Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) returns a kick-off against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Miami Dolphins won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Mock Free Agency: AFC Edition

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.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Baltimore Ravens Buffalo Bills Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Denver Broncos Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Oakland Raiders Tennessee Titans

  • Craig Barker

    Browns need to make a run at Greg Hardy.

    • Erik Lambert

      That depends on if you’re shifting out of the 3-4 defense. If so then I would say yes. Otherwise I’d advise pursuing Brian Orakpo.

      • Craig Barker

        I believe that hardy could play 3-4 DE. He is an inch taller than JJ Watt and only a few pounds lighter.

  • Stanley Carr

    Raider fan here, no one is coming to play for us!!!

    • Erik Lambert

      If you flash the cash, they will come.

    • Rees Britton

      Clearly a true fan!

      • Stanley Carr

        Yep for 42 years n counting!!!

  • Sterling Archer

    Greg Hardy would be a pickup for the Raiders but honestly don’t see it happening. RM is more likely to try and get 3-4 guys that are above average to fill much needed holes then blow the bank on one guy. raiders Could get DT Joseph, OLB Neal (I know a 3-4 guy but still need a pass rush OLB), RG Incognicto, and probably LG Asamoah for the cost of Hardy. This would fill some large holes in the D (While OLB isn’t a huge issue for Oakland it could be improved). The G- position needs huge help in Oakland and could even take C Alex Mack moving Wis back to G and then only needing to get one of the two above mentioned Guards for only a bit more money as Mack will probably get a 25-30 mil contract

    • Erik Lambert

      They could very well do that, which would be more prudent in my mind. This article is simply offering the best free agent for each team based on what they can afford. Hardy fits the Raiders.

    • jesus christ

      knock it off arch that defense is a mess they need best players possible and they need productive consistent players not stop gap scrubs they are past that point now so quit tripping

  • Steve Holmes

    As a Jets fan, I am not interested in Eric Decker. His pathetic Sup[er Bowl performance — 1 catch for 6 yards — shows me that he doesn’t have the size or speed to get open against good press coverage. The Jets would be wasting their money. Jeremy Maclin or Danario Alexander would be better options.

    • Mike8301

      As a EAGLES Fan I have to tell you STEVE HOLMES the JETS need EVERY Wide Receiver that’s Worth a Damn on you Team. After my EAGLES Re-Sign Jeremy Maclin an Lock up a Solid Safety another Big Receiver for PRO BOWLER QB NICK FOLES.

    • Tim Woods

      Decker had it rough in the SB, but remember he’s been consistently good in Denver. Even when Tebow was throwing his way, he was still putting up good stats.

  • Mike8301

    The BROWNS do need to find another Legit Receiver to Team with GORDON an CAMERON but mainly since JOSH GORDON is 1 more Screw Up from a Year Long Ban. Even if DENVER doesn’t get THURMOND they’ll find someone but also need to address their Front 7 so If SUGGS actually was Released the BRONCOS would be 1st in line since the RAVENS jacked ELVIS DUMERVIL from them & VON MILLER Tore his ACL in the P.O.’s

    • Erik Lambert

      Poetic justice for sure. Won’t happen though. Newsome won’t let fax flubs ruin the makeup of his defense like that.

  • Tynan Patrick

    I really think there is a good chance Britt ends up in Baltimore. Ther have been trade rumors connecting them for 2 years and Britt even temweeted this past season that he would like to play for the ravens. Where there is smoke there is usually fire.

  • jesus christ

    1 player who wasnt even the best DB on the roster wont help that mess in denver what is he suppose to do teach champ bailey how to not age? lol jk thum would probably thrive in denver seriously though hes good for the price that is mocked but hes not someone that can turn around a defense jeremy lane proved to be better down the stretch and in the playoffs

  • Paul L. Picken, Jr

    There is no need to release Incognito, he’s a free agent.

  • Kyle Schroeck

    Steelers are still in the AFC, right?