Best Free Agent Fits: Sutton, Key, Okoronkwo, Ebukam, Schultz

We’re breaking down some potential fits for our top pending 2023 NFL free agents with the start of the league year and free agency coming up soon on March 15. Using our Top 2023 NFL Free Agents list, we’re examining the possible landing spots for the top 50 or so players who are expected to be available this offseason. 

Arden Key

This is based both on reported interest by particular teams and by connecting the dots between team needs, coaching staff connections, scheme fits and available players. 

Keep an eye out this week for the rest of our Free Agent Fits series!

Steelers CB Cameron Sutton

Best Fit: Vikings

The Steelers were able to lock Sutton up two years ago on a pretty affordable deal, one he’s since outplayed. He’s settled in as a solid starter who can play both in the slot and outside, and at 28 years old he should still have enough mileage to get a decent deal in free agency. 

If he gets out of Pittsburgh, the Vikings are a team to watch. Minnesota will need to overhaul pretty much their entire cornerback group after it was a huge weakness in 2022. Slot corner in particular was a revolving door for much of the season. New Vikings DC Brian Flores wasn’t Sutton’s position coach with the Steelers last year but he did get to see him work up close, and that could grease the wheels for a deal. 

Jaguars DE Arden Key

Best Fit: Texans

A talented pass rusher who finally seems like he’s starting to put things together, Key will have a fascinating market. He’s put up 11 sacks over the past two seasons on one-year prove-it deals with the 49ers and Jaguars. That’s a decent floor for teams looking to reinforce their pass rush, and at 26 years old there’s plausible hope that there’s upside for more. 

Jacksonville would like to keep Key but they’re not as flush with cash as they have been in recent offseasons after last year’s spending spree. The division-rival Texans need to rebuild their defensive line. It will be one of new HC DeMeco Ryans’ top priorities, and Ryans was Key’s defensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2021. The rest of the organization will be familiar with Key from his time in the division and that could prompt them to be more willing to invest in Key than other teams. 

Texans DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Best Fit: Rams

Okoronkwo signed with Houston this past offseason on a one-year deal after three years as a rotational player/special teamer with the Rams. He’s coming off of a career-high five sacks and comes into free agency in a much better position. It’s possible the Texans will want to keep him, as if Ryans builds a defense anything like the one he had with the 49ers, it will be heavily reliant on a deep, talented defensive line. 

A return to Los Angeles would also make some sense. There’s a high level of familiarity there, and the Rams will have a wide open depth chart once they move on from Leonard Floyd. Okoronkwo still isn’t going to break the bank and wouldn’t preclude the Rams from adding other pass rushers. They need multiple players here. 

49ers DE Samson Ebukam

Best Fit: Bears

Teams should know exactly what they’re going to get with Ebukam, as he has at least 4.5 sacks in each of the past four seasons, but his 2022 total of five was the high mark in that same span. He’s about to turn 28, so he is what he is at this point. Still, there’s some buzz for him hitting eight figures in free agency

If there’s a team that needs pass-rush help and has the money to arguably overpay, it’s the Bears. Chicago will need to almost completely overhaul their defensive line this offseason and will probably make multiple additions in both free agency and the draft. At that projected salary, Ebukam would likely be viewed as a starter. 

Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

Best Fit: Dolphins

It became obvious quickly that Mike Gesicki wasn’t a fit with the Dolphins last year due to his lack of proficiency as a blocker (it probably was obvious before they put the franchise tag on him but that’s in the past). Miami will be looking for a better fit in free agency this offseason and Schultz would make a lot of sense. He’s not as dynamic as Gesicki but he’s a far better blocker and a reliable receiver over the middle. Miami went after a former Cowboys player last year when they signed WR Cedrick Wilson, though they’ll probably hope Schultz pans out better than Wilson did. 

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