We're almost exactly one month away from the March 12 start of the NFL free-agency period. Several noteworthy players are likely to be available at nearly every position, from running back (Reggie Bush) to wide receiver (Greg Jennings) to offensive tackle (Jake Long) to defensive end (Osi Umenyiora) and many others. The trade market could also house a few big fish, like Percy Harvin and Alex Smith.
Who is the most impactful player potentially on the market this offseason?
Alex Smith has definite value to the many QB-starved teamsLet's eliminate Joe Flacco and Ryan Clady, as they'll both be franchise-tagged at the very least. Alex Smith is the most impactful player potentially on the market for a couple of reasons. First of all, the teams that desperately need a quarterback outnumber the available options at the position. All of the college quarterbacks come with question marks, boosting Smith's stock. Smith has proven that he can be a winning quarterback in the right environment, turning around his career after Jim Harbaugh's arrival in San Francisco. And of course, when it comes to a team's competitiveness, there is no more impactful position than quarterback. That is another reason to pick Smith.
Jets will trade Revis to the highest bidderHow often does the best cornerback of a generation -- and one of the best ever -- become available? Make no mistake: The New York Jets are going to trade Darrelle Revis. He might have great years left in front of him, but we all thought that about Nnamdi Asomugha a couple of years ago -- and that was without a major ACL injury to worry about.
The Jets' defense is pretty good without Revis. Would I want to keep him? Of course! I'm not insane. But Gang Green can't afford a $16 million price tag on someone who might still be great. Salary-wise, the Jets are too top-heavy already. They need to build depth on offense, something they can't do when four guys (Revis, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie) make all the money.
So load up for the Revis gold rush. It will take less than you think, because the Jets are motivated and Revis is coming off of an injury. I'm willing to bet a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and a player of adequate significance will be enough. Could be a third instead of a fourth, depending on the circumstances, or if a bidding war develops. So glad I never bought a Revis Island T-shirt. It would have been relegated to the same pile as my John Abraham and Brett Favre Jets jerseys.
Disgruntled Viking Harvin has play-making ability to upgrade any offensePercy Harvin nearly broke the Internet over the weekend when rumors of his demise in Minnesota started trending. Fans of every team took to social media to explain why their squad would be better off with Harvin. Well, not you, Vikings fans. But look at the bright side: Your team is so flush with talent at receiver, you certainly can afford to let a guy like Harvin go. Oh wait; no you can't.
The point is, Harvin should be the most sought-after receiver of the offseason. Greg Jennings might have seen better days. Mike Wallace definitely didn't prove his contract worth last season in Pittsburgh. Harvin has the youth (he's just 24) and the play-making ability to greatly impact any team. Don't think so? Well you'll notice that Twitter is flush with comments like, "I hope my team gets Harvin! And if not, I hope he doesn't go to the Patriots." Because deep down, we all know how great Harvin can be.
Numerous teams could use Long to shore up the offensive lineMy first thought was to say Darrelle Revis. Obviously. Who couldn't use the game's best cover corner? Yet, that is not always a sure-fire deal. While Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan turned out to be decent signings, the same can't be said of the mega deals given to Nnamdi Asomugha and Nate Clements. System changes definitely affect the play of free-agent signees at the cornerback position.
Jake Long's likely free agency lacks the sex appeal of a Revis derby, but given the dearth of formidable left tackles in the game, this situation merits serious attention. Just think about all the teams that needed a major upgrade on the O-line this season: the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers and so on. Slotting Long at tackle immediately fortifies what is perhaps the most important unit in football. With the passing game widely emphasized these days -- too much so, if you ask me -- paying good coin for someone like Long makes sense.