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 – $66.5 million – Sign: Alex Mack
Jared Veldheer is expected to return to the Oakland Raiders but their primary concern is fixing the interior of their offensive line which was just bad last season. Alex Mack is a two-time Pro Bowler and arguably the best center in the league. The Raiders can more than afford his services
Jacksonville Jaguars – $56.1 million – Sign: Greg Hardy
Until Greg Hardy is actually signed or franchise tagged, then he will hit the open market. That would be sweet music for Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars who badly need a pass rusher at defensive end. Hardy would be a perfect fit and allow the team to focus on getting a quarterback in the draft.
Cleveland Browns – $56.8 million – Sign: Jon Asamoah
Every sign points to the Cleveland Browns picking a quarterback in the first round of the draft. If so they have to upgrade their offensive line, especially the interior. Jon Asamoah might be the best option on the market, lauded most for his ability in pass protection.
Indianapolis Colts – $40.9 million – Sign: Eric Decker
It could be a smokescreen but would it be? The Indianapolis Colts need another receiver to compliment T.Y. Hilton as Reggie Wayne winds down and Eric Decker proved in Denver that he is a more than capable #2 option.
Miami Dolphins – $39.1 million – Sign: Branden Albert
Ryan Tannehill took a horrendous beating in 2013. That cannot happen again if the Miami Dolphins wish to unlock his potential. The offensive line will be their priority and signing a veteran tackle like Branden Albert could pay huge dividends towards accomplishing their goals.
Cincinnati Bengals – $30.3 million – Sign: Captain Munnerlyn
Even though they have a good amount of money the Cincinnati Bengals proved last year they are huge spenders. Captain Munnerlyn is an experienced, capable cornerback who fits their system, is still young and proved he is an all-around playmaker during his previous season in Carolina.
Baltimore Ravens – $28.1 million – Sign: Geoff Schwartz
Getting back to running the football was a stated goal by the Baltimore Ravens after last season ended. That means improving the offensive line. Geoff Schwartz was the best run blocker for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and turns 28 this year.
New York Jets – $26.7 million – Sign: Sam Shields
Every sign points to the New York Jets going offense early and often in the draft, so NFL free agency can be about bolstering the defense. Finding some help at cornerback is a must. Sam Shields was among the most reliable defensive backs for the Packers last season and fits the Jets’ 3-4 scheme given his ability in man coverage ability.
Buffalo Bills – $25.6 million – Sign: Dennis Pitta
E.J. Manuel needs protection but he also could really use more playmaking help from the tight end position. The Buffalo Bills can give it to him by pursuing Dennis Pitta. Though he is still expected to return to Baltimore, it’s no guarantee and the Bills could check one need off their draft list if they got him.
Denver Broncos – $19.4 million – Sign: Aqib Talib
The secondary took a horrible pounding with injuries for the Denver Broncos last season and now two of their key guys are free agents. Aqib Talib proved last season he’s one of the best in the league, especially one-on-one and would lend a huge hand towards help Denver’s defense recover.
Tennessee Titans – $13 million – Sign: Jason Worilds
Ray Horton is the new man in charge of the Tennessee Titans defense and he runs a 3-4 scheme. That means he’ll need pass rushers at outside linebacker. Jason Worilds had eight sacks in 2013 and played in a very similar system at Pittsburgh.
New England Patriots – $10.6 million – Sign: Brandon Pettigrew
They won’t have a lot of money to maneuver but the New England Patriots know they have to add some depth to the tight end position. Brandon Pettigrew is not a star but he was consistently productive for the Detroit Lions and was a nice secondary option.
Kansas City Chiefs – $9.7 million – Sign: Austin Howard
With Albert possibly leaving, the Kansas City Chiefs may have to shuffle their offensive line. One way they could do is by moving 2013 #1 NFL draft pick Eric Fisher over to the left side and then signing his replacement. Austin Howard is not great but he is adequate and reliable in pass protection from the right tackle position.
Houston Texans – $8.9 million – Sign: Mike Neal
The linebackers are certain to get some attention from the Houston Texans in regards to getting more pass rush from them. Mike Neal could be a cheap option on the market. He posted five sacks in just 10 starts for the Packers and at 280 lbs also could lend a hand in setting the edge against the run.
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