Thursday, February 22, 2024
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2024 NFL playoffs: Top free agents, projected landing spots for Mike Evans, 19 other vets from playoff teams

While the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are preparing for a Super Bowl showdown, many other teams are preparing for widespread change. Because the end of a playoff run isn’t just a goodbye to championship dreams. Oftentimes it also marks a farewell to key veterans with expiring contracts. That’s no different in 2024, where each of the dozen fallen contenders have countless big names scheduled to hit free agency this March.

Where might some of the most notable free agents from this year’s postseason end up? Here’s an early projection:

Mayfield enjoyed something of a career revival in Tampa Bay, but his hands-on coordinator, Dave Canales, has since left to coach the Carolina Panthers. Even so, we’d expect organizational continuity to be a priority for him. Projected team: Buccaneers

Swift shattered his career numbers as an explosive lead ball-carrier for the Eagles, but his role was curiously scattershot down the stretch, and Philly’s preferred bargain-bin running back deals. He could have more interest elsewhere. Projected team: Chargers

Statistically, Pollard remained a passable starter for Dallas in 2023, but his efficiency has decreased in recent years. Remarkably, he’s still just 26. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cowboys finally pivot to a cheaper rotation. Projected team: Buccaneers

While Dameon Pierce was an anticipated workhorse for Houston, Singletary ended up leading the backfield into the playoffs. It makes sense that both he and the Texans would be up for a modest reunion on an ascending offense. Projected team: Texans

The supersized vet could have an increased role in Green Bay depending on Aaron Jones‘ future, but the latter has proven much more valuable. How about a return to his hometown Baltimore as a short-yardage option? Projected team: Ravens

No doubt the Bucs would like the future Hall of Famer back, especially if Baker Mayfield also returns. But Texas is home for the star No. 1, and old friend Tom Brady would likely put a good word in for C.J. Stroud in Houston, where the AFC South’s up-and-coming contenders are primed to spend big for a deeper playoff push. Projected team: Texans

Buffalo might need him even more depending on what happens with Stefon Diggs‘ bloated contract, but he’s likely to draw outside interest as a top-flight, if inconsistent, speedster. Old coordinator Ken Dorsey is now in Cleveland. Projected team: Browns

After 13 years as a Dallas cornerstone, Smith could be primed to hang up the cleats or seek a ring elsewhere, with Tyler Smith in tow as a left tackle. Miami, meanwhile, could lose its own injury-riddled LT in Terron Armstead. Projected team: Dolphins

Named to his first Pro Bowl after Baltimore’s AFC title-game defeat, the 12-year veteran is at home with the Ravens, where he helped pave the way for Lamar Jackson’s most efficient season as a quarterback. Projected team: Ravens

The former Cowboys guard graded out as a top-shelf center in between injury-related absences in 2023. Protecting Tua Tagovailoa remains a top priority in Miami, where the two sides have reason to make another deal work. Projected team: Dolphins

The former third-rounder picked the right time to break out, logging a career-high 13 sacks and 33 QB hits as the anchor of a suffocating front. Other teams would pay a fortune to have him, but Baltimore can beat them to it. Projected team: Ravens

Cox lives and breathes Eagles football, coming off his 12th season with the team. And he actually looked refreshed on an otherwise sad 2023 defense. But it’s turn-the-page time in Philly. How about a reunion with old friend Jim Schwartz? Projected team: Browns

The former Saints vet posted some of his best career marks under DeMeco Ryans in Houston. While the Texans have other positions to address, another go-round makes sense for both parties now that the playoffs are in sight. Projected team: Texans

Is it unwise to keep re-signing a linebacker as he ages into his 30s? Not if that LB is David. Perhaps even more than Bobby Wagner, he’s maintained a sideline-to-sideline impact, justifying another one-year deal. Projected team: Buccaneers

Since Roquan Smith’s arrival, Queen has turned a corner at the heart of the stingy Ravens defense. But he’s likely to cash in elsewhere. Washington’s new general manager hails from San Francisco, where LBs are key. Projected team: Commanders

Physically gifted but often debated for his inconsistent angles, White should still have a sizable market because of his upside. Dallas is never shy about adding big names, and could hope for Dan Quinn to maximize his skills. Projected team: Cowboys

The longtime cover man returned to Pro Bowl form in 2023, but with Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland in tow, Dallas may prefer allocating top dollar to other spots. Detroit, meanwhile, has cash to spend and a sore need at the spot. Projected team: Lions

Countless teams would love to get their hands on the rangy, young do-it-all, but even with other key free agents, the Bucs figure to prioritize retaining his leadership on the back end. Maybe that means a franchise tag. Projected team: Buccaneers

His borderline-unhinged aggression makes him a nice fit for Dan Campbell’s squad, but he’s a mercenary, likely to test the market once more. Ex-Eagles colleague Shane Steichen could use more help at free safety in Indy. Projected team: Colts

The high-octane return specialist was also a regular on Green Bay’s defense in 2023. The Packers have more than a dozen other free agents set to hit the market, but he’s an electrifying prospect to keep. Projected team: Packers

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