Now all we have left to do is see what deals get done and who gets cut before Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET when free agency kicks off. In the meantime, let's go over some big picture thoughts about this free-agent class.
Defensive end, cornerback are deep
The names at the top of our free-agent list aren't all known to the average fan, but there is surprising depth for defenses looking for pass rushers and cornerbacks. There are ten solid starters available at both positions, with a number of other interesting names available for the second wave of free agency.
With depth brings value. Not every pass rusher is going to get the contract they want. Guys like Everson Griffen, Arthur Jones and Willie Young could be bargains. Veterans like Justin Tuck, Shaun Phillips and Jared Allen can provide solid one-year options. At defensive tackle, there are a lot of high-risk, high-reward veteran players that can push the pocket for a season or two.
Cornerback has similar depth at the top with Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner, Sam Shields and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. There are potential Pro Bowl safeties available in Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward. It's a free-agent crop lousy with defensive starters.
Skill positions are thin
Teams looking for a quarterback, running back or tight end should look to the draft. There are no sureshot starters at the positions, but there are quite a few candidates to get overpaid. Wide receiver is more promising, but guys like Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks won't come cheaply.
There are some good starters available at offensive tackle and center, with fewer options at guard. Here's how I'd rank the depth of each position available in free agency.
- Defensive end
- Offensive tackle
- Defensive tackle
- Wide receiver
- Running back
- Tight end
There's more salary cap room than ever
The salary cap rose to $133 million this year, a climb of 10 percent. That's the biggest percentage jump since 2006, and it's at least $3-4 million more than expected. 14 teams have at least $20 million in cap space heading into the weekend. Four teams have more than $40 million.
That's a ridiculous amount of money available, without many great players to spent it on. Look for teams to spend far more cap space on re-signing their own players to long-term contract extensions later in the offseason. The ones that blow their wad in free agency usually get disappointed.
Half the top free agents will disappoint
This is just how free agency works, so prepare yourself mentally. The Miami Dolphins went nuts in free agency last year and they still went 8-8. Their free agent haul was typical: Brent Grimes was a low-cost steal, while guys like Dannell Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler, Dustin Keller and Mike Wallace disappointed. The "offseason spending champion" rarely wins during the actual season.
Negotiating starts Saturday
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Free agency doesn't kick off until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, but teams can start negotiating with free agents on Saturday at noon. This is the second year since the NFL installed the three-day window for teams to lay the groundwork in contract talks with agents.
We didn't know what to expect last season during these three days, but we expected more action. There were a handful of rumors that floated around, but teams and agents mostly didn't tip their hands. Teams were anxious about negotiating a contract, and then watching the agent shop the contract around to other teams.
With more cap space floating around this year, perhaps we'll have have more juice from Saturday to Monday. Either way, expect a stream of last-minute salary cap cuts to dominate the headlines.