Put down those March Madness brackets for a second, folks—there is still plenty of buzz in NFL free agency to quench your football thirst. Besides, we all have a better chance of predicting where the NFL's most enticing players left on the market will end up than trying to figure out which sleepers will bust the bracket.
Below, you'll find four intriguing free agents, the rumors making the rounds about where they might end up and a prediction for which jersey they'll be wearing next year. It may not be a Cinderella story, but it will definitely cause you less stress than that No. 5 versus No. 12 matchup you just can't get a feel for.
The New York Jets always seemed like a popular pick to ultimately sign Michael Vick, and it looks like the possibility of the flashy quarterback heading to the Big Apple appears to be increasing.
Vick is planning on visiting the Jets this weekend, a source close to the situation has told NJ.com. This will be Vick's first official visit, and could be his last if all goes well. And the pressure could be on the Jets to land a free agent, given a methodical and (basically) fruitless approach that has left fans impatient and critical of general manager John Idzik—while the Giants have been on a shopping spree.
Vick is looking for a starting job, but the Jets—while they won't declare the quarterback situation settled—seem committed to second-year Geno Smith.
Even if Vick is not handed the starting job, he probably believes he could beat out Smith in an open competition.
It still seems odd that Vick would go to a team where he wasn't guaranteed a starting gig. Why not go to a team like, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars or Oakland Raiders, who could bring him aboard for a year or two, draft a player at the position this year and groom that guy behind Vick?
Vick probably would end up starting on the Jets by the end of the year. But he'd be joining a circus to do so. It will probably end up happening, but it doesn't seem like the ideal situation for Vick.
There was a money train that rolled through NFL free agency, picking up defensive ends like Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware and Michael Johnson on its route. It would appear that Jared Allen got to the station a bit late.
The veteran defensive end remains on the market as it would appear that one of his bigger suitors, the Dallas Cowboys, aren't all that interested in bringing him aboard at this point.
The Cowboys spent the past two days hosting the highest profile defensive linemen left on the free-agent market. Henry Melton agreed to a contract Tuesday evening.
Allen did not. The Pro Bowl defensive end returned to his home after visiting the club to discuss his options with his wife. A source said that was the plan all along and that a decision by Allen would be coming “over the next few days.”
Melton’s signing will impact that decision. A source said it’s unlikely that the Cowboys will now add Allen to the roster.
There are 10 million reasons why the Cowboys might shy away from bringing Allen aboard. From Ed Werder of ESPN:
I'm told Jared Allen wants close to $10 million per year like DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers. Cowboys not interested at that price.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 19, 2014
Honestly, it's hard to imagine any team being interested at that price. Allen will be 32 on April 3 and, while he's still a productive pass-rusher—he had 11.5 sacks a season ago—most teams don't have that type of money to toss around at this point in free agency.
And that could mean that Allen simply walks away from the NFL altogether. Keep in mind the following, from Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press:
Could Jared Allen retire? His agent doesn't deny it's a possibility.
The NFL Network reported that Allen, the former Vikings star defensive end, could retire if he doesn't get the deal he wants in free agency. Asked if that is a possibility, his agent, Ken Harris, wrote Wednesday in an email to the Pioneer Press, "Yes, he is keeping all options on the table."
Sure, a team like the Seattle Seahawks could decide to throw a good portion of money at Allen. But given his demands, it seems most likely he'll simply call it quits.
Speaking of players who have perhaps overvalued their worth on the market, kick returner Devin Hester wants an obscene amount of money for a player who really only contributes on special teams and is 31 years old.
From Rob Demovsky of ESPN:
According to an NFL personnel evaluator whose team has discussed the possibility of going after Hester, the former Pro Bowl return specialist is currently seeking a deal in the $4-million-per-year range.
However, that may be too high for teams interested in the 31-year-old return man.
If Hester discovers the market for his services is lower, it could bring in more teams, the [Green Bay] Packers among them, when the price drops.
As Demovsky notes, bringing aboard another return man would allow the Packers to take Randall Cobb out of the role and protect him from further injury. And the Packers certainly have seen Hester in action enough to know what he's capable of doing every time he touches the ball.
The interest makes sense, but only once Hester decides to realistically value his worth.
Has any position become more devalued than running back in the past five years? There won't be a player drafted in the first round at the position this year and one of the top options in free agency at the position, Maurice Jones-Drew, hasn't received much buzz at all.
But it appears as though his market is about to open up a bit, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Jaguars free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew is visiting the Steelers today, per source. They are not the only interested team.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2014
Without question, Jones-Drew has slowed down in recent years, as he finished 2013, rushing for just 803 yards and five touchdowns. It was the second consecutive year he failed to rush for 1,000 yards—he played just six games in 2012 in an injury-hampered season—after rushing for at least 1,300 yards between 2009-11.
But if used as a team's No. 2 running back, there is value in Jones-Drew. He's not a guy that can handle a 300-carry load, but as a change-of-pace option for teams, he makes sense. He would look good in a Steelers uniform, giving young runner Le'Veon Bell—1,259 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in 13 games during his rookie season—a breather from time to time.