Navigating NFL free agency: Eight players hitting the market who risked losing money and what happened next

NFL free agency is, at essence, an elementary school game. Musical chairs.

Each year, a certain number of teams decide they will spend on a position based on the crop of talent available. The best players get scooped up by those teams, after which the money can dry up quickly.

The very good players left waiting must decide whether to take a one-year deal with high upside or continue waiting, hoping injuries at their position or draft miscues re-ignite the market. Those under rookie deals, on the trading block or finishing veteran contracts all prep for this calculation, searching for a chair when the music stops (preferably with a hefty bag of money on it). This is especially true for players offered a contract a year before hitting free agency. They weigh the pros-cons of accepting a safe deal vs. playing it out knowing injury or performance decline are variables.

These are the dreams and expectations on the line starting this week at the NFL scouting combine, where player agents will huddle with team executives to gauge which players have the most value. We identified eight case studies of players who either took a risk or were forced into risk, with a look at how they fared -- starting with Myles Garrett's bookend in Cleveland.


Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Cleveland Browns