NFL Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Big-Name Players on Market

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NFL Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Big-Name Players on Market
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The franchise tag has removed most of the truly marquee names from the NFL free-agent market, but there are still a few notables for teams to bid for.

Some positions have multiple star free agents, but quarterback isn't one of them. The most important position on the field might just have its weakest crop of free agents in recent memory.

Michael Vick is by far the biggest name available, but there are many who believe he is past his prime.

That said, it is still the glamour position of the NFL, so we'll start there.

 

Where Will Michael Vick Land?

Michael Perez/Associated Press

Per Omar Kelly of The Miami Sun-Sentinel, Vick has interest from at least five teams. 

Kelly talks about how down many are on Vick's ability to be a valuable asset to a team. Over the last two seasons, Vick has had trouble staying healthy and holding on to the football. 

In that span, he's played in just 17 games and fumbled 15 times. That's a bit concerning, but there's no doubting Vick still has the athleticism, arm strength and leadership qualities teams need from a quarterback.

At 33 years old, there is no more upside for Vick. He is what he is, but he's proven that in the right situation he can still be dynamic. In 2010 and 2011 combined, he compiled a record of 15 wins and nine losses while throwing 39 touchdown passes to just 20 interceptions.

It's highly unlikely his skills have eroded in just three years.

In the beginning of February, ESPN's Adam Schefter named the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as possible suitors for Vick.

Mike Glennon played well enough in his rookie season to give him a decided edge on Vick heading into the 2014 season. That dynamic would probably make the Jets a bit more attractive to Vick.

Bob Grotz of the San Jose Mercury News and Delaware County Daily Times reports that Vick wants to start. He'd likely have his best chance at winning the job in New York. The Jets drafted Geno Smith last season, but he struggled with a lack of weapons.

Smith was third in the NFL in interceptions with 21. The Jets job is one Vick could win.

Prediction: Jets

 

Jairus is a Free Byrd

Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Buffalo Bills chose not to franchise tag Byrd for a second year in a row. Unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, Byrd is now arguably the best player available on the open market.

The Pro Bowler and second-team All-NFL safety told NFL on ESPN a return to Buffalo is still possible.

You have to wonder why the Bills would risk allowing a team the opportunity to wow Byrd with a lucrative deal. This smells like another instance where the Bills are going to allow a big-time player walk away in free agency.

It happened with Adam Levitre in 2012.

There are several teams with a need at safety, but the Philadelphia Eagles are the club that sticks out as a solid landing spot for Byrd.

Philly's defense was woeful much of the year. The unit needs a veteran presence in its secondary and a playmaker. Byrd is a five-year pro with 22 career interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. He could fill both needs for the Eagles.

Prediction: Eagles

 

Michael Bennett Should Head to the Midwest

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

After a stellar year for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, it's time for Bennett to get paid. With proven pass-rushers at a premium, a few teams will likely be interested in signing him.

Per NFL on ESPN, Bennett has already decided to test free agency. This highly increases the chances he'll play elsewhere in 2014.

The Chicago Bears are perhaps the best fit for him. 

Not only does the team desperately need help on the defensive line, but Bennett's brother, Martellus, is the Bears' starting tight end. Per Patrick Finley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Martellus has said he will "act like a college recruiting coach" to get Michael to join him in Chicago.

How much the Bears potentially offer Bennett hinges on what the team's decisions are on free-agent Corey Wootton and aging veteran Julius Peppers. In order to get Bennett the type of money he'll command, the Bears need to free up some money. Retaining Peppers, Wootton and signing Bennett almost certainly won't happen.

In the end, it seems only right that Bennett would land in Chicago.

Prediction: Bears

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