In the real world, it's usually better to get your holiday shopping done as early as possible. In the NFL, the opposite might be true. You don't want to wait until the last possible second to sign somebody to your roster, but smart organizations often take it easy during the opening days of free agency before pouncing later in the offseason.

For those teams, it's not just about whom you sign. When you sign a player matters, too. Organizations like the Rams and Ravens focus on the compensatory pick formula, which allows them to get draft picks in return for the players they lose in free agency. By waiting until after the compensatory pick deadline, teams can sign players without needing to forgo their free midround selections. If getting an extra fifth- or sixth-rounder doesn't sound exciting or valuable, consider that the Patriots once turned a sixth-round compensatory pick into Tom Brady.

With the compensatory pick formula deadline and the draft both passed, we'll see teams begin to pick through what's still a surprisingly notable class of remaining free agents. The Saints were first to the punch, signing star safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal. By waiting until May 3 to confirm the deal, the Saints were able to bring the former LSU star home without impacting the comp formula.

Here, I'll look at 10 matches of remaining free agents and new homes and explain why a deal might make sense for both sides. I'll leave out re-signings to keep things interesting, so while I think tight end Rob Gronkowski will re-up with the Buccaneers, I don't think you need me to describe what the fit between those two might look like. I also won't include trades, so nothing on quarterbacks Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. There are still plenty of well-known players to talk about, though, and I'll begin with the one of the many prominent wide receivers still looking for a new team.


WR Jarvis Landry to the Baltimore Ravens

Landry's market hasn't been as robust as the former Browns wideout might like, given that he is rumored to be looking for something in the ballpark of $20 million per year. Some of that owes to falling production over the past three seasons, as well as possible concern over signing a player who underwent serious hip surgery after the 2019 season. The Browns weren't interested in paying Landry just under $15 million for the 2022 campaign, and I don't think he'll see that much on a one-year deal in this market.

In part, that's because there really aren't many competitive teams that need a slot receiver at this point of the offseason. The Bears and Falcons need receiving help, but they're mostly using 2022 as an exercise in dumping dead cap. The Seahawks aren't going to use three-wide sets frequently enough to justify a deal for Landry. The Browns, who could have re-signed Landry to a smaller deal, are going to move forward with third-round pick David Bell in the slot.

So unless somebody gets hurt, the two competitive teams left with vacancies in the slot are the Colts and Ravens. I think you could make a case for either team, but the Ravens are typically more aggressive in this window when it comes to adding veterans. I'd like to see Baltimore add something more of a downfield threat, with William Fuller V still an open-market option, but the Ravens could use Devin Duvernay as that speedy third wideout and add Landry as a chain-mover for quarterback Lamar Jackson. They would probably be looking at a one-year deal in the $6 million range for the 29-year-old.


WR Julio Jones to the Indianapolis Colts

There has been virtually no chatter around the longtime Falcons standout, who just limped through an injury-riddled disaster of a season with the Titans. Just three years removed from leading the NFL in receiving yards, the 33-year-old Jones was a salary-cap casualty in Tennessee, with GM Jon Robinson & Co. moving on after one year despite trading a second-round pick for Jones last summer.

Jones was still playing like a star in 2019 and was productive when healthy in 2020, so I think it's a little too early to suggest that his career as a useful wideout is over. Jones averaged 2.7 yards per route run in 2020, which ranked right in line with stars like Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins, albeit over only a half-season of work. Jones has primarily been an outside receiver during his career, but I wonder if a team might be able to extend his NFL run by moving him inside more frequently, as the Cardinals did with Larry Fitzgerald in his 30s.