When the 2014 edition of NFL free agency kicks off on March 11 at 4 p.m. ET, the excitement surrounding the biggest names to hit the open market will have fans from every corner of the world interested in where top stars will land.
With elite players like New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy possibly hitting free agency—the franchise tag and contract negotiations with their respective teams could have them re-signed before they the market—the frenzy is picking up exponentially with each passing day.
Here are the top 50 players who could hit free agency this offseason, early predictions of where they will land and rumors surrounding two of the biggest stars in the 2014 class.
|Player||Team||Position||Age||Predicted Landing Spot|
|1. Jimmy Graham||NO||TE||28||New Orleans|
|2. Greg Hardy||CAR||DE||26||Carolina|
|3. T.J. Ward||CLE||S||27||Cleveland|
|4. Jairus Byrd||BUF||S||27||Buffalo|
|5. Brian Orakpo||WAS||OLB||28||Denver|
|6. Alterraun Verner||TEN||CB||25||Tennessee|
|7. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||DEN||CB||29||Retired|
|8. Michael Bennett||SEA||DE||28||Seattle|
|9. Michael Johnson||CIN||DE||27||Cincinnati|
|10. Randy Starks||MIA||DT||30||Chicago|
|11. Henry Melton||CHI||DT||27||Miami|
|12. Eugene Monroe||BAL||OT||27||Baltimore|
|13. Jared Veldheer||OAK||OT||27||Pittsburgh|
|14. Brent Grimes||MIA||CB||31||Miami|
|15. Eric Decker||DEN||WR||27||Pittsburgh|
|16. Jason Worilds||PIT||OLB||26||Pittsburgh|
|17. Alex Mack||CLE||C||28||Cleveland|
|18. Vontae Davis||IND||CB||26||Indianapolis|
|19. Jason Hatcher||DAL||DT||32||Indianapolis|
|20. Aqib Talib||NE||CB||28||New England|
|21. Lamarr Houston||OAK||DE||27||Philadelphia|
|22. Dennis Pitta||BAL||TE||29||Kansas City|
|23. Captain Munnerlyn||CAR||CB||26||Carolina|
|24. Arthur Jones||BAL||DE||28||Baltimore|
|25. Knowshon Moreno||DEN||RB||27||Denver|
|26. Brandon Spikes||NE||ILB||26||New England|
|27. Golden Tate||SEA||WR||26||Seattle|
|28. Jordan Gross||CAR||OT||34||Carolina|
|29. Geoff Schwartz||KC||OG||27||Kansas City|
|30. Branden Albert||KC||OT||29||Kansas City|
|31. Paul Soliai||MIA||DT||30||Miami|
|32. Hakeem Nicks||NYG||WR||26||New England|
|33. Sam Shields||GB||CB||26||Green Bay|
|34. Linval Joseph||NYG||DT||25||New York|
|35. Zach Strief||NO||OT||30||New Orleans|
|36. Walter Thurmond||SEA||CB||26||Philadelphia|
|37. Justin Tuck||NYG||DE||31||Oakland|
|38. Anthony Spencer||DAL||DE/OLB||30||Dallas|
|39. Travelle Wharton||CAR||OG||33||Carolina|
|40. Julian Edelman||NE||WR||28||New Orleans|
|41. Ben Tate||HOU||RB||26||New England|
|42. Michael Vick||PHI||QB||34||Oakland|
|43. Tyson Jackson||KC||DE||28||Kansas City|
|44. Anthony Collins||CIN||OT||29||Cincinnati|
|45. Antonio Smith||HOU||DE||32||Houston|
|46. Jared Allen||MIN||DE||32||Atlanta|
|47. Karlos Dansby||ARI||ILB||32||Arizona|
|48. Clinton McDonald||SEA||DT||27||Chicago|
|49. Jeremy Maclin||PHI||WR||26||Kansas City|
|50. Donte Whitner||SF||S||29||San Francisco|
Source: Comcast Philly
Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd is one of the best defensive backs on the free-agent market. While the Bills will do whatever they can to keep him on the team, other organizations are posturing for a chance to sign him this offseason.
Pick the Draft’s Twitter account reveals the master plan:
buffal S jairus byrd looks like falcons' big target in free agency— Pick the Draft (@pickthedraft) January 28, 2014
Both teams would love to have Byrd patrolling their secondary in 2014—Buffalo team president Russ Brandon told the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) that he wants the safety back—and the Pro Bowl player should take his time making a decision to get the most money from the situation.
After a career year, Byrd has earned the right to get paid big bucks. Let the bidding war commence.
Predicted Landing Spot: Buffalo Bills
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles never got to see what wide receiver Jeremy Maclin could do in Chip Kelly’s offense—he tore his ACL before the 2013 season began—and the player will be able to test free agency this offseason.
Former agent Joel Corry told Terez A. Taylor of The Kansas City Star about the Kansas City Chiefs' reported interest in Maclin during free agency: “I’d give him a decent one-year salary and give him upside through incentives. Andy [Reid] knows him, so he shouldn’t have a problem with the offense and that’s another potential playmaker.”
Kelly and the Eagles will do whatever it takes to keep a versatile weapon such as Maclin on the roster, but if there is any allegiance between Reid and the former Mizzou star, there is a legitimate chance he ends up in Kansas City.
Predicted Landing Spot: Kansas City Chiefs
*All stats and information via NFL.com.