The 2014 NFL free-agency period started with a bang on Tuesday, as several big-name players were snatched off the market by teams willing to pay big money. There are many notable names still available and ripe for the picking.
Most of these players will also require a hefty amount of money, so it is important to analyze which teams would be good fits due to cap restraints as well as schematic fits.
Let's take a look at a few players left available heading into Wednesday and the teams that would be their best fits going forward.
Henry Melton: Tennessee Titans
Last season, Henry Melton's absence was felt heavily in Chicago. After tearing his ACL, the Bears suffered against the run, allowing an average of 161.4 yards on the ground to finish dead last in the league. Even though he is coming off injury, Melton has shown that he can be one of the league's top defensive tackles when healthy.
In 2012, Melton recorded 44 tackles and six sacks—just one sack shy of his career-high seven in 2011. The Titans have a young, athletic front seven but could use additional firepower after accumulating just 36 sacks last season.
Sacks weren't Tennessee's only defensive problem, as the team finished ranked 20th against the run, allowing an average of 112.2 yards per game. Adding Melton would immediately solve both of those problems.
Entering into free agency, the Titans had over $8 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.com. Even though they don't have much room to work with, that could still change. The team is openly shopping Chris Johnson, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. His departure would free up plenty of room.
The Titans already have one solid defensive tackle in Jurrell Casey, and with Melton by his side, the team's defensive line could move into the ranks of the NFL's elite.
Eric Decker: Cleveland Browns
The Browns already made a huge splash on the first day of free agency; however, they geared their focus toward the defensive side of the ball. With an available $55.1 million in cap space at the start of free agency, according to Spotrac.com, they have the tools to get several big deals done.
More than likely, the Browns will focus on drafting a quarterback early in May. Although, a rookie signal-caller demands plenty of friendly weapons. Josh Gordon has been a revelation for Cleveland, but the team lacks a true No. 2 option.
In that role in Denver, Decker put up some gaudy numbers. He finished the 2013 season recording 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. His success was partly due to the fact that he played a complementary role to Demaryius Thomas—he would have the same role with the Browns.
Decker shouldn't be signed to be a No. 1 receiver, and the Browns don't need him for that reason. Adding Decker to play across from Gordon would be a huge step in the right direction to climb the ranks of the highly competitive AFC North.
Ben Tate: Jacksonville Jaguars
I think I can bring you an elite running back. I've learned a lot being behind Arian. Definitely, when I'm healthy I think I'm an elite running back in this league, and I feel like I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself, and guys will be able to see that I am a guy who is a top-five running back in this league, which I believe once I get out there and get to show that on a consistent basis. That's something I'm more excited for and something that I'm working hard this offseason just to prove my worth, that I am that person or that player that I think I am.
Health has been a bit of a concern for Tate; however, when he is full-go, he has shown a great amount of explosiveness and physicality. Over the past three seasons, Tate averaged 5.4, 4.3 and 4.3 yards per carry, respectively. He has a natural one-cut ability that makes him a perfect addition to complement another running back in a committee approach.
With Maurice Jones-Drew hitting free agency, the Jaguars are in major need of a quality running back. Tate would not be an expensive option—even though the team had over $54.8 million in cap space entering free agency, according to Spotrac.com—and would allow Jacksonville to continue its offensive restructuring.
Signing Tate and selecting another complementary running back in the draft may be the best way to go here. After all, the Jaguars could certainly have a rookie quarterback at the helm this season and will need a solid running game while he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.
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