Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Free Agency Mock Update: Defensive End Sweepstakes

Mock drafts always dominate through the winter months but what about a mock look at the upcoming frenzy of 2014 NFL free agency?

Oakland Raiders – Cap Space:  $63 million – Target:  Greg Hardy

At present no team is going to have more money to spend in free agency than the Silver and Black.  That means they can likely go after anybody they want.  Considering how much the Oakland Raiders need help with their pass rush, which finished with 38 sacks in 2013, they will likely pursue defensive end Greg Hardy.  Just 25-years old, he has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 11 sacks for the Carolina Panthers.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Cap Space:  $53 million – Target:  Michael Johnson

Another team in need of help with their pass rush, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have even more money to burn if they cut certain players.  Gus Bradley loves versatile defensive linemen, which could mean if Hardy isn’t in the picture then the Jaguars could become favorites to land Michael Johnson from the Cincinnati Bengals.  While not as productive in terms of sacks, the defensive end gets frequent pressure and also does others things well such as batting down passes and forcing fumbles.

Cleveland Browns – Cap Space:  $50 million – Target:  Knowshon Moreno

If last year proved anything for the Cleveland Browns, it’s that having a lot of money to spend doesn’t mean they will blow it all.  However, they can be expected to tackle some areas of need.  One of note is the running back position, which was a serious issue for them all season long.  The best that could be available in March is Knowshon Moreno from Denver.  He’s 27-years old and has posted the best season of his career so far with over 1,500 total yards and 13 touchdowns.

Indianapolis Colts – Cap Space:  $36 million – Target:  Brian Orakpo

Most fans would implore the Indianapolis Colts to fix their run defense first after what happened in New England but 2014 NFL free agency won’t offer much help in that area.  Another thing they can and should do is get Robert Mathis some help to rush the passer.  With the money they will have, Indy should have great incentive to pursue Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.  He posted 10 sacks in 2013 and is one of the better 3-4 pass rushers in the league.  Adding him would take tons of heat off Mathis.

Miami Dolphins – Cap Space:  $35 million – Target:  Jared Veldheer

Everything about free agency and the draft for the Miami Dolphins will be about fixing the worst offensive line in football.  One position they would love to get nailed down for the long-term is left tackle.  There might be some good choices available, but the ideal one has to be Jared Veldheer.  Though he missed a considerable part of the 2013 season with injury, the Raiders tackle is still one of the better players at his position in the league.  Locking him up could allow the Dolphins to focus their draft on bolstering depth.

Cincinnati Bengals – Cap Space:  $26 million – Target:  Jairus Byrd

There really aren’t a lot of holes on the roster for the Cincinnati Bengals to fill.  However, one position they could really use an upgrade at is safety.  While the money demanded is still unclear, they should seriously think about making a run Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd.  A two-time Pro Bowler at age 26, he is the best at his position expected in 2014 NFL free agency.  His range and natural ball hawk ability would be most welcome for the Bengals secondary.

Minnesota Vikings – Cap Space:  $25 million – Target:  Alterraun Verner

Defensive line would be a first priority but the Minnesota Vikings need to find any way they can to improve their pass defense.  Another area they could target is cornerback where they have some young talent but could use more help and experience.  Alterraun Verner has developed into a playmaker in Tennessee, able to stick with receivers and cut off passing lanes when tested too often.  He would be a nice fit for the Vikings’ system.

Buffalo Bills – Cap Space:  $23 million – Target:  Dennis Pitta

Jimmy Graham would undoubtedly be the golden goose but it’s not likely the Buffalo Bills could afford what he’ll be asking.  They still need an upgrade at tight end though to help E.J. Manuel.  One name they should consider is Dennis Pitta.  The Baltimore Ravens veteran has become a favorite of Joe Flacco, showing off excellent hands and the ability to get open down the middle.  His size would certainly add a dimension to the Bills offense as well.

New York Jets – Cap Space:  $22 million – Target:  Eric Decker

If they decide to test 2014 NFL free agency, the New York Jets will likely have enough for one good shot.  That means they would do best to pursue an area of need, which would undoubtedly be a wide receiver who can help Geno Smith.  The best option available in the current class is Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos.  His 6’3″ frame and deceptive speed have allowed him to become the unsung hero of the Broncos offense, collecting 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.  He’s not a #1 guy, but he would become a superb #2 if the Jets can then find somebody in the draft.

Salary cap figures were provided by

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Free Agency Buffalo Bills Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings New York Jets Oakland Raiders

  • Paul Newbold

    I’d love to see Byrd in Green and White! The money might be excessive though. Decker would be a great addition to the Jet’s receiving corp, though again the money might be high. Idzik has been conservative with his signings thus far, as a Jet fan, I hope this season he loosens the money belt a bit.

    • Erik Lambert

      Decker would be considerably less expensive than Byrd. Besides, Rex is great about developing defensive talent, so it’s better to draft a safety than sign one.

      • Paul Newbold

        Yeah Rex is a genius! LOL Take a look at the Jets secondary and find one corner or safety that Rex has “developed”. The best of the bunch might be Allen, but its been three years in the making and he still is a sub par safety. And yes Decker will come cheaper then Byrd, but the price might still be too high for Idzik.

        • Joe Parisi

          Kyle Wilson has made many bounds and leaps and fits in well as a nickel corner covering the slot and to a large extent you have to give rex some of the credit for revis although he was inherited. I think the key component to look at is Thurman, who was originally the defensive backs coach before getting promoted to defensive coach did a fine job before the hiccup this season. A lot of the blame has to be placed on cro’s off year and dee looked good in the last month of the season so hopefully that carries forward to next year. I do agree with allen but they may have stunted his growth with the lack of playing time after the reed signing. I am looking forward to see what they do with the draft.

          • Paul Newbold

            Wilson was supposed to “develop” into Cro’s position, he also was a first round pick. He has improved in his role in the nickel, but has never developed as an outside corner. I wouldn’t point to him as an example of the “genius of Rex Ryan”. Revis was a natural talent in college, and burst onto the NFL level with very little difficulty, I wouldn’t give Rex much credit for “developing” him, but an argument can be made to blame for his departure. Surely all the praise and glory Rex put on his shoulders led to the hold outs, contract disputes, and greed. The draft should be an interesting one, though I just read they extended Rex for three years! Tough being a Jet fan! LOL

  • guido

    No way the raiders let veldheer walk. Not gonna happen

    • Erik Lambert

      Probably not. As of right now this is merely sticking to the notion that he is a pending free agent. Until he is re-signed he will remain that way.

  • Pridenpoise

    If you think the Raiders are letting Veldher go anywhere you’re mistaken, even if they couldn’t get a deal done, he will get franchised.

    • muku

      They could…and draft Matthews

      • Pridenpoise

        They won’t, and if Matthews is there they could draft him, but I doubt it. The Raiders O-line was probably the weakest part of the team, and that’s saying a lot, because they have weaknesses everywhere, so to even suggest that they would let Veldheer walk is laughable.

    • Erik Lambert

      This isn’t speculation on whether he gets re-signed or not. As of right now, Veldheer is a pending free agent. Until that changes, I will include him as a top target for other teams, which he will be.

      • Pridenpoise

        There’s no need to speculate, and if you think that the Raiders would let him walk, after the mess that is their O-line your speculation, should be called fantasy.

        • Erik Lambert

          That depends on what he demands. Every team has a price limit. The question is are they willing to pay him $9 million on the franchise tag if he doesn’t play ball. Beside, PP, this is why it’s called a mock.

          • Pridenpoise

            Well if you followed the Raiders you would know that he wants to resign with them, and would give them the home town discount, I realize every team has a price limit, however we already know that Veldheer is not asking for the moon, and of course he would be franchised before they let him walk, if I have to tell you that then your knowledge of the Raiders is lacking. I would call it more fantasy than mock.

          • Erik Lambert

            Oh I was fully aware Veldheer preferred to stay in Oakland. I also know the contract discussions have been quiet between the two sides and it doesn’t take much for minds to change.

          • Pridenpoise

            I didn’t know you were involved in the negotiations, my mistake.

          • Mike Floros

            Actually, what you might want to know is that the Raiders were at the very bottom of positional spending for the O-Line last year and that includes the bloated contract given to Briesel. Forget the home town discount, I’ll eat my hat if Veldheer isn’t a Raider next season and for at least 5 or 6 seasons beyond that. They will sign him. They won’t even have to franchise him and yes, they’ll probably be paying him upwards of $9 million a year. Fact is, he’s worth it. RMC will pay the valuable players on his roster before he entrusts that $$ to free agents or draft picks who haven’t played a down in the NFL.

  • Sterling Archer

    I’m Not sure that Oakland will be able to get Hardy, I’m pretty sure he will get the franchise tag just like I think that Lamarr Houston of Oakland will. Jared Veldheer is already talking new contract with Oakland so I feel he will sign the deal and they Tag Houston. Then I think Reggie will be more inclined to get starters at a lower cap value because he needs so many. I think he will be looking at DT- Linval Joseph- NYG, the kid is young and a proven Runstopper and will not command the money of B.J. Raji or Henry Melton, he could also focus on getting Paul Soliai- DT/NT-MIA. While Joseph is more of the catch at 26 years old, Soliai could fill that large run stopper role. Oakland could hit big and land both seeing that Soliai is over 30 and would not be required to be the star of the line. With the Run-D solidified with 3 run stoppers (assuming they get those 2 + Houston) they would have to get a Pass rusher DE to work with Sio Moore. I would think that would most likely be Michael Johnson. The kid is big and fast but a bit of a risk (very up and down) but he could be a Bargin Bin Diamond, Cincy wont Tag him due to the high cost and very little Salary Cap (I think 25 million) and his tag would be around 13… You could potentially get them for a chunk of the cap Houston-13m, Melton-6mil 5 year/30mil, Soliai- 5 mil 3year/15 million, and Johnson-5mi 5year/25 million. (what I feel are good salaries for them Melton maybe higher dependent upon his desires, but Houston is set and Soliai and Johnson are not the type to command huge salaries) That would be 29 million against the cap and still leave 34 million. Houston is eating a lot of Cap space and could potentially resign for a different amount before then. But addressing the Glaring need and getting a set line for the next 5 years would be worth the investment. With QB, RG, LG, RT, MLB and CB still glaring issues You now limit what you need in the draft, and Could potentially get the Franchise QB you want. Jon Asamoah is the only real gem on the Line available and I doubt the Raiders want to spend the Cap space on him. There is also Richie Incognito-G who could be picked up but is a risk due to potential suspension. I doubt the raiders Do get either but if they do, that would eliminate many line issues. and would most likely take another 10-15 mil off the salary Cap assuming worse case, they would still have 18 mil left to fill the RT, QB, MLB and CB issues they really have. but This would take a small miracle.

  • Alex

    You have the Bills at the wrong cap they’re around 27-25 million range