NFL Free Agency: 13 moves that could twist the NFL Draft

Mock Drafts are fun. But they mean nothing until after the free agency period.

Dallas Cowboys let WR Amari Cooper walk

There’s no way this happens, right? Well, it’s Dallas… so yeah.

In four of his first five seasons in the league, Cooper has finished the year with over 1,000 yards. In the Lone Star State this season, the former Alabama product tallied career-highs in receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (8). But with Dak Prescott and potentially Byron Jones needing extensions, perhaps Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy let Cooper test the free-agent pool.

Dallas is set to make a move in April’s draft. Perhaps the move would be trading up for one of the top receivers to give Prescott a new Cooper. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy would likely thrive in an offense like McCarthy’s while both Henry Ruggs III and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb would become instant vertical threats.

If Cooper isn’t retained, expect Dallas to draft a wide receiver early. With the top three names likely going to be considered in the top 15, this would probably mean Dallas is moving on up in Las Vegas to beat out teams like the Raiders and Broncos to the punch.

Philadelphia Eagles sign WR DeMarcus Robinson

Let’s not waste time — the Eagles need a receiver. Greg Ward will always have a special place in this writer’s heart, but he’s not a starting-caliber weapon. Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor is a free agent, and the team cannot rely on DeSean Jackson at 33 to be the No.1 option.

Philly needs speed, and Robinson is all that. The former Florida star was a herald for his profound threat ability and has been a weapon downfield for Patrick Mahomes of the past two seasons. The 25-year-old probably would likely want a starting role in the future, and Philadelphia’s salary cap is right in his favor.

But if the Eagles were to sign Robinson, would they be out on a receiver? Last season, Howie Roseman traded up for Andre Dillard — passing on the likes of Marquise Brown. In this draft, the team could focus on fixing their secondary, selecting someone like Florida’s CJ Henderson or Alabama’s Trevon Diggs with the 21st pick.

If Robinson heads to the City of Brotherly Love — love it or hate it, don’t expect them to draft one of the Alabama boys on offense. They have too many holes to add two receivers early.

DL Chris Jones signs with the Oakland Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders (yes, that’s still incredibly weird to say) will want to make a splash-free agent move this offseason. Outside of the defensive line and perhaps a wide receiver, the team is actually trending in the right direction under Jon Gruden heading into year 3. And sure, Tom Brady will get love, but perhaps it’s another side of the ball that gets the win.

Chris Jones will be paid this offseason. Will it be by Kansas City? That’s a great question. With the team needing to pay players like Patrick Mahomes and keep their offensive line together, perhaps Jones is seen as a liability in the cap space room, allowing him to walk into the market. With the $54 million in cap space, this would be the one — but definitely worth free-agent addition.

If the Raiders signed Jones, the focus turns to the offense. The team will need to add another receiver and could move up to pass teams for someone like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons is another option for the Raiders defense that could add stability to a talented front. Either way, Las Vegas would need to move up for their guy and give up some collateral.

Jones would be a superb addition to the Las Vegas defense. If he heads there, Oakland will need to give up some collateral though to move up in April. The draft is in their new home, and they could be a piece or two away from being a legit contender in the AFC.

QB Drew Brees retires

Let’s just say it; Drew Brees has one — at best two years left in the league. But what if he decides this is the perfect time to call it a career? If so, what does that mean for the Saints’ future?

Should Brees call it a career, the impending move would be to sign Teddy Bridgewater to an extension. But does a 5-1 start this season give the team enough confidence to trust he’s the future of the organization? And if so, should they not add weapons around him?

The return of Brees would likely mean the Saints would be adding a receiver at pick No.24. With the depth at the position, perhaps a quarterback like Utah State’s Jordan Love is now the first-round option while receiver needs could be address on day 2?

Brees calling it a career would be a lesser shocking story this offseason, but it’s could mess with the draft night. The longtime Saints gunslinger deserves all the praise, but is New Orleans still considered a contender? And if so, by what means?

Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL Writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.

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