After weeks of speculation about the potential destinations of the top NFL free agents, the market officially opens today. It's always a hectic stretch as teams around the league battle for players they believe can be difference makers next season.
The good news for teams around the league is that free-agent group is pretty deep. Even if they happen to miss out on their top few targets at a particular position, they should still be able to fill the void with a player capable of making an impact.
Quarterback is the biggest exception. There are no free agents at the position teams should feel confident about bringing in to fill a starting role. Given the amount of teams who could use an upgrade, there are a lot of disappointed front offices that will have to look elsewhere.
Let's examine some of the latest rumors making the rounds as teams finalize their strategies for free agency. The rumor mill is definitely working overtime right now.
Rashard Mendenhall appeared in six games and received just 51 carries for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. He's still one of the top free-agent running backs based on his track record, including 29 rushing touchdowns over the previous three seasons.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Steelers aren't expecting to re-sign Mendenhall, who's drawing interest from the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos. Both teams had clouded depth charts in the backfield last season.
Mendenhall missed just one game in the three years before last season's start-and-stop campaign. So he shouldn't be considered a major injury risk. He's capable of resuming his role as a lead back after an offseason to get back to full strength. Arizona and Denver could definitely use him.
In a league where slot receivers are becoming more important to an offense's success, it's no surprise Danny Amendola is garnering a lot of attention. Despite some injury issues, he's shown the ability to make a significant impact both as a receiver and on special teams.
One team joining the sweepstakes appears to be the Baltimore Ravens. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports the team is showing interest in the coveted wideout after trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.
The Ravens were forced to make some tough decisions after winning the Super Bowl, and moving Boldin was one of them. Although Amendola is a different kind of receiver, he would definitely be an upgrade over what's left on the roster behind Torrey Smith.
The New England Patriots acquired Aqib Talib in the middle of last season. He made his presence felt in an otherwise weak Patriots secondary, making it no surprise the team is attempting to re-sign him, according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe.
The Pats are going to face competition if they can't lock him up before 4 p.m., though. Mike Garafolo of USA Today states the Washington Redskins are planning to make a serious push to land Talib should he hit the open market.
Washington's pass defense ranked 30th last season. Robert Griffin III obviously helped the offense improve by leaps and bounds, but upgrading the secondary is crucial to the Redskins becoming serious contenders in the NFC. Talib would be a major addition in that quest.
Dashon Goldson's free-agent stock received a boost when the Buffalo Bills placed the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd. It made him the top available safety and that should cause a bidding war between multiple teams for his services.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all interested in adding him to their secondary, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. He states the Lions and Buccaneers are emerging as the top suitors right now while the San Francisco 49ers would like him back.
Goldson has 14 interceptions over the past four seasons, playing a major role in the improvement of the 49ers' defense. That said, Tampa Bay had the worst pass defense in the league last season and could really use him to provide some stability at the back.
Another safety sure to receive a lot of attention is LaRon Landry. He had a successful season with the New York Jets, racking up 99 tackles and two interceptions, making him a popular target with safety being such a common need.
Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports the Philadelphia Eagles are one of several teams already taking a look at Landry. Although Mosher doesn't name any of the other possible landing spots, it does illustrate the large number of voids at the position around the NFL.
The Eagles received sturdy play from Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, but the lack of big plays was an issue. Landry is a player who can come in and provide those, which explains why the Eagles have at least some interest in him.