Nick Mensio

Free Agency Update

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Free Agency Fits

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Falcons: Defensive lineman Alex Carrington -- The Falcons need a ton of help on both lines. On the defensive side, they need pocket pushers. The Falcons have seemed to like their defensive tackles to be on the lighter side. Carrington (6-foot-5, 285) is a versatile lineman capable of playing both tackle and end. He's coming off a torn quad that limited him to just three games in 2013. Prior to that, in 2012, Carrington proved to be a disruptive force in limited snaps with the Bills. All three of Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters are free agents in Atlanta. The Falcons need to overhaul their front four and will make multiple additions.

Giants: Offensive guard Chad Rinehart -- The G-Men are in need of a total rebuild on the interior of their front five. LG Kevin Boothe is a free agent and struggled on his one-year deal. C David Baas has been an injury-prone free-agent bust. RG Chris Snee's tank is on E and is going to be cut if he doesn't take a massive pay cut. G/T James Brewer hasn't shown he can grab one of the spots. Rinehart (6-foot-5, 321) can play either left or right guard. He's made it through a 16-game season just once in his five-year career, however. But when healthy, Rinehart is above-average in all phases.

Jaguars: Wide receiver Golden Tate -- Jacksonville can't rely on Justin Blackmon to be reinstated by the time the season rolls around. The Jaguars brass has already said whatever they get from Blackmon will be a "luxury." Cecil Shorts is locked in at one outside receiver spot. His inability to stay healthy is a cause for concern. Ace Sanders is a decent gadget piece, but Mike Brown couldn't cut it when pressed into a heightened role. Tate would complement Shorts well. Both are deep threats, but Tate also has the tackle-shedding ability to pick up YAC on short routes. He also happens to know both coach Gus Bradley and OC Jedd Fisch from their Seattle days.

Jets: Wide receiver Sidney Rice -- GM John Idzik knows Rice from their time together in Seattle. He'd be a solid fit in OC Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense as a receiver with reliable hands on the outside. Jeremy Kerley is a fine slot receiver, but Gang Green has nothing behind him. Rice would be a solid No. 2, allowing the Jets to find a true No. 1 receiver in the early rounds of the draft. Rice would come cheap on a one-year deal. By all accounts, he's progressing well after ACL surgery.

Lions: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders -- GM Martin Mayhew has seemed to favor smallish, speedy receivers opposite Calvin Johnson. (See: Titus Young and Ryan Broyles.) New OC Joe Lombardi comes from New Orleans where Lance Moore has been a key piece for a number of years. Sanders fits the bill. He's a field stretcher and isn't expected back in Pittsburgh. Ideally, he'd be a No. 3 on a top-of-the-line offense. The Lions could attack receiver or a seam-stretching tight end early in the draft in addition to their free agency acquisition.

Packers: Safety Stevie Brown -- The combination of M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett was one of the worst safety duos in football last season. Burnett inked a long-term deal and isn't going anywhere, but Jennings needs to be replaced. GM Ted Thompson isn't one to pay a premium price for free agents. Brown is coming off a torn ACL and missed the entire 2013 campaign. In 2012, he picked off eight passes. DC Dom Capers' defense needs playmakers. Brown qualifies and is young enough (26) for Thompson to justify paying.

Panthers: Offensive tackle Anthony Collins -- Following longtime LT Jordan Gross' retirement Wednesday, finding Cam Newton's blindside protector might be GM Dave Gettleman's No. 1 priority. He has plenty of other holes to plug, but the offensive line picture in Carolina is as clear as mud. Collins started the final six games of the Bengals' season at left tackle and didn't surrender a single sack. He's also shown flashes of dominance in spot starts in the past. Cincinnati wants to lock him up and kick Andrew Whitworth inside to guard, but Collins will likely want to see what the market offers. He won't command what Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert will, but we'd almost rather pay 27-year-old Collins than 30-year-old injury-prone Albert.

Patriots: Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald -- Chris Jones and Joe Vellano were pleasant surprises for the Patriots after Tommy Kelly (knee) and Vince Wilfork (Achilles') went down, but New England can't go into the 2014 season without upgrading this position. Kelly is a candidate to be released. Wilfork is a graybeard. McDonald was a late cut by the Seahawks before Week 1 but returned as a key piece in Seattle's rotation, notching 5.5 sacks. Surely he was helped by the surrounding talent, but the Patriots' ends and linebackers are no slouches. McDonald could contribute as a pocket pusher next to Wilfork.

Raiders: Defensive tackle B.J. Raji -- Raji isn't looking like he's going to return to the Packers. All four of Oakland's 2013 starters on the defensive line are free agents. GM Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay when the Packers made Raji their first-round pick in 2009. McKenzie and the Raiders also happen to be flush with cap space. I'm not advocating throwing $7-8 million annually at Raji, but McKenzie seems like the type to do it. Raji would like to be able to get after the quarterback more on his next team, and the Raiders' 4-3 could allow him to do so.

Rams: Safety Malcolm Jenkins -- FS Rodney McLeod is a backup and special teamer at best. Jenkins had his best seasons under new Rams DC Gregg Williams in New Orleans. The Rams can't keep overpaying free agents they know from previous stops, but coach Jeff Fisher loves his guys. Jenkins isn't a playmaker but would shore up the back end. He can also cover the slot in nickel situations, allowing the Rams to still use an early-round pick on a safety in May's draft.

Ravens: Wide receiver James Jones -- Jones is a candidate to see a softer market than he may be expecting. He's about to turn 30 years old and isn't a big-time playmaker. Jones is more of a chain-mover and red-zone threat. It fits the profile of what new OC Gary Kubiak likes in a No. 2 receiver. Torrey Smith is going to dominate targets as the No. 1, but the Ravens badly need someone to take some heat off him on the opposite side. Jones may not command much more than $5 million annually.

Redskins: Wide receiver Kenny Britt -- New coach Jay Gruden likes his receivers to be able to block. Although Britt was benched multiple times for effort reasons in Tennessee, he once was a willing blocker and destroyed opposing defensive backs on occasion at Rutgers. Britt is a high-profile name. We know owner Dan Snyder likes those. Leonard Hankerson may not be ready for Week 1, and Josh Morgan is a free agent. It's still unclear if Britt will ever be the same player he showed flashes of being early in his career, but he's still just 25 and would be worth a prove-it one-year deal.

Saints: Cornerback Will Blackmon -- The Saints handed CB Keenan Lewis a five-year, $25.5 million deal last offseason. They use a couple more corners like him, but it's hard to see GM Mickey Loomis shelling out another big contract to a corner. Corey White isn't a viable No. 2. Blackmon (6-foot, 210) is a bigger corner who excels against the run and in physical defenses like DC Rob Ryan's. He shouldn't command more than $3-4 million per year on the open market on a two- or three-year deal. The Jaguars, however, are said to want Blackmon back.

Seahawks: Defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- The Seahawks are going to release LE Red Bryant in order to free up some money and try to retain free agent DL Michael Bennett. Seattle loves its depth and will need to replace Bryant in the rotation, but they'll want to do it on the cheap. Smith is a quality pass rusher and played in a similar attacking-style defense in Houston as a 3-4 right end. At 6-foot-3, 272, he can play inside and outside. Smith is 32 years old and should come cheap on a one- or -two-year pact.

Steelers: Defensive lineman Tyson Jackson -- Jackson revived his career as a 3-4 end under coach Andy Reid and DC Bob Sutton with the Chiefs in 2013 and is hitting the market at the right time. DEs Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel are free agents in Pittsburgh and likely aren't going to be brought back. The Steelers need to get younger up front and shore up their 21st-ranked run defense. Jackson will turn 27 in June and can play either side of the line.

Texans: Nose tackle Terrence Cody -- Although new DC Romeo Crennel and outgoing DC Wade Phillips both run 3-4 defenses, their philosophies differ in many ways. Phillips was comfortable with undersized Earl Mitchell manning the nose in Houston. He's a free agent, and Crennel prefers his nose tackles to eat up blockers. Cody is 340 pounds and should be able to do that, even though the NFL has proven to be a struggle for him. He's still young and a change of scenery could do him some good. Even if he's not asked to start, the Texans badly need depth up front.

Titans: Right tackle Breno Giacomini -- Incumbent RT David Stewart and his $6.4 million salary are expected to be released, leaving a hole on the right side. New coach Ken Whisenhunt has had physical offensive linemen in every city he's coached in, and Giacomini's biggest asset is his physicality and ability to get under the skin of opposing defensive players. He's an above-average pass protector but should be a better run blocker. The Titans have a lot invested in their offensive line. Giacomini won't command much money.

Vikings: Defensive end Lamarr Houston -- I fully expect the Vikings to target RE Michael Johnson in free agency, but that would have been too easy here. Instead, I'll go with a similar player in Houston who most of the casual football world doesn't know about. Houston was arguably Oakland's best player in 2013. He's a behemoth of a man at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, but carries the weight well. Like Johnson, Houston can rush the passer and plays stout run defense.  He'd be a great fit in new coach Mike Zimmer's defense.



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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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