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NFL free agency owned the news cycle in mid-March — much to the chagrin of college basketball — because teams that chase young stars and pay them tons of money to get closer to a championship is a great story.
But that was the case three weeks ago.
Free agency has now slowed as many teams are mostly cash strapped and unsigned players are mostly injured or older.
Most teams have therefore turned their attention to the draft, where the talent is young and cheap.
And, with few exceptions, it won’t be until after the draft that teams will return to the very large pool of marquee free agents to fill in the gaps on their rosters.
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The most interesting of this group of free agents this year are the thirties.
There’s a real all-star team of free agents who are 30 or older that remain in the market. And while many still have good shots and maybe even a good season or two, most teams are staying away for now as most of these veterans aren’t interested in signing minimum wage contracts just yet. .
So who are we talking about?
Well, we present to you the OutKick 30+ NFL All-Star Team (age during season):
S Tyrann Mathieu (30): He visited the New Orleans Saints this week and the only reason he hasn’t signed is, of course, the money. He’s been responsible for 17 turnovers with Kansas City over the past three seasons and he’s been durable. Guy is possibly the best free agent available, regardless of age.
CB Stephon Gilmore (31): He’s still a good cornerback in a league that pays wide receivers big contracts, so it’s understandable he hasn’t signed a discount contract at this point.
DT Ndamukong Suh (35): Forget his age because he’s made every start in every game since 2011 and it was he who carried Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford on the pass to Cooper Kupp who set up the winning field goal of the Rams to knock the Buccaneers out of the playoffs, which meant he was playing great late in the game. The Bucs want him back, but money is the problem.
C JC Tretter (31): All the analytics and metrics nerds love him, but the Cleveland Browns, who know him best, found a reason to release him this offseason. And while veteran centers, especially good pass blockers, are invaluable, Tretter remains available.
WR Cole Beasley (33): If your quarterback needs a safety blanket that’s always in the right place, has good hands, and does things right, this would be a great addition. The Bills are apparently off Beasley, but not because he can’t produce on the third down.
ILB Anthony Barr (30): He had the ability to rush the quarterback earlier in his career, but the Vikings didn’t max it out for some reason. And now he’s mostly a run-down linebacker. A good, run-down linebacker, but the need for that type of player just isn’t extreme in the modern NFL.
LB Kyle Van Noy (31): He’s going to give you maybe 5 sacks, about 60-70 tackles, maybe 7 of those for loss and probably 3 or 4 forced fumbles or recoveries. That’s what he does. Every year. But despite performing as expected, he’s been knocked out in Miami and New England over the past two years. It may be time for him to realize that the price for his typical season needs to come down.
DT Akiem Hicks (32): Durability has been an issue in recent years, as he’s missed 19 games over the past two seasons. But when he’s healthy, he’s always an inside problem for any scheme that stalls him one-on-one. The answer to sustainability issues might be to cut back on his snaps while lowering his salary demands.
BY Jason Pierre-Paul (33): Still wondering if he’ll play or retire following shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. If he decides to play and is healthy, he still has enough gas in the tank to deliver more than the 2.5 sacks he had in 2021.
CB Joe Haden (34): At some point in the season, if a given team suffers multiple cornerback injuries, here’s the answer, assuming he stays fit.
FROM Calais-Campbell (36): His sack count has declined for three straight years and his contribution may now be felt more in the locker room as a leader than on the field as a playmaker. But if a young team needs direction , it could be the answer.
LT Duane Brown (37): Started every game for the past two seasons and three of the past four, so his durability has inexplicably improved as he got older. And what’s amazing is that he’s still playing at a relatively high level, where he could easily start for virtually any team without it feeling like a huge dropout from a younger player.
LT Eric Fisher (31): Expected here to be better two years after an Achilles injury than he was last year after recovering. The problem is that no one has bought this story yet. The fact that the draft offers several starting-caliber left tackles hasn’t helped his cause.
LB Dont’a Hightower (32): He retired from the 2020 season and he just wasn’t the same player in 2021. He seemed a bit slower and not as explosive. Still very smart and knows how to play, but something is missing.
OG Daryl Williams (30): If the Bills had the money, they’d probably cut it back to the veteran minimum, but they’re capped at the salary cap and can probably find comparable talent in the draft. Whichever team fails to do so will come calling.
WR Julio Jones (33): It is no longer dynamic and its sustainability is also debatable. But he’s a hard worker and his pride won’t allow him to come out with a whimper, which he delivered in 2021. So keep an eye on him.
OLB Justin Huston (33): Not as explosive as it used to be, but still a problem in the right scheme. He’s probably a part-time player in the future.
DEJerry Hughes (34): Endgame closer? Not anymore. But a replacement for a team losing top talent to injury? Absoutely.
WR AJ Green (34): The cardinals said they would like him to come back. And why not? He is no longer a No. 1 receiver, but he still inspires respect both on the field and in the locker room.
QC Cam Newton (33): He won’t be anyone’s choice to start with. But if any team needs an experienced emergency quarterback with a flair for quirky hats, this is him.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (39): Wants to keep playing but knows he might have to wait after training camps open and a team loses a quarterback to injury before his phone rings. Fitz only played one game last season and suffered a hip injury.