NFL Free Agency Odds: Cousins to the Vikings?

  • Where will Kirk Cousins sign?
  • If Cousins becomes a Viking, where will Case Keenum go?
  • Will the Jaguars be able to retain Allen Robinson

March 14 can’t get here soon enough.

As you know, that’s when NFL free agency gets cracking, though March 12th is when teams are permitted to begin negotiations. Nothing is in stone, but, you know, pretty much.

It’s hardly quiet right now either. There have already been early tremors with trades – like Alex Smith getting dealt to the Washington professional football team and the Rams keeping your phone buzzing with alerts. More recently, we just saw how serious the Eagles were about reloading a Super Bowl winner on the fly, having acquired stud D-lineman Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.

We can read all the tea leaves we want, but ultimately, unless we’re in a free agent’s inner circle, we’re all left to speculate what motivates player x to sign on a certain dotted line. Does winning matter more than money? Does scheme fit supersede a head coach? Does warm weather matter?

We’ll break out the crystal ball, and some odds as well. Let’s start with the biggest domino that needs to fall first.

Free Agent Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins

  • Minnesota Vikings: 7/3
  • New York Jets: 7/3
  • Denver Broncos: 4/1
  • Arizona Cardinals: 23/2
  • Cleveland Browns: 23/2
  • FIELD: 24/1

The one that kicks things off, and will set the wheels in motion for the rest of the class. The Vikings offer a top notch defense, an impressive offense, and a team on the cusp of Super Bowl contention. Sort of the Denver scheme, but with more moolah.

But speaking of the green, New York can lay down some serious coin with deep cap space – and with that could come more guaranteed and up-front money. Sort of like what Cleveland can do, except, well, Cleveland.

Case Keenum

  • Minnesota Vikings: 3/2
  • Denver Broncos: 3/1
  • Arizona Cardinals: 4/1
  • Cleveland Browns: 9/1
  • FIELD: 19/1

If there’s a quarterback-needy team, expect that they make it on to a few of these lists. Hard to believe that the Vikings won’t give Keenum a chance to lead the Vikings again, but hey, that’s the stakes when a guy like Cousins – a true game changer, by the way – is available for nothing but money.

Keenum’s not a bad consolation prize, and might fit with John Elway’s search for a competitive pivot. The Cardinals are going to need some help, but that offense has been built to bend defenses vertically, and that might not be the, um, Case for Keenum.

AJ McCarron

  • Cleveland Browns: 2/3
  • New York Jets: 9/1
  • Arizona Cardinals: 9/1
  • New York Giants: 9/1
  • FIELD: 9/1

Count a failed trade at least year’s deadline and rumblings about Hue Jackson wanting his young protégé from Cincinnati to go to the other Ohio squad, and you’ve got an overwhelming favorite. The Jets would gladly take McCarron, who they can try out, and figure out if he is a legit starter or bridge QB to the future, whoever that is. But remember that game tape is from two years ago! How desperate is the NFL for QB talent?

Vikings teammates Teddy Bridgwater and Jerick McKinnon are free agents this year. (Photo: Kyle Engman (CC License))

Teddy Bridgewater

  • Vikings: 3/2
  • Jets: 4/1
  • Browns: 17/3
  • Cardinals: 17/3
  • FIELD: 9/1

The running story is that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer absolutely loves Teddy two-gloves. He’s young, and he’s found success in his short time as a starter in the NFL. He’s thrown for over 6,100 yards, with 28 TDs and 22 INT’s. In 28 starts, he’s gone 17-11.

He’s also is coming off a devastating knee injury that he might not be able to recover from. This one has hometown discount written all over it. What team has the stones to pay him starter coin right now?

 

Free Agent Running Backs

Isaiah Crowell

  • New York Giants: 3/1
  • New York Jets: 3/1
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3/1
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: 9/1
  • San Francisco 49ers: 9/1
  • FIELD: 19/1

It’s being reported that at least three teams are interested in Crowell, who is a restricted free agent. Any team that signs him will have to surrender a 2nd round pick. New York squads are desperate for RB help. He’d be a nice fit if the 49ers lost Carlos Hyde, and he’d be a nice real-life handcuff in case Leonard Fournette gets hurt in Jacksonville.

 

Carlos Hyde takes a handoff. (Photo: Keith Allison (CC License))

Carlos Hyde

  • Indianapolis Colts: 3/1
  • Detroit Lions: 3/1
  • Washington Football Team: 4/1
  • Seattle Seahawks: 4/1
  • FIELD: 19/1

Hyde is a prize, and these four teams could really use a feature back. Indy needs him to help keep Andrew Luck upright; and Detroit is trying to add a true workhorse, as their RB play has put too much pressure on Matthew Stafford and the passing game. Seattle is still trying to replace Marshawn Lynch and Chris Thompson needs thunder to complement his lightning.

Dion Lewis

  • San Francisco 49ers: 7/3
  • New England Patriots: 4/1
  • Houston Texans: 4/1
  • New York Jets: 4/1
  • FIELD: 9/1

Familiarity tops the charts in this one. A chance to reunite with Jimmy G in the Bay could be enticing and create a sort of Pats West team. The Patriots could bring Lewis back, but they need as many resources spent on a beleaguered defense, especially when they can manufacture backs and generate production when they need to.

Don’t be surprised if someone swoops in with an offer to take him beyond other team’s financial situations. Looking at you, Jets.

Jerick McKinnon

  • Tennessee Titans: 7/3
  • Dallas Cowboys: 7/3
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 17/3
  • Indianapolis Colts:17/3
  • FIELD: 9/1

Giving the odds to the teams looking for a change of pace guy vs every down back. If fit matters, McKinnon would be a perfect pair with beastly Derrick Henry, or with Zeke Elliott. Tampa would be keeping it in the division, and maybe that’s what McKinnon might prefer too. Lot of options for him at this point.

 

Free Agent Receivers

Allen Robinson (WR)

  • San Francisco 49ers: 3/1
  • Baltimore Ravens: 4/1
  • Indianapolis Colts: 4/1
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: 17/3
  • Chicago Bears: 17/3
  • FIELD: 19/1

If Kyle Shanahan is bringing his offense from Atlanta into Frisco, this is his shot at a Julio Jones-lite player. Baltimore needs some a stud on the outside, and Robinson could be the big-bodied receiver Andrew Luck needs to take some pressure off TY Hilton.

Sammy Watkins (WR)

  • Los Angeles Rams: 3/2
  • San Francisco 49ers: 3/1
  • Indianapolis Colts: 3/1
  • FIELD: 3/1

There will likely be a bevy of suitors for a former 1st-round pick beset by injuries most of his career. Watkins stayed healthy this season, but wasn’t as prominent as you’d expect from one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL. Perhaps his work is not done there yet. Kyle Shanahan must think he can unlock him too.

Jimmy Graham (TE)

  • New Orleans Saints: 3/2
  • New England Patriots: 3/2
  • Cincinnati Bengals: 9/1
  • Baltimore Ravens: 23/2
  • FIELD: 49/1

It’s widely expected that either a return to the Saints and Drew Brees or a combination of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski with Tom Brady is going to happen. This is going to be a nightmare scenario either way.

 

Free Agent Defensive Players

Sheldon Richardson (DL)

  • Kansas City Chiefs: 7/3
  • New York Jets: 7/3
  • Seattle Seahawks: 91/9
  • Philadelphia Eagles: 99/1
  • FIELD: 7/3

There’s one place Richardson probably won’t end up, and that’s Seattle – until you remember that they just dealt Bennett. It really depends if they plan to rebuild that defense, or give it one last go.

Kansas City needs some interior beef, and the Jets would love to have their one time son back in the fold. Is it crazy to think the Eagles could talk him into a prove-it, rebuild your rep deal for a season at like, $11 million?

Muhammad Wilkerson (DL)

  • Dallas Cowboys: 3/1
  • Washington Football Team: 3/1
  • Seattle Seahawks: 39/11
  • New England Patriots: 9/1
  • FIELD: 41/9

Another ex-Jet looking for a home, and the 28-year-old Wilkerson is just entering his prime. It’s really hard to pinpoint a landing spot, as a wildcard like Miami might just jump into the fray without a plan and crippling their cap in the process. You know, Miami things.

But a couple of NFC East teams need to improve their push up front, and a bidding battle between them may ensue. Don’t count out the Seahawks, who could become Jets castoffs: Pacific Northwest edition. And New England loves to devastate teams in their division with their former players – fact.

Malcolm Butler (CB)

  • New York Jets: 7/3
  • Chicago Bears: 7/3
  • Oakland Raiders: 4/1
  • New Orleans Saints: 4/1
  • FIELD: 9/1

Remember motivation? Butler’s got plenty after the Patriots left him off their Super Bowl game plan and let him watch virtually the entire contest from the sidelines. That sort of thing sticks with you, and he’d like nothing more than to brutalize New England within the division twice a season.

The Bears need help everywhere, and Jon Gruden’s always had a top corner wherever he’s been successful in the NFL (see: Woodson, Charles and Barber, Ronde). The Saints flirted intensely with adding Butler last season, and they’d love to pair him with stud Marshon Lattimore to form a stellar corner duo.

 

Frank Lorenzo

MTS co-founder Frank “Let It Ride” Lorenzo has been betting on sports since he was legally allowed to do so. (Did he do so before then, too? No comment.) He enjoys very strong coffee, neon lights, and passing on his wealth of betting knowledge to anyone who will listen.