Cappa may not be the most athletic lineman on the market but does play with good physicality. He does bolster plenty of starting experience with a championship pedigree from his time with the Bucs. Cappa could be a high quality signing for a team with a need at right guard that may be out of the market range of someone like Brandon Scherff, considered the top player at the position.
Center Brian Allen
Brian Allen is a name that hasn’t been talked about often throughout the rumor mill, but perhaps should be. Allen was the starting center for this years super bowl champion as part of one of the best offenses in the league. The former Rams fourth round pick started 16 games, playing 903 snaps with five penalties and five sacks allowed according to PFF who graded him 80.2 overall.
An ideal fit for any wide zone offense, Allen is just entering his prime at 26 years old. Much like Cappa, Allen also brings championship experience. Ryan Jensen is most likely the first center off the board in free agency, however, Brian Allen would be an excellent addition for any team looking to upgrade at the anchor of the O-line.
Cornerback Sidney Jones
Some scouts considered Jones the best corner of the 2017 draft, in terms of coverage. Injuries has derailed much of the former Huskies career. Jones was setback early on in the NFL and struggled seeing the field, starting out. However, this past season the former second rounder did manage to play in 16 games with 11 starts for the Seahawks. The numbers don’t jump out at you with 10 pass breakups while allowing 35 receptions on 56 targets.
With Jones your truly banking on potential. However, he can probably be had on a very reasonable deal. If he can stay healthy in the right system, you could at the very least get a solid number three or four corner who could develop into a quality starter considering his young age of 25. Jones could be your guy if you’re looking for a good value, low risk and high reward player with a solid skill set a good coach can work with.
Linebacker Kyzir White
Kyzir White started in all 17 regular season games for the L.A. Chargers in 2021. The West Virginia product produced in those starts with 144 total tackles with one sack, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions. White also had showed some ability to be disruptive with seven tackles for loss and four quarterback hits.
White is a solid athlete though smaller in size at 6’2″ weighing a little under 220 pounds. However, in today’s pass happy NFL, athleticism trumps size in most cases. White posted solid numbers in 2021 and has developed into a quality starter in L.A. and should continue to develop as a disrupter as well as cover linebacker considering he is still only 25 years old.
Free agency can be tough to navigate. Markets are unpredictable and teams must balance finding bonafide stars along with finding potential breakout stars. Acquiring big name talent can go a long way in winning, but championship rosters are built on good scouting and finding hidden gems. As we navigate through the free agency madness look for the players that may not move move the needle in March but could make a big impact this fall.