Jay Cutler and 4 Hottest 2014 NFL Free Agents Playing for a New Contract
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There is no shortage of talent when it comes to 2014’s impending free-agent class. From Pro Bowlers to All-Pros, there is a wide array of talent across the board. For some of these guys, their performances so far this season look like they will garner them a big payoff when their contracts are up.
Jay Cutler is one guy in particular that has been living up to the hype he’s gotten over his career. He’s on pace for almost 4,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns—his best numbers since 2008.
Cutler, along with the rest of the upcoming free agents, still have a while to impress teams even more before they become jobless. While they could also very well mess things up for themselves, for now they are the hottest players heading into free agency.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
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Anquan Boldin came to San Francisco for the unexpectedly low price of one sixth-round draft pick, but he has paid off tremendously. The marriage between himself and third-year passer Colin Kaepernick was a sight to see in Week 1 when he reeled in 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Boldin has been Kaep’s security blanket through five weeks of the season, and the 49ers would be crazy not to try to re-sign him, possibly before the end of the season. I think this is a deal that San Fran will want to get done quickly because they’re afraid of Boldin hitting the open market.
The likelihood of him returning to the team will hinge upon how well the Niners do this season. If it ends in a Super Bowl victory, he’s of course more likely to stay. Otherwise, it’s a toss-up.
There are a lot of young teams ready to be contenders, and Boldin could be an extremely valuable piece. If San Francisco isn’t willing to give him the money he’s looking for, don’t be surprised if he tests the waters in free agency. Undoubtedly, someone will pay him that money.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
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Now that he’s in an offensive system that is a better fit for his skill set, he’s done a decent job of leading this team, although their record doesn’t exactly show it. While he’s not putting up gaudy numbers, he is still a veteran quarterback who can do well on the right team—when he’s healthy, that is.
At the very least, he’s a very desirable backup for many teams. His stock in the free-agent market will depend on how (or if) he finishes this season. Chip Kelly and the Eagles could very well opt to bring Vick back to back up or start for them.
Vick’s best fit in the NFL is right where he’s at now, which makes his return to Philly even more plausible.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
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Ever since he entered the league in 2009, Hakeem Nicks has been a viable threat to score every time he’s on the field. Although he hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this season, he still has 21 catches through five games and is averaging 18 yards per catch.
The Giants aren’t necessarily a bad team, but they’re sure playing like it. With that being said, Nicks has been pleasantly consistent.
At 0-5, New York is off to the worst start they've had in years, and some big changes may be coming within the organization. If that is the case, the new regime could decide to trade their best pieces away for picks in order to rebuild from the ground up—much like the Cleveland Browns did with Trent Richardson.
If he does live out his current contract, it would be prudent of Nicks to see what else is out there for him in the NFL. There’s a very solid chance he could find a good home, and quickly.
Brandon Browner, CB, Seattle Seahawks
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As a former CFL player, Browner got his first chance in the league with Seattle in 2011, and he quickly became an integral part of their vaunted defense. Although he is often overshadowed by teammate and fellow cornerback Richard Sherman, Browner has quietly become one of the best corners in the league, and is surely one of the most ferocious hitters.
His rare combination of size and athleticism are clearly what helps him play like he does. At 6’4”, 221 pounds, Browner towers over most corners in the league—and even some receivers. He’s essentially a heavyweight MMA fighter playing cornerback. His game tape and ability to jack-up almost any receiver in the NFL is what makes him a standout name as free agency slowly approaches.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
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Jay Cutler has been one of the most ridiculed players in the NFL ever since he became a part of the Chicago Bears. Between questions about his toughness or his apparent bad attitude, it makes it easy to pick on Cutler when he chokes up in games and throws interceptions at crucial times.
Under new head coach Marc Trestman, Cutler has had the highest completion percentage and quarterback rating of his career through five games this season. Five weeks is a small sample, but you have to admit he looks good. He’s made smarter decisions with his reads and has had great ball placement on the outside with his receivers.
Cutler has done well against rather good defenses, too. He took on the stingy Cincinnati defense on opening day and led his team to victory by way of 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also put up 292 yards and three touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings’ tough defense.
Don’t get me wrong, Cutler has still struggled with interceptions, but he has shown much growth as a player in Trestman’s system. A strong finish to the season will lead to a big pay day for No. 6.