NFL free agency is almost here, which means the rumor mill is ablaze with the latest supposed happenings set to impact the league's future.
With the deadline to slap a player with the franchise tag set for March 3—the market opens on March 11—it is safe to say things have hit a fever pitch.
Free agency is an important and exciting time for all teams, as players of different values and costs can be acquired to help supplement a championship roster crafted through the draft. (That is how it is supposed to be done, at least.)
Be sure not to blink, though, as the following big names are just the tip of the iceberg.
Ravens Make Daryl Smith a Priority?
Daryl Smith was quietly one of the best linebackers in the NFL last season.
After nine seasons in Jacksonville, Smith signed with Baltimore last offseason to little fanfare and ended up leading the team with 123 total tackles. He also recorded three interceptions and two forced fumbles while missing just two defensive snaps for the entire year.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are intent on bringing back Smith:
Ravens also making Daryl Smith a priority to retain although no deal imminent according to a source— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 1, 2014
Remember, it was not too long ago that Smith told Wilson he wanted to be back in Baltimore:
Most definitely, I love it here and would love to be back. I think they want me back, but we’ll see. Only time will tell. I know they’ve got a lot of stuff to do this year, and a lot of guys up [with their contracts]. So, we’ll see. I came in and did the best I could, so we'll see what happens.
Considering the fact that Smith is going to be 32 years old by the time next season rolls around, it would make sense if he wanted to test the market in order to cash in on what could be his last chance to land a big contract.
Baltimore obviously wants to prevent Smith from hitting the open market, however, as a number of contenders would surely drive up Smith's price. If Smith does leave, it would open up another hole the Ravens have to address this offseason.
Louis Delmas an Option for Falcons?
The Atlanta Falcons now have a need in the back end of their defense with the news that they will be releasing safety Thomas DeCoud in order to avoid a large cap hit, per Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin:
#Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud will be released by the 4th day of the league year, if not before, per a league source.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) February 26, 2014
Louis Delmas is on the market and would surely love to play for a contender such as Atlanta, so a link between the two sides makes sense.
According to ESPN's Vaughn McClure, the two have had a "dialogue," although nothing substantial has come of it:
There has been dialogue between the Falcons and free agent Louis Delmas, who was recently released by the Detroit Lions. However, Delmas has yet to take a visit to Atlanta after reportedly visiting both Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Knee concerns may have something to do with Delmas and the Falcons being unable to connect. But there’s no doubt that Delmas has the type of toughness and ball skills the Falcons are looking for opposite Moore.
Delmas played in the first 16-game season of his career last year and notched 64 tackles and three picks, but was not without his struggles. A change of scenery may not hurt, but right now it appears the Falcons are checking out every option thanks to Delmas' injury history.
The Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Saga Continues
Fresh off a beat down in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos are looking for a way to keep the band together for another run.
That race starts and ends with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
While that is quite the claim considering that players like Knowshon Moreno and Eric Decker are headed to free agency as well, Fox Sports' Ross Jones confirmed the notion and says the two sides met at the combine to discuss a new deal.
Should the Broncos re-sign DRC?
Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better corners in the league when he's on his game, but he has bounced around with three different teams. He landed in Denver for a cool $5 million last year and has presumably earned more than that after his performance in 2013.
The Broncos are in trouble if they cannot find a way to reel in Rodgers-Cromartie before he hits the market. Cornerback figures to be a top priority in the draft as well, but an explosive offense will be held back by a shaky, young secondary if Rodgers-Cromartie is not back in the fold.
Expect both sides to work something out before the deadline.