With plenty of stars available in this year's NFL free agent pool, teams with major gaps at key positions would be well advised to act quickly.
Besides Joe Flacco, who is almost assuredly staying with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, there aren't many top quarterbacks left unsigned right now. With that distraction removed, players at other key positions will likely receive more attention, so don't be surprised if a lot of big names fall off of the board fast.
If the Patriots let Wes Welker walk, he'll likely be picked up in the first few days of free agency. Despite rampant criticism in New England for clutch drops in the playoffs over the past two seasons, Welker remains the best receiver by volume in the league; he's the first player in NFL history to have five seasons with at least 100 receptions.
Similarly, the offers will come in for Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, who finally became a featured back in Miami after a less rigidly defined role during his time in New Orleans. Bush totaled 2,660 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns for the Dolphins over the past two seasons.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions will attract offers from teams looking for defensive ends. In three years playing alongside Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, Avril has totaled 104 tackles, 29 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He'll be a great complement for a team with a solid defensive line already, and could even move back to outside linebacker, where he spent part of his college career at Purdue.
But the biggest prize of all in free agency could be Ravens safety, Super Bowl winner, and likely eventual Hall of Famer, Ed Reed. The nine-time Pro Bowler tied an NFL record in the Super Bowl by intercepting the ninth pass of his playoff career, picking off Colin Kaepernick in the second quarter. Like Rodney Harrison after his release from the Chargers, Reed could be a game-changing pickup for a team with holes in its secondary.
The good news is that all four of these positions offer a deep crop of talented players for teams that miss out on the big names. But for teams that want to make a splash next season, they'd better get their offers ready for these players, because they won't last long on the open market.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.