The NFL Free Agency buzz has died down, but there are still some notables on the market.
There have been lots of big signings and lots of money being tossed at players, and more attention-grabbing deals are still to come. Needs have been left unfulfilled, but luckily, there is still plenty of time for teams to make a move and fill a hole.
But which teams will strike, and who will they strike with? Here are predictions for where the four biggest remaining free agents will land.
There are teams in need of pass rushers, and Abraham is a perfectly capable pass rusher. The Denver Broncos are one of those teams, after they lost Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens. Abraham has visited with the Broncos (according to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com), and he could end up signing there.
Abraham recorded 10 sacks in 2012 and can still be the player who recorded 16.5 sacks in 2008 and 13 in 2010, because he is a difference-maker who gets to the quarterback. According to Bleacher Report’s Christopher Hansen, Abraham was sixth in the NFL with a pass rush productivity rating of 10.7 (in 2012). Abraham can be a difference maker in Denver, and he would be a great fit there.
The Broncos haven’t committed more than $6 million annually to any player, and they can afford Abraham. Because he has been on the market for more than three weeks, Abraham will come cheaper. Abraham was cut by the Falcons, and because Atlanta hasn’t made a serious run at him, it’s unlikely that they will bring Abraham back.
And all of that will lead to Denver signing Abraham.
Even though Andre Smith was rated as the best right tackle in the league (according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling), he hasn’t been signed yet.
It’s likely that the Bengals lock up their star right tackle to a lucrative deal and keep young quarterback Andy Dalton protected. Dalton hasn’t exactly set the world on fire anyways, so letting Smith go would be a terrible move. Dalton was sacked 46 times in 2012 (only two quarterbacks were sacked more), so the Bengal offensive line wasn’t exactly great even with Smith.
In other words, letting Smith go would destroy the 17th-ranked offense, and the Bengals know it.
Because he has demanded so much money and because the free agency period is past its peak, the Bengals will be able to afford Smith. Unless another team is still in dire need of an offensive lineman and throws a ton of money at Smith, he won’t be leaving Cincinnati. Smith demanded too much money, and it’s likely going to cost him money.
However, if the two sides can’t work out a deal, it could cause trouble.
While he hasn’t received much buzz, Victor Cruz is still on the free agent market, and there’s a chance he doesn’t end up in New York.
Cruz was instrumental in New York’s 2012 playoff run, catching a touchdown in Super Bowl 46 and catching 10 passes for 142 yards in the 2012 NFC Championship against the 49ers. In 2012, he caught 86 passes for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns, which should be enough to earn him a nice contract.
The Giants have benefited from Cruz, and it’s very unlikely that they let him go. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s very unlikely that any team signs Cruz to an offer sheet. The Giants could and likely would match it, so it’s doubtful that Cruz is heavily pursued.
In other words, the star wideout will be back in blue.
Destination: New York
Even though he may not exactly be a household name, Karlos Dansby can make a big impact.
Dansby was cut by the Miami Dolphins, but the linebacker who returned an Aaron Rodgers fumble for a touchdown in the 2010 NFL Playoffs (for the game-winning score) is still a good player who can help out teams in need of a linebacker. Dansby was apparently shocked by his release, as he should have been. Dansby recorded a spectacular 134 tackles, or 8.4 per game.
The Giants met with free agent linebacker Dan Connor, as they want some competition at middle linebacker. Mark Herzlich has a very touching story, but he recorded just 30 tackles in 2012 and isn’t the long-term answer. The Giants need a linebacker, and the 19th pick in the NFL Draft likely won’t provide them with a good one.
New York finished 31st in total defense last year, and they need an upgrade at linebacker. The Giants have a team ready to contend for a championship, but they need a player like Dansby. Because free agency is three weeks in, Dansby will definitely be affordable for the Giants.
So, he will end up in blue.
Destination: New York