Nearly 30 Penn State players are still competing in the NFL, and seven are facing free agency this offseason.
Where could they go? And how much in demand are they? We decided to take a look at each player, from the one that could spark a bidding war — wideout Allen Robinson — to those who are just trying to catch on to an NFL team, like Jordan Hill.
Free agency officially starts March 14, and teams are able to enter into contract negotiations with their players March 12. Here’s a closer look at how former Penn State players factor into it all:
Free Agents in High Demand
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WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last contract: 4 years/$3.51 million (rookie contract)
Last year’s stats: 1 game played, 1 catch, 17 yards
FA synopsis: Robinson is returning from a torn ACL, but the open market doesn’t seem very worried about that from a receiver who’s two years removed from 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. No matter what way you look at it, Robinson is one of the gems of this free-agency period — and he’s arguably the top wideout.
According to multiple reports, the Jaguars will likely franchise tag him if they can’t agree to a long-term deal or an incentive-laden one-year contract. That tag should be worth about $16.3 million. So, at this early point, it still appears as if A-Rob is staying in Jacksonville.
DL DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans
Last contract: 4 years/$2.675 million (rookie contract)
Last year’s stats: 12 game started, 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks
FA synopsis: Jones missed the last four games of the season with a torn biceps, but he’s still due a considerable raise this offseason. 247 Sports wrote that resigning him “must be a top priority for the Titans.”
Jones earned a base salary of just under $1.8 million last year and, according to spotrac, similar defensive tackles earn no less than $3 million. If the Titans choose not to re-sign him for some reason, he won’t have a problem landing elsewhere. Teams such as the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills could especially use his talents.
LB NaVorro Bowman, Oakland Raiders
Last contract: 1 year/$2.6 million
Last year’s stats: 10 games played, 89 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception
FA synopsis: Despite his impending free agency, all signs point to Bowman sticking with the Raiders. Bowman said last month he wants to play under Jon Gruden, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther reportedly wants him to stay there because he gave the Raiders just what they needed last year — “veteran leadership.” Bowman is widely regarded as a priority re-signing for the Raiders.
If the two sides can’t agree on a contract, Bowman won’t have a problem landing elsewhere. Sports Illustrated lists him as the No. 4 linebacker in free agency — and he’s already been linked to teams such as the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys. So, even if his Pro-Bowl days may be over, plenty of teams could still use his presence.
LB Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last contract: 3 years/$15 million
Last season’s stats: 16 games played, 11 games started, 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections
FA synopsis: This is one of the more intriguing situations for Penn State players this offseason. Posluszny is 33 years old, and his slide has begun. He’s a liability in pass coverage, but he boasts great fundamentals, veteran leadership and a knack for run-stopping.
He could play at a lot of different places. But — “I don’t want to play football for anybody else,” Posluszny said last month. With the emergence of some of his teammates, such as Myles Jack, it’s not so simple. He in no way can be seen as a priority, and ESPN’s beat writer bluntly says he’s not expected back. So, what’s going to happen? Well, Posluszny is the Jags’ all-time leader in tackles and a fan favorite, so the team could try to bring him back in a more-reduced role for less money. Or, if he wants to continue his NFL career, he’d certainly have the opportunity at a nearby destination like Miami.
Free Agents in Average Demand
OT Garry Gilliam, San Francisco 49ers
Last contract: 1 year/$2.2 million
Last year’s stats: 8 games played, 1 game started
FA synopsis: He was just starting to come on when a knee injury in October forced him to injured reserve. Despite playing in eight games, he competed in less than 40 snaps — but played relatively well in his lone start.
With fellow right tackle Trent Brown still recovering from labrum surgery, Gilliam could be resigned by the 49ers for some added depth in camp. (The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows wrote that linebacker Brock Coyle and Gilliam are the two players that could re-sign before the start of free agency.) Gilliam is a backup, but he’s 27 years old and has played in 52 career games. He’ll play somewhere.
Free Agents in Low Demand
LB Gerald Hodges, New Orleans Saints
Last contract: 1 year/$775,000
Last year’s stats: 178 special-teams snaps, 11 games, 3 tackles
FA synopsis: Hodges’ NFL career has been ... well ... odd. In October 2015, Pro Football Focus had him listed as the No. 14 inside linebacker in the NFL. By 2017, he went from being a starter to being twice waived.
He spent five weeks of the 2017 regular season without a team before catching on with the Saints. And he’s widely regarded as expendable right now. Hodges has been linked with some teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the market for him now doesn’t at all resemble how highly it looked upon him three years ago.
DT Jordan Hill, Detroit Lions
Last contract: 1 year/$855,000
Last year’s stats: 0 games played
FA synopsis: Opinion is split on whether the Lions will re-sign Hill and give him another chance after a torn biceps put him on injured reserve last August. At 27 years old, Hill obviously wants to continue his playing career and was recently spotted at the Parisi Speed School in the Harrisburg area.
He won’t cost any team a big investment, and he boasts a unique skill-set with his ability to pass-rush inside. But he’s proven to be injury-prone during his career. He hasn’t played even 50 snaps over the past two seasons, and he’s not considered one of the top 20 defensive linemen in free agency.