While NFL teams prepare for the first full week of preseason games, front offices will keep tabs on the free-agent pool.
As always, clubs will weigh injuries, training camp performances and the overall talent at a position before signing a free agent. The top veterans can provide significant help without going through a full offseason program.
Let's take a look at eight available players who should sign new contracts soon.
These veterans have built strong resumes. Some have recently shown the ability to produce in rotational roles. We'll match each free agent with a team based on roster need and schematic fit.
Edge Vic Beasley Jr.
Vic Beasley Jr. had a forgettable 2020 season. He suited up for the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders, logging four tackles and a forced fumble while playing 198 defensive snaps.
Despite Beasley's ineffective stretch through 2020, he's only two years removed from an eight-sack campaign with the Atlanta Falcons. At 29 years old, the 2016 All-Pro defender can help a team that needs a boost in the pass rush.
Through six seasons, Beasley has shown some versatility, lining up on the defensive line and as an off-ball outside linebacker under Dan Quinn in Atlanta. A club may give him another chance while he's still younger than 30.
Best Fit: Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers signed Kyler Fackrell and selected Chris Rumph II in the fourth round of this year's draft.
As a middle-round pick, Rumph may need time to develop to make a significant impact. At 6'3", 244 pounds, he must show functional strength at the point of attack, especially on run downs. Fackrell, meanwhile, has logged just five sacks since his breakout 10.5-sack term in 2018.
Beasley would provide veteran insurance behind Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu. The former has missed 17 contests in five seasons. The latter still needs to prove himself in a prominent role with only 10 starts on his resume.
RB Le'Veon Bell
Since Le'Veon Bell moved on from the Pittsburgh Steelers, his numbers have trended in the wrong direction. In 2020 with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, he hit rock bottom, logging 466 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage.
Bell criticized former Jets head coach Adam Gase's play-calling on Twitter, suggesting the team put him in a tough spot with a predictable game plan.
Bell didn't have fond memories in Kansas City either. On an Instagram comment thread, he posted, "I'd never play for Andy Reid again … I'd retire first."
While Bell seems disgruntled, he'll have the opportunity to sit down with clubs and pick a destination that's best for him. Even in a rough 2020 term, the two-time All-Pro averaged four yards per carry. In the right spot, he can produce solid numbers in a one-two punch out of the backfield.
Best Fit: Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons wiped the slate clean at running back, allowing their top three 2020 ball-carriers—Todd Gurley II, Brian Hill and Ito Smith—to hit the open market. The latter two have signed with new teams.
Atlanta signed Mike Davis, but he's only served as the primary tailback once in his six-year career. Last season, the 5'9", 220-pounder filled in for Christian McCaffrey but still only logged 165 carries in 15 outings, which included 12 starts.
Bell and Davis would give the Falcons a physical downhill ground attack, but the former has an extensive track record in the short passing game, hauling in 394 passes for 3,259 yards and eight touchdowns in his career. He can move the chains in obvious passing situations.
FS Tre Boston
Tre Boston falls in the underrated category among free agents. Typically, safeties don't generate much buzz, but he's a solid defender in deep coverage with 15 interceptions and 42 pass breakups in seven seasons.
Last year, with the Carolina Panthers, Boston split snaps between the box and free safety roles. He logged a career-high 95 tackles but posted modest coverage numbers (four pass breakups and one interception).
If Boston takes most of his snaps in center field as a free safety, he can help out a team that needs a defensive back with consistent ball production.
Best Fit: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions must sort out their safety unit. Will Harris and Tracy Walker project as first-stringers, but they both started fewer than eight games last season.
According to The Athletic's Chris Burke, the Lions will use three-safety looks. While C.J. Moore can provide depth, the pecking order at the position seems fluid.
"The Lions are going to have three safeties on the field in a lot of those dime looks," Burke wrote. "Moore could give them a fourth, in certain matchups, or he could push [Dean] Marlowe or Will Harris for time in those packages."
With his experience and ball-tracking skills, Boston can solidify a spot atop the Lions' depth chart as arguably the best cover safety on the roster.