Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Richard Marshall (31) stops New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (88) short of a first down late in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Free Agency Predictions

The NFL free agency period is right around the corner, teams can begin signing players as soon as tomorrow afternoon. With that being said, I wanted to take this time to make a few free agency predictions. I’ll select a handful of the better free agents and try to predict where they’ll land.

Let’s start out by trying to figure out where Michael Vick will end up.

Michael Vick | QB 

In an article I wrote last week, I said that I wouldn’t want Michael Vick as my starting quarterback. I stand by that statement, but it’s almost a certainty that there is a team out there willing to take a gamble on the veteran quarterback. Jacksonville, Oakland, and New York (Jets) are all some pretty obvious potential landing spots.

I think that the Jets are the team that will ultimately end up signing Vick. Geno Smith was far from consistent in 2013 and I think that it would be good for New York to bring in a veteran to help push/nurture him. Vick’s play style would certainly cater to that of Smith’s, too.

You could take everything that I just said about the Jets and Geno Smith and apply it to the situation in Oakland, too. The Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets are my two front-runners to land Vick in free agency.

Prediction: New York Jets

Other possibilities: Jacksonville Jaguars & Oakland Raiders

Ben Tate | RB

Tate recently said that he can become a top-5 running back in the NFL. I am in no way disputing his claim. I’m not saying he’s going to become a top-5 running back in the NFL, but i’m definitely not saying that he cannot.

Since sitting out his rookie season in 2010, Tate has served as the backup to All Pro running back Arian Foster. Sitting behind Foster has hampered Tate’s playtime. Sitting behind Foster has also taught Tate a lot, though. I fully expect Tate to post top 15 running back numbers next season. But where will he be playing?

My best guess is Cleveland. The Browns are in need of a massive backfield makeover. Willis McGahee was clearly brought in as a spot-holder for whoever they decide is ‘the guy’ this offseason. And I think that Tate can come in and be that ‘guy.’

Prediction: Cleveland Browns

Other Possibilities: St. Louis Rams & New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks | WR

Earlier this week, Hakeem Nicks listed off 3 quarterbacks that he could envision himself catching passes from. The three quarterbacks that Nicks mentioned were: Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Philip Rivers. I think that all 3 moves would make sense, too. So let’s examine each situation to see which would be the best fit.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton was my fantasy QB last season, so I often found myself watching Panthers’ games on Sundays. At times, the Panthers offense looks unstoppable, especially if Cam gets into a groove. But a lot of the time I found myself thinking “Man, if Cam had one more weapon this offense would really click.”

Last years addition of Ted Ginn Jr. was good, he’s a good deep threat and he adds a lot of speed and velocity to their return teams. The thing is, in my opinion, Ginn Jr. is only weak number 2 (or good number 3) wide receiver. Hakeem Nicks would provide the Panthers with a good wide receiver across from Steve Smith.

Indianapolis Colts: A move to Indy would make sense for both parties involved. Nicks would be given the luxury of playing with Andrew Luck for the length of his contract. At the same time, Luck and the Colts would be rewarded with a big, strong receiver to line up across from T.Y. Hilton for the foreseeable future. I would also like this move because it would give the Colts some much-needed depth at the receiver position. This way, if Reggie Wayne hangs it up or gets hurt, the Colts still have 2 solid options at wide receiver.

San Diego Chargers: 2013 was a great comeback year for the San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers had arguably his best season as a pro, Ryan Matthews did have his best season as a pro, and they made it back to the playoffs after enduring their first losing season since ’03. The team has been desperate for an outside playmaker ever since Vincent Jackson departed a few years back.

The emergence of Keenan Allen and last years signing of Danny Woodhead definitely help, but it’s still not enough. Antonio Gates doesn’t figure to have much more left in the tank — though I do think that Ladarius Green, their backup tight end, has potential to be very good. It would be wise for San Diego to sign Nicks and give Rivers some time to get acquainted with his new weapon before Gates retires.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers

Other possibilities: Indianapolis Colts & San Diego Chargers

Aqib Talib | CB

If Talib can stay healthy, I believe he possesses the skill set to be a top-5 cornerback in the league (Sherman, Peterson, Haden, Revis, & Talib). Talib has shown that he has the ability to cover and shutdown the opposing teams number 1 passing option, be it a receiver or a tight end. It was during his performance against the New Orleans Saints last season when I came to this realization. Talib, who is 6′ 1″, completely shut down the 6′ 7″ Jimmy Graham before missing the 2nd half due to an injury.

There are rumors floating around that the Washington Redskins have interest in the corner. Their secondary was absolutely horrendous in 2013 and needs a makeover in a big way. Resigning DeAngelo Hall was a good start, he played very well last season and is very underrated. Acquiring the skills of Talib would be a great way to start rebuilding their secondary.

Talib won’t be enough, though. Washington needs help at safety and middle linebacker before their defense can be considered playoff quality.

Prediction: Washington Redskins

Other possibilities: New England Patriots

Alterraun Verner | CB

Verner is a guy that I really like. He’s only 5′ 10″, but he isn’t afraid to hit and tackle. I think that New England & Denver are two places that make sense for Verner. With Aqib Talib & Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hitting the open market, both AFC Championship teams might be without a starting cornerback.

Verner made it clear that he wants to play for a winner and he’s not likely to find better situations than the two that I mentioned.

Prediction: New England

Other possibilities: Denver Broncos

Well there are a few of my free agency predictions! Who do you want your team to sign in the 2014 NFL free agency? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!

Also, keep up with all of the action over on Twitter by following us at @NFLSpinZone

Tags: 2014 Nfl Free Agency Alterraun Verner Aqib Talib Ben Tate Carolina Panthers Cleveland Browns Denver Broncos Free Agent Predictions Free Agents Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Michael Vick New England Patriots New York Giants New York Jets Oakland Raiders San Diego Chargers St. Louis Rams Washington Redskins

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