Although many top names in this year’s NFL free-agency class have been taken off the market, there are still many names available that could drastically change the outcome of a franchise.
The first two days of free agency have provided us with drama at every turn. Fortunately, there’s still a lot of intrigue and excitement left to come before it is all said and done.
Who will be the next big-name free agent to make headlines?
Here are predictions for some of the most exciting stars still on the market:
|Name||Position||Former Team||Predicted Team|
|Jared Allen||DE||Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks|
|Anthony Colins||OL||Cincinnati Bengals||Oakland Raiders|
|Julian Edelman||WR||New England Patriots||Cleveland Browns|
|Henry Melton||DT||Chicago Bears||Dallas Cowboys|
|Hakeem Nicks||WR||New York Giants||Carolina Panthers|
|Julius Peppers||DE||Chicago Bears||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Ben Tate||RB||Houston Texans||Cleveland Browns|
|Walter Thurmond||CB||Seattle Seahawks||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Brandon Spikes||ILB||New England Patriots||Minnesota Vikings|
|Michael Vick||QB||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Jets|
Henry Melton, DT
Could Henry Melton’s torn ACL back in September cost him in free agency?
Most likely, yes. He could be looking at a loss of millions in whatever deal he receives.
But, as author Jeff Sullivan notes, that doesn’t mean interest in the six-year veteran isn’t there:
Cowboys are targeting Henry Melton. Like now. Lot of mutual interest. Could happen quickly.— Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) March 11, 2014
The Dallas Cowboys would make a lot of sense for both parties.
After missing the entire 2013 season, Melton will be looking for an opportunity to prove that he still has it. Meanwhile, the Cowboys will be looking for someone to come in and lessen the blow of losing DeMarcus Ware on the defensive line.
Melton certainly has the talent to succeed in Dallas. He recorded 68 tackles and 13.0 sacks from 2011-12 with the Chicago Bears.
Needless to say, if the Cowboys can land Melton, they would be getting one heck of a bargain.
Hakeem Nicks, WR
Nicks won’t let a poor 2013 campaign affect his stock over free agency.
In 15 games last season, the Charlotte, N.C., native hauled in 56 passes for 896 yards, but was held without a touchdown for the first time in his career. Still, several teams appear to be interested.
One of those teams happens to be his hometown Carolina Panthers.
After releasing Steve Smith, per ESPN, the Panthers just so happen to have the cap space available to bring in Nicks. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the team is offering a deal worth around $4.5 million a year.
Speaking with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Nicks made it clear what he’s looking for in free agency:
Ideally this is what I want: I want to go to a team where I'm the missing link. There are a number of teams that I have my eye on once I hit the market. I know if I went to a place like Indianapolis I would be dangerous with a quarterback like Andrew Luck. I can see myself catching passes from Cam Newton or even Philip Rivers. Players have already started to reach out to me from other teams saying they would love for me to come join them. I just want to make it clear that I want a long-term deal and I want to be happy. I'm excited about talking to teams and making it work.
If Carolina is able to land the North Carolina product, the team will go a long way in replacing Smith. After all, it’s not like Smith’s season was that much better than Nicks’—64 REC, 745 YDS, 4 TD.
At 26, Nicks is still relatively young. Not to mention, his 16.0 yards per catch registered as the most since his rookie season (2009).
A change of scenery could be just what Nicks needs to get back on track.
Michael Vick, QB
It wasn’t too long ago that Vick revitalized the Philadelphia Eagles under center.
According to NFL Around the League’s Dan Hanzus, the 13-year veteran still believes he has a lot to offer:
Vick to @DanHanzus: I will "absolutely" be starter Week 1 next season.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) January 30, 2014
The New York Jets are a very viable candidate to pick Vick up. Especially after another one of their top targets—former Chicago Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown—recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, via The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer.
If such a move happens, Vick would reunite with his former offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg.
Current Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith had quite the up-and-down rookie season in 2013. It was a year that left doubt on whether or not he could serve as the team’s quarterback of the future.
At 33, Vick has a lot of experience—both good and bad—that could serve to not only help Smith’s growth, but also help New York get back to its winning ways.