The Super Bowl is in the books, so while the drama is still fresh in our minds we also need to start thinking about next season. We do it two fold here at Breaking Football, as we need to track all the movement and chatter concerning free agency and the draft, and then try to figure out how it will all impact the 2015 fantasy football season. Let’s not put the cart before the horse, however, and get the 2015 NFL off-season started off right by tracking everything going on in free agency.
Several players will be cut in the coming days, while the actual official start date of the 2015 NFL Free Agency period is March 10th at 4:00 pm ET (via NFL.com). To do this thing right, we’ll rank the top 10 overall free agents that are expected to hit the market (we will link to positional break downs) and once the action starts in March, we’ll track the biggest moves right here. Let’s start with the 10 most coveted names scheduled to hit the open market:
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
Elite defensive lineman that can play effectively both against the pass and run don’t grow on trees, while Suh turned into that dominant two-way player right before our eyes in 2014. He has character issues but he’s a nasty beast on the line and no one wants to mess with him. With J.J. Watt as arguably the only other defensive lineman that’s better in the league, Suh is going to be in high demand. Reports already suggest the $26 million hit of the franchise tag is going to be too big for the Lions to swallow, so it’s looking more and more like he’ll be hitting the open market. If that happens, he’ll get things started as the top free agent.
2. Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots
Revis proved this year he’s still one of the top corners in the game, perhaps second only to Richard Sherman. He might just go for the money now that he’s claimed a Super Bowl title, while many will speculate a return to New York or a reunion with Rex Ryan in Buffalo. He’s probably just going to the highest bidder at this point, but that doesn’t stop him from being the second best overall free agent scheduled to hit the open market.
3. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Tagged)
Reports already suggest Bryant is “destined” for the franchise tag, while Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been pretty direct about his intentions of keeping Bryant on the dark side. Bryant careered in 2014 with 16 touchdowns and once again proved he’s a top-three talent at the wide receiver position (if not the best). I don’t normally value wide receivers this high, but he’s at the top of his game and would change things dramatically if he wound up somewhere other than Dallas. He probably won’t, though.
4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Having a top shelf running back is clearly a big deal, as Murray proved that during a sensational run in 2014. He was literally the reason why Dallas went 12-4 and won a playoff game and it’s crazy that they’re ready to cast him aside as if he’s some scrub. Murray is a special running back and only an insane 393-carry 2014 campaign will thwart suitors off. He still has major upside at just 26 years old and will break the bank on the open market.
5. Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs (Tagged)
Houston is one of the best edge rushers in the game and the Chiefs would be foolish to let him walk. He just piled up 22 sacks in 2014 and seems to have gotten better each year he’s been in the league. He’s best suited on the outside of a 3-4, so his market could be hurt a bit by a perceived lack of versatility, but he’s still a top-five player in free agency (if not higher).
6. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (Tagged)
DT is probably staying in Denver, but his buddy Eric Decker wants him in New York and he could always just follow the cash. I don’t think the Broncos are going to let him go, though, as Peyton Manning should be back and this is still a team that can win a Super Bowl. Thomas may play with Decker again some day, but it won’t be in 2015.
7. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants (Tagged)
JPP is ranked this high based purely on sheer talent and upside, although he did restore his value quite a bit with a nice 12.5 sack season in 2014. It’s certainly worth wondering if that was just a contract year effort, but the guy is just 26 and is one of the most naturally gifted pass rushers in the entire league. Plenty of teams will be out to snag him, while it’s been reported that the Giants will make an effort to lock him up to a long-term deal. Let the bidding begin.
8. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos
We’ve seen over the years that an elite tight end can be a real game-changer. Thomas is still a little raw and can work on his game, but he wins in the size/athleticism department and at the very worst has been an absolute terror in the red-zone. He’s also simply dangerous with the ball in his hands and he managed to score 12 touchdowns last year despite being pretty banged up for most of the year. He’s probably not quite as good out of Denver, but he still even has some upside and is going to be worth paying for.
9. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Cobb could be a product of Green Bay/Aaron Rodgers, but you can’t fake his speed, quickness and play-making ability. He’s a legit #2 wide receiver and if he doesn’t get too greedy, the Pack should make sure they hold onto their versatile 24-year old weapon. He could be a #1 threat elsewhere, but he’s best served as a #2 guy. If he realizes that, he’ll take a hometown discount and do a deal with the green and gold.
10. Mike Iupati, OG, San Francisco 49ers
You could easily rank Iupati a whole lot higher, as he’s a mean mauler who thrives in run blocking and more than holds his own in pass protection. Teams love his balance and tenacity, but you can find productive guards all over the place. I value tackles much more, but I couldn’t leave him out of my top-10. If a team needs an upgrade or replacement at the guard spot, they know they are getting a guy who will win the majority of the time in Iupati. They’ll just have to pay to get him.
*Photo – Mark Runyon | Pro Football Schedules