The Patriots are not expected to use the franchise tag this offseason.
The Pats franchised Stephen Gostkowski last offseason but none of their free agents are worthy of being tagged this time around. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston views Akiem Hicks as New England's top free agent. The projected number for defensive tackles under the franchise tag is $13.7 million, which is far too steep a price for a role player like Hicks (only 484 snaps this year).
ESPN's Mike Triplett considers Marques Colston a candidate for a pay cut.
Colston is owed $3.2 million in salary/bonuses with a $5.9M cap hit. He isn’t a lock to return after playing a part-time role last year. The Saints have Brandon Coleman as an in-house replacement.
Texans rising second-year CB Kevin Johnson says he played through a Jones fracture in his foot for eight games as a rookie.
Johnson underwent post-season surgeries on both his left foot and left wrist. He suffered the foot injury at midseason and fractured his wrist in Houston's Wild Card loss to Kansas City. Johnson still flashed big-time ability in his first NFL campaign, most memorably shutting down A.J. Green (5-67-0) in the Texans' Week 10 Monday Night Football upset of the Bengals.
DeAndre Hopkins says one of his offseason priorities is to improve his run after catch.
Hopkins made 2015 highlight reels as a dominant winner of contested catches and one-handed grabs. With only 201 yards after catch, however, Hopkins ranked a lowly 118th in the NFL in that statistic. Hopkins says he considers himself to have "finished last in" yards after catch. It's a reminder that Hopkins may still offer room for significant improvement; he doesn't turn 24 until June.
Bengals SS Shawn Williams is a candidate for an expanded role.
Williams had an impact on semi-regular snaps last year, recording 32 tackles and two interceptions. His presence could make free agent George Iloka expendable. Williams has a chance to start in 2016.
ESPN’s Coley Harvey expects the Bengals to re-sign free agent Reggie Nelson.
Nelson is coming off a career year, leading the league in interceptions and grading out positively against the run. Even entering his age-33 season, he’s going to make more than the $4.5 million he averaged the last four years. Nelson should be the Bengals’ top priority.
The MMQB's Peter King suggests the Browns are the top competition for free agent Brock Osweiler.
The Browns are projected to take a quarterback at No. 2 overall, but have a ton cap space ($33.2M) to make a run at Osweiler. With Von Miller expected to be franchised, Osweiler could max his value on the open market. Osweiler is the favorite to open 2016 as Denver’s starter, but is going to command higher than the $12.25M AAV Nick Foles got from the Rams.
Colts RT Denzelle Good could start in 2016.
Good made four starts as a rookie, struggling in pass protection but grading positively in run blocking at PFF. He’ll be competing with Joe Reitz, though both are replacement level starters. The Colts need to upgrade the right side of their line after allowing 37 sacks and having one of the worst run games in the league.