Now that the initial wave of free agency is over and most of the name-brand players have gotten their enormous paydays, it's time for the teams that have been a bit more patient to begin going bargain-hunting. After all, it's not always the biggest names that wind up becoming important contributors. Just ask the Super Bowl champion Eagles, who paid Chris Long, Stefan Wisnieswki, LeGarrette Blount, and Patrick Robinson just $14.55 million combined last offseason -- less than the average annual value of the Bears gave Mike Glennon -- and watched them each play big roles in their run to a championship.
This offseason, there are plenty of second week bargains available. Below, we'll walk through some options that could prove both affordable with high-upside -- four on offense and four on defense.
Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks
Davis only played a few games for the Seahawks and on the surface his numbers don't look all that impressive. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and in his five games as the primary ball-carrier totaled just 222 rushing yards. A slightly deeper look, however, reveals that he was more productive than he appears at first glance. Davis averaged 2.84 yards per carry after contact, per Pro Football Focus, a number on par with Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. He also forced 17 missed tackles on just 83 total touches, a missed tackle rate that would have ranked in the top-10 league-wide had he recorded enough touches to qualify. Davis also fared well as both a blocker and a pass-catcher, snagging 15 of the 18 throws in his direction for 131 yards. Still just 25 years old, he could be a cheap option for a team looking for a potential three-down back at a very low cost.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Bills
Matthews is a former second-round pick that measures 6-foot-3, 212 pounds and has experience playing both outside and in the slot. He's struggled with injuries and especially with drops during his four-year career, but he's one of the few receivers left on the market with any track record of high-level success. During his three years in Philadelphia, Matthews racked up 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. His 16-game average line of 78-930-7 is solid No. 2 wideout production, but given his recent injuries, he might be available at a discount, even though he doesn't turn 26 years old until this summer.
Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
You might remember Ebron as the annual fantasy football tease. The Lions took him with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 draft, right ahead of Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham, and Aaron Donald. Whoops. Still, Ebron is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end with good movement skills, and over the final seven games of last season he put up 33 catches for 340 yards and two scores. From Week 10 on, no tight end in the league had more catches, and only Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Delanie Walker had more receiving yards. He may not be the star tight end the Lions envisioned when they drafted him, but the talent to be a high-level contributor is in there somewhere. A smart offensive mind may be able to tap into it on a more regular basis than Detroit ever did.
Jack Mewhort, G, Colts
It had been rumored that Mewhort was considering retirement due to a series of knee ailments, but he stated recently that he intends to play in 2018. Injuries are obviously an issue here, as he's ended up on injured reserve multiple times, but when healthy, Mewhort has shown himself to be a very solid interior presence. In his last fully healthy season (2015), he was one of the best guards in the league. Because of his injury history, he could be had for cheap on a prove-it type deal, and if he stays on the field, he'll be a huge help to a team looking for interior help.
Ealy is another former high draft pick who hasn't fully lived up to his promise. The Panthers snagged him in the second round of the 2014 draft and he worked as a rotational pass-rusher for three years, collecting 14 sacks during that time. They traded him to the Patriots last offseason, but the Pats cut him before the season began and he eventually landed with the Jets. Ealy recorded only one sack in 15 games, but he amassed 28 quarterback pressures on only 306 pass-rushing snaps. That's a pressure rate similar to that of Jason Pierre-Paul. If you can get Ealy for cheap, he can bother the quarterback at a low cost.
Pernell McPhee, DL/LB, Bears
The Bears cut McPhee earlier this offseason to save a bunch of money against the cap, but he's still a productive player. He's also one of the most versatile defensive players in football. He's 29 years old and doesn't turn 30 until late next season, and he has experience playing as a standup pass-rusher, a down lineman on the edge, and interior rushman, and even an off-ball 4-3 linebacker. He had 14 sacks in just 36 games for the Bears over the last three seasons, and he's been a consistent force against both the run and the pass as a rotational player for Baltimore and Chicago throughout his career.
Delvin Breaux, CB, Saints
Breaux missed all of last season and only played six games in 2016, but in 2015, he was the Saints' top corner and was often used to shadow opposing No. 1 wideouts. During that season, he allowed just 42 catches on 80 throws in his direction, while recording three interceptions and 15 passes defensed. He's got good size at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, and he's got incredibly long arms. With the Patriots poking around Breaux in free agency, don't be surprised if he winds up playing an important role for their defense -- assuming he's over the fibula issues that have plagued him the last two years.
Reid is coming off a strong season with the 49ers, one in which he showed improved versatility by playing both safety spots as well as some in-the-box linebacker. He's likely available on the cheap for non-football reasons -- Reid was one of the first players to begin protesting police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem -- which is a shame because he's a good player and should be paid his worth on the field. There are no indications that he was ever a "distraction" in San Francisco, belying reports that kneelers are divisive in the locker room, and he's an asset both in coverage and against the run.