2014 NFL Free Agents: Stars Most Likely to Switch Teams This Offseason

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2014 NFL Free Agents: Stars Most Likely to Switch Teams This Offseason
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There is an abundance of quality players available on the free-agent market this offseason, and several of them will have new addresses come training camp for the 2014 campaign.

Some of the league's top stars find themselves without contracts heading into next season. There will be a bidding war for the most coveted players, and that decreases the chances of them returning to their previous squads.

The free-agent market opens on Mar. 11, and expect the lucrative contract offers to come shortly thereafter.

Here are a few star players who could cash in on those lucrative offers and change teams this offseason.

 

Maurice Jones-Drew

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The Jacksonville Jaguars' strategy regarding Maurice Jones-Drew entering free agency is interesting. Via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com:

General manager David Caldwell said Tuesday he didn't envision re-signing Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 8,071 yards and holds the franchise record with 81 touchdowns in eight seasons, before free agency beings in March. Caldwell also said he'll wait for Jones-Drew to get an offer from another team, then decide whether to match it.

It doesn't exactly sound like Caldwell is thrilled with the notion of re-signing the best running back (and arguably, player) in team history. He's presumably banking on other teams showing little interest, though that may not be the case.

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Jones-Drew is an ideal low-risk, high-reward candidate. Teams looking for a spark this offseason might be inclined to give him a try.

His 3.4 yards per carry in 2013 was the lowest of his career, and teams will be looking for him to share carries with a younger back. The Jaguars are likely looking for him to share carries more than he ever has before, though, and that's not attractive to the player himself.

The Cleveland Browns might be one of those teams inclined to make a run at MJD if the price is right. He'd split carries with Chris Ogbonnaya.

 

Jay Cutler

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The status of Jay Cutler remains uncertain in regards to a potential return in 2014 to the Chicago Bears, but his teammates are apparently in support of their quarterback.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall told Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com just how he feels about the guy who's been throwing him passes for several years now:

One thing I know about Chicago: It’s been a long time since we had a quarterback like Jay Cutler. So all your stories this offseason, I think that should be the headline or that should be the story written this year: ‘Oh, how we love Jay Cutler,’ because it’s been so long.

Cutler has done better with the Bears in recent seasons than he did in years prior, but his failure to come back and make a difference in the NFC North race could ultimately be his downfall. Backup quarterback Josh McCown appeared to be the more consistent passer at times this season, but starting him over Cutler was a no-win situation for the team.

Regardless, Cutler might be gone this offseason. The Bears could look to trade up to No. 8 for a quarterback, although the Minnesota Vikings might ask for a king's ransom given their need for a new signal-caller. At No. 8, Johnny Manziel could still be available. If not, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr certainly will be.

Look for Cutler to leave, possibly for a team like the Oakland Raiders. They don't appear confident in Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin, and Cutler is certainly an upgrade over the two.

UPDATE: Jan. 2, 10:53 a.m.

The Bears have announced that they have signed Cutler to a seven-year extension, reports Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com.

Good move or bad move? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Ben Tate

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Well, Ben Tate was not shy about telling the truth about how he envisions this offseason unfolding. Via Tate's personal Twitter account:

Without Tate's willingness to return, it doesn't appear as if the Houston Texans are going to be re-signing him.

Tate performed well in limited action this season. He rushed for 771 yards and four touchdowns while also grabbing 34 receptions for 140 yards in the passing game.

The Browns could look to him if they miss out on Jones-Drew, but Tate will likely be a bit more of a financial commitment. This could lead him to a team like the New York Giants, who will likely have money to spend with Hakeem Nicks coming off the books and potentially going elsewhere himself.

After bigger names like Darren McFadden, Rashad Jennings and Joique Bell are off the board, Tate should be expected to make his decision.

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