2014 NFL Free Agents: Projecting Landing Spots for Top Names Still on Market

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMarch 13, 2014

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 28:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium on October 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We are now three days into the 2014 NFL free-agency period and plenty of big names remain on the market. There has been a flurry of activity so far, as many well-known players have found new homes.

However, some available free agents still demand plenty of attention, as they are sure to provide huge upgrades to a new team's roster. Not every team has the cap space or schematic fit for these players, so let's take a look at the most likely destinations for some of the top names still on the free-agent market.


Henry Melton: Minnesota Vikings

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 25: Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Brandon Fusco #63 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 25, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 28-10.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty I
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted Wednesday that Melton was expected to visit the Vikings on Thursday:

Don't expect him to leave Minnesota without a deal.

The Vikings could use help on the interior of the defensive line alongside former first-round pick Sharrif Floyd. The team not only needs a run-stuffing presence, but lacks pass-rushing firepower due to the departure of defensive end Jared Allen to free agency.

Melton provides answers to both of these problems.

Before suffering a torn ACL in 2013, Melton was on the brink of becoming one of the league's dominant defensive tackles. In 2012, he recorded 44 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles with the Chicago Bears.

New head coach Mike Zimmer flourished as the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator due to a deep rotation on the defensive line. He will bring that same philosophy to Minnesota.

The Vikings could get a friendly contract done with Melton, as his recent injury should drive down his asking price. According to Spotrac.com, the Vikings still have over $19.5 million in cap space—more than enough room to get this deal done.


Hakeem Nicks: Indianapolis Colts

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 10:   Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants runs after a catch against  Phillip Adams #28 of the Oakland Raiders during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 10, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello
Al Bello/Getty Images

The need for wide receivers in Indianapolis is strong. After Reggie Wayne was lost for the season in 2013, the offense began to sputter.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Colts may be looking to bolster the unit with former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks:

Anderson asked Nicks about working with a quarterback like Andrew Luck and tweeted the wide receiver's response:

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.

It appears as though the feeling may be mutual here.

Nicks had a down year in 2013, but who didn't have one on that Giants offense? He has shown the capability of being an upper-echelon receiver at times—in 2011, Nicks recorded 76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Colts have the cap room to get this deal done—they are currently $26.5 million over the cap limit, according to Spotrac.comOther teams look to be in play here; however, Nicks won't get past the Colts.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: New York Jets

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie #45 of the Denver Broncos breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery #17 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on Nove
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The cornerback market is beginning to thin after multiple players have already found new homes. Rodgers-Cromartie remains on the market and is the best option at the position for teams looking to solidify their secondaries via free agency.

According to a tweet from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets are still in the market for a cornerback and have briefly spoken with Rodgers-Cromartie:

After the Jets cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the need for additional help on the back end of the defense became strong. Currently, the team's best option at the position is former first-round selection Dee Milliner, who struggled mightily during his rookie season.

New York is very well off in terms of cap space, sitting with a healthy $36.7 million in room, according to Spotrac.com.

Rodgers-Cromartie was originally set to make a base salary of $5 million this season with the Denver Broncos, according to Spotrac.com; however, with little interest being shown in the cornerback so far, he could possibly be had at a discounted rate.

The veteran corner has recorded three interceptions in each of his last two seasons—one with the Eagles and one with the Broncos. He'd be welcomed on a team that only recorded 13 interceptions just one season ago.