Baltimore's Ed Reed is but one player that needs a new contract before the deadline or he will likely find a new home in 2013.
The 2013 NFL free agency period is quickly approaching now that teams have had a chance to apply franchise tags to superstar players.
Only eight teams elected to use the franchise tag this year, which means a variety of high-profile players could be headed to free agency.
Every NFL franchise now has a short period of time to re-sign players before free agency opens. Each team has at least one player it has to find a way to bring back because it runs the risk of losing key roster members once they hit the open market.
These players range from superstar status to simply an integral piece of the roster that provides depth. Either way, they are pieces that could set each franchise back as they could prove difficult to replace. Since restricted free agents are likely to return to their respective teams no matter what, we will not include them for the purposes of this slideshow.
Free agency officially opens at 4 pm on March 12, but for now let's take a look at one player each team must re-sign before then.
Player Arizona Must Re-sign: RB La'Rod Stephens-Howling
The Arizona Cardinals do not have a variety of impending free agents who should be all too difficult to get under contract before the deadline. That said, Stephens-Howling should be the first name on the list for new head coach Bruce Arians.
Stephens-Howling showed flashes of ability in 2012 when he started five games and rushed for 356 yards and four touchdowns behind an awful offensive line.
At just 25-years-old, Stephens-Howling has plenty of time to develop into a key player. According to azcardinals.com, Arians does not plan to feature running backs much as pass-catchers next year, but it is a strength Stephens-Howling has in his toolbox that makes him that much more valuable in certain situations.
So far the new Cardinals regime has yet to reach out to the dynamic running back (per Ken Somers on Twitter), but that should change before the deadline.
The Falcons would be wise to lock up William Moore before the deadline or he could find a new home.
Player Atlanta Must Re-sign: S William Moore
The Atlanta Falcons have a variety of big-name free agents to get under contract sooner rather than later, including tight end Tony Gonzalez and possibly cornerback Brent Grimes.
However, the most important name headed to the market is safety William Moore.
According to ProFootballFocus, Moore was the No. 18 overall safety last year as he recorded 75 tackles, two forced fumbles and four interceptions. He was an important piece of the Falcons defense a year ago that allowed the team to make the postseason.
Moore and the Falcons are still working on a new contract (per Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and he appears to have his heart set on staying in Atlanta:
"I hope to get it closed soon. I love the Atlanta Falcons. They gave me an opportunity to be blessed and come into the NFL and be a part of this great organization."
It is a great sign for the Falcons, because if Moore hits the open market other teams will be willing to overpay for his exceptional services.
Ed Reed want to be back in Baltimore, so the Ravens front office should figure out a deal for him soon.
Player Baltimore Must Re-sign: S Ed Reed
The Baltimore Ravens are in an interesting situation with its free agents. Linebacker Paul Kruger is the most important, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome does not believe he is worth the $9 million per year he is looking for and already has a replacement in Courtney Upshaw according to ESPN's Ed Werder (h/t Rotoworld).
Next up would be linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but it is hard to see the front office paying him the $25-30 million he is reportedly seeking (per Baltimore Sun).
That leaves veteran safety Ed Reed, who has his heart set on staying with the Ravens (h/t NFL.com):
"Hopefully that call comes soon," Reed said Monday. "I'm a Raven. I plan on being a Raven. I couldn't see me anywhere else right now."
Newsome and Co. should give Reed a call. He is a shell of his former self but an important veteran presence who has another championship run left in the tank. It also sounds like he would come at a reasonable price tag.
The Buffalo Bills have a gem in Andy Levitre and have offered him nothing to date.
Player Buffalo Must Re-sign: LG Andy Levitre
The Buffalo Bills made things much easier moving forward after recently placing the franchise tag on safety Jarius Byrd (per Adam Schefter on Twitter).
Now the team must turn its attention to elite left guard Andy Levitre, who has made it more than crystal clear he wants to remain with the Bills for the right price (h/t Buffalo News):
"I haven't been offered anything yet. We're waiting around to see if something will pop up," said Levitre. "It would be in the Bills' best interests to at least throw me an offer to see if we can get this thing rolling. There's a lot of unknown for me. If the Bills offer me a fair deal, I would love to stay there."
Levitre is arguably the best guard set to hit the open market, and was the No. 9 best guard in the NFL last season according to ProFootballFocus.
For a franchise potentially starting over at the quarterback position soon, it would be in the team's best interests to offer Levitre a fair deal—players of his caliber do not come around often.
Captain Munnerlyn could prove to be an important piece for the Panthers moving forward.
Player Carolina Must Re-sign: CB Captain Munnerlyn
The Carolina Panthers are in a horrendous cap situation and do not have many important free agents to lock up, which is probably a good thing.
When determining who the most important free agent is, it has to be considered a toss up between defensive tackle Dwan Edwards and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, with the latter emerging the victor.
Edwards was nice on the interior of the line last year, but should come cheap in the twilight of his career. Cornerback is a much bigger need at this point, which is why the Panthers cannot allow the 24-year-old Munnerlyn to reach free agency.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Munnerlyn is expected back with the team after it cuts cornerback Chris Gamble. It is great news, as Munnerlyn's stock is on the rise after rating as the No. 54 overall cornerback in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus.
Munnerlyn is going to cost a nice chunk of change, but it is money the Panthers absolutely have to find.
Israel Idonije is a key role player for the Bears and should now be the focal point for the front office.
Player Chicago Must Re-sign: DE Israel Idonije
The Chicago Bears took care of its biggest need in free agency, slapping the franchise tag on elite defensive tackle Henry Melton (per Sean Jensen on Twitter).
Melton's fellow line-mate, Israel Idonije should now receive all the attention from the Bears.
Other role players such as linebacker Nick Roach and cornerback Kelvin Hayden are slated to test the market, but none even come close to the impact Idonije has on the field.
Last year, Idonije ranked as the No. 12 overall 4-3 defensive end (per ProFootballFocus). Obviously, a large part of his success came from playing across from Julius Peppers, but the point stands.
General Manager Phil Emery has made it clear he wants Idonije back as he told ESPN Chicago at the scouting combine:
"He's done a number of good things and had a number of good games both outside and inside," Emery said. "He's a guy we will sit down with and talk to about coming back. He's got versatility and that's a positive thing for Izzy."
It is clear Idonije is next on the list for Chicago, as he should be.
Andre Smith is the top right tackle in the NFL and the Bengals would be smart to figure out a way to retain him.
Player Cincinnati Must Re-sign: RT Andre Smith
The Cincinnati Bengals have a massive (pardon the pun) problem on their hands with right tackle Andre Smith.
After locking up stellar defensive end Michael Johnson via the franchise tag (per Rotoworld), Cincinnati now must turn its attention to Smith.
The problem is, that's not even close to top right tackle money, and 2012 was the first year Smith put everything together on the field. Cincinnati clearly does not view him as worth as much as he wants with the tag being applied to Johnson.
Cincinnati can either attempt to bring down Smith's asking price or let him walk. Letting go of the top right tackle in the NFL would be a tough pill to swallow.
Sheldon Brown played well for Cleveland last year and could have earned himself another contract.
Player Cleveland Must Re-sign: CB Sheldon Brown
The Cleveland Browns do not have many high-profile free agents set to hit the market, especially with new management set to revamp the roster.
One man it would not hurt to keep around for one more year is veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown.
Brown is going on 34-years-old and is not expected back with Cleveland in 2014 according to Tony Grossi on Twitter.
It would be unwise for the Browns to simply let Brown walk. He ranked as the No. 21 overall cornerback last season (per ProFootballFocus) and would come cheap given his age.
For a team experiencing consistent turnover, a little consistency in the form of Brown will not hurt. He is a strong veteran presence and clearly has plenty left in the tank.
Ernie Sims may have a chance to start if the Cowboys elect to bring him back.
Player Dallas Must Re-sign: LB Ernie Sims
With the Dallas Cowboys switching to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, impending free agent linebacker Ernie Sims could find himself a starting position if the team decides to bring him back.
Kiffin and Co. should.
Now with Anthony Spencer under contract thanks to the franchise tag (per Jordan Woy on Twitter), Dallas should look to retain another piece of its defense from a year ago.
Sims is only 28-years-old and was solid last season. He is the cream of the crop when it comes to free agents set to hit the open market for the Cowboys.
At worst, Sims will come cheap and be a valuable backup. Dallas should look to get him under contract soon.
Kevin Vickerson played an important role in the Broncos defense a year ago.
Player Denver Must Re-sign: DT Kevin Vickerson
The Denver Broncos do not have many crucial free agents set to hit the open market outside of interior defensive lineman.
Of course, offensive tackle Ryan Clady was a priority, but the team addressed the issue of bringing him back with the franchise tag (per Adam Schefter on Twitter).
The next priority should be defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who ranked as the No. 34 overall player at his position in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus.
Vickerson was an important part of the interior line that allowed Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. According to the Denver Post, Vickerson is the priority over other free agents at the position such as Justin Bannan.
Denver needs to lock up the underrated Vickerson before the deadline if it has any hopes of having depth at defensive tackle next season.
Chris Houston was the Lions best cover corner in 2012 and would be missed if Detroit cannot lock him up.
Player Detroit Must Re-sign: CB Chris Houston
The Detroit Lions have three major free agents heading for the market—defensive end Cliff Avril, offensive guard Gosder Cherilus and cornerback Chris Houston.
Detroit sounds committed to moving on from Cherilus despite his stellar play (per ESPN). There has been a lack of communication between the front office and Avril considering he was too expensive to hit with a franchise tag for a second year in a row and will cost too much on the open market (per Detroit Free Press).
That means Houston is the guy, and deservedly so. According to ProFootballFocus, he ranked as the No. 23 overall cornerback in 2012.
The Detroit Free Press considers Houston the priority, as he should be after his outstanding 2012 campaign and the fact he plays at the weakest position on the roster.
Brad Jones is capable of winning a starting spot in 2013—more than enough reason to bring him back.
Player Green Bay Must Re-sign: ILB Brad Jones
Luckily for the Green Bay Packers, most of its important free agents are restricted and will likely be back with the team.
On the unrestricted side you have receiver Greg Jennings, who is looking for a ludicrous amount of money, somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million per year according to Profootballtalk.
A more realistic free agent, and honestly more important one, is linebacker Brad Jones. According to ESPN Milwaukee, Green Bay has already shown interest in bringing him back.
Jones ranked as the No. 10 overall inside linebacker in 2012 (per ProFootballFocus) and could compete with D.J. Smith for a starting spot if brought back.
Green Bay is in a great situation, so allowing Jones to hit the open market does not make a lot of sense.
Glover Quin is an underrated name set to hit the market if the Texans do not act fast.
Player Houston Must Re-sign: S Glover Quin
Connor Barwin is the big name for the Houston Texans as we approach free agency, but it does not sound like the franchise has the money to bring him back. Barwin sounds intent on cashing in on the open market (per NFL.com) and the Texans simply do not have the cash he wants.
The news with Barwin is fine considering he is coming off a down year. It also means that the front office can turn its attention to safety Glover Quin.
Quin started for the Texans most of last season and did not grade out particularly impressively, but Adam Caplan on Twitter reports the franchise wants him back desperately.
The desperation from the Houston brass makes sense. Quin is just 27-years-old and has seen his stock rise. He was an important starter for the Texans a year ago and could develop even more if the team can get him under contract before the deadline.
Darius Butler exploded onto the scene for the Colts and the front office needs to bring him back for more.
Player Indianapolis Must Re-sign: CB Darius Butler
Cornerback Darius Butler has had a wild ride in the NFL after bouncing around with teams such as the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.
Last season, he found a home with the Indianapolis Colts.
Butler burst onto the scene and wowed the Colts coaching staff (per Indianapolis Star) after stealing a starting gig during the season. He went on to be ranked the No. 31 overall corner in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus).
Butler has more than earned a new contract, and the Colts would be foolish to let him pass the deadline without a new deal. He has put his injury history behind him and needs to be brought back.
Terrance Knighton is a run-stuffing monster the Jaguars would be smart to keep around.
Player Jacksonville Must Re-sign: DT Terrance Knighton
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a couple of valuable free agents set to walk when the deadline arrives, including cornerback Derek Cox and defensive tackle Terran Knighton.
Cox's agent believes his client will find a strong market, so he is as good as gone (per Florida Times Union).
On the other hand, Knighton fits well with the arrival of Gus Bradley according to Florida Times Union. Knighton is massive at almost 340 pounds and has no trouble stuffing the run.
Knighton was demoted last season, but still ranked as ProFootballFocus' No. 32 overall defensive tackle. Under Bradley, he is a valuable asset that the front office should be looking to lock up before the deadline.
Ropati Pitoitua is not a big name, but one who could find himself back with the Chiefs before the deadline.
Player Kansas City Must Re-sign: DE Ropati Pitoitua
The Kansas City Chiefs have absolutely nailed its free agency issues so far this offseason.
First, it slapped offensive tackle Branden Albert with the franchise tag (per Rotoworld). Next, it agreed to a long-term deal with franchise wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (per Jason La Canfora on Twitter). Finally, it even wrapped up a long-term deal with punter Dustin Colquitt (per Adam Schefter on Twitter).
So where does that leave the Chiefs before the deadline?
With a luxury option, and his name is Ropati Pitoitua. He notched two sacks in an appearance a year ago and with Glenn Dorsey on his way out, could fight for playing time next season.
Pitoitua is not a big name, but at 27-years-old he has flashed signs of ability and could be a nice role player if the Chiefs can lock him up.
Chris Clemons is a solid piece the Dolphins need to bring back in 2013.
Player Miami Must Re-sign: S Chris Clemons
The Miami Dolphins are another team handling the free agency period well.
The front office locked up defensive lineman Randy Starks via the franchise tag (via Jason La Canfora on Twitter) and FOX Sports is reporting that a deal between the team and receiver Brian Hartline is all but official.
With cornerback Sean Smith pricing himself out of the Dolphins range (per Palm Beach Post), that leaves safety Chris Clemons as the last essential piece the front office needs to bring back before the deadline.
Clemons is a crucial piece for the up-and-coming Dolphins, and one the team has to have under contract well before the deadline.
Phil Loadholt is a monster offensive lineman the Vikings cannot afford to lose.
Player Minnesota Must Re-sign: OT Phil Loadholt
The Minnesota Vikings have one premier player heading to free agency that it cannot afford to lose in right tackle Phil Loadholt.
Loadholt ranked as the No. 6 right tackle in the NFL last season according to ProFootballFocus despite battling penalty issues. He managed to avoid the franchise tag, which could end up being a bad decision on Minnesota's part.
According to ESPN 1500 Twin Cities, the Vikings prefer a long-term deal with Loadholt, which is great in principle. The problem now is actually getting that done.
Loadholt is only 27-years-old and one of the better players at his position. If the Vikings allow him to slip into free agency, he could be putting on a different uniform in 2013.
Kyle Arrington is not the biggest name slated to hit free agency for the Patriots, but he may be the most important.
Player New England Must Re-sign: CB Kyle Arrington
The New England Patriots have a plethora of quality players set to hit free agency, including cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington, wide receiver Wes Welker and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer.
Talib and Vollmer are nice pieces, as is Welker, who appears to be close to a new deal with the team already according to a report from CSN New England.
It may be the least recognizable name of the bunch that is most important.
Arrington came in as the No. 44 overall cornerback last year according to ProFootballFocus, which made him the second best corner on the team. The best corner was arguably Alfonzo Dennard, who is facing 180 days in jail according to Omaha World-Herald.
Now that Arrington is the best corner left for the Patriots, the front office has to find a way to get a deal done before the deadline. According to the Boston Herald, that process started at the scouting combine.
Jermon Bushrod is a piece the Saints should look to retain before the deadline.
Player New Orleans Must Re-sign: OT Jermon Bushrod
According to Albert Breer on Twitter, the New Orleans Saints have "made it clear" they want to keep left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
The front office better act fast.
New Orleans has taken its time making it known they want to keep Bushrod around, and negotiations could take quite some time. He is a replacement-level starter, meaning the Saints may or may not be able to find a suitable replacement on the open market.
Bushrod came in as the No. 44 overall tackle in the league last year (per ProFootballFocus) and would find some suitors if he makes it past the deadline without a new deal from the Saints.
The sooner the better for New Orleans, which may end up paying for its procrastination.
Martellus Bennett had a breakout year in 2012 and the Giants need to get him a new deal sooner rather than later.
Player New York Must Re-sign: TE Martellus Bennett
Now that the New York Giants have wrapped up a long-term deal with offensive tackle Will Beatty (per Newark Star-Ledger), the team must quickly turn its attention to tight end Martellus Bennett.
The 6'6" 270 pound Bennett had a breakout season last year as he racked up 626 yards and five touchdowns, which placed him as the No. 5 overall tight end in the NFL last year in ProFootballFocus' rankings.
Bennett is thought to be seeking some major money on the open market, and is not exactly thrilled with the lack of attention the Giants have shown him thus far (per Profootballtalk).
The Giants front office needs to get its act together before the deadline. Bennett is just 25 years of age and is one of the most promising players at his position. If the deadline passes without him agreeing to a new deal, he is as good as gone from the Big Apple.
The Jets need to work on figuring out a way to keep offensive guard Brandon Moore.
Player New York Must Re-sign: OG Brandon Moore
The New York Jets have a serious issue in that the team may be losing all of its important free agents after the deadline thanks to a sticky cap situation (per ESPN New York).
That means losing tight end Dustin Keller, safety LaRon Landry (who wants too much money anyway—per TFY Draft Insider) and most importantly, losing offensive guard Brandon Moore.
If the Jets can keep just one free agent this offseason, it has to be Moore. New York has a lot of money tied up on the offensive line already, but letting the No. 4 overall guard in the NFL (per ProFootballFocus) walk without a fight would be embarrassing.
Moore is on the wrong side of 30, but a mauling guard who still has plenty of good years left in the tank. Inking him to a long-term deal before the deadline would be a great move.
A recent arrest should not deter the Raiders from signing Desmond Bryant before the deadline.
Player Oakland Must Re-sign: DT Desmond Bryant
The Oakland Raiders are in an interesting situation with free agency approaching. Whom do you re-sign of the following players coming off breakout years—tight end Brandon Myers, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant or linebacker Phillip Wheeler?
There is only one correct answer here—it has to be Bryant.
It is true Bryant was recently arrested for criminal mischief (per Miami-Dade Corrections), but it will not impact his value much. Myers may not fit the new scheme in Oakland under Greg Olson (per ESPN) and Wheeler will not take massive money to bring back.
On the other hand you have Bryant, who was the No. 6 overall defensive tackle in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus after racking up 36 tackles and four sacks.
Bryant is entering the prime of his career at the age of 27, and the Raiders need to do whatever it takes to lock him up before the deadline.
The Eagles should have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in their plans for 2013 and beyond.
Player Philadelphia Must Re-sign: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
The Philadelphia Eagles do not have any premier players set to hit the open market after the deadline passes, but one who could attract some attention is cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Rodgers-Cromartie had an absolutely horrific 2012 campaign, which will actually lower his cost for any potential suitors. The thing he has going for him is his impressive size for the position at 6'2" and the fact he is only 26 years of age.
The Eagles seem intent on blowing up their secondary and starting over, hence the Eagles asking Nnamdi Asomugha to take a massive pay cut (per CSN Philly).
However, if the price is right, it cannot hurt to bring back a player like Rodgers-Cromartie. At worst, he is quality depth. Philadelphia needs to find a way to get him under contract before the deadline.
The Steelers will have a nice trio of cornerbacks if it can get Keenan Lewis under contract.
Player Pittsburgh Must Re-sign: CB Keenan Lewis
The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be done with several free agents already, including wide receiver Mike Wallace and offensive linemen Max Starks and Ramon Foster.
Wallace is asking for money the Steelers do not have, and Starks and Foster do not fit the new zone-blocking scheme the team is implementing (per Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
One free agent Pittsburgh absolutely has to get under contract is cornerback Kenan Lewis, who has flashed outstanding ability from time to time. According to Gerry Dulac on Twitter, the team has every intention of bringing Lewis back.
Keeping Lewis will give the Steelers a nice trio as he re-joins the depth chart with Cortez Allen and Ike Taylor already present. Pittsburgh would be wise to let Lewis, who is now entering his prime, not enter the free-agent market as well.
The Chargers rebuilding process on the offensive line should start with Louis Vasquez.
Player San Diego Must Re-sign: OG Louis Vasquez
The San Diego Chargers need to get serious about rebuilding the offensive line if it hopes to not see franchise quarterback Philip Rivers killed in 2013.
Rivers was brutalized in 2012 as he was sacked 50 times.
The problem is, Vasquez is arguably the best guard headed for free agency, so the Chargers appear to be having some problems getting him under contract.
San Diego must bring back Vasquez before the deadline at any cost, even if that means paying a little more than market value.
Dashon Goldson wants to be paid like a top safety, and the 49ers should have no qualms about it.
Player San Francisco Must Re-sign: S Dashon Goldson
The San Francisco 49ers seem to be having issues coming to terms with the fact they may have to open their wallets to keep one of their best players.
Last season the 49ers hit safety Dashon Goldson with the franchise tag, and he responded by ranking as the No. 20 safety in all of football according to ProFootballfocus.
The 49ers did not hit Goldson with the tag again, and are having a hard time digesting the fact he wants around $8 million per year (per Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). Ignoring the debate over what he is truly worth, San Francisco needs to decide if it can afford to start over at the position.
The answer is no. San Francisco is a Super Bowl-caliber team, and losing a player of Goldson's status now will likely do more harm than good.
Jason Jones was great for the Seahawks last year before being placed on injured reserve.
Player Seattle Must Re-sign: DT Jason Jones
The Seattle Seahawks signed Jason Jones last offseason after he spent a few years with the Tennessee Titans. He proved to be worth the investment as he racked up three sacks and came in as the No. 27 overall defensive tackle in ProFootballFocus' rankings.
Jones would be placed on injured reserve late in the season with a knee injury (per Profootballtalk), but he had already more than proved he deserved a long-term deal.
Seattle does not have many free agents to worry about this offseason, and Jones should take precedence over all of them. He can be a quality starter for years to come if he can stay healthy.
The Seahawks should look to have him inked to a new deal before the deadline hits.
The Rams cannot afford to just let Brandon Gibson walk away given his loads of potential.
Player St. Louis Must Re-sign: WR Brandon Gibson
The St. Louis Rams have two quality wide receivers set to hit free agency, but should only keep one for a variety of reasons.
St. Louis needs to keep Brandon Gibson rather than Danny Amendola.
Amendola believes he is worth more than the Rams are willing to pay, so it looks like a deal will not get done (per Adam Caplan on Twitter). Given his laundry list of injuries throughout his career, the money would be better spent on Gibson.
Gibson has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, but came in as the No. 39 ranked overall receiver in 2012 (per ProFootballFocus) after he recorded 691 yards and five touchdowns while competing for playing time.
Gibson is just 25-years-old and has his best years in front of him. St. Louis needs to forget Amendola and lock up Gibson before the deadline.
Michael Bennett is the only free agent Tampa Bay should be concerned with this offseason.
Player Tampa Bay Must Re-sign: DE Michael Bennett
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to lock up one of the beter 4-3 defensive ends entering his prime this offseason with Michael Bennett set to hit free agency.
Tampa Bay elected to not use the franchise tag on Bennett, which means he could be gone after the deadline.
The Buccaneers cannot allow that to happen. Bennett racked up eight sacks last year and came in as ProFootballFocus' No. 7 overall defensive end with exceptional marks against the run and rushing the passer.
Bennett is a quality all-around talent entering the best years of his career at 27-years-old. Tampa Bay would be wise to lock him up long-term before the deadline if they are serious about being competitive.
The Titans have to give the rare talent that is Jared Cook whatever he wants before he reaches free agency.
Player Tennessee Must Re-sign: TE Jared Cook
The Tennessee Titans have had serious issues in negotiations this offseason with tight end Jared Cook, but that has to come to an end before the deadline.
The Titans chose not to simply franchise Cook because he would fall under the wide receiver classification since that is where he took the majority of his snaps in 2012 (per Jim Wyatt on Twitter).
Now Cook is set to hit the open market, where he will be one of the most hotly-pursued talents available thanks to his talents. Cook is 6'5" and 250 pounds, not to mention he is only 25-years-old.
Conventional wisdom says Cook will command $7-8 million a year (per Jim Wyatt on Twitter), which is a small price to pay in return for what Cook can give a franchise that actually uses him properly.
If the Titans are smart, they will give him whatever he wants before the deadline and actually use him in a way that makes sense given his skill set.
Lorenzo Alexander is a key special team contributor for the Washington Redskins.
Player Washington Must Re-sign: ILB Lorenzo Alexander
The Washington Redskins are another team that does not have a lot of high-profile guys heading to free agency. That is great news considering the franchise is still battling a league-imposed cap penalty for illegialy dumping contracts in 2010 (Washington Post).
One free agent the Redskins should attempt to bring back, and can actually afford to, is inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.
Alexander recorded 46 tackles and two sacks a year ago in spot-duty while remaining one of the team's best special teams players. The best news for the Redskins is that he wants to remain with the team (h/t Washington Examiner):
"I’m willing to take less for the Redskins, but they have to be close. They can’t be way off."
It is a fair stance for the workhorse to take, and the Redskins need to pony up what little cash they have to keep him around before he sneaks away after the deadline.