We are just about through Week 13 of the NFL season and while we still don’t know all of the playoff teams yet, we have a good idea of which teams are going to need more help than just the draft can give them to make them a team other teams have to worry about.
So who are some of those players who will be available out there? Which guys have a good chance of not only changing uniforms, but having an impact on their new squads too?
Well I have taken a look at all the guys who should be available (other names may be made available as well depending on contract status), and while there are several names who will just be filler, there are some names that will be free to sign anywhere that can really make a difference.
Now, I am not talking Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson difference, but good enough to turn an 8-win team into a playoff contender and a 10-win team into a Super Bowl contender.
So let’s run down a few of these names and see who may be wearing a new uniform next season
In the QB ranks, there are names like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Schaub, guys who can play but are not worth getting too excited about. Then you see at the bottom of the list a name who, coming into this season didn’t mean anything, but now he could be a major asset. At the very least, he has made himself quite a bit of money, and that guy is Kirk Cousins.
I could see Cousins as a nice fit with the Jets, as they have the great receiving duo with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, a solid run game with Chris Ivory and with Fitzpatrick a free agent and Geno Smith looking like a bust, Cousins looks like a perfect fit for Gang Green.
The free agent running backs look a lot more promising as names like Matt Forte, Lamar Miller and Doug Martin will all be looking to cash in.
I think Forte and the Cowboys are a perfect fit, as he will give them the dynamic threat they had one season with Demarco Murray, only Forte is better. You team him with Romo, Dez and Whitten and the Cowboys become a factor again in the NFC East
If the Buccaneers are smart, they will resign Martin and keep him teamed up with Winston for the foreseeable future. With Ronnie Hillman also an unrestricted free agent, and CJ Anderson a restricted free agent, the Broncos could be in the market for a running back and Miller would a great fit running in the mile-high air.
The receiving and tight end market looks like it may be hopping too. Names like Alshon Jeffrey, Michael Crabtree (recently signed to a new four-year $32 million contract extension by the Oakland Raiders), Reuben Randle, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis are all set to hit the free agent market as soon as the season ends. Of course, I wouldn’t count on Gates hitting the market as I gotta believe the Chargers will do all they can to make sure this surefire Hall of Famer remains in a Chargers uniform for his entire illustrious career.
The offensive line seems to be the one area every team always wants to upgrade, and great players rarely hit the market. The best three who are set to be available after this season are Jake Long, Russell Okung and Khalif Barnes. All three of them have names that would seem to be better than their play on the field.
The defensive line however, does have some great names scheduled to be available this off-season. The Lions seem destined to have their D-line decimated by free agency for the second straight season as both Nick Fairley and Haloti Ngata are going to cash in this off-season.
If you’d prefer talented players who have a little too much baggage, Jason Pierre Paul, Aldon Smith and Greg Hardy will all be available to the highest bidder. So it seems if your team is willing to shell out the big bucks, and put up with the headaches, your D-Line could be downright scary.
The linebackers will be led by Viking stud Chad Greenway and Broncos star Von Miller. Of course, those are the 5-star guys who will have $$$$$ by their names. If you’d rather not blow your entire budget on a linebacker, Bruce Irvin, Rolando McClain and Courtney Upshaw can all be had for a little less money but very similar production.
Finally, the defensive backs who are not only the last line of defense on your team, but they are the key figures in stopping guys like Dez, Calvin and Sammy. Prince Amukamara is probably the best name out there, but your team is not doing too badly if you end up with Charles Tillman, Adam Jones or Eric Weddle on your team.
Of course, there are a ton more guys than the ones I mentioned here, but I more or less gave you the best of who will be available. Of course, some of them may re-up before they even get a chance to hit the market, while others who are under contract may still get released making them free agents.
But for the guys we know whose contracts run out at the end of the season, you have been given a quick primer on what to look for.