Top 2014 NFL Free Agents by Position

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Offense

 

Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) catches a pass while defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) during the first quarter of the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

 

QUARTERBACK

1.   Josh McCown, Chicago Bears

McCown played like a top-15 quarterback when he filled in for Jay Cutler. His pocket presence is insane. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up starting for a quarterback-needy team.

2.   Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Injuries are a big issue, but Vick is still capable of coming in and winning a few games. Minnesota might be the best fit for him.

3.   Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars

He was better than any quarterback on the Jaguars on 2013. He’s a viable backup anywhere he goes. (UPDATE – 4:37 PM, 3/7 – Jaguars have resigned Henne)

4.   Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams

In relief of Sam Bradford, Clemens actually played pretty well. He was a play away from beating the Seahawks.

5.   Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings

2013 was a mess, but Freeman has shown enough during his early years in Tampa Bay that he can be a good quarterback. If everything goes right for him, he could end up starting again.

6.   Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings

Cassel was mediocre at best last season, but he was on a bad Vikings team. He can be expected to be a quality backup for a team. Houston would be a good fit; the team could use a “mentor” for the number one overall pick – that is, if it’s a quarterback. (UPDATE — 3/9: Minnesota has re-signed Cassel)

7.   Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers

In technical terms, Flynn was the reason the Packers made the playoffs last year – his second half against Dallas to get the win allowed Green Bay a chance to play for the NFC North crown. He really wasn’t great outside of that half, but he can still be a backup.

8.   Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks

People forget that Jackson was actually competing for the Seahawks’ starting gig before Russell Wilson stole the show. He played through a shoulder injury, and played well, on a mediocre Seahawks team in 2011.

 9.   Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins

Grossman hasn’t played since 2011 and has his terrific moments and his “what the heck was that?!” moments as well. “Good Rex, Bad Rex” was what we call it in D.C. An experienced vet who’s played in a Super Bowl, Grossman could provide quality “mentoring” to any young quarterback (although RGIII seemed to have adopted his “Bad Rex” ways in 2013).

10.  Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions

Hill hasn’t played in forever either, but did a decent job filling in for Matthew Stafford when he was hurt. Again, he’s a good backup in any system.

 

RUNNING BACK

1.   Ben Tate, Houston Texans

Tate’s the only free agent running back worth a starting role. He stayed healthy; Arian Foster didn’t. Cleveland’s entire team would be crazy good (and I think they’d be favorites to win the AFC North) if they sign Tate and draft someone like Derek Carr or Blake Bortles.

2.   Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

Although Moreno had the best season of his career, he’ll be looking for work. He was really reliable in 2013 and should have no trouble being in any team’s running back rotation.

3.   Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints

The Saints announced that Sproles will be released. He’s one of the fastest players in the league and would provide a nice change-of-pace to any big, slow-ish running backs and could also fix some return game woes.

4.   Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

Age is an issue, but Jones-Drew can still be a beast. Jacksonville was down so much last year that it was basically impossible to run the ball.

5.   Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

It seems like McFadden is hurt every year. He’s productive when healthy – we saw that in 2010 under Hue Jackson, which is why Cincinnati seems like a good fit (that’s unlikely to happen, though).

6.   Andre Brown, New York Giants

Injuries are a concern for Brown, but he’s a tough and hard-driven player when healthy, a little like McFadden. I think the Giants will find a way to sign him.

7.   LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Blount is just a tank. I don’t think he’ll be able to start anywhere outside of Foxborough; he’ll mainly be used as a short-yardage back.

8.   Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

Brown turned it on late in the season filling in for a terrible Trent Richardson. He was a touchdown machine. The Colts should find a way to bring him back, as Trent Richardson is as unreliable as they come.

9.   Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings

I feel like Gerhart is more of a fullback than a running back, but he gets the job done when the ball is in his hands. He provided a good relief of Adrian Peterson towards the end of the year.

10.  Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders

Like Gerhart, Jennings was solid in replacement of the starting running back. He won’t be a starter – he could be a quality rotational back.

 

RECEIVER

1.   Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

Decker will probably be the most coveted offensive free agent. He’s definitely not staying in Denver – he’ll simply demand too much because of the terrific year he had. He’ll demand top WR money. Thanks, Peyton Manning.

2.   Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants

Nicks’ production dropped off this year, but part of that was due to Eli Manning and the Giants’ offensive line. Carolina seems like an excellent fit.

3.   James Jones, Green Bay Packers

Jones drops a lot of passes but possesses freakish athletic ability. I don’t question his ability as a number two receiver.

4.   Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks

Tate should be known for something other than the Fail Mary. Despite limited media attention, he was actually a very reliable target for Russell Wilson.

5.   Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown had a great year, and Sanders just got better in his shadow. Like Tate or Jones, he’s a reliable number two wide receiver.

6.   Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals didn’t get much attention until they beat Seattle in Seattle. Neither did Roberts. He would’ve put up bigger numbers if the Cardinals had a better quarterback.

7.   Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers

The injuries are a major issue, but Alexander has everything to be a number one receiver. He’ll be cheap, and it’s worth the risk. He’s only 25.

8.   Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Edelman was one of the most overrated receivers in the league – his numbers were inflated because Brady really didn’t have anyone else to throw to. Despite that, he’s still a good slot receiver. And no, I won’t stereotypically compare him to Wes Welker.

9.   Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers

LaFell quietly turned it on late in the season and was actually a key component of the Panthers’ run to win the division and get a first-round bye.

10.  Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs

McCluster had to be included somewhere on here; he’s just too talented. He’s the most versatile free agent running back, as he can line up outside or in the backfield as well as return kicks and punts effectively.

 

TIGHT END

1.   Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

Finley will probably be cleared to play, but the injury issues are a major red flag. Still, Finley is the best free agent tight end by far.

2.   Garrett Graham, Houston Texans

Graham seems like he can be the next star tight end. Green Bay would be a good fit for him – Finley probably won’t return and the Aaron Rodgers could use someone over the middle.

3.   Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions

He drops a lot of passes, but he’s a productive player. He has averaged 61 catches during his time as a starter.

4.   Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills

Chandler has a lot of playmaking ability and would be an average to above-average starter. He was solid with Buffalo.

5.   Dustin Keller, Miami Dolphins

Keller would be right up there with Finley on this list if it wasn’t for the knee issues – he completely shredded everything in his knee. He’s been a solid NFL player.

6.   Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets

Cumberland had a pretty good season with the Jets, although it was very quiet. At 26, he still has some good years left in him, maybe five to seven years. (UPDATE: 1:35 PM, 3/8: Cumberland re-signed with the New York Jets)

7.   Brandon Myers, New York Giants

Myers was average at best and disappointed in the Giants’ 2013 campaign (see: dropped pass at Chicago), but he still makes this list due to the lack of good free agent tight ends.

8.   Kellen Winslow, New York Jets

Winslow actually contributed fairly well to the Jets’ offense in 2013 – he was a bright(ish) spot on a terrible Jets offense. It’s unlikely he stays in New York (well, unless the Giants sign him).

9.   Ed Dickson, Baltimore Ravens

Dickson didn’t contribute much while Dennis Pitta was out. There’s no way the Ravens bring him back, as Pitta just got resigned.

10.  Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots

Hoomanawanui is more of a blocking tight end used in run support. I think New England will bring him back.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

1.   Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns

Some people have Eugene Monroe rated higher than Mack because Monroe is a tackle – tackle is valued more, but Mack is the better player. He’s snapped the ball on every Browns’ offensive play for the last five seasons. (UPDATE: Mack has been franchise tagged by the Browns)

2.   Eugene Monroe, T, Baltimore Ravens

Monroe is a premier tackle who will probably demand top offensive linemen money. With Dennis Pitta locked up, it’ll be tough to see Monroe staying in Baltimore – he’ll be too expensive.

3.   Branden Albert, T, Kansas City Chiefs

Albert probably won’t stay with Kansas City despite being one of the best tackles in the league.

4.   Jared Veldheer, T, Oakland Raiders

As a blind side pass protector, Veldheer has done an excellent job. He’s only 26 years old, so I expect a bunch of teams to be interested.

5.   Brian De La Puente, C, New Orleans Saints

He helped out a Saints team that relied on its running game a little more in 2013, but I don’t expect De La Puente to be back with the Saints. Washington could be a good fit.

6.   Evan Dietrich-Smith, C, Green Bay Packers

Dietrich-Smith was a bright spot on a shaky Packers offensive line. Green Bay hasn’t made an effort to re-sign him, so he might be looking for work elsewhere.

7.   Roger Saffold, G, St. Louis Rams

Health is an issue, but Saffold has the ability to play guard or tackle. That flexibility will be attractive, but his medical history might make teams hesitate.

8.   Austin Howard, New York Jets

People degrade Howard’s playing ability because Geno Smith got sacked too much. Bad quarterback play had nothing to do with the Howard in New York, which is why he’s in the top ten, and ahead of Michael Oher, on this list.

9.   Anthony Collins, T, Cincinnati Bengals

He hasn’t started consistently for the Bengals and I have no idea why. He’s an excellent pass-protector. Collins could go to Washington as a right tackle and reunite with former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

10.  Michael Oher, T, Baltimore Ravens

Some have Oher ranked higher than Collins, Howard, and even Saffold, but I don’t see it. He’s been inconsistent at right tackle since the start of 2013. He’s not a very good run-blocker.

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  • Thomas Eric

    If you included orakpo you should include jimmy graham he has a non exclusive tag as well

  • Ken Tomlin

    FYI and ICYMI Cassel signed with the Vikings. Vick won’t be coming to MN.

    • Rishi Pochiraju

      Post is updated.

  • Padraigh Keogh

    And Henne signed with Jaguars.

    • Rishi Pochiraju

      The post was updated.

  • Julien Bélair

    not so much for Brown flying under the radar at #2…. damn it