2013 NFL Free-Agent Predictions: Teams That Will Make Biggest Splashes
NFL free agency can be a fickle business. You may spend huge bucks and land a player that will take your team over the hump, or you could end up with a Dream Team situation like the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, where you completely kill your cap and basically ensure you'll be rebuilding in two years.
It's always better to build through the draft. But every year, teams decide it is time to make a huge splash in free agency nonetheless.
So which teams will make that splash this year? Which teams have the needs and money to throw money around in free agency? Which teams will look a whole lot better on paper heading into the draft?
For my money, the following three teams are ones to watch for come Tuesday afternoon.
If you believe Adam Schefter of ESPN, wide receiver Mike Wallace is likely to sign with the Miami Dolphins:
League-wide expectation is that WR Mike Wallace winds up in Miami with the Dolphins.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2013
That alone would be a huge splash for the Fins, but with a lot of cap space to play around with, they may not be done there. They are targeting Jared Cook, according to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel:
The Dolphins have been talking to representatives for the NFL's top-tier free-agent tight ends and have put a couple feelers out before Tuesday's signings begin.
A source told the Sun Sentinel tight end Jared Cook is high on Miami's list of possible "tier one" free-agent targets. Cook, a 6-foot-5, 246-pounder who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, is the type of weapon that commands the attention of defenses.
And hey, maybe they won't even be finished there. Could they target a right tackle to replace Jake Long like Andre Smith? Will they re-sign Sean Smith or find his replacement in the market? Could they go after a defensive end like Cliff Avril or Michael Bennett? What about safety?
The Dolphins have a lot of money to spend and plenty of talented targets to spend it on. They'll be busy.
Like the Dolphins, the Colts have cap space to spare. Unlike the Dolphins, the Colts have just four picks at this year's draft, so the team will have to improve in free agency this season.
One of the first moves the Colts will have to make is signing a 3-4 outside line backer to replace Dwight Freeney. Paul Kruger would be a great fit for Indianpolis, although they may find resistance in that regard from the Cleveland Browns, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun:
A bidding war is expected to unfold between the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts for Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.
The Browns have been particularly aggressive in expressing strong interest in Kruger, one of the top free agent pass rushers along with Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.
Coached by former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, the Colts are seeking a replacement for Dwight Freeney.
There are a number of talented corners—Smith, Aqib Talib, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Keenan Lewis, to name a few—that the Colts could target. And Ed Reed at safety is a name that has been floated as well.
The Colts may not make a Mike Wallace type of splash, but expect them to be very busy during free agency and add several big names before all is said and done.
The Browns have been linked to Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe. They are also rumored to have interest in Cook. The team really needs help at free safety and corner and could easily fill those holes in free agency. Not only that, but Cleveland could also bolster its wide receiver and offensive line corps.
The Browns have a good base of talent in place and I wouldn't be surprised if they steal Kruger and Ellerbe from the Ravens. However, I doubt they get sucked into the wide-receiver circus and leave the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings to battle over Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings.
But the Browns have money and plenty of needs to spend it on—look for Cleveland to add several solid players that may not move the needle quite as much as Wallace or Jennings but will seriously improve the team next season.
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