Several players with ties to college football in Oklahoma may be changing teams in the NFL this offseason.
Free agency begins March 9. And some players who are not now unrestricted free agents may be looking at restructuring contracts in light of impending free agency next year.
Here are some notable players that could head to greener pastures.
Former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones of the Pittsburgh Steelers has completed his four-year rookie contract and is an unrestricted free agent. According to spotrac.com, Jones made $649,805 in 2016.
For the past four years, Jones has been the backup to Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Jones has two wins in four starts over the past two years. Last season, in limited action, he threw four touchdown passes with two interceptions while completing 61.6 percent of his passes.
Subbing for Roethlisberger in a regular season game against the New England Patriots, Jones threw for 281 yards (more than Tom Brady) with one touchdown and one interception in a losing effort. Jones engineered a comeback victory over Cleveland in week 17 even though four of the Steeler’s best offensive players were rested to get ready for the playoffs.
Pittsburgh General Manager Kevin Colbert indicate he would like to resign Jones but he is not against Jones testing the free agent market this spring. A writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote that Steeler management thinks that Jones is better than “80 percent of the backup quarterbacks in the league.”
The issue for Jones is whether he wants a big pay raise to stay with the Steelers as a backup or go to a team that doesn’t have an established starter and compete for a starting job.
Last summer, former OU quarterback Sam Bradford was set to start for the Philadelphia Eagles. But when Minnesota Viking quarterback Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee, Minnesota traded for Bradford and he became their starter.
Bradford, a former No. 1 pick in the first round, had his best year ever in 2016, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has one more year on his contract with Minnesota and indications are that the Vikings want to resign him to a long-term contract regardless of the possible return of Bridgewater later this year. Bradford will make $18 million in 2017.
Former OU running back Adrian Peterson, who has been with the Vikings his entire career, could be traded this offseason because of his age and the size of his existing contract. Peterson was injured and out most of last year.
Former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden was drafted in the first round by Cleveland in 2012. He played for the Browns for two years and then went to Dallas in 2014 and wound up in Houston in 2015. In April last year, he signed a two-year contract with the Texans for $4 million. He backed up Brock Osweiler last season.
Weeden is not a free agent but Houston was disappointed in the highly paid Osweiler and the starting job is up in the air.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills, who played at OU, made only $588,613 on the last year of his rookie contract with Miami.
In 2016, Stills caught 42 passes but averaged 17.3 yards per catch. Reports are that Miami wants to resign him but the question is how much they will pay.
Former Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson of the Arizona Cardinals is an unrestricted free agent who made $1,671,000 last season.
The Cardinals are trying to resign him before the free agency period begins. There are reports that he could make up to $7 million or more per season. Jefferson reportedly would like to stick with Arizona.
Tight end Jermaine Gresham, also from OU, is with the Cardinals. Gresham caught 37 passes for 391 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Gresham signed a one-year contract with Arizona last year when he could have gotten more with a lesser team.
Former Sooner defensive tackle Stacy McGee played with the Oakland Raiders and made $559,670 last season. Former OU guard Chris Chester, now with Atlanta, made $2,350,000 last year.
Former OSU defensive end Antonio Smith of the Houston Texans made $985,000 last season.
NFL players with local college ties
TU – Tight end Charles Clay
OSU – Safety Gary Shamiel
OU – Defensive end Jordan Philips
OU – Wideout Kenny Stills
OU – Running back Damien Williams
OU – Defensive lineman Geneo Grissom
OU – Linebacker Dominique Alexander
OU – Center Gabe Ikard
OSU – Linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah
OU – Quarterback Landry Jones
OSU – Defensive end Antonio Smith
OSU – Quarterback Brandon Weeden
OU – Cornerback Aaron Colvin
OU – Guard Nila Kasitati
OU – Running back DeMarco Murray
OU – Linebacker Corey Nelson
OSU – Tackle Russell Okung
OU – Tackle Donald Stephenson
Kansas City Chiefs
OU – Kicker James Winchester
OU – Fullback Trey Millard (injured)
Los Angeles Chargers
TU – Safety Dexter McCoil
OU – Defensive tackle Stacy McGee
OSU – Defensive end Jimmy Bean (reserve)
OSU – Kicker Dan Bailey
OSU – Wideout Dez Bryant
OU – Tight end James Hanna (injured)
OU – Defensive end Charles Tapper (reserve)
New York Giants
OU – Wideout Sterling Shepard
OSU – Cornerback Michael Hunter (reserve)
OU – Wideout Dorial Green-Beckham
OU – Tackle Lane Johnson
OU – Punter Tress Way
OU – Tackle Trent Williams
OU – Defensive back Demontre Hurst
Green Bay Packers
OU – Fullback Aaron Ripkowski
OSU – Guard Lane Taylor
OU – Quarterback Sam Bradford
OU – Running back Adrian Peterson
OU – Guard Chris Chester
TU – Wideout Keyarris Garrett
OSU – Cornerback Tyler Patmon
OU – Cornerback Zac Sanchez
OU – Tackle Tyrus Thompson
OU – Tackle Daryl Williams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OU – Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
OU – Tight end Jermaine Gresham
OU – Safety Tony Jefferson
Los Angeles Rams
OSU – Cornerback Kevin Peterson (reserve)
San Francisco 49ers
OU – Tight end Blake Bell