Top Ten NFL Teams That Should Make Free Agency Moves
Discover Which NFL Clubs Should Sign Free Agents Starting Today
2014 NFL Off-Season
Under 8 hours and counting, y’all. Then we should know where at least some of this year’s top NFL free agents are headed for the 2014 season. Since we’ve got all day to analyze the heck out of the situation, I thought we’d start off by looking at the teams who could potentially benefit the most during the free agency period.
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1. Not to state the obvious, but ‘Da Bears had a disastrous 2013. Their oft stalwart defense barely looked alive for most of the season, so using free agency to bolster their roster is a smart move. The team’s TE Martellus Bennett discussed his desire to see his brother, DT/DE Michael Bennett, signed by the club, but he reached an 11th-hour deal with the Seahawks yesterday. The fact that Chicago has less than $10 million in cap space makes snagging major players something of a challenge. Adding current Giants S Ryan Mundy might be a possibility, though. Donte Whitner of the 49ers could also be a good fit at the S position if he ultimately leaves San Fran, but money could become an issue on that front.
2. Speaking of disastrous defenses, the Cowboys (remember the 45 points they allowed the aforementioned Bears to score in December?) ranked dead last when the 2013 season concluded. There are a number of defensive veterans, including current Bears DT Henry Melton, who could provide much-needed leadership both on and off the field. Unfortunately for the Cowboys and their fans, Jerry Jones is far more skilled at spending money than he is at remaining under the cap; they entered the offseason $20 million over. Let’s hope the front office (read: Jones and…er…Jones) can manage to free-up some space and add at least one defensive vet to the roster.
3. The Falcons, who suffered perhaps the sharpest decline in the league in 2013 (I can’t be the only one who thinks last year’s NFC championship feels like eons ago), have a myriad of needs to address. This is especially true with incredible TE Tony Gonzalez off to the broadcasting world. They do have almost $30 million worth of cap space and the No. 6 draft pick, for which they should be grateful. I’d love to see them add someone like Steelers DE Ziggy Hood to the mix in free agency. Hood hasn’t been a major star at Pittsburgh, but I like him in the Falcons’ scheme and he played with the club’s S William Moore and LB Sean Weatherspoon at Mizzou.
4. By the end of the 2013 season, the Cardinals were looking like legitimate playoff contenders. In fact, if the much-discussed 7 team playoff system had been a reality at the end of December, they would have been the third NFC wild card. Adding a good left tackle to the team would certainly help Arians and the boys reach the post-season next year. If Jared Veldheer and the Raiders are unable to reach a deal by this afternoon, I like him at Arizona. Veldheer won’t cost as much as the Chiefs’ Branden Albert and he already has experience playing with Carson Palmer in Oakland. Seems like a win-win to me.
5. The Colts, much like the Cardinals, need only a few more pieces to become legitimate contenders within the next few seasons. Signing LB D’Qwell Jackson and retaining talented fan fave P Pat McAfee were both good moves, but the club has plenty of cap space (in the $38 million range) to do some damage during free agency. One of Indy’s biggest needs lies at the C position. Samson Satele has, quite frankly, been a poor placeholder for the spot Jeff Saturday once occupied. Both the Saints' Brian de la Puente and the Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith are excellent options.
6. The poor Redskins, in addition to all of their front office, locker room, and coaching staff woes, allowed the second most points in the league in 2013. Long, 17-week story short, it was not their year. After paying cap penalties totaling over $30 million, the front office finally has a little space to work with this season, which could allow them to sign CB Aqib Talib. The ‘Skins looked at him last year, but Talib landed at the New England Patriots due to their then unresolved fiscal troubles. I like Washington to target Talib unless another club makes him an offer they simply can’t match.
7. The Vikings' defense holds the unfortunate record of being the sole group in the league to allow more points than the Redskins. Obviously, they need an upgrade or twelve and they have plenty of cap space to do it. Bengals’ DE Michael Johnson has been mentioned in conjunction with Minnesota for some time. Now, with former Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer steering the Vikings’ ship as head coach, this match makes more sense than ever.
8. The Carolina Panthers, who are dealing with something of a shoestring budget in order to remain under cap, enjoyed a solid 2013 season. If they end-up trading or releasing WR Steve Smith, though, they will have a definite need at that position. It wouldn’t surprise me if GM Dave Gettleman, who formerly spent time with the New York Giants organization, tries to do some creative budgeting to sign WR Hakeem Nicks. Nicks isn’t a long-term solution to plug the hole that Smith will inevitably leave, but he’s an option with whom Gettleman already has familiarity.
9. The Dolphins found themselves dealing with a veritable tidal wave of drama in 2013. With things finally settling down in Miami, it’s time to look toward the future. QB Ryan Tannehill took a beating this year with the o-line allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks, so there’s no doubt that the left tackle situation needs to be addressed. It’s looking like the Dolphins have all but signed on the dotted line with the Chiefs’ Branden Albert. They’ll have to sacrifice big bucks to finalize the deal, but protecting Tannehill has to be priority numero uno.
10. The 49ers are clearly a Super Bowl contender, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Now that Navarro Bowman is likely going to miss half the season, San Fran has got to look at veteran linemen during free agency. Bowman is irreplaceable, we’ll get that out of the way right now. However, I’m thinking the Kansas City Chiefs' Akeem Jordan could be a decent fit. Jordan’s been in the league for seven years and put-up above average numbers (67 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) last year at KC. For the right price, he could at least serve as a bandage for the Niners until Bowman is back in fighting form.