2015 NFL Free Agency Diary

  • Miami Dolphins Sign Mario Williams

    Update: The Miami Dolphins have agreed to a deal with former Bills and Texans defensive end Mario Williams.

     

    According to a report from Bleacher Report, the Miami Dolphins are close to a deal with free agent defensive end Mario Williams.

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    Assuming they come to terms, the Dolphins will have restructured their entire defensive line in the past few years as they made the biggest free agent splash last season signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

    The only problem with the line renovation is that the Dolphins defensive line was a team strength prior to the Suh signing, with Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Jared Odrick.  Last season, the Miami offensive line significantly underperformed.

    If Miami decides to let go of Wake, there should be a significant market for his services, as well as for Olivier Vernon, who the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on.

    Mario Williams may have had the more productive career than Vernon up to this point, but he's four years older and it's usually not a wide move to get older at athletic positions.
  • Raiders Agree To Terms With Kelechi Osemele

    The Oakland Raiders have strengthened their interior offensive line as they have reportedly come to terms with former Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele.  

    This move helps Oakland considerably as there's growing sentiment in the league that interior offensive and defensive linemen are becoming as important as offensive tackles due to how interior pressure affects the quarterback.

    The Raiders will still have to make a decision on free agent offensive tackle Donald Penn, who will be a hot commodity on the open market.

    The Ravens restructured quarterback Joe Flacco's contract in part to re-sign Osemele, but the Raiders offer which is rumored to be around $11 million per season was simply more than Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was willing to play.

    Baltimore could next turn their focus toward Bills offensive guard Richie Incognito, who is turning into a hot commodity.

    Here is our list of the top available free agent offensive linemen. 
  • 2016’s Top Free Agent Cornerbacks

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    The 2016 free agent class of cornerbacks has a surprising amount of depth and teams who are willing to open their checkbooks can get some very good starting caliber football players.  Here are the best unrestricted free agent cornerbacks available.

    1. Prince Amukamara, New York Giants- At 26 years old, Amukamara is a former first-round pick who has shown great ability when healthy.  He can play outside or inside and is a great community guy and asset to any locker room.  Best fits: New York Giants, New York Jets, Jacksonville, Detroit, Indianapolis, Houston, Cincinnati, Green Bay.

    2. Janoris Jenkins, Los Angeles Rams- There were major character question marks about Jenkins when he was coming out of the University of Florida, but he's been a solid citizen since being selected by the Rams.  Jenkins makes big plays and it's up in the air whether the Rams did the right thing by franchising Trumaine Johnson instead of him.  Best fits: Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Houston, New England, Indianapolis. 

    3. Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs- Smith is a tall, long-armed cornerback who makes big plays. It's likely that the Chiefs would like to keep him, but they have too many free agents to get into a bidding war.  Best fits: Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore, Houston, Atlanta. 

    4. Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers- Hayward has been a solid cornerback for the Packers and his fine play allowed the team to move on from Charles Woodson and Davon House in recent years.  It's likely that the Packers will make a play to bring him back, albeit at their price.  Best fits: Green Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Houston, New England, Baltimore. 

    5. Jeremy Lane, Seattle Seahawks- Lane is a really underrated free agent as he was a forgotten man after his injury in Super Bowl XLIX. At 25 years old, the best days of his career are ahead of him and he'll be a nice signing for some team.  Best fits: Seattle, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, New England. 

    6. Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals- Hall is a former first-round pick who has had a nice career. When healthy, he's been one of the best cornerbacks in football.  At 31 years old, he shouldn't be an immediate signing, but still has plenty left in the tank. Best fits: Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Baltimore. 

    7. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets- Cromartie is the ultimate boom or bust cornerback, as he is a true gambler who makes big plays and gives them up. He has great size and athleticism, bt his age (31) should limit interest from teams.  Best fits: New York Jets, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Seattle, Philadelphia. 

    8. Adam Pacman Jones, Cincinnati Bengals- Jones is still a very good cornerback and he adds an extra dimension as a punt returner.  As talented as the former first-round pick is, he is a bit of a headcase that will lose composure from time to time.  Best fits: Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Atlanta, Houston.

    9. Antonio Allen, New York Jets- Allen is still young enough to rebound from some injuries that led to inconsistent play.  He can play either cornerback or safety and shouldn't break the bank.  Best fits: New York Jets, Buffalo, Atlanta, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Baltimore. 

    10. Patrick Robinson, San Diego Chargers- Robinson has always been a great athlete, but disappointed after being a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints.  He had a bounce back season in San Diego and has raised his market value as a secondary type of free agent.  Best fits: San Diego, New York Jets, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston. 

  • 2016’s Top Inside Linebacker Free Agents

    As the value for outside linebackers has rised over the past few years, the middle linebacker position has lost some of its sizzle.

    With that being said, there's certain teams in the market for a leader in the middle.

    Let's take a look at the top inside linebacker free agents.

    1. Danny Trevathan, ILB, Denver Broncos - Expectations weren't high for Trevathan, as he was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. However, the Kentucky product has turned out to be a steady rock in Denver's defensive scheme, leading the team in tackles in 2013 (124) and this past season (110). Considering he'll only be 26-years-old come this fall, there's still time for him to get better. Best fits: Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers. 

    2. Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Indianapolis Colts - Despite only playing in 13 games, Freeman still managed to finish with over 100 combined tackles. When on the field, Freeman has the ability to drop back in coverage and cover tight ends. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins. 

    3. Brandon Marshall, ILB, Denver Broncos - You could make a strong case for Marshall being atop this list. Over the past two seasons, the Nevada product has proven to be a factor in both the run and pass game. Marshall's defended 13 passes the last couple of years, while picking off two balls. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints. 

    4. Rolando McClain, ILB, Dallas Cowboys - While it appears Jerry Jones and company really want McClain back, the market for him will only increase if teams truly believe his drug issues are a thing of the past. After a rough stint in Oakland, McClain has turned his career around in the 'Big D'. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, New York Giants.

    5.  James Laurinaitis, ILB, Los Angeles Rams - The 6-foot-2, 248 pounder has been around the block for a while now. Seven years to be exact, all with the Rams. Sure, his play suffered a major decline this past season, but Laurinaitis is still a guy who can make a major impact for a contender. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans, New York Giants,  New England Patriots, Denver Broncos.

    6. Demario Davis, ILB, New York Jets - At 27, Davis will be a hot commodity for teams in need of a mike backer. Having said that, he was a bit of a disappointment this past season, but that won't stop a team from investing in the former third round pick. Best fits: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New York Giants.

    7. Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, Miami Dolphins - A couple years ago, we were unsure what type of player Sheppard would turn out to be. While the jury is still out, Sheppard gave signs of hope this past season with 105 combined tackles. Best fits: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers. 

    8. DeMeco Ryans, ILB, Philadelphia Eagles - Due to his inability to remain healthy over the past couple of seasons, Ryans won't be in the market for a major payday. Ryans tore his Achilles midway through the 2014 season and while he returned last year, the productivity just wasn't quite there. Nonetheless, Ryans will have his suitors. Best fits: New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions.

    9. Zach Brown, ILB, Tennessee Titans - Although Brown lost his starting job a month into the season, the former second round pick performed when his number was called. In a limited role, Brown was able to collect 77 combined tackles and two interceptions. Best fits: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts.

    10. Shea McClellin, ILB, Chicago Bears - Sure, he hasn't lived up to his first round hype, but McClellin is a steady guy who can add depth. In just 11 games, McClellin totaled 81 tackles. However, he's average at best in coverage. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings.
  • AFC East Free Agency Preview

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    After more than a decade of dominance, by the New England Patriots, the gap between the have and the have-nots in the AFC East closed up considerably during the 2015 season.

    Though the Pats won their 12th division championship in 13 years, lurking closely behind them were the New York Jets, and to a lesser extent the Buffalo Bills, with the Miami Dolphins pulling up the rear. All three of those teams made significant additions to their teams last offseason, with varying results, and still New England prevailed.

    For any of the other AFC East contenders to dethrone the Patriots this time around, they’ll need to make some more moves this spring to take the next step. New England, too, is looking at an important offseason. No longer the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Pats were bounced from the postseason by the eventual Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game and will have to find a different recipe for postseason success if they hope to return to the top of the sport. That starts in free agency, where all four AFC East teams are certain to be players in the market for improvements.

    Here’s a look at what each AFC East team is prioritizing in free agency and what they can do to improve their squads and fill out their roster.

    NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS


    Team needs: Offensive line, running back, middle linebacker, defensive tackle, wide receiver

    It’s not often the Patriots have trouble on offense. With Tom Brady at quarterback and Rob Gronkowski at tight end, they have two of the best the game has ever seen at their respective positions. However, the Broncos exposed some weaknesses and created a blueprint teams will follow if the Pats don’t improve. Doing that starts with upgrades along the offensive line, which ranked near the bottom of the league in blocking, especially pass blocking for Brady. Getting better on the interior of the o-line must be their top priority. They need help at the skill positions, too, particularly running back, where injuries to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount left them in a bind. They could also use a physical deep threat to complement the game of Julian Edelman at wide receiver. On defense, the middle got weaker with the retirement of Jerod Mayo, so an inside linebacker should be a priority, and some depth on the defensive line would help as well.

    Top target that would make sense: Alex Boone, G, San Francisco 49ers

    The Pats aren’t a team known to spend often to upgrade their offensive line on the open market, choosing instead to develop options from within. In fact, all seven players that logged at least one start on the revolving New England offensive line last season were Pats products. However, the production wasn’t up to par and it’s time to go shopping. Boone would represent a significant upgrade at left guard alongside Nate Solder, who be returning from a season-ending biceps injury suffered in the first month of the season. Boone is expected to command big money, and the Pats are projected as one of the NFL's most cap-strapped teams. But they can get creative with some of their long term deals, and with their window with Brady likely closing in the next few years, the time is now to do just that.

    A few other targets: Richie Incognito, G, Buffalo Bills; Manny Ramirez, C/G, Detroit Lions; Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears, Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets; Rolando McClain, LB, Dallas Cowboys; Nick Fairley, DT, Los Angeles Rams; Mohamed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals.

    If the Pats don’t want to spend big on the offensive line, Incognito and Ramirez — both on the backend of their careers — might be more up their alley. Incognito rehabbed his image in Buffalo, but his reputation might keep him from a big contract, while Ramirez is the type of swing interior lineman New England is looking for. At running back, the Pats’ options are plentiful. Forte has been linked to them since the moment he became a free agent, but with Lewis due back to resume his role in the passing game, Ivory might be a better fit as a between the tackles runner. Since moving to Dallas, McClain has shown the potential that made him a top draft pick, but he’s also shown what kept him from reaching his ceiling. Still he’s a talent New England could take a chance on. That’s also true of Fairley, who has failed to live up to the hype, but could thrive in a rotational role with the Pats. Sanu got lost in the shuffle in Cincy, but is still in his mid-20s and represents a significant upgrade over the recently released Brandon LaFell.

    NEW YORK JETS


    Team needs: Quarterback, offensive line, outside linebacker, running back, tight end

    Like New England, the majority of New York’s needs are on offense, where they have a plethora of free agents and decisions to make. At quarterback, they must decide whether Ryan Fitzpatrick is good enough to be their guy as they try to take the next step, or if they should take a risk on a guy that could be either better or worse for the team. Regardless of who is under center, the Jets have to get better in front of their quarterback, as they too had one of the 10 worst offensive line groups in the league last season. Running back will also be an area of significant need for NY, as their top three RBs are set to hit the open market. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are the best Jets receiving tandem in quite some time, but in a league that’s being taken over by tight ends, it’s shocking how long it’s been since New York has had one that could really produce. On defense, the Jets are in solid shape, holding an embarrassment of riches up front and a strong core on the backend, they could, however, use some help off the edge if they can manage it. Problem is, New York is near the bottom of the league in available salary cap space as it currently stands, so they’ll also have to get creative to address their shortcomings.

    Top target that would make sense: Brock Osweiler, QB, Denver Broncos

    It seems likely at this point that the Jets turn back to Fitzpatrick, especially given the constraints of their budget, but if they can clear some space and Denver lets quarterback Brock Osweiler hit the market, the 25-year-old could pay big short and long-term dividends for New York. With Sam Bradford off the market and Kirk Cousins tagged, making him effectively unavailable as well, Osweiler is the cream of the crop at the quarterback position, and one of the most talented QB’s to make it to the market in quite some time. While it’s unclear whether he has the upside Denver once anticipated from him, Osweiler still has at least Fitzpatrick upside with the potential to be much, much better. Bringing him to New York would be a great way to start an important offseason for the Jets.

    A few other targets: Chase Daniel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs; Kelvin Beachum, T, Pittsburgh Steelers; Donald Penn, T, Oakland Raiders; Bruce Irvin, LB, Seattle Seahawks; Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears; Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos, Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers.

    If Osweiler either fails to make it to the market or turns out to be too expensive for the Jets, they could turn their attention to Daniel as a potential replacement for Fitzpatrick. The Chiefs reserve doesn’t quite have the upside of Osweiler, but his ceiling is significantly higher than Fitzpatrick’s. The Jets biggest need on the offensive line is at tackle, where RT Breno Giacomini was among the worst players in the league last year. Beachum, coming off an ACL injury, would represent a risk, but that risk could lower his price tag and bring with it a significant reward. Penn would be more of a veteran presence, but could also stabilize the end of the line. Bringing in Irvin would represent a “rich get richer” move for the Jets, who are already so strong on defense, but they’ve already been linked to him, making it more than a pipe dream. Forte is going to be in high demand, which may take the Jets out of the mix, but they could certainly use his skillset. Hillman would also be an interesting fit, replacing Ivory with a fresher model. A move for the underappreciated Green would strengthen New York’s passing game for whoever is under center.

    BUFFALO BILLS


    Team needs: Defensive end, linebacker, guard, wide receiver, cornerback

    The Bills finished a disappointing 8-8 in Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach, but there were plenty of reasons for optimism in Buffalo, and they enter the offseason with a pretty talented roster still mostly intact. They certainly need to find help in the pass rush after ranking last in the AFC in sacks last year despite a plethora of talent up front. They also need something more in the middle of the defense to try to fix a linebacking group that was a significant weakness for Ryan’s group in 2015. Adding some depth at cornerback after cutting Leodis McKelvin should also be on the radar. On offense, the Bills are in pretty good shape after placing the franchise tag on Cordy Glenn, but the pending departure of guard Richie Incognito could create a need on the interior of the line. They could also use another option at wide receiver to complement the X-Y combo of Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. However, like the Jets, Buffalo is cash-strapped, so filing their limited needs in free agency could be a complex endeavor.

    Top target that would make sense: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants

    Buffalo’s ill-fated marriage with star defensive end Mario Williams came to an end last month with Williams, who had all but quit on the team last year, essentially fist pumping his way out of town after being released. Despite Williams’ shortcomings, his presence alone was a factor for the Bills defense and his departure creates a hole. Ryan has already hired his brother Rob to come to Buffalo and help get more out of the current group of pass rushers, but they’ll need one more piece. Enter Pierre-Paul, who could be just what the doctor ordered. Once considered one of the league’s top defensive ends, it’s hard to know what Pierre-Paul’s ceiling is with the misshapen claw that used to be his right hand, but he still has considerable talent and if anyone can get the most out of him it’s the Ryans. Add in the fact that his hand creates doubt about the depth of his market and how much he can command, and he’s a great fit for the Bills on a short-term “prove it” type deal.

    A few other targets: Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys; William Hayes, DE, Los Angeles Rams; Jerrell Freeman, LB, Indianapolis Colts, Rolando McClain, LB, Dallas Cowboys; Brandon Brooks, G, Houston Texans; Travis Benjamin, WR, Cleveland Browns; Patrick Robinson, CB, New Orleans Saints.

    Hardy’s off-the-field issues are well-documented, but he showed enough talent with Dallas that he’ll catch on elsewhere, and I wouldn’t put it past the Ryans to make it Buffalo. Hayes is also an intriguing option. The 30-year-old has shown flashes of what he can be, but has never put it all together. The Bills may have enough of those guys, or perhaps Rex will keeping trying. Freeman would be a solid fit in the middle of the defense, as a guy who knows where he and his teammates need to be at all times. McClain is another troubled former Cowboy with talent at a position of need, which could entice Buffalo. If Incognito bolts, Brooks could be a cheap alternative to solidify the line. Taylor would benefit from adding a target of Benjamin’s caliber to the passing game, as would Watkins. McKelvin’s replacement might come from the draft, but Robinson could make for a decent depth piece to step into a role wherever needed in the secondary.

    MIAMI DOLPHINS


    Team needs: Cornerback, running back, offensive line, wide receiver, safety

    The Miami Dolphins made the biggest splash of the 2015 offseason, signing Ndamukong Suh to a mega deal. Suh’s arrival was expected to strengthen the Dolphins defense and boost Miami toward playoff contention. Instead, the franchise took a significant step back and the 2015 season exposed a litany of flaws. The Dolphins will have their work cut out for them filling those holes, as they currently sit as one of just three teams over the cap. For Suh and the pass rush — which was solidified when the team tagged Olivier Vernon — to have success, Miami has to find ways to get better on the backend, at both corner and safety. On offense, new head coach Adam Gase has his hands full, and one of the first orders of business should be some o-line upgrades, but the Dolphins might also need to replace key free agents at running back and wide receiver. Last offseason was a huge one for Miami and this one has the potential to even more game-changing for the franchise. Without much money to spend, that could be trouble.

    Top target that would make sense: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Los Angeles Rams

    When the Rams franchised Trumaine Johnson, it made certain that Jenkins would hit the market as the top available cornerback. The former second round pick has emerged as one of the league’s best cover corners. That’s something the Dolphins thought they were getting when they signed Brent Grimes, but despite the fact that he’s made the Pro Bowl each of his three years in Miami, Grimes has taken significant steps back each season, and at 33 when the 2016 season starts, Grimes may be on his last legs However, the decline of their last big ticket corner shouldn’t deter Miami from making a run at Jenkins, who is just 27. It should spur them on. The only question is whether they can clear the space to do so.

    A few other targets: Sean Smith, CB, Kansas City Chiefs; Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos; Jeff Allen, G, Kansas City Chiefs; Andre Smith, T, Cincinnati Bengals; Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals; Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants; Tashaun Gipson, FS, Cleveland Browns.

    Should Jenkins’ price tag not be in their budget, the Phins could fall back on a reunion with Smith, a steady top tier corner. If Lamar Miller leaves Miami, Hillman could come right in and fill his role in a timeshare with Jay Ajayi. The key to upgrading the offensive line for the Dolphins will be consistency on either side of franchise center Mike Pouncey. Six different players made starts at the guard and tackle positions for Miami in 2015 and the only 16-game starter was Dallas Thomas, one of the worst-ranked guards in the league. Both Allen and Smith could provide stability along that offensive line, to help the Dolphins get moving again in Gase’s offense. Another dynamic wide receiver would also help that along, especially if Rishard Matthews bolts for greener pastures. Marvin Jones would be a great fit, but is a big ticket item. The Dolphins could instead settle on Randle, who didn’t live up to the potential in New York but is still just 24 and has all the physical ability to be a playmaker. Miami has one of the league’s most underrated strong safeties in Reshad Jones, but to make the back end of their defense truly better, the Dolphins need someone to hold it down deep and the addition Gipson would create an excellent tandem as the last line of defense.
  • 2016’s Top Outside Linebacker Free Agents

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    The period to franchise tag players has come and gone.

    With that in mind, as we continue our free agency diary series, it's time to look at guys who are set to hit the open market.

    Here are the Top 10 outside linebackers currently available in free agency:

    1. Mark Barron, S/OLB, Los Angeles Rams - Just four years ago, Mark Barron was selected as the seventh overall pick. During his two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay, Barron didn't live up to expectations, which resulted in him being traded to the formally known St. Louis Rams. This past season was the best of his young career, as he totaled 116 tackles, five passes defended and forced three fumbles. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints.

    2. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Kansas City Chiefs - While Justin Houston receives all of the headlines, veteran Tamba Hali is still a force to be reckoned with on the edge. For any team in need of an instant pass-rush, Hali would be a great pickup. The 32-year-old has 86 career sacks. Best fits: New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams.

    3. Vincent Rey, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals - Rey has truly shown great improvement over the years. During his first few seasons in the league, he had a hard time getting on the field. Now, Rey has garnered over 200 tackles the past two seasons. At 28-years-old, Rey can bring a team good versatility against the run and pass. Best fits: Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers.

    4. Bruce Irvin, OLB, Seattle Seahawks - Over the past few years, the Seattle Seahawks have been one of the most feared defenses in the world. The 'Legion of Boom' gets tons of credit, but don't overlook Bruce Irvin. The five-year linebacker has totaled 12 sacks the past two seasons. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys.

    5. Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers - When Perry was selected in the first round from USC, Green Bay thought he was going to be a great compliment to Clay Matthews. However, things haven't worked out as they expected, but Perry came along this postseason. In the two playoff games, Perry totaled 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Best fits: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans.

    6. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Baltimore Ravens - While he isn't the guy he was projected to be out of college, Upshaw has developed into a nice player at this level. He's only 26, so a team could still be hopeful Upshaw takes his game to the next level. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers.

    7. Dwight Freeney, OLB, Arizona Cardinals - The old man still has a little bit left in the tank or maybe he just found a fountain of youth in the desert. In just 11 games played in the regular season, Freeney totaled eight sacks. If the 36-year-old decides to play another season, there will be suitors interested. Best fits: Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts.

    8. Aldon Smith, OLB, Oakland Raiders - If not for his off-the-field issues and suspension, Smith would be much higher on this list. He's a freak of nature on the edge at 6-foot-2, 265 pounds. Considering the troubles he's endured, a team will be able to get him for a decent price. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks.

    9. Chad Greenway, OLB, Minnesota Vikings - Greenway has spent all 11 seasons in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. He's not the Pro Bowl caliber player he once was, however, given the right situation, he could still be a quality player. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos.

    10. Mike Neal, OLB, Green Bay Packers - Whoever Neal signs with, their respective fan base won't be going crazy on Twitter. At the same time, Neal made an impact during the playoffs, as he recorded two sacks to go along with a forced fumble. Best fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Detroit Lions.
  • NFL Free Agents Not Likely To Be Retained

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    It's March, which means NFL free agency is quickly approaching. Teams can start talking and negotiating with unrestricted free agents as soon as Monday.

    Having said that, there are multiple players who could see themselves being pushed out the door due to incoming rookies.

    Who are they?

    Let's take a look:

    Russell Okung, LT, Seattle - In most cases, players have agents to represent them, but veteran tackle Russell Okung is taking a different approach, as he's representing himself. 

    “It’s very possible that I could stay here," Okung stressed. But I know my value, and I’m not going to settle for anything less than that. If it works out, great. And if it doesn’t, that’s great as well.”

    In what's a very thin market for tackles, Okung is expecting a big payday and with other areas of concern, it's uncertain if Seattle will be able to satisfy the former Pro Bowler.

    If the two sides are unable to reach a deal, don't be surprised if Seattle drafts Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker.

    Despite poor pass protection, Russell Wilson was still able to hoist career numbers. With that being said, the Seahawks still need to find a way to protect their franchise quarterback better.

    Decker presents great size at 6-foot-7, 320 pounds. Also, he played basketball in high school, which will help with his agility.

    Rolando McClain, LB, Dallas  - Jerry Jones has a lot of vital decisions to make this off-season and one of them is what to do at the linebacker position, specifically Rolando McClain.

    McClain hasn't lived up to his eighth-overall pick status, but is Jerry willing to spend his fourth-overall pick on UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, who just missed majority of the season due to a torn meniscus?

    To his defense, Jack is one of the most versatile prospects of this draft class and has similar abilities to Oakland's Khalil Mack.

    At his size of 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, Jack is able to not only help against the run, but he's an ideal matchup for tight ends running across the middle.

    Sean Smith, CB, Kansas City - The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the best defenses in football.

    Andy Reid's defense ranked third in points allowed (17.9 ppg) and they ranked fourth in total sacks (47). Nonetheless , when Kansas City met up with New England in the postseason, their secondary was exposed.

    At the same time, in a league where there's no such thing as having 'too many' quality cover guys, Kansas City would surely love to retain Smith, but the price may too hefty.

    Considering how thin the open market is at cornerback, some team is probably going to overpay for a guy like Smith and Kansas City just may have to look for his replacement via the draft.

    Mackenzie Alexander from Clemson wouldn't be a bad option. 

    "I'm 22, but I'm ready to compete with anybody. There's nobody more dedicated than me, who's put more time in or is more of a competitor than me. ... I'm here prepared. I'm telling you I'm the best corner in this draft class," Alexander stated.

    When looking at his stats, it'll shock people after realizing he didn't snatch down one interception during his two-year Clemson career.

    "I had some opportunities to come up with some picks in my career. I didn't come up with them at the end of the day. I'm taking it like a man. In a lot of my situations, I wasn't challenged very much," Alexander claimed. "A lot of quarterbacks on teams stayed away from me, and that was their game plan, really. That's it, really. That's how I answer that."

    As a cornerback, you must have confidence, which is something Alexander definitely isn't lacking.

    Malik Jackson, DL, Denver - It feels like yesterday when the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

    Instead of basking in their own glory, John Elway and company are already back at work. With Peyton Manning's decision of possible retirement in the air and free agency approaching, it's a very busy time in the 'Mile High City' to say the least.

    To the surprise of no one, Denver placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowler Von Miller, which leaves Malik Jackson out on the market.

    Fortunately for Denver, this draft class is filled with talent up front, including Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson.

    Robinson already comes from a winning culture, so it should be a smooth transition to Denver and with him standing at 6-foot-4, 307 pounds, he'll be a good fit to this already great front seven.
  • 2016’s Top Free Agent Defensive Linemen

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    As we continue our top free agent series, the franchise and transition tags have come and went, and we are left with the guys that will actually hit the market (assuming they don't work out deals with their current teams).

    Here are the Top 10 defensive linemen currently available in free agency:

    1. Malik Jackson, DE, Denver Broncos- Jackson is a rare find: a young, talented pass rusher that can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 that will hit the market.  The Broncos will likely be victims of their own success as they'd like to keep Jackson but his cost will almost assuredly exceed what they can afford to pay.  Best fits: Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Denver, Miami, Oakland, Atlanta, New York Giants, Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco.

    2. Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins- Vernon was given the transition tag, which means that the Dolphins can match any offer for his services.  With that said, he's just 25 years old and an accomplished pass rusher.  The tag will pay him $12.7 million in 2o16, so that's where his negotiations will begin on an annual basis. Best fits: Miami, Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina. 

    3. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills- Williams is coming off a down year, but he's been an ultra-productive player for much of his career.  Despite that poor season in a scheme that didn't fit his skill set, he will still be a hot commodity on the open market and should get north of $10 million per year.  Best fits:  Tampa Bay, Dallas, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, New England.

    4. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants- JPP would have been near the top of this list a prior to last July 4th, when he blew off a finger and a half in a fireworks accident.  He had a down year and now his character and his talent are both in question.  Still, he's been productive and he's still just 27 years old.  Best fits:  Indianapolis, Dallas, Oakland, Tampa Bay.

    5. Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys- As a pass rusher, Hardy is one of the best in football.  As a man, he's one of the worst you'll find in society.  His character will scare many teams off and also keep his price on the market down.  With that said, he's a guy who can get to the quarterback, he's only 27 and some team will eventually sign him at a discount.  Best fits: Oakland, New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver, Detroit. 

    6. Jaye Howard, DT, Kansas City Chiefs- Howard isn't going to make any fan base swoon when they sign him, but he is a 27-year old that was productive in a nice defensive line rotation.  He can play multiple positions in multiple schemes, and it's safe to assume that his best days are still ahead of him. Best fits:  Kansas City, Oakland, Arizona, Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, Chicago, New England. 

    7. B.J. Raji, DT, Green Bay Packers- Raji never lived up to his draft billing but he can still be a productive player on the inside for some NFL team.  He would fit best in a 3-4 defense and shouldn't break the bank.  Best fits: Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tennessee, San Diego, Arizona. 

    8. Chris Long, DE, Los Angeles Rams- Long's play has been on the decline the last two seasons after playing well to start his career.  He was cut as part of a salary dumping maneuver by the Rams and his best days might be behind him.  He should get a modest free agent contract. Best fits:  Indianapolis, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, New York Giants. 

    9. Mike DeVito, DE, Kansas City Chiefs- DeVito won't be a Day 1 free agent signing, but he is a productive player who can fit in and play well on many teams.  Nobody's fanbase is going to throw a party because they signed him, but he can help a team win.  Best fits: Kansas City, New England, Buffalo, Baltimore, Arizona, Washington. 

    10. Terrance Knighton, DT, Washington Redskins- "Pot Roast" has shown the ability to play in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes and he has been solid since his rookie season in Jacksonville.  Best fits: Oakland, Washington, New England, Houston, Arizona. 


    To find the best free agent quarterbacks, click here. 

    To find the best free agent running backs, click here.

    To find the best free agent tight ends, click here.

    To find the best free agent wide receivers, click here.

    To find the best free agent offensive linemen, click here. 
  • What The Franchise and Transition Tags Mean For Each NFL Team

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    There were 10 players who received the franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and many of them were expected.  We're going to break down what each tag means to each team.

    Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets


    It wasn't a huge surprise that Wilkerson received the franchise tag, but this likely wasn't the long-term plan for the Jets.  When they selected Leonard Williams with the sixth-overall pick in the 2015 Draft, New York likely believed that they would be able to let Wilkerson test the free agent market and if he left they would receive a high compensatory pick.  With the off the field issues that former first-round pick Sheldon Richardson has, the team had no choice but to keep the talented Wilkerson and they'll likely let Richardson go when his contract is up.

    Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens


    Tucker is one of the best kickers in football and the tag will pay him just over $4.5 million in 2016 if he can't get a long-term deal done with Baltimore.  This was a no-brainer for the Ravens, as you don't want to get into a bidding war or possibly lose your accurate kicker.

    Cordy Glenn, OT, Buffalo Bills


    The Bills offensive line had plenty of injuries last season and they couldn't let a premiere offensive tackle like Glenn hit the market.  With so many teams having struggles at the position, Buffalo would have been in a bidding war that they likely couldn't have won.

    The impact of this move left the team releasing defensive end Mario Williams, who wasn't a great fit for Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense, and they will now have a difficult time trying to bring back offensive guard Richie Incognito, who was stellar in 2015.  Expect the Bills to sit out the first week of free agency and try to improve their team with lower priced, value types of signings.

    Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears


    The Chicago Bears had virtually no choice but to place the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery.  Like the New York Jets, this wasn't the original plan last year when they selected wide receiver Kevin White in the draft. Unfortunately, White was injured and when he was healthy our sources in Chicago say that he wasn't anywhere near as good as they expected him to be.

    Expect Chicago to focus on fixing their defense through free agency and possibly early in the draft, assuming they don't go quarterback with their first-round pick.

    It's more likely than not that the Bears will not come to a long-term deal with Jeffery before the start of the season.

    Josh Norman, CB, Carolina Panthers


    This was a no-brainer for the Panthers, as they had to lock up Norman, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.  Both parties would like to work out a long-term deal and it's likely that they will get something done.

    The NFC champs don't have a lot of holes and they don't figure to be huge players in free agency. Norman's tag won't affect their offseason plans all that much.

    Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins (Transition Tag)


    The Miami Dolphins placed the transition tag on Vernon, which would pay him approximately $12.7 million in 2016 assuming he were to sign it.  The transition tag allows Vernon to explore free agency and gives the Dolphins an opportunity to match whatever deal he signs.

    With the need of legitimate pass rushers on the market, expect Vernon to receive a lot of attention in free agency, as he will be the most sought after guy at the position.  Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have significantly more cap space than the Dolphins do and should make a strong play for the 27-year old.

    Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos


    The Denver Broncos couldn't let Von Miller test the free agent market as he would have likely received the highest contract for a defensive player in NFL history.  Denver placed the exclusive franchise tender on him, meaning that he can't negotiate with any other teams, as it's possible that some team would have given up a pair of first-round picks for his services if he received the "regular" franchise tag.

    This move leaves the Broncos susceptible to losing defensive end Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan in free agency.  Denver can't compete with the money that other teams will have and they still have to work out a deal with quarterback Brock Osweiler.

    All of this can change if the Broncos can get a deal done with Miller which would open up some more cap space.

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins


    Like a few of the franchise tags placed to other players, the tag placed on quarterback Kirk Cousins was made out of fear.  Cousins had a great nine-game stretch to finish the regular season and Washington was afraid of letting him go to another team and he replicating that for an entire season.

    With that said, the Redskins were also afraid that Cousins might regress back to what he's been for the first three years of his career and that's why a long-term deal isn't in the cards this offseason.

    Washington has a pretty healthy cap and will need to improve in their secondary as well as the defensive line and linebacker.

    Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs


    Eric Berry was the best free agent safety on the market and despite the Chiefs having plenty of important decisions to make with their expiring contracts, this was their primary concern.  Kansas City is under the gun to get a long term deal done with Berry, as he's the most inspirational player on the team.

    They must also get a deal done with Berry so they can work on locking up free agent linebacker Derrick Johnson, cornerback Sean Smith or defensive end Tamba Hali.  It's likely that they'll have to let a few of those players go, but Berry was a player that they couldn't survive without.

    Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams


    This was a small surprise as the Rams had both starting cornerbacks expected to hit free agency with Johnson and Janoris Jenkins.  The tag will pay Johnson nearly $14 million in 2016, and that's a great starting point for his negotiations with the team.

    Los Angeles will likely lose Jenkins in free agency and they need to figure out what they're going to do at quarterback, whether they'd like to go after a Brock Osweiler or Robert Griffin, III, or roll into the season with Case Keenum and Nick Foles.  They must also improve their wide receiver position as well as the offensive line...again.
  • Top NFL Talents Locked Up With Franchise Tag

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    In a few moves that should come as very little surprise, the Denver Broncos are expected to use their exclusive franchise tag on free agent linebacker Von Miller and the New York Jets will use the "regular" franchise tag on defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson.

    The Broncos report stems from the Denver Post, who say that the two sides are still trying to get a deal done before Tuesday's deadline to franchise players.  If Denver can not come to a new agreement with the Super Bowl MVP, he would play 2016 under a one-year tender of $14.129 million.

    Having to use the tag would be somewhat troublesome for the Broncos as they try to navigate the free agency waters with defensive end Malik Jackson and quarterback Brock Osweiler.  They will have approximately $18 million to work with from Peyton Manning's contract as soon as he reportedly retires or the team parts ways with him.

    With teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers having so much cap space, the market for Jackson could get out of control.

    Meanwhile, multiple reports reflect that the New York Jets will place the franchise tag on defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson.  There was some speculation that the team could let the former first-round pick test the market as they selected defensive tackle/end Leonard Williams in the first round of the 2015 Draft.

    Wilkerson will earn approximately $15.7 million in 2016 if the two sides can't come to a new contract agreement.

    Although other teams can still negotiate with Wilkerson, the price that they would have to pay to the Jets of two first-round picks is far too high.  The real reason why Wilkerson received the tag is likely the instability around former first-round pick Sheldon Richardson.  The Jets will have plenty of assets tied up in their defensive line and they'll need to make the postseason in 2016 to justify that.

    Meanwhile in Chicago, the Bears announced that they'll use their franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.  The former second-round pick would have had a huge market had he reached free agency as he was clearly the best wide receiver on the market.

    Jeffery will earn approximately $14.5 million in 2016 and no team will entertain the idea of giving up a pair of first-round picks for him.

    Here are our free agency rankings for wide receivers.