NFL FREE AGENCY PREVIEW – PART II – SKILL POSITIONS
As I discussed during our last segment, the Free Agency market will depend a great deal on how much teams have to spend, what their needs are, and who their competitors are for certain players.
During this week’s segment, I am going to focus on the skill position players, which include quarterback, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers, and review where the market currently stands so that we might predict where some of the elite players may land.
There are several teams in need of a top flight quarterback scattered throughout the NFL. As it stands right now, the following teams are in need of a major upgrade at the NFL’s most important position: Arizona, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately, the supply of good Quarterbacks on the Free Agent market is as bear as any position in football.
Joe Flacco stands out as the lone elite player available, and he will almost certainly be resigned or Franchised by Baltimore. Because of the bear market, Arizona (Kolb), Cleveland (Weeden), the Jets (Sanchez), and Jacksonville (Gabbert), will most likely stick with who they have for at least one more season. However, Kansas City and Philadephia are the two teams that may be active. It’s hard to imagine the Eagles or Chiefs holding onto their current starting quarterbacks. Vick and Cassel were both putrid last season and their prospects for improving are nill. But with no Quarterbacks available in Free Agency, and a weak draft class for the Quarterback position, the trade market may be their only option. Fortunately, there are two very talented quarterbacks that are likely to be available through trade: Alex Smith (SF) and Matt Flynn (SEA). So, my predictions for this position are as follows:
Teams in Need of a Quarterback
Kansas City Chiefs
Philadelphia – Alex Smith (Trade)
Kansas City Chiefs – Geno Smith (Draft)
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco (Re-Sign)
The running back position is not always the easiest to predict, because most teams prefer to draft their next starting running back, and because there is great risk to doling out a lot of money for a position that is so demanding and that is so conducive to injuries. Notwithstanding, this year’s running back position is much deeper than the Quarterback position, and includes some interesting backs that could play prominent roles on the right teams. The top running back by far is the recently released Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) who is only 27 years old and rushed for over 1000 yards behind an injury riddled Giants offensive line, while also providing excellent pass protection (+6.2 according to PFF). Other players that should draw interest include the Rams’ Steven Jackson (4.1 YPC, 1042 Yards, 9.2 PFF Rating), New England’s Danny Woodhead (4.0 YPC, 301 Yards, 10.4 PFF Rating), San Diego’s Ronnie Brown (4.8 YPC, 220 Yards, 2.1 PFF Rating), Dallas’ Felix Jones (3.6 YPC, 402 Yards, 0.2 PFF Rating), the Jets’ Shonn Greene (3.9 YPC, 1063 Yards, -2.7 PFF Rating), and Miami’s Reggie Bush (4.3 YPC, 986 Yards, -2.6 PFF Rating).
The teams in greatest need of a running back include the Jets, who have little besides Joe McKnight at this point; the Jaguars, who have a banged up Maurice Jones-Drew and not much more; the Cincinnati Bengals, who could use a back up for BenJarvus Green-Ellis; Kansas City could also use a back-up for Jamaal Charles; Miami may jump into the Free Agency fray if they can’t re-sign Reggie Bush, but they also have a lot of depth at the position and other needs to fill; Pittsburgh may not have the funds to re-sign both Mike Wallace and Rashad Mendenhall, and may look for a cheaper alternative on the market; Steven Jackson’s days in St. Louis may be over, and the Rams may look to fill his shoes on the market as well. So, my predictions for this position are as follows: