The big spenders will of course hold center stage in March but 2014 NFL free agency is also about bargain shopping. Which teams might find one?
New York Giants – Cap Space: $11 million – Pickup: Vincent Rey
There is so much work to be done for the New York Giants if they wish to reopen their Super Bowl window before it is too late. The best way for them to approach free agency is to attack lesser problems on the roster and save the big ones for early in the draft. Rounding out their linebacking corps would certainly provide a big boost. Jon Beason was a great trade pickup. Adding underrated outside man Vincent Rey could make that move even better. Called in as a reserve because of injuries, he nonetheless compiled 57 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions despite just three starts.
Tennessee Titans – Cap Space: $9 million – Pickup: Everson Griffen
Defense wasn’t the primary problem for the Tennessee Titans in 2013 but there are still some holes to fill. They could really use help with their pass rush at defensive end. Given their cap constraints, it might be best for them to seek out a quality reserve from another team. Everson Griffen played behind Jared Allen and Brian Robison in Minnesota but still collected 5.5 sacks. He’s young and active at the line of scrimmage.
Atlanta Falcons – Cap Space: $8.5 million – Pickup: Willie Young
Another team with a clear pass rush problem. Signing veterans is something the Atlanta Falcons have done quite often and that trend should continue though they may double up in the draft this time. The Falcons need depth every bit as much as they need star power. Willie Young was a starter for the Detroit Lions. He only had three sacks but did make 47 tackles and deflected five passes. He’s not a game breaker but in the right system he finds ways to harass the quarterback and might be even better if relegated to a reserve role.
Chicago Bears – Cap Space: $8 million – Pickup: Linval Joseph
Most expect the Chicago Bears to use 2014 NFL free agency to solve at least one of their problems on defense. Money is an issue however thanks to their re-signing of quarterback Jay Cutler. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room at the present time, so if they go after somebody, it will be a player who can an immediate need. Linval Joseph is not a superstar name, but he is exactly what the Bears need. He is a massive 323 lbs defensive tackle who eats up space and has the strength to seal off running lanes. Stopping the run was something Chicago could not do in 2013. Adding Joseph would provide huge help.
New England Patriots – Cap Space: $7.6 million – Pickup: Zane Beadles
They always find a way to make things work but the New England Patriots understand even their mighty roster has issues to work out. One that needs attention is along the interior of their offensive line. Giving Tom Brady a pocket and opening holes in the ground game would be most helpful. Zane Beadles is a name most people don’t know but he has done a more than adequate job at guard for the Denver Broncos, both protecting Peyton Manning and paving the way for their 15th ranked rushing attack.