The NFL free-agent market is still littered with players ready to make an impact during the 2014 season.
Sure, a lot of noise has been made over the first three days of free agency. However, sometimes the biggest signings don’t happen until later on in the window.
If you’re a team with a need to fill, you’re in luck.
Here are some of the best available free agents on the market:
|Jared Allen||DE||Minnesota Vikings|
|Anthony Collins||OL||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Julian Edelman||WR||New England Patriots|
|Henry Melton||DT||Chicago Bears|
|Hakeem Nicks||WR||New York Giants|
|Julius Peppers||DE||Chicago Bears|
|Ben Tate||RB||Houston Texans|
|Steve Smith||WR||Carolina Panthers|
|Brandon Spikes||ILB||New England Patriots|
|Michael Vick||QB||Philadelphia Eagles|
Steve Smith, WR
For a team looking for an experienced wide receiver, Smith is the go-to guy on the market.
Although he is closing in on 35, the 14-year veteran still has some juice left in him. In 15 games last season with the Carolina Panthers, Smith caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns.
They may not be as eye popping as his six 1,000-plus yard receiving seasons in the last nine years. However, with five Pro Bowl appearances, Smith’s leadership and experience would be a vital asset to any team.
According to NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus, potential landing spots include the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. It just so happens that all seven of those teams could use a boost at receiver.
But no matter which team Smith winds up on, it’s safe to say there will be no love lost between the two when he faces the Panthers, per NBC Sports:
Well then: Steve Smith on facing Panthers: "There’s going to be blood and guts everywhere": http://t.co/BscBia9P6e— NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) March 13, 2014
It’s obvious Smith believes he still has a lot to prove in 2014. Any team that passes up on giving him that chance is foolish.
Jared Allen, DE
If you’re in need of a top defensive end, it’s hard to look further than Allen.
The 11-year veteran has been as consistently good as one can possibly be. In fact, he has recorded double digits in sacks for seven straight seasons and eight of the last nine.
In 16 games last year with the Minnesota Vikings, Allen brought down opposing quarterbacks 11.5 times while also forcing two fumbles.
Even at the age of 31, this is a guy who still believes he deserves top money. And if he doesn’t get it, Allen is perfectly content in calling it quits.
“He wants his market value, he wants his fair salary,” said NFL analyst Ian Rapoport, per NFL.com’s Marc Sessler. “And if he does not get it, Jared Allen is very much at peace. He is willing to simply go about his life and walk away from football.”
With an average of 12.9 sacks per season, Allen’s play certainly backs up his demands. But with teams targeting younger defensive linemen, it’s hard to pinpoint who would be willing to give Allen the contract he desires.
The Denver Broncos were a potential landing spot, but that was before they brought in DeMarcus Ware.
Given that the Seattle Seahawks just released Chris Clemons, it’s no surprise the team is interested in Allen, per The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta. But would the Seahawks be willing to show Allen the money?
Only time will tell if we will see Allen on the football field again.
Hakeem Nicks, WR
Just because he had a subpar 2013 campaign doesn’t make Hakeem Nicks any less of a top-notch receiver.
Over 15 games with the New York Giants last season, the six-year veteran hauled in 56 passes for 896 yards while failing to find the end zone. Although it was the first time in his career that he didn’t record a single touchdown, Nicks still has drawn interest from several teams.
However, when speaking with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Nicks made it clear as to what he wants from a potential suitor:
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.
The Carolina Panthers could be a potential landing spot for Nicks. He played his college ball at North Carolina and grew up in Charlotte.
Furthermore, after releasing Steve Smith earlier in the week, the Panthers should have the cap space to make a move for Nicks.
Regardless of where he lands, Nicks is sure to make a mark in 2014.