The Cincinnati Bengals cut quarterback Andy Dalton on Thursday one week after drafting his replacement, Joe Burrow of Louisiana State, with the first overall pick. Dalton spent nine seasons as their starter and will now head into a free agent market that is already crowded with talent and offers very few landing spots for veteran passers.
Although many big-name free agents, like quarterbacks Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater, have found new homes, quite a few prominent players remain available.
Here are some big names, quarterbacks and other top talent, still looking for new homes.
Cam Newton, QB
Last team: Carolina Panthers
In an aerially oriented league, Newton’s résumé, age (he’ll turn 31 on May 11), and arm make his continued free agent status puzzling. Reading every word written about the N.F.L., you might come to the conclusion that the entire league is interested in Newton, as rumors have linked him to the Bears, Bills, Broncos, Jaguars, Rams, Steelers, Titans, Patriots and Redskins, at one point or another.
But Newton missed all but two games last season with a foot injury, has ankle problems that date back to college and has sustained gnarly injuries as a pro, including a fractured rib and a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. His injury history could be a concern for a quarterback who runs as a part of his arsenal and who receives notably few roughing the passer calls. At the very least, Newton would seem to be a valuable mentor on a team with a young quarterback. But if he feels he’s fully rehabilitated after so much downtime, anything besides a starting job might seem like an insult.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE
Last team: Seattle Seahawks
After five years in Houston, including three as a Pro Bowl edge rusher, Clowney was traded to the Seahawks last September. But it doesn’t look like he is going to stay in Seattle, no matter how much Russell Wilson begs him to on Instagram Live. Although Seattle could still re-sign Clowney, the team just gave his uniform number, 90, back to Jarran Reed, who had given it up when Clowney arrived.
At least a few other teams are said to be interested, notably the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts. The price will be high, though: Last year he made $15 million.
Like Newton, Clowney, 27, is a former No. 1 overall draft pick. A third former No. 1 who was a free agent, quarterback Jameis Winston, signed with the New Orleans Saints, staying in the N.F.C. South after five years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Joe Flacco, QB
Last team: Denver Broncos
After 11 years with the Ravens and winning a Super Bowl M.V.P. award, Flacco was traded to the Denver Broncos before last season. But the Flacco era in Denver lasted just eight games, over which he was 2-6 as a starter before injuring his neck.
Flacco’s 98-73 career regular season record as a starter speaks to his durability, but at 35 years old he is unlikely to get another starting job, especially with Dalton and Newton also available. Flacco could be a solid veteran backup though, and backups often find themselves as starters once N.F.L. seasons get underway.
Delanie Walker, TE
Last team: Tennessee Titans
The venerable Walker, 35, has been catching passes — 504 of them — in the league since 2006 with the 49ers and Titans. He is a good run blocker too, and as recently as 2017 he was a Pro Bowler.
But he played in only seven games last season and in one game the season before, which, along with his age, are likely to make many teams wary. There has been at least some talk that the San Francisco 49ers may be interested in bring him back for a last hurrah.
Everson Griffen, DE
Last team: Minnesota Vikings
After 10 years with the Vikings, 258 solo tackles and 74.5 sacks, Griffen is expected to move on at age 32 (he posted a goodbye message to the Vikings on Instagram).
Logan Ryan, CB
Last team: Tennessee Titans
Kelvin Beachum and Jason Peters, OL
Last team: Jets and Philadelphia Eagles
After the Jets drafted Mekhi Becton, a left tackle who “moves people like furniture,” it became unlikely they would bring back Beachum, who has anchored their line for the last three seasons. Beachum, who will turn 31 in June, should figure to help someone.
But could a 38-year-old? Maybe if he is Jason Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler at left tackle who is also now a free agent. He could still return to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent the last 11 years.