NFL Free Agency

2014 NFL Free Agents: Whom Should Your Team Be Calling?

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

2014 NFL Free Agents: Whom Should Your Team Be Calling?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    While the official start of free agency is March 11, teams are likely putting together a list of players and phone numbers in preparation for it anyway.

    We've taken all 32 teams and matched them up with players who should be at or near the top of their lists. Some players will appear more than once on this list because several teams should be in pursuit. Some will seem more off the radar than others but will still be a good fit.

    In one case, the top guy that a team should go after was their guy this year anyway, but they should focus on getting him back quickly.

    Some names aren't on the list—such as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett—because their current team has made no bones about wanting them back. He may not be close to a contract, but reports from people like NFL Networks' Ian Rapoport make it clear that Seattle has Bennett as a high priority.

    So whom should your team have on speed dial? Let's take a look.

    *All statistics obtained from NFL.com or ESPN unless otherwise noted.

Buffalo Bills

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    David Seelig/Associated Press

    Zach Strief, Offensive Tackle

    Last week, Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Josh Cornwall wrote about potential free-agency targets for the Buffalo Bills. He mentioned a tackle who I hadn’t really considered before, but who could be a good fit—New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief.

    According to the latest figures at OverTheCap.com, Buffalo has the cap money to spend big, but it doesn’t tend to and may have to spend most of its money on free-agent safety Jairus Byrd.

    While Strief isn’t one of the best free-agent tackles out there, according to the latest list by Nick Mensio at Rotoworld.com, that’s in part because he’s a right tackle; most of the others above him on the list are left tackles.

    As Cornwall points out, Strief was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated right tackle (subscription link) last season, and while the Bills had a solid left tackle in Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears struggled at right tackle.

    The Bills might want to draft some talent for the offensive line as well, but without spending a ton of cash, they should be able to grab a guy like Strief and shore up their situation at tackle.

Miami Dolphins

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Eugene Monroe, Offensive Tackle

    While the Miami Dolphins have a ton of issues to deal with on both sides of the ball, the chief one is the offensive line. If they can’t improve it, their quarterback won’t get better, and their offense will continue to be streaky.

    Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line in the bottom half of the league for effectiveness at No. 19 overall, but once you add in how many folks need to be replaced long term (including Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito), it’s about more than mere numbers.

    They have the cap room to make a run at one of the top tackles, and the best one to aim for is Baltimore Raven Eugene Monroe.

    While Branden Albert would be a fine addition as well, Monroe is three years younger (26 to Albert’s 29) and has more gas left in the tank.

    Albert has more star power and name recognition, but Monroe could be the better long-term fix.

New England Patriots

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Emmanuel Sanders, Wide Receiver

    The New England Patriots cannot go into next season relying on an overachieving Julian Edelman and a banged-up Danny Amendola at wide receiver.

    Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was almost a Patriot last season, when New England put in an offer sheet on the young wide receiver, which the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately matched, as reported by ESPN last April.

    It stands to reason that head coach Bill Belichick would be interested again now that Sanders isn’t a restricted free agent and is coming off his best year of production to date.

    He would be an excellent vertical threat for quarterback Tom Brady and could have an immediate impact.

New York Jets

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    Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver

    The New York Jets are in desperate need of every receiver they can get their hands on, but more than anything else, they need a vertical threat.

    Although Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones is a decent red-zone threat and Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker adds yards after the catch, the Jets should target Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles.

    He should come fairly cheap as well after his torn ACL and time on injured reserve, as reported on July 30th by Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Eagles will want him back for the right price, but for the Jets, a dynamic threat like Maclin is worth beating whatever Philly offers.

    If the Jets want their quarterback—be it Geno Smith or someone else—to be effective in 2014, they better get him some weapons.

    There have been some rumors that the Eagles are looking to lock Maclin into a new contract, but Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News has said nothing is imminent.

    If the Eagles and Maclin can’t get on the same page, then he is the place to start for the Jets.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    James Jones, Wide Receiver

    The Baltimore Ravens already have an outstanding No. 1 receiver in Torrey Smith, but they missed having a solid No. 2 after they traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers.

    Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones would be an excellent fit in this offense. Over the past few years, he has done a great job of improving his route running and technique, making big catches and becoming a reliable target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

    He functions best with a true No. 1 to draw attention away from him, as he did with Jordy Nelson and before that Greg Jennings. With Smith being a threat on vertical routes, Jones would get a lot of one-on-one matchups.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Alterraun Verner, Cornerback

    With the departure of Mike Zimmer (off to coach the Minnesota Vikings), the Cincinnati Bengals will have a harder time getting the most out of average players.

    They need to upgrade the secondary, and as Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler points out in the above video, Tennessee Titans corner Alterraun Verner would be a great choice.

    At 25 years old, he would provide an injection of youth as well as tremendous ball skills—something Terence Newman, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones don’t provide enough of. Verner had five interceptions on a poor Titans defense last year, which was more than anyone in the entire Bengals secondary.

    For a long time, Zimmer drew blood from a stone when it came to the secondary—with him gone, the Bengals need to have players who can perform on their own.

Cleveland Browns

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    Ben Tate, Running Back

    Everyone thought the Cleveland Browns were crazy for trading former third overall pick Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, and they were—crazy like a fox.

    Despite that shrewd trade, the simple truth is that they desperately need a running back. They could (and probably will) grab a back at some point in the draft, but they’ll need a veteran as well. Luckily, the free-agency market is full of options.

    Bleacher Report NFL analyst and draft expert Matt Miller mentions the Houston Texans’ Ben Tate, and I couldn’t agree more.

    He has proved his worth over and over again for the Texans, but with Arian Foster in house and a deep need for a quarterback, Houston won’t spend the money to keep him.

    The Browns should go after him. Tate has shown breakaway speed, excellent strength and great vision to find the holes and pop through them quickly.

    He’d be the answer to Cleveland’s problems on the ground.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Offensive Tackle, Eric Winston

    The offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn’t quite as bad as it played, in part because it was dealing as much with injury as inability, but it still needs help.

    Enter Eric Winston, right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals.

    He isn’t coming off a stellar seasonas evidenced by his No. 69 ranking by Pro Football Focus (subscription link)but as Nagler points out in the attached video, Winston would be a natural fit into the spread scheme that the Steelers can run. I think he’d have a bounce-back year among better linemen.

    It’s possible that Arizona hangs onto him—it has its own issues on the offensive line—but after the season he had, the Cardinals may let him walk. The Steelers should be able to get him for a song.

Houston Texans

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    James Ihedigbo, Safety

    The Houston Texans’ biggest issue—quarterback—isn’t getting fixed in this free-agency class, so they can address some other needs.

    First and foremost on the list is the secondary, specifically the safety position.

    Recently, Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler broke down the position and named Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo as the guy they should chase.

    As Nagler points out, just because they were burned by Ed Reed doesn’t mean they should never tap the Ravens well again. Ihedigbo is adept in coverage as well as run support and is enough of a threat in coverage that quarterbacks will think twice about throwing his way.

    The Ravens may make a play to keep him, but at the end of the day, they have bigger fish to fry.

    That leaves Ihedigbo able to join the Texans and take advantage of what their front seven can do to a quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Alex Mack, Center

    With a quarterback like Andrew Luck, the Colts have no excuse to let him get hit as often as he was last season. While he was only sacked 32 times, he was hit 109 times, which was the third-most allowed by an offensive line in the NFL, per NFL.com.

    Center Alex Mack of the Cleveland Browns would be an excellent start to rebuilding the Indianapolis offensive line.

    The Browns may find him too expensive to keep, but for the Colts, the investment would be prudent. According to OverTheCap.com, they have plenty of money to spend.

    What better way to spend it than using it to protect your single biggest investment?

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Ben Tate, Running Back

    While the Jacksonville Jaguars might let running back Maurice Jones-Drew go, due to a combination of age and contract requirements, they might find a younger and cheaper option in Ben Tate.

    The soon-to-be former Houston Texan has proved that he can be an effective running back during his time backing up Arian Foster, and while the Jaguars have a lot of issues to fix, many of them aren’t anything they can take care of in free agency.

    Running back is something they can address, though, and should. Whether they have a new quarterback or stick with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne another year, they need a strong run game to help take the pressure off their signal-caller.

    Tate has proved he is more than capable of doing that.

Tennessee Titans

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    David Kohl/Associated Press

    Dennis Pitta, Tight End

    While the Tennessee Titans got plenty of value out of the free-agency signing that brought them former San Francisco 49ers tight end Delanie Walker, he lacks any real pop. He’s a good player, but he isn't someone they can lean on.

    Enter Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta.

    He lost most of the 2013 season to a hip injury, but teams around the NFL may take a chance on an athletic tight end who can make plays.

    Of course, the Ravens know this as well and could make a strong play for him or potentially apply the franchise tag.

    If they allow him to hit free agency, the Titans should jump on him. While the wide receivers are solid, a playmaker at tight end could be huge.

    Pitta can make plays and would be a reliable target for whoever ends up under center in 2014.

Denver Broncos

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cornerback

    After taking a few minutes to absorb one of the more crushing losses in Super Bowl history, the Denver Broncos will need to begin the business of the offseason. The draft will be here before they know it, but before that is free agency.

    What’s the best fit for the Broncos in free agency? Well, might I suggest starting at home and signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a long-term deal?

    While it’s not as sexy as convincing a guy like safety Jairus Byrd or cornerback Brent Grimes to move to the Mile High City, Rodgers-Cromartie is the best move.

    He was Pro Football Focus’ No. 5-ranked cornerback for 2013 (subscription link), and while he wasn’t terribly effective against the run, he stood up well in tandem with Chris Harris.

    The Broncos were so close to a championship this year. Keeping Rodgers-Cromartie would be a big step toward returning for another shot.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Hakeem Nicks, Wide Receiver

    It’s clear at this point in his seven-year career that Dwayne Bowe is who he is—a very good receiver who will never be great.

    Next to him stand the inconsistent Donnie Avery and a cast of nobodies. The Chiefs’ most exciting receiver—Dexter McCluster—was only intermittently so and is a free agent this offseason.

    This team needs a quality receiver if it is to vie for dominance in the AFC.

    Hakeem Nicks seems to have worn out his welcome with the New York Giants. While he has flashed a lot of ability, the last two years have been marred by inconsistency and injury.

    As a result, the Chiefs can probably pick him up relatively cheap. He will want to prove himself, while the Chiefs need someone to free up Bowe from coverage.

    Nicks is much better than he looked last season and would be a great addition to the Chiefs this offseason.

Oakland Raiders

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Michael Vick, Quarterback

    While the Oakland Raiders have a ton of needs to address, the chief one is quarterback.

    While both Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin had their moments, neither of them seems ready to take over. Vick may be getting old, but he still has two or three more years left.

    On top of it, he has a combination of positive aspects from the two quarterbacks already in Oakland. Vick has enough mobility to remind you of Pryor and has a solid arm like McGloin.

    He has also been around young quarterbacks as well and is comfortable taking a back seat when the younger man is ready to emerge. So if McGloin, Pryor or another quarterback is ready to take over, he would step aside and still be a good teammate.

    Finally, he’s the only starting-level free-agent quarterback around. Everyone else who is a free agent has either failed as a starter or has never shown enough ability to be one.

    Vick won’t be a long-term answer, but he’ll hold the line long enough for the team to find one.

San Diego Chargers

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    Corey Graham, Cornerback

    The San Diego Chargers surprised a lot of people in the 2013 but came up a little short in the playoffs.

    One of the reasons was the lack of a solid cornerback to help shut down players like Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

    Multiple corners are worth a look in free agency this year, from Brent Grimes to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but Bleacher Report NFL analyst Aaron Nagler recently touched on a guy who would be a great fit.

    Baltimore Ravens corner Corey Graham would bring a lot of experience and success to the unit, and his versatility allows him to fit any scheme or style of defense.

    The Chargers need more help in the secondary—especially with the likes of Manning on their schedule twice per year—and aside from safety Eric Weddle, they don't have much talent there.

    Along with Weddle, Graham could shore up the secondary and hopefully put the offense in better field position by killing opposing drives more quickly.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Willie Young, Defensive End

    With the shift to a 4-3 defense done, the Dallas Cowboys now have to finish putting together a group of players who can fill it out effectively. George Selvie and DeMarcus Ware are both serviceable, but Ware is getting old, and Selvie isn’t ever going to be more than an average defensive end.

    They need some more talent at the position, and a very good—and potentially not terribly expensive—choice would be Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young.

    He is just starting to come into his own, and while he hasn’t been a prolific sack artist thus far in his career, some of that is because he had teammates like Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and rookie Ziggy Ansah to produce the sacks.

    The Lions had less sacks across the board this season as well, so while his three sacks aren’t mind-blowing, it’s a solid number with all things considered.

    Young’s speed and athleticism would be great across from Ware or Selvie, and he has the upside to bring some pressure from the edge.

    He’ll be cheap too, which means Dallas might be able to lock him down for quite a while.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Shaun Phillips, Defensive End 

    It’s easy to look at the Philadelphia Eagles and see a lot more room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side.

    The Eagles were on the lower side of the NFL in sacks, ranking at No. 20 with just 37—actually only six more than the 32nd-ranked Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The best-case scenario is that they find a way to pry Shaun Phillips away from the Denver Broncos.

    He just finished up a dirt-cheap, one-year contract with the Broncos, earning just $1.4 million. What the team got in return was a player who put together a 10-sack, 29-tackle season.

    Suffice it to say, the Broncos will want to keep him around, while Phillips will want a lot more money.

    According to OvertheCap.com, the Eagles have some money to burn—about $20 million, in fact. Denver only has $12.8 million to spend.

    If Phillips decides to test free agency to see what he could net, the Eagles could easily outbid Denver. He would be a big help in improving the defense going into 2014.

New York Giants

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Branden Albert, Offensive Tackle

    The window is likely closing on the New York Giants for a shot at another Super Bowl. Given the age of some positional groups and the young up-and-coming teams across the NFC, the Giants may have already seen it close.

    Whether or not that’s true, they have to turn things around quickly, and the heart of their issues this past season was on offense. More specifically, the offensive line needs work.

    Adding almost any player would be an improvement, but for a big impact, Branden Albert is the guy.

    He is on the downside of his career and missed four games this past season, but he remains an outstanding pass-blocking specialist. He would be able to protect Eli Manning’s left side with no problem.

    Building an offensive line can take time, but a team needs a cornerstone to build on. Albert can be that guy for the Giants.

Washington Redskins

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Brent Grimes, Cornerback

    While the Washington Redskins were able to get pressure with their offensive front, the secondary almost always let them down.

    The answer? Have owner Dan Snyder back a bank truck to his money bin and load it up with as much money as possible to grab Brent Grimes. Washington will have competition from the Miami Dolphins, as they will want to keep him around.

    However, we know that the Washington owner is more than willing to overpay, so barring an early contract or a franchise tag, Grimes will at least get to hear Snyder out.

    Ranked as the second-best cornerback in 2013 by Pro Football Focus (subscription link), he bounced back from a couple of injury-plagued campaigns and an Achilles injury that ended his 2012 season.

    He had always been talented, but his health was suspect. Now that he’s healthy, the talent is coming to the forefront.

    Washington can get a good push with its front seven, but the secondary could never hold coverage, which negated the pass rush. Signing Grimes would go a long way toward improving not only the play of the secondary but that of the pass rush as well.

Chicago Bears

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    Donte Whitner, Safety

    If the Chicago Bears dip their toe into free agency, it will be for a defensive player (maybe more than one). While there are many interesting angles to take, they have to improve at safety.

    This is another place where Matt Miller chimed in with a video recently and came up with a solid option—Donte Whitner.

    Ranked as the No. 6 safety in the NFL in 2013 by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he is a solid coverage safety who can hammer people across the middle. We all saw how the Seattle Seahawks used safety Kam Chancellor as an enforcer during games.

    Whitner can do the same and is very good in stopping the run as well, which was a huge issue for the Bears defense last season.

    The only downside is a penchant for high hits that result in flags or fines, but if Chicago is willing to overlook that to bring back some ferocity to what was a toothless defense last season, Whitner would be a great signing.

Detroit Lions

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    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cornerback

    Every season, the Detroit Lions struggle along the secondary, and this past year was no different.

    Even the usually stalwart Chris Houston had a bad season, as the secondary was routinely picked apart.

    With their defensive front, they have no excuse for having a secondary that can’t hold up. The team needs to go after a cornerback in free agency as soon as possible.

    Of course, the Lions face a big hurdle—according to OverTheCap.com, they are $5.3 million over the cap for 2014. That means they have some cutting to do before they can attack free agency.

    Assuming they sort out their finances, they should immediately call Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. As mentioned previously in the Denver slide, he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 5-ranked cornerback for 2013 (subscription link) and had a tremendous season.

    He would be a huge help to Houston on the other side and finally give the Lions a secondary to take advantage of the intense pass rush of the front seven.

Green Bay Packers

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    Chris Clemons, Safety

    We know that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson doesn’t go deep into free agency, but this might be an offseason to make a change in that arena.

    The Packers were awful against the pass again, and the secondary—specifically the play of the safeties—was a huge reason why.

    Recently, Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler weighed in on whom the Packers should pursue. As the man started his career by building a site called CheeseheadTV.com, when Nagler talks about Green Bay, I tend to listen.

    While Jairus Byrd would be a great upgrade, he is going to be too expensive. Instead, I agree with Nagler that Chris Clemons is a great fit for what the Packers need from their safeties.

    When they were beat up by the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs, a key play at the end of the game was Niners tight end Vernon Davis’ touchdown. On the play, safety Morgan Burnett was too slow to react to Davis, which left linebacker A.J. Hawk in single coverage—something nobody on Green Bay’s defense wants.

    To make matter worse, a late-arriving Burnett went for the pick, not the tackle.

    Which is why Clemons, who is strong in coverage, is perfect for the Packers. He will go for a pick but not at the cost of a big gain. With him in coverage, Burnett could roam a bit more and not be forced into situations like that Davis touchdown.

    The Packers need help in the secondary, and Clemons would be a great fit for what they need.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Michael Johnson, Defensive End

    The Minnesota Vikings need more out of their defense than they got last year, and new head coach Mike Zimmer has shown he can wring talent out of any player.

    Coming from the Cincinnati Bengals, it wouldn’t shock anyone if Zimmer brought over a player or two from his defense.

    If you’re talking about Bengals free agents, then you start by talking about defensive end Michael Johnson.

    Ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 4 defensive end in 2013 (subscription link), Johnson’s versatility, speed and athleticism would fit in well with the front line of Sharrif Floyd, Kevin Williams (if he is re-signed) and Brian Robinson.

    The Vikings have a ton of cap space, according to OverTheCap.com—$23.5 million—so money isn’t an issue. We know Zimmer likes Johnson a lot, so expect this to not only happen but happen quickly once free agency kicks off.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Roger Saffold, Offensive Tackle

    Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler nailed it to open his recent video on the offensive tackles that the Atlanta Falcons should be pursuing when he said, “It doesn’t do a team any good to have a $100 million quarterback if he’s always running for his life.”

    He also nailed it with his choice of Roger Saffold. It would be nice to see the team go after Eugene Monroe, but more than likely, he will need a higher-value contract. At age 29, Branden Albert is probably older than they’d like to go, especially for the money he will want—so you can count him out as well.

    Saffold spent 15 games at guard in 2013, not tackle, but he started every game at left tackle in his rookie year and played well. He performed admirably at guard last season, but he may view himself as a tackle since he proved he can play at the pro level in his rookie year.

    With the arrival of Jake Long last season, it seems clear that chance won’t come with the Rams.

    He’d be a clear upgrade over anyone the Falcons might throw in there, including Sam Baker, and Saffold's price won’t be ridiculous.

Carolina Panthers

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Emmanuel Sanders, Wide Receiver

    This year the Carolina Panthers again suffered from a lack of a true No. 2 wide receiver.

    It’s even worse because their primary receiver—Steve Smith—is aging and unable to overcome tight coverage as effectively as he used to. Without a real threat across the field, he just can’t find open space.

    Now, with Brandon LaFell a free agent, it’s not going to get easier.

    Enter Emmanuel Sanders, who is coming off his first 100-catch season, with career highs in yardage (740) and touchdowns (six).

    As we touched on earlier in this piece, he is a good vertical threat who is able to get separation from defensive backs with his speed and crisp route running. With Smith being not much of a vertical threat these days, Sanders would draw the defense away and stretch the secondary out, allowing Smith to find more room on shorter routes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Lamarr Houston, Defensive End

    If this team is run by new head coach Lovie Smith, then defense will be the order of the day. We can expect not only a defense-heavy draft but a defense-heavy dip into free agency as well.

    Coming off career highs in tackles (69) and sacks (six), Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston is looking for a nice payday and assumes he’s on his way out of the Bay Area, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Scott Bair.

    Houston was the only decent pass-rusher on the defensive line and would be a great fit next to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and across the line from Adrian Clayborn.

    He’d be replacing Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (who was a disaster this year) or Da’Quan Bowers (who has disappointed since entering the league).

    Lovie Smith is all about the pass rush, so adding a guy like Houston is a perfect way to get Tampa Bay’s defense where the coach wants it.

New Orleans Saints

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    Robert Ayers, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

    The biggest issue that the New Orleans Saints will have to deal with in free agency is simply a complete lack of money. As it stands, they are somewhere between $12,057,010, via OvertheCap.com, and $15,249,590, via Spotrac.com, over the cap.

    Either way, that’s not good, and with tight end Jimmy Graham’s contract up, it’s going to get worse.

    Matt Miller’s choice of Robert Ayers is an intriguing one, as the Broncos defensive end does seem to fit the profile of what defensive coordinator Rob Ryan looks for in an outside linebacker.

    While some feel defensive end is a better fit for Ayers, he played linebacker frequently for the Broncos after coming into the league and could transition back into the spot.

    He is coming off his five-year, $13 million rookie contract and could be had for a reasonable price.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Branden Albert, Offensive Tackle

    Not shockingly, this isn’t Branden Albert’s first appearance on this list.

    Like the New York Giants earlier in this piece, the Arizona Cardinals are still looking to improve their offensive line. Ranked No. 32 by Pro Football Focus, the offensive line is book-ended by tackles whom PFF ranked at No. 69 and No. 76, respectively—out of 76 tackles analyzed.

    A change has to be made, and Albert could step in and shore up the left tackle spot immediately.

    The Cardinals don't have much cap space—OverTheCap.com has them with just over $1 million to spend—but they could improve their lot with some judicious cuts.

    Albert would help protect Carson Palmer and give him the time to allow guys like Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald to find separation.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Captain Munnerlyn, Cornerback

    With some cap issues, the San Francisco 49ers are limited in what they can do in free agency. They’ll make some moves and find cap space somewhere, but as of right now, they have about $5.5 million in cap space, according to OverTheCap.com.

    That’s very little money to bring in a quality wide receiver, but it could be enough to net them a good cornerback.

    That leaves them with a guy like Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

    He was ranked as the No. 11 cornerback in 2013 by Pro Football Focus (subscription link), and he rated very favorably both in coverage and against the run. While not a shutdown corner who can be left on an island, he is a solid cover corner who wouldn’t always need safety help over the top.

    He is also just 25 years old and has a lot of years left in his career. He could be signed to a long-term deal and help this defense stay young. Munnerlyn is the type of guy who will continue to improve with age and experience while taking advantage of San Francisco's potent pass rush.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Alex Mack, Center

    Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks will tell you that there’s room to improve. They’re right too, as the offensive line is probably the one weak link on this team.

    A combination of running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson kept that from being a disaster, but it wasn’t pretty—as evidenced by Pro Football Focus ranking the line as No. 30 in the league.

    Of course there were injuries, but the line is the one place where there have been questions for a long time.

    While Max Unger has played well at center for a long time, he had issues this season, and it would be nice (for Seattle fans, if nobody else) to see the Seahawks take a run at Alex Mack.

    He might price himself out of the Cleveland market, and that could be an issue for Seattle as well, but the Seahawks have a few places where they can cut back. For a center who would be a tremendous anchor for the line, the effort would be well worth it.

St. Louis Rams

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    Husain Abdullah, Safety

    The St. Louis Rams secondary was streaky in 2013, especially at safety. They need an upgrade at the position, and Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler came up with a good solution in a recent video.

    With some cap issues, it will be hard for them to go after top guys like Jairus Byrd or Donte Whitner.

    Instead, Nagler points to Husain Abdullah, a young safety who is good against the run as well as in coverage.

    The Chiefs have Eric Berry and never much used Abdullah, so it’s unlikely they will fight hard to keep him. As he also plays special teams, he would enhance more than one aspect of the Rams and for a low cost.

     

    Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.

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