The countdown to the active parts of the NFL off-season has begun, starting with free agency. Here’s a mock rundown of where the AFC teams will go.
Oakland Raiders – $63.6 million – Sign: Greg Hardy
Lamarr Houston will obviously be re-signed unless he has no desire to return. At that point the Oakland Raiders should want to get him a second pass rusher to team with. Greg Hardy is high in demand after 26 sacks in two seasons. Oakland has the money to afford him.
Jacksonville Jaguars – $50.3 million – Sign: Michael Johnson
Gus Bradley has repeatedly said the Jacksonville Jaguars need a pass rusher. He still might take one in the draft but it’s good to at least bolster the position with free agent help. Michael Johnson is a highly underrated disruptor with length and versatility.
Cleveland Browns – $46.2 million – Sign: Emmanuel Sanders
This is a move that may come as a surprise but makes sense. The Cleveland Browns have Josh Gordon and Cameron Jordan but lack another true receiving threat. Emmanuel Sanders can give them tons of help in the slot and also leave divisional rival Pittsburgh that much weaker.
Indianapolis Colts – $33.5 million – Sign: Linval Joseph
The run defense was an absolute mess in 2013 for the Indianapolis Colts. If they want to avoid having to fix it in the draft, they’ll have to do it in free agency. Linval Joseph is a massive, strong and quick defensive tackle from the Giants who excels at swallowing up running lanes.
Miami Dolphins – $32 million – Sign: Branden Albert
At the moment the Miami Dolphins are strangled by the need to upgrade their offensive line in the draft unless they ease that pressure. Signing a veteran tackle like Branden Albert not only would give them a legitimate protector but also open up opportunities to bolster other positions.
Cincinnati Bengals – $27.2 million – Sign: Alterraun Verner
Injuries to the secondary really hampered the Cincinnati Bengals late in the season. Though typically they don’t spend much on corners, getting a difference-maker like Alterraun Verner could really set them up for big things in 2014.
New York Jets – $22.2 million – Sign: Eric Decker
Geno Smith desperately needs pass targets if he’s going to take a step forward next season and the New York Jets know it. Eric Decker is no guarantee to re-sign in Denver. His addition would give the Jets a true receiver who can get open and make the tough catches.
Buffalo Bills – $19.2 million – Sign: Kenny Britt
A lot of people will criticize this move but it makes a ton of sense. The Buffalo Bills need more size at wide receiver. Kenny Britt is 6’4″ with big, strong body and has proven he can produce if only the coaches can reach him. Not to mention he should come cheap after his stint in Tennessee.
Denver Broncos – $12.4 million – Sign: Walter Thurmond III
Expect the Denver Broncos to do anything and everything to diagnose the Seattle Seahawks during the off-season, including stealing players from them. Walter Thurmond III is a quality cornerback that not only would help Denver at a needed position but give them insights into that great Hawks D.
Baltimore Ravens – $11.4 million – Sign: Brian De La Puente
Ozzie Newsome has a knack for finding the right players at the right time in NFL free agency (see Elvis Dumervil). He will find another one in center Brian De La Puente, who could become a casualty of the New Orleans Saints’ mad dash to keep Jimmy Graham.
Arizona Cardinals – $11 million – Sign: Jason Worilds
The defense became one of the elite units for the Arizona Cardinals last season but they still could use pass rush help from the outside linebackers. Jason Worilds is often overlooked but he posted eight sacks for Pittsburgh in 2013 and is coming into his prime.
Tennessee Titans – $6.5 million – Sign: Mike Neal
While the draft is top priority for the Tennessee Titans they must look for any way they can to bolster their pass rush. Mike Neal doesn’t register on many radars outside of Green Bay and has an injury history but when healthy he is very disruptive off the edge.
New England Patriots – $5.6 million – Sign: Richie Incognito
Bill Belichick has no fear of controversial NFL players as long as they can play. Richie Incognito has his well-documented issues in Miami but if they release him the guard-needy New England Patriots could probably get him the veteran Pro Bowler at a discount.
Houston Texans – $3.3 million – Sign: Wesley Woodyard
Even with Brian Cushing back the Houston Texans still need more help at inside linebacker. Wesley Woodyard was a hot commodity but fell off later in the 2013 season due to shifting priorities and injury. Still, his athleticism and tackling ability make him a solid find.
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