Now that we are four days into the 2014 NFL free-agency period, teams will begin bargain hunting for players who can bolster their rosters at a cap-friendly value. There are still plenty of viable players floating around the market that meet this criteria.
Many teams are frugal with their money during the free-agency period. This could be a great strategy, as they can add depth to positions of need without going too deep in the pocketbook.
Let's take a look at some of the best bargains remaining on the market who have the capability of becoming factors for new teams in the 2014 NFL season.
Spikes may not be an every-down player, but he is a force against the run at the line of scrimmage. His weakness remains in coverage, and he could go to a team as a rotational piece in the linebacker corps.
Due to the New England Patriots limiting his snap count in 2013, Spikes' production dipped; however, he still came away with 86 tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception.
Spikes could be had at a reasonable price given that he won't be a three-down contributor.
The Buffalo Bills were the first team to take a look at the linebacker, according to a tweet from Mark Gaughan:
Bills confirm ILB Brandon Spikes, RB Anthony Dixon visiting OBD today.— Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan) March 14, 2014
This could prove as a great fit in Buffalo, as the team is planning to move Kiko Alonso to the outside, according to an interview with general manager Doug Whaley with WGR 550, via a report from Mike Rodak of ESPN.com:
That right now is the plan. We're going to move [Alonso] outside. Have Keith Rivers on the other outside [spot]. We think with his athletic ability, his speed, and his instincts, why limit him by having to take on those big guards? Let's cover him up and let him run and hit.
Spikes should come at a reasonable price and would be solid on the interior as a run-stuffer on most defenses.
Ayers, a five-year veteran, proved to be a worthy pass-rusher last season with the Denver Broncos. He recorded 29 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2013. Ayers would be a great fit as a rotational piece for a team that needs additional help getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Cecil Lammey of ESPN Denver tweeted that the Dallas Cowboys have shown interest in Ayers:
This makes sense after Dallas released long-time pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys struggled all over the place on the defensive side of the ball last season. Ayers would certainly provide a much-needed boost up in the trenches.
Being that there hasn't been much interest in Ayers around the NFL, there is a great chance that a team like the Cowboys would be able to acquire his services at a very reasonable price.
Avant, the former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, has been a security blanket for quarterbacks over his eight years with the team. He may not put up gaudy numbers—Avant recorded 38 receptions for 447 yards and two touchdowns in 2013—but he is one of the most sure-handed wide receivers in the league.
The type of wide receiver that can move the chains on a crucial third-down conversion, Avant would be a valuable asset for any team in certain offensive packages.
Field Yates of ESPN Boston tweeted on Wednesday that Avant would be visiting the New England Patriots:
One more name that was in for a FA visit with the Patriots, per a league source: WR Jason Avant, recently released by the Eagles.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 12, 2014
New England will most likely lose slot receiver Julian Edelman to free agency. Also, with the injury concerns surrounding Rob Gronkowski and the inexperience at the wide receiver position, Avant's addition makes sense.
Avant would not only bring his chain-moving skill set to his new team, but he is an intelligent veteran who could mentor younger players at the wide receiver position.