As training camps continue to play out for NFL teams and with the regular season still a couple of months away, a number of key free agents have yet to find a roster.
Veteran players such as Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright and Melvin Ingram remain on the board of available names — all three with plenty to offer, despite an overarching sentiment that their age is beginning to show.
RT @nflrums: #NFL Notable Free Agents entering the 2021 Season Still Unsigned: #NFLRumors that would make good additions.— NFL Trade News (@NFLTradeNews) June 25, 2021
RB Le’Veon Bell #Chiefs
DE Justin Houston #Colts
DE Melvin Ingram #Chargers
LB K.J. Wright #Seahawks
CB Richard Sherman #49ers … pic.twitter.com/NQoxE7u4ro
On Wednesday, NFL’s Ian Rapaport shared an update on the free agency status of these three players — whether they will re-sign with their former team or find a new home.
Former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, remembered as one of the NFL’s most audacious trash talkers, was once the leader of Seattle’s Legion of Boom. Calling the shots on defense while a young Russell Wilson kept the offense going along, Sherman and the Seahawks won the franchise’s first Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos in 2014.
Sherman signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018, but he never achieved the same level of play there as he did in his prime years in Seattle. Notably, he played only five games for San Francisco in 2020.
Sherman received his second All-Pro nod with the 49ers in 2019, showcasing that he still has some gas left in the tank. The cornerback has been an efficient player in the secondary, even as many cornerbacks fizzle out as viable options.
You can count on Sherman to find a roster by mid-season at the latest — either because of injuries to current players or outright necessity as training camps progress.
With plenty of depleted secondaries to go around, Sherman could likely remain in the NFC West as part of the Arizona Cardinals or Los Angeles Rams, though he says he has no intention of signing at or below the minimum number with any team.
Though he may prefer to land with a contender, Sherman, 33, may have to adjust his expectations if he hopes to find a suitable role.
Another member of the Legion of Doom and a part of the team that won Super Bowl XLVIII, former Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is also looking for a new role with a playoff contender willing to offer him a solid contract.
Wright enters free agency after nearly a decade (2011-2020) in Seattle and has been lauded as one of the best strong-side linebackers in the NFL — starting and playing in Seattle for full seasons in 2019 and 2020.
Based on reports from Seattle’s training camp, second-round pick Darrell Taylor out of Tennessee has taken on Wright’s role in the defense — and the coaching staff likes what they see. The emergence of the rookie linebacker may make Wright a hard sell to the Niners, though the team still insists they want to bring him back.
Wright turns 32 in July, so his time in the NFL is not quite over, should he remain patient during the free agency process.
Wright posted 13.5 sacks in his 10 years with Seattle and has a total of 593 solo tackles throughout his career, making him a dependable blockade against running backs and receivers.
The final player included in the update is former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram, who played not quite half a season in 2020. The 3x Pro Bowler was placed on IR with a knee injury after seven games.
Prior to 2020, Ingram enjoyed a good stretch of football for San Diego/Los Angeles. In 2015, he first registered double-digit sacks with 10.5 total. Though his tackling is not as efficient as Wright’s, Melvin’s disruption of opposing quarterbacks has been one of the few bright spots on the Chargers’ D-line in the past few years.
Ingram has already met with AFC West rivals Kansas City Chiefs, but there’s no deal in place as of yet.
As with Wright, Ingram’s former team hopes to bring him back as a weapon in the humming defense. Joey Bosa already adds pressure off the edge and returning safety Derwin James is eager to live up to his draft potential after repeated injuries.
These three players can help many teams become playoff contenders. Their styles of leadership and production has already led all three to individual Pro Bowl nods.