With the passing of the franchise tag deadline, the beginning of free agency in the NFL is the next big event during the offseason.
And with just a few days standing between now and the market officially opening on March 11 at 4 p.m. ET, nearly every team in the NFL will be looking to boost its roster by making huge acquisitions through free agency.
Names like Jimmy Graham and Greg Hardy have already been locked up by their teams via the franchise tag, but several other names were left off the the tag list.
Before the trade deadline officially starts in a week, here is a look at the latest on a few of the top players left off the franchise tag list.
Eric Decker Landing in Indy?
One of the hottest commodities in the entire NFL, Eric Decker is sure to be a hot name as the opening of free agency nears. And as of now, it appears his quarterback's former team might want his services.
Vic Lombardi of CBS 4 in Denver reports that the Indianapolis Colts have expressed interest in signing the Denver Broncos receiver:
Among the teams that have interest in Eric Decker ... Indy. If he can't play with PFM, he'd love to roll with Andrew Luck.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 27, 2014
Unfortunately for Peyton Manning, it looks like Andrew Luck might once again get to throw to one of his favorite receivers. With Reggie Wayne hopefully making a full recovery from his ACL injury and Decker on the opposite side with 2013 breakout star T.Y. Hilton adding depth, Luck would have a plethora of targets.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com notes the wealth at the receiver position and the benefits for Decker in leaving one legend for an emerging one:
Decker's size and route running would be a nice complement alongside T.Y. Hilton and Da'Rick Rogers (who showed flashes of explosive potential last season). Wayne plans to return from his ACL tear, but taking some pressure off the 35-year-old is a necessity for the Colts.
From Decker's perspective, he'd be trading a living legend for arguably the best young passer in the NFL -- exactly what the Colts did two years ago.
The fit makes sense not only for Decker but also for the Colts' future. With Wayne entering his 15th season, the heir apparent to his throne needs to be found immediately.
A young core in Hilton and Da'Rick Rogers might be a good start, but the abilities of Decker could continue to help the Colts make the playoffs and be a contender for years to come.
D'Qwell Jackson Drawing Interest from Multiple Teams
He might not be one of the biggest names on the market, but D'Qwell Jackson is going on a tour fit for Manning after leaving the Colts years ago.
The free-agent linebacker actually visited with the Broncos, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post:
D'Qwell Jackson left Monday impressed with Broncos but not yet ready to call Denver home. “He had a great visit,” said agent Brian Mackler.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 4, 2014
Denver is in need of a linebacker, especially after being blown up in the Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks. Though there are other holes the Broncos need to fill, signing Jackson is the first step in a long line of moves the Broncos could be making this offseason.
But Denver isn't the only team courting the former Cleveland Browns linebacker. Klis also notes that Jackson will be visiting with the Miami Dolphins:
D'Qwell Jackson en route to Miami for visit with Dolphins, then one other unnamed team.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 4, 2014
Following the announcement that Jackson will be continuing his NFL tour in Miami, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com points out why the courting is an interesting one for the Dolphins:
The Dolphins are interesting suitors, as their pursuit signals a dissatisfaction with Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe -- two of former general manager Jeff Ireland's big-ticket purchases during last offseason's shopping spree.
In a division where the New England Patriots have sat on the throne for the better part of the last decade, the Dolphins are in need of players who can get them over the hump.
While Jackson isn't a huge get who could win the division for the Dolphins, he is a sure tackler and a veteran in the front seven who can make a difference. Wherever he eventually lands, Jackson has a chance to make an impact and potentially get to the playoffs, something he wasn't used to with the Browns.
Eugene Monroe and Ravens Not Close in Negotiations
After locking up Dennis Pitta to a five-year deal, the Baltimore Ravens immediately started working on negotiations with star offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear those contract talks are going quite as well with the lineman, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun:
The Ravens remain far apart in contract negotiations with offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, according to sources.
Although both sides are highly motivated to hammer out a deal and some progress has been made, sources say there's a significant gap to be bridged to reach a financial compromise.
While Monroe wasn't with the Ravens during the run to the 2013 Super Bowl victory, he was a great blocker for Joe Flacco in the final season of his contract after coming over from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to Wilson, Baltimore is still expected to be $27 million below the $133 million salary-cap limit and will have room to work with during the negotiations. And with the franchise tag deadline passing, it appears a long-term deal might be the only option for the 26-year-old lineman.
Monroe, who ranks as the 11th overall free agent and No. 2 left tackle by Wesseling, will be a huge name if he hits the free-agent market. But with a franchise quarterback on a lofty long-term deal, expect the Ravens to woo Monroe into sticking around for the foreseeable future.
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