Forgotten NFL Free Agents: Carson Wentz, Rashaad Penny, Chase Claypool Among Potential Bargains

Will Carson Wentz find a new home in 2024? How about Rashaad Penny or Chase Claypool? Let's try to unearth a bargain among the NFL's forgotten free agents.

New NFL contract agreements will start flying as soon as free agency opens on Wednesday, March 13. Many of the league’s top free agents will sign with new teams within minutes, while others will find new homes throughout the week.

But NFL free agency doesn’t end there. Clubs continue to sign players throughout the summer and into training camp, hoping to unearth a contributor late in the free agent process.

Who are this year’s forgotten NFL free agents — the players who may have to wait until April or later before signing a new contract but may have something left to offer?

Forgotten NFL Free Agents

Here’s our definition of a forgotten NFL free agent:

Those restrictions narrowed the field considerably, forcing us to dive deep for potential free agent finds. Let’s begin in Los Angeles, where a former No. 2 overall pick is looking for another NFL chance.

Carson Wentz, QB, Los Angeles Rams

After failed stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders, Carson Wentz had to wait until November to find a 2023 NFL contract. His opportunity came with the Rams, who needed a new backup behind Matthew Stafford after former QB2 Brett Rypien was released.

Wentz started L.A.’s meaningless regular-season finale, throwing two touchdowns and posting an 89.9 QBR against the San Francisco 49ers’ backup defense. He should be able to find a job before autumn this season, but Wentz is unlikely to receive a genuine shot at a starting role.

Best fits: Rams, Titans, Chiefs, Chargers

Rashaad Penny, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Over the past two seasons, Rashaad Penny has appeared in just eight games and handled 68 rushing attempts. But the conclusion of his 2021 campaign — when Penny topped 130 rushing yards four times in five games — remains etched in the collective NFL memory.

The free agent running back market is flooded with options, and Penny already had to settle for a league-minimum deal last offseason. He won’t receive guaranteed money or become a focal point of an offense, but Penny could become a contributor in the right circumstances.

Best fits: Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Packers, Vikings

Chase Claypool, WR, Miami Dolphins

One of the most athletic WR prospects in the history of the NFL Combine, Chase Claypool’s stock couldn’t have fallen much farther in 2023. The Chicago Bears, who’d traded a second-round pick for Claypool in 2022, gave up on him after effort and performance issues, sending him to the Miami Dolphins in a late-round pick swap.

MORE: FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Claypool scored nine touchdowns in his rookie campaign and was productive in Year 2, but it’s been a disaster since. Still only 25 years old, Claypool will receive chances in a league desperate for explosive plays.

Best fits: Saints, Panthers, Ravens, Chiefs

Tanner Hudson, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Tanner Hudson entered the 2023 season as a journeyman tight end with 15 career receptions spread over four NFL seasons. He ended it as the Bengals’ starting TE, taking over for offseason addition Irv Smith Jr. while finishing with 49 catches for 352 yards and a score.

All four of the Bengals’ tight ends are pending free agents. Hudson should be a Cincinnati priority after thriving with both Joe Burrow and Jake Browning. But he’s 29 years old and carries a limited track record, so he should be affordable.

Best fits: Bengals, Titans, Broncos, Texans

Jack Driscoll, OL, Philadelphia Eagles

We’ve already seen evidence of a backup from the NFL’s best offensive line getting paid in free agency. Former Eagles tackle Andre Dillard signed a multi-year commitment with the Tennessee Titans last offseason and was supposed to be their starting left tackle.

That deal didn’t work out, but Jack Driscoll — Philadelphia’s OL6 — could be on teams’ radars this spring. Driscoll, a 2020 fourth-round pick, started 17 games over four seasons with the Eagles, seeing action at left and right tackle and right guard. Versatility and experience with OL coach Jeff Stoutland could earn Driscoll a surprising free agent deal.

Best fits: 49ers, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, Saints

Marcus Davenport, EDGE, Minnesota Vikings

Although ex-No. 14 overall pick Marcus Davenport may never live up to his draft billing, he can still be a productive pass rusher. He finished fourth in pass-rush win rate (18.3%) as recently as 2021, when he finished behind only Maxx Crosby, Myles Garrett, and Rashan Gary.

Injuries have been a constant concern for Davenport and ruined his debut season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2023. He won’t come close to the $10 million guarantee he received last year, but Davenport could still have a role thanks to his reliable run defense and pass-rushing upside.

Best fits: Browns, Commanders, Bills, Cardinals

Maurice Hurst, DT, Cleveland Browns

Speaking of pass-rush win rate, Maurice Hurst ranked 12th among defensive tackles last season, albeit on limited snaps. Projected to be a first-round pick in 2018 after a dominant career at Michigan, Hurst fell to the fifth after being diagnosed with a heart condition during the pre-draft process.

With more teams emphasizing interior pressure, Hurst could be coveted. But he signed for the minimum last year and may be affordable again in 2024.

Best fits: Browns, Bengals, Saints, Colts, Jets

Oren Burks, LB, San Francisco 49ers

While Oren Burks will never be an All-Pro, he’s a competent third linebacker who can play in base packages and see action on special teams. Burks saw time when fellow LB Dre Greenlaw was injured in 2023 (including after Greenlaw tore his Achilles in the Super Bowl).

Burks spent the beginning of his career with the Green Bay Packers, and a reunion could make sense if the Packers move on from De’Vondre Campbell this offseason.

Best fits: Packers, 49ers, Giants, Buccaneers

Arthur Maulet, CB, Baltimore Ravens

Arthur Maulet has played at least 300 snaps for five straight seasons, but the 2023 campaign might’ve been his best. The journeyman defensive back thrived in Mike Macdonald’s Ravens system, showing off his pass-rush and run-defense prowess from the slot.

Macdonald now has Devon Witherspoon in the slot as the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach, so Maulet probably won’t follow his former DC to the Pacific Northwest. A return to Baltimore could make sense.

Best fits: Ravens, Packers, Texans, Broncos

Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers

Jeremy Chinn played nearly every snap for the Panthers from 2020 to 2022, showing off his versatility by spending time as a safety, nickel corner, and linebacker. Last season, his role was reduced by injuries and by DC Ejiro Evero, who suggested Carolina viewed Chinn as a third-down specialist.

A return to the Panthers probably won’t be in the cards, but Chinn should find a home elsewhere. While “positionless” defensive football never quite emerged in the NFL, Chinn’s skill set — particularly in coverage — is useful.

KEEP READING: When Does 2024 NFL Free Agency Start?

The Eagles, who nearly drafted Chinn over Jalen Hurts in 2020 and looked into acquiring him at last year’s trade deadline, stand out as an obvious suitor.

Best fits: Eagles, Patriots, Ravens, Giants

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

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