The NFL free-agent frenzy gets underway today. Teams around the league are about to begin a mad dash to fill holes on their roster before all the impact players are signed. Those that miss out will be forced to upgrade through the draft instead.
There are obviously risks associated with spending big in free agency. Giving a lot of guaranteed money to somebody on the market can backfire if they don't live up to expectations. But if a team thinks they are the missing piece, it's worth the risk.
With that in mind, let's analyze some of the latest rumors involving players that should attract a lot of interest once the wheeling and dealing officially begins. They aren't the biggest names available, but they all can be major contributors.
Amendola turned a lot of heads last season with a couple monster performances. He had 15 catches for 160 yards in Week 2 and 11 catches for 102 yards in Week 10. Injuries have been an issue, but anybody who can post those type of numbers is going to garner attention.
One team that took notice was the Philadelphia Eagles. Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports the team is definitely looking to upgrade its offense during the free-agent period and Amendola is one name that's being discussed.
If Amendola can shake the injury concerns that plagued him with the St. Louis Rams, he would be an ideal fit in Chip Kelly's offensive system. He can operate out of the slot and find plenty of space given Philadelphia's other weapons on the outside.
Even though Smith hasn't attracted a ton of mainstream attention over the past few years, likely due to playing in an otherwise weak Miami Dolphins secondary, he's one of the top cornerbacks on the market. He has 121 tackles and four interceptions over the last two seasons.
The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers are one team hoping to land him, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. He states the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Eagles are other interested teams.
After the 49ers defense was exposed during their playoff run, it's become the area of focus heading into the key part of the offseason. Adding Smith to the defensive backfield would eliminate one major void right off the bat.
Cribbs is an interesting case. If a team is looking at him as purely an option for upgrading on special teams, his value is limited. But if there's a coordinator who thinks he can work him into the offense effectively, then he could be a steal.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports there are currently five teams with varying degrees of interest in the return ace. The New York Giants, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and 49ers are the links made.
The Patriots immediately stand out because of Tom Brady's ability to make the most out of his receiving options. They also need help on special teams, which would help him make an impact while getting used to New England's offensive scheme.