NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Key Free Agents

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NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Key Free Agents
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL season is officially over, which means that several players that are entering free agency are likely going to be on the move.

The season is now over after the Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos 43-8, proving that they're truly the most complete team in the league. Still, with the offseason now here, the other 31 teams will be looking to add players either via free agency or through the NFL draft to take down the Seahawks and win a Super Bowl title of their own.

With that being said, let's take a look at some of the latest rumors surrounding a few intriguing free agents this offseason.

 

Michael Vick, Quarterback

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

At 33 years old, it looks like Michael Vick's time as a starting quarterback is over with. However, it appears that at least two teams are interested in him now that he's a free agent.

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that two teams—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets—are reportedly interested in the former Pro Bowl quarterback:

When he was healthy in 2013, the numbers for Michael Vick weren't horrible. He finished the year with 1,521 total yards, seven total touchdowns, three interceptions and three fumbles with an 86.4 passer rating.

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Unfortunately for Vick, the big issue for him is staying healthy. Since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, he's never played in more than 13 games, playing in just 17 total contests over the past two seasons. It's not like he's a young player either, as his body is likely going to start letting him down even more since he'll be turning 34 years old in June.

If the Jets or Buccaneers add him, it will likely be as a backup to provide some insurance for their sophomore quarterbacks in the event that they struggle or get hurt. But unless that happens, the odds of him starting in the NFL appear to be very small.

 

Eric Decker, Wide Receiver

A Super Bowl loss is a tough one to swallow for the Broncos, especially for wide receiver Eric Decker. He finished with just one reception for six yards despite being targeted five times, and according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), his overall grade of minus-2.2 was the third-lowest on the offense behind Julius Thomas and Orlando Franklin.

While the Broncos will be looking to make it back to the Super Bowl in 2014, they may be doing so without Decker, who is now a free agent. According to Ian Rapoport from the NFL Network, Denver fears that they will lose the 26-year-old receiver:

In his four seasons with the Broncos, Decker has been an extremely productive player, more so since Peyton Manning joined the team. Over the past two seasons, he's caught 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns, making him one of the most productive receivers in the league.

Eric Decker Season Stats
Season Rec Yds AVG TD
2010 6 106 17.7 1
2011 44 612 13.9 8
2012 85 1,064 12.5 13
2013 87 1,288 14.8 11
Career 222 3,070 13.8 33

However, a lot of that production over the past two seasons has more to do with who is throwing him the ball than who is making the catches. That's not to say that Decker is bad, because he isn't. But Decker isn't a No. 1 receiver, fitting more as a No. 2 guy in most offenses.

Still, there are plenty of teams looking for No. 2 receivers, and given what he's done, Decker could have the option to choose between a number of organizations. According to Spotrac.com, his previous deal was around just $3.3 million over four years, and given what he's done, this is the time in his career where he can make a lot of money.

 

Chris Johnson, Running Back

Fantasy football owners always complain about running back Chris Johnson because of his boom-or-bust play almost every game. The Tennessee Titans have likely been frustrated as well, and given the current situation, it looks like the team may decide to part ways with him.

It appears that Chris Johnson will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus he suffered in Week 3, according to Jason La Canfora from CBS Sports. In his report, La Canfora has this to say about CJ2K:

Former Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans will have a knee scope Tuesday to repair a meniscus he tore in Week 3, according to a league source, and seems a virtual certainty to hit the free-agent market this spring.

Johnson faces a 4- to 6-week recovery period and should be in good shape to pass a physical by the time free agency opens in mid March. Johnson is set to make $8 million in 2014 on the record contract extension he signed with the Titans, and the team will ask him to take a pay cut. Johnson is not inclined to do so, sources said, and thus his release seems inevitable.

For the sixth consecutive season, Johnson was able to run for over 1,000 yards, finishing with 1,077 on the ground while putting up 10 total touchdowns with six rushing and four receiving. However, he also averaged a career-low 3.9 yards per carry, but some of that might have to do with the fact that he was running on a torn meniscus.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The shelf life for running backs tends to be very short, and Johnson likely has around three or four solid years left before his play begins to really decline. For a team in need of a running back, Johnson would present an interesting option.

The problem for Johnson is that he may not get as big of a contract as he'd hope for. For most franchises, they have no problem passing on an older running back to draft a young guy who will cost less and have fresher legs. The 2013 draft class showed that you can get a lot of value out of late-round rookies like Zac Stacy, a fifth-round pick, and Andre Ellington, a sixth-round pick.

The running back position isn't as important as it used to be. Some team may still decide to dish out some big bucks to Johnson like the Atlanta Falcons did for Steven Jackson, but I still think Johnson may have a harder time in free agency than he's expecting.

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