With the 2021 NFL season kicking off this week, most teams have solidified their starting lineups for Week 1. However, rosters are fluid even after 53-man roster cuts, so we'll see many additions in the coming days.
While it's easy to identify the top available free agents—guys like Cam Newton, John Brown, Mitchell Schwartz and Todd Gurley are known commodities—some team-specific fits are better than others.
Here, we'll take a look at the best free-agent option for each team. These selections are based on factors like proven production, team needs, player health and salary-cap constraints.
For variety's sake, we'll only be looking at one team per player. While several teams could benefit from adding Newton as a backup quarterback, we'll be pairing him with only one franchise.
Which free agent should your favorite team have its eyes on entering Week 1? Let's take a look.
Arizona Cardinals: RB Frank Gore
After Kenyan Drake departed in free agency, the Arizona Cardinals are now set to lean on the backfield duo of Chase Edmonds and James Conner.
While Edmonds and Conner might be serviceable, it's worth noting that the former has never been a full-time starter, while the latter underwhelmed with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. Conner averaged 4.3 yards per carry but had only 55.5 rushing yards and 2.7 receptions per game.
It would make a lot of sense for Arizona to add a seasoned ball-carrier like Frank Gore to the mix. Though he is 38 years old, Gore is still fully capable of handling the tough inside work. Last season, he rushed for 653 yards and two touchdowns on 187 carries.
Throughout his 16 year career, Gore has been nothing if not reliable. That reliability could act as a safety net for the Cardinals ground game, as Arizona hopes for the best from Edmonds and Conner.
Atlanta Falcons: CB Rashaan Melvin
The Atlanta Falcons should still be looking to improve a defense that gave up the most passing yards in the league last season. Six-year veteran Rashaan Melvin could help bolster the secondary.
Signed by the Carolina Panthers in March but released from the practice squad last week, Melvin has played 64 games with 40 starts during his career. He opted out of the 2020 campaign but started 19 games across the previous two seasons, compiling 124 tackles, 20 passes defended and an interception during that span.
Though not a Pro Bowl player, Melvin would bring some much-needed talent and experience to Atlanta's secondary.
Aside from 2020 first-round pick A.J. Terrell, the Falcons don't have much to get excited about at cornerback. Their other top options include Isaiah Oliver, who allowed an opposing passer rating of 120.8 last season, and Fabian Moreau.
Moreau, a 2017 third-round pick, made only 18 starts in four seasons with the Washington Football Team.