WASHINGTON — The NFL league year begins on March 9th, meaning that all players with expiring contracts hit free agency. For any player cut before then, however, free agency begins right away.
Here’s a look at some notable NFL veterans who have already hit the open market. It’s a cornucopia of has-beens, but there could be some bargain gems if teams like the Washington Redskins are interested:
Nick Mangold, Center: The longtime New York Jet was felled by injury in 2016, missing half the games and making him expendable. Before that, however, Mangold was a seven-time Pro Bowler in 10 pro seasons and missed only four other games in his career. After losing starting center Kory Lichtensteiger to retirement, the Redskins should be one of several teams interested in his services.
Mario Williams, Pass Rusher: The Washington Redskins need help at pass rush, a complement to Ryan Kerrigan. At 32 years of age, Williams is unlikely to turn back the clock, but he could find a change of scenery quite invigorating. Since his career-high 14.5 sacks in 2014, Williams has just 6.5 sacks in 28 games between Buffalo and Miami. Even if he could only be an impact player on third downs, he would be worth a training camp invite for the Redskins.
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver: The veteran exodus has begun in New York, as the team is attempting to blow it up and start over. Marshall may no longer be the game-changer he once was, but he has aged gracefully and could be an upgrade over Pierre Garcon, who is expected to depart in free agency:
Marshall does, however, come with some consideration. Players of his ability rarely play for four teams, and his high media profile can help wear out his welcome. With more than 12,000 career receiving yards and 82 touchdowns, however, he will find a fifth city to call home.
Ultimately, the Redskins have the fifth-highest salary cap (more than $182 million) in 2017, thanks to money rolled over from last season. Rolling the dice on some key veterans on one-year deals could prove advantageous for D.C.