By: Lucas Kochevar
It's NFL news galore with quarterbacks deciding where to play next year and a number of other things happening. The franchise tag deadline was this week with a number of players getting tagged. A couple of players that don't have to worry about their future are Derek Carr and Geno Smith. Carr was featured in length a couple weeks ago in my league notes, now he returns with a new team in the New Orleans Saints. I don't know where New Orleans is finding this cap space, but they sign Carr to a 4-year deal, worth $150 million. It's an intriguing signing as the Saints are now the favorites in the NFC South. Carr has been a volatile quarterback during his time in the league and time will tell if the Saints made a good decision. Smith re-signs in Seattle for a very reasonable 3-year deal for $105 million. Smith is coming off a strong year and looks to keep the positive momentum going for Seattle. With all the buzz going on in Indianapolis, NFL free agency has quietly flown under the radar and it's approaching quickly. In this LK league notes, I'm going to look over the free agent class and find some underrated players I like.
Five Free Agents I Like
Jamaal Williams, RB
Williams is a player that I'm very fond of coming off a fantastic year. Before finding his way over to Detroit, Williams was just a change of pace backup in Green Bay. He always put up a good stat line, but never found consistent carries. Once he was in Detroit, he put up much better number than before and last season was his coming out party. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. It's hard to say that he'll certainly improve upon that number, but the tools are obviously there for him to exceed. He's a true power back that can thrive as a starter when given the opportunity, plus he seems to be loved by teammates and brings together a locker room. All though the age is concerning at 28, I think he has a chance to keep his numbers up for at least another contract.
Alexander Mattison, RB
Another running back? Yes, this years free agent running back class is full of starters and Mattison is one of those guys that deserves a chance to start. Mattison has shades of Jamaal Williams' profile when you look at his previous numbers. As Dalvin Cook's running mate, Mattison hasn't had a shot to take the starting job except for when Cook was hurt. In 2021 Cook missed four games, in those games he averaged 89 yards and had two touchdowns in those starts. His production was down last year due to Cook being healthy and a new system being introduced. The upside with him is that he'll be 25 once the season rolls around and the elements are all there to be a very productive back and I would love to see him get consistent carries.
Jakobi Meyers, WR
Meyers has been a very consistent and dependable receiver. Outside of a puzzling lateral to Mac Jones last season, he's been very good. Now, he's not a guy that's going to put up flashy, gaudy numbers but he gets the job done and should provide a great compliment to another good receiver. Meyers provides a great understanding of route running and dependable hands. He's not a take-the-top-off kind of receiver but his ability to play within the numbers is his best ability. I think he could help settle down a young quarterback as a safety blanket. He provided this for Mac Jones and I would love to see him play for my Falcons.
Dalton Schultz, TE
Finding a quality tight end in the NFL is very difficult, however, Schultz is a proven guy hitting the open market. Schultz's time in Dallas is likely over with their cap situation and I think a team would be very happy to take him in. He's had a better career than Evan Engram to this point, but I can see Schultz taking it up a notch similar to Engram's ascent in Jacksonville this past season. Schultz is a strong vertical threat and is surprisingly good in his run blocking. He's an athlete than can provide that safety blanket option for a team. I think he has legitimate double-digit touchdown potential. I think he'll get overpaid, but if utilized correctly, I think he can thrive in a pass-happy attack.
Dalton Risner, OG
The offensive line is a tricky thing to figure out in free agency. There's a balance in finding a scheme fit and the age factor. Risner is a guy that hasn't quite had a great showing since being drafted in 2019, but he has a big sample size of snaps. He's played over 900 snaps in three out of four seasons and doesn't have a ton of penalties over those four seasons. When it comes to how he plays, he's a good pass blocker, but needs to find a scheme that can help his run blocking. I don't think Risner has hit his prime quite yet and I think a change of scenery could be helpful for the guard looking for a turnaround in his career.
Next week I'll give out five more guys to look out for on the defensive side of the ball.
Sources: Image via Tom Pennington, Getty Images. NFL via Youtube