At this point of the offseason (early April) free agents aren’t really on everyone’s mind except for minor signings. But there are players like Reggie Nelson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Greg Hardy and even Leon Hall still available, although they’re not free agents for nothing, each and every one of them with a good reason why they’re on the NFL’s unemployed list.
Reggie Nelson: The 33 year old safety was on the verge of signing for the Oakland Raiders but it seems the deal blew up. Why? Probably Nelson looking for a lot of years and a lot of money. Despite an excellent season with the Cincinnati Bengals, maybe the best of his career, teams simply aren’t interested in giving someone his age more than one or two years, without too much guaranteed money on the deal. The Washington Redskins have shown interest in him earlier in the offseason, like the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Like Nelson, Fitzpatrick is coming off what might be considered a career-best season in 2015, his first with the New York Jets. Turns out the differences between the sides are enormous, with the Jets offering Fitzpatrick only $7-$8 million a season on his next contract, while the 11-seasons veteran is looking for double that. The problem for Fitzpatrick is that there aren’t any teams left to give him some leverage, which works just fine for the Jets.
Greg Hardy: Hardy talking about how he never laid his hands on any woman isn’t helping him somewhat shed off his toxic image around the league. Despite his talents and his age, no one seems to be publicly willing to show any kind of interest in a player who wasn’t too bad for the Dallas Cowboys last season, but even on a team that likes giving chance to troublemakers couldn’t cut it, pushing himself away with his behavior in the locker room and on the sidelines. It’s hard to believe someone this talented won’t find a team eventually, but it might take some serious injury to defensive line players.
Leon Hall: Like Nelson, he’s a veteran player who has played for the Cincinnati Bengals. Unlike Nelson, he isn’t coming off the best season of his career. The nine-year cornerback, a Bengals player since day 1 in the NFL, visited with the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. Others think that former Bengals staffers being on the Miami Dolphins could help him land a team. Right now, it looks like he’ll have to wait until after the draft, unless he’s willing to settle in terms of money and years.
We didn’t include franchised players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Josh Norman who have yet to sign a deal with their team. There’s still time until the deadline expires to negotiate a long term deal. The Jets do look like they’re going to trade Wilkerson, although it won’t be easy. We also didn’t include restricted free agents, who rarely find themselves moving in the NFL if they’ve been offered a tender.