At the end of every season, at least one Mountaineer inevitably becomes a free-agent for the coming NFL season. This year, there are several WVUPros that will be free-agents for the 2016 season. What this means is that these players have the option of remaining with their current teams, and resigning, or going somewhere else for a potential pay increase.
Don Barclay, Terence Garvin (restricted), Najee Goode (restricted), Bruce Irvin, Will Johnson, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, and Keith Tandy are all free-agents for the upcoming season.
In case some are unsure, a restricted free-agent is a player with six or more regular seasons with a team, and has received a “qualifying” salary amount from said team; both Terence Garvin (Steelers) and Najee Goode (Eagles) are restricted free-agents for next season.
With only the Super Bowl remaining on the NFL’s docket, the next several weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft will be a time to explore contract options and determine who is staying on their current teams and who may be picked up by another organization. Several of these WVUPros have been with the same team for all or the majority of their careers.
Don Barclay: Barclay has been with the Packers since he was an undrafted free-agent. After his injury and surgery sidelined him for a season, we saw a return to the field for Barclay in the fall of 2015. Barclay’s strong work ethic has been admired by the coaching staff at Green Bay over his years as a Packer. Coming off a year post-injury, with some struggles on the field, now is the time for Barclay to negotiate a contract and remain with the Packers organization.
Terence Garvin: Garvin is a member of the Steelers’ inside linebackers coming off a great performance for the 2015 season. Gavin has just finished his third season with the Steelers and was a core special teams player. During the offseason, Garvin will be having surgery on an injured finger and is the first Steeler to have offseason surgery. Since Garvin has performed so well with the Steelers, it is highly likely that he will be re-signed for the 2016 season.
Najee Goode: Goode is just finishing up his second season with the Eagles. After being on the roster bubble in May of 2015, the Eagles kept Goode on for 2015 and he saw a decent amount of playing time during the season. For Goode, now is the time to determine if he will remain with the Eagles during the offseason, or if he will explore other options. The Eagles are amidst a coaching change with Kelly’s departure and Doug Pederson’s arrival as new head coach for next season.
Bruce Irvin: Irvin’s time with the Seahawks is reaching the first bend in the road. Whether or not Irvin will remain with the Seahawks has been a point of speculation since the start of the 2015 season. Many believe that Irvin would go to Atlanta, his hometown, and join the Falcons organization. Following Seattle’s loss to the Panthers in the playoffs, Irvin said he would like to remain with the Seahawks and would do so for a “hometown discount”. He feels at home with the Seahawks organization, teammates and coaching staff. The latest rumor regards Marshawn Lynch and whether he will retire or not. If Lynch retires, not only would he owe a great amount of money to the Seahawks, but the coaching staff would have more money to use to re-sign players like Irvin who has quickly become a well-known name among Seahawks fans.
Will Johnson: Johnson suffered a hamstring injury during the game against the Bengals at the beginning of January. Johnson just finished his fourth season with the Steelers. As Johnson is a free-agent, his role on the team will be looked at in determining his contract status for the upcoming season. Johnson’s season ended by being listed as inactive for the team, due to his injury. Johnson improved over his four seasons with the Steelers and is a valuable member of the team, so it is likely we will see his return to Pittsburgh this fall.
Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones: Jones had a good season with the Bengals, but with success on the field, Jones did not keep his attitude and emotions in check. You may recall his outburst in the Bengals Wild Card loss to the Steelers. Jones just finished his sixth season in Cincinnati and seems to be playing arguably the best and smartest football of his career. Jones ended the season with a large fine for his contact with an official during the Steelers game. While he has been an integral part of the Bengals team on the field, one may start to wonder if his behavior will play a role into whether he is resigned or not for 2016.
Keith Tandy: Tandy just finished his fourth season with the Buccaneers down in Tampa Bay. Tandy took the field 14 times in the 2015 season and finished the season with 28 tackles. Tandy’s first four seasons in the NFL have been met with increased playing time over the four years, and most importantly an increase of productivity on the field. Tandy has proven to be a strong defensive player for the Bucs and will likely see some sort of contract negotiations for 2016.
Free-agency can become a major game of cat and mouse between players and organizations. Many of these players will attempt to negotiate the best deal possible to stay with teammates that have become family prior to looking to other organizations for employment. These WVUPros have shown that they are integral parts of the teams they are on and likely look to stay with them.