The NFL’s 2014 free agency period will feature a number of big-name players on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. While a number of free agents will help out their new teams in the upcoming season, the following are the top 10 offensive players available.
1. TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
One of the most dynamic pass catchers in the NFL, Graham is the best offensive player available in free agency this season. He’s the kind of tight end/wide receiver hybrid who can make any “good” offense great, having put up insane numbers over his first few seasons in the league. Just 27 years old, Graham is hitting his prime and will be an attractive commodity as soon as he hits the market. His large frame, soft hands and otherworldly athleticism allow him to make an impact on jump balls in the end zone and seam routes in the middle of the field. He’ll command a large contract.
Update on contract talks between #Saints and offensive player Jimmy Graham: No progress. Still far apart. Still looking like a franchise tag
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2014
2. WR Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
After a prolific season with the Broncos, 27-year-old Decker has every right to demand a large contract. While he isn’t going to be an ideal No. 1 wideout, he is a high-end No. 2 who can take over a game in certain instances. Decker’s combination of size and speed make him one of the more dynamic threats in the game today; he destroys Cover 2 defenses with his well-run fade routes and also succeeds against Cover 3 with tremendous curl routes. The former Bronco will make plays outside the numbers and his scheme-diverse play style will make him a hot commodity on the open market.
I like Eric Decker, but he seems like a very good number two WR who will be paid like a game changing number one WR.
— Connor Rogers (@Real_CR3) February 27, 2014
3. OT Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens
Any team can sign Monroe, place him at left tackle and not worry about leakage from their quarterback’s blind side (if right-handed). Monroe is a model of consistency, simply stonewalling opposing pass rushers and run blocking efficiently as well. Entering his prime at 27 years old, Monroe could be looking at a big contract in the near future. While he’s established a reputation as one of the best pass blockers in the game, Monroe is coming along as a mauler in the run game. Ray Rice may have had a poor 2013, but it was no fault of Monroe’s.
Ravens have a great gap still to bridge with LT Eugene Monroe, and those talks are ongoing as well
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 27, 2014
4. C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns
There’s nothing to dislike when it comes to Mack, a star interior offensive lineman in the middle of his prime at 28 years old. Mack has been one of the best centers in the game for the past four seasons in a row and he shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Since his rookie season, he’s paired with Joe Thomas and the rest of the Browns offensive line to form one of the league’s best units up front. His 6’4”, 310-pound frame is ideal for a center and he’s developed into one of the best run blockers in pro football; don’t be surprised when he cashes in during this free agency period.
One of the smartest things I heard this week: #Browns now view re-signing C Alex Mack as “priority No. 1.” Will be huge for an incoming QB.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 23, 2014
5. WR Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
When his team needed him most, Edelman found a way to be as productive as any receiver in football. The Patriots WR recorded 69 catches for 729 yards and five touchdowns over the last 8 games of the season, including New England’s two playoff games. On the season (including the playoffs), Edelman posted a 121-catch, 1,229 yard year with seven touchdowns. His ability to rack up yards and catches makes him the type of player that quarterbacks ask their team’s front office to go get. Wherever he goes, just 28 years old, Edelman will dominate underneath routes and work the middle of the field as well as any other NFL receiver.
I’d have to believe Julian Edelman smiled this morning when he saw Riley Cooper’s contract (reported 5/25).
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) February 27, 2014
6. WR Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
Fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, Tate has the chance to capitalize on an impressive season in which he posted solid numbers. Tate hasn’t even entered his prime yet, as he’s only 26 years old, but he’s done some good things of late. He’s not the most consistent receiver, but the former Notre Dame standout flashed signs of future stardom multiple times this season. For a young receiver with Super Bowl experience, those flashes will all but guarantee him strong interest on the open market. A bit undersized, Tate will need to come into a situation where a solid No. 1 target already exists.
Wonder what a guy like Golden Tate will fetch in FA. Garçon money?
— Rex RyFo (@RyFo18) December 14, 2013
7. OG Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs
Though he wasn’t able to stay healthy for all of last season, Schwartz was remarkably effective when he was on the field. At 28 years old, he’s likely to rebound from an injury-marred 2013 season and blast open holes in the run game for years to come. Like Alex Mack, Schwartz has also become a solid pass blocker and rarely lets interior pass rushers get through. Though he’s usually left on an island, considering centers typically help out the left guard in most protection schemes, Schwartz has a high rate of success in pass protection. His 6’6”, 330-pound frame helps him absorb bull rushes, but Schwartz has quick feet and recovers well when challenged with a speed rush.
1.) OG Geoff Schwartz – #Raiders need to improve at G. Time and time again Schwartz has taken short-term deals and more than earned his keep
— Brad Bordyn (@jazzhessian) February 27, 2014
8. WR Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Despite his less-than-ideal age at 33 years old, Boldin can flat out play. Boldin falls behind Edelman and Tate on this list because the former won’t do much long-term, but if a team needs a solid No. 2 who can outmuscle cornerbacks and put up big numbers, Boldin can be that player in 2014. Whether or not Michael Crabtree was on the field for San Francisco last year, Boldin caught the ball and moved the chains for the 49ers. He’s been to the top of the mountain, winning a Super Bowl in 2012, and can bring veteran leadership and solid on-field play to any locker room.
2.) WR Anquan Boldin – Boldin figures to stay in SF, but the ageless WR is a true chain-mover. Could be a young QB’s security blanket.
— Brad Bordyn (@jazzhessian) February 27, 2014
9. OT Zach Strief, New Orleans Saints
If not for his age and position on the right side of the line, Strief would be a lot higher on this list. If a team is looking for a quick fix, plug-and-play type at right tackle, Strief is that team’s guy. The Saints OT was tremendous in 2013, making his money as a great pass blocker. He’ll turn 30 at the start of the season and one has to wonder just how much longer he can continue to play at a high level. Standing at 6’8” and 350 pounds, Strief uses his big body to drive pass rushers up the field and create throwing lanes for his quarterback. He’s not the best run blocker, but his skills in that regard are adequate enough.
B/R NFL 1000: Top 35 Right Tackles http://t.co/TxHzdL7DAv 1. Zach Strief
— Young Travvy (@DaigoSon) February 27, 2014
10. RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Another beneficiary of the Broncos’ offensive explosion, Moreno is going to command a large amount of money in his next contract. Moreno is 27, which is up there in age for a running back, but the Georgia product hasn’t carried the ball enough times over his career where age would be a concern at this point. The back is a threat in between the tackles, but he also proved his ability to produce yards on toss plays and screens. He’ll find a way to make plays wherever he goes, racking up yards when his name is called.
Knowshon Moreno says “hopefully I’m still here. I’ll let my agent take care of things.” #Broncos
— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) February 4, 2014