Getty Images :: Otto Greule Jr. (Vick), Drew Hallowell (Verner), George Gojkovich (Bennett), Thomas B. Shea (Tate)
Getty Images :: Otto Greule Jr. (Vick), Drew Hallowell (Verner), George Gojkovich (Bennett), Thomas B. Shea (Tate)

Free Agency, A Primer

Cornerbacks are about to get paid, skill players are not and everything else you need to know with NFL free agency about to begin. Plus, thoughts on Rashard Mendenhall's early retirement, Geno Smith's arm and an NFL owner's passing

Ten things you should know about the NFL’s 22nd annual free market, which kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m. (but which is already in full swing because of legal and illegal tampering):

1. Cornerbacks are this year’s quarterbacks. When a pedestrian corner like Sam Shields of Green Bay gets four years and $39 million ($9.75 million a year for Sam Shields!), significantly better players at a vital position had their bargaining postures strengthened mightily. Specifically, Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aqib Talib will be in the $8-million-plus neighborhood annually. Then there’s Tarell Brown of the 49ers on the next level, and Peanut Tillman and Captain Munnerlyn on the next (Tillman because of age). That’s seven quality starters, some better, on the hook. Davis is close to re-signing with Indy, according to Jason LaCanfora, and Rodgers-Cromartie is likely to return to Denver. The others? The Giants are pursuing Verner, but I can’t see them paying $10 million a year. Washington and New England want Talib; Washington might be more desperate to make a free-agent strike, and the Patriots won’t overpay. I like Brown a lot, and I think he’d be money well spent for a team tighter on the cap that doesn’t want to go crazy for a corner.

The Top 100 Free Agents

Whatever the needs, NFL teams will soon be scrambling to fill them on the open market. Greg Bedard ranks the top available players. 100-51 | 50-1

2. Tackles will be paid. Ryan Tannehill, meet Brandon Albert. The Dolphins’ new left tackle is expected to be the laid-back Albert. Miami’s expected to blow the opposition out of the water again (remember Mike Wallace and his $13 million average that shocked the NFL last year?) with a deal averaging around $10-11 million. That likely leaves Jared Veldheer to jump from Oakland to Arizona, and the Raiders to scramble on the rebound and do a deal with Rodger Saffold, who has missed 17 games due to injury in his four seasons with the Rams. There’s a good chance Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie, with his $65 million in cap money, is going to say come November: I should have gone the extra mile and paid Veldheer.

3. Baltimore could get very lucky. The biggest beneficiary of the high-stakes left-tackle poker: the Ravens. They could get the player they’ve wanted to keep all along, Eugene Monroe, whom they acquired for two fourth-round picks in a mid-year trade with Jacksonville. Monroe is the consensus fourth man on the list for the other teams desperate for a left tackle. Tampa Bay, or a latecomer to the party, could settle for the unknown tackle with promise, Anthony Collins of the Bengals. All he did last year, according to Pro Football Focus, was allow zero sacks and zero quarterback hits in 592 snaps played on the Bengals line.

4. Karlos Dansby and Daryl Smith should send D’Qwell Jackson thank-you notes. Dansby is one of the best inside ’backers in football, and Smith solidified a shaky position group in the absence of Ray Lewis last year in Baltimore. But neither was going to strike it rich in free agency until Jackson signed for $5.5 million a year with Indianapolis last week. Cleveland should jump all over Dansby, who is a good leader and a pass-rusher on par with the best interior linebackers in the league. I think Smith should stay in Baltimore; he’s perfect for the team as a leader and a player.

A dark horse for Michael Vick? San Francisco. If the Niners want an insurance policy for Colin Kaepernick, Vick might be willing to go to try to win a Super Bowl ring.

5. Jairus Byrd’s landing spot? A secret. He wants $9 million a year, and I can’t figure out who will pay a safety that much.

6. Michael Vick should be in more demand than he is. I keep saying this, and few believe me: Vick’s a very good locker room guy now, a leader, and he’d be a good team guy whether or not he wins the starting job. I think if Vick had been more accurate in his past two years in Philly (.581, .546), offensive coordinator Norv Turner could have been sold on him with the Vikings; I know Vick was very interested in Minnesota. The team that makes the most sense is the Jets, because they have no idea if Geno Smith is their quarterback of the future. Oakland makes sense because the Raiders have no idea what they have either. I’ll give you a dark horse here: San Francisco. Let’s say Vick gets only lukewarm interest to start, or to compete for a starting job. If so, and if the Niners want more than a third-string insurance policy for Colin Kaepernick, Vick might be willing to go to try to win a Super Bowl ring. He turns 34 in June.

Fresh off a career year, Julian Edelman, 27, is hitting free agency at the right time. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Fresh off a career year, Julian Edelman, 27, is hitting free agency at the right time. (Elsa/Getty Images)

7. Running backs and receivers have fallen to earth with a thud. Used to be backs were sexy pickups in free agency. Now even the prominent ones get no love, mostly because of the way the game is being played and because teams figure they can find adequate ones in the middle or late rounds of the May draft. Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown and probably Chris Johnson, with young speedster Ben Tate … expect all of them to be disappointed this week. At receiver, Julian Edelman caught 121 passes out of the slot for New England last year, but the Patriots seem content to let the former college quarterback seek his fortune elsewhere; could the Jets, in the latest chapter of the border war between these two lovebird franchises, be “elsewhere?” In my mind, a great fit for Edelman would be Cleveland, which has money to spend and a hole at slot receiver. Cleveland could be in the mix for Eric Decker, who needs suitors. Finally, I think the receiver who will get more action than forecast is Golden Tate.

8. Michael Bennett is about to be very rich. People are forgetting Bennett’s versatility when they talk about the best pass-rushers getting paid in free agency. Bennett, for the first time in his NFL career, played significant snaps (more than 350) inside for the Seahawks, and he helped Seattle win the Super Bowl. “I think I’ll be one of the most valuable players in free agency,’’ he said late in the year, and he was right. Now the Bears, with brother Martellus Bennett providing in-house recruiting, are interested, and Michael Bennett knows this could be his best shot at free-agency dough. I know Seattle can’t afford everything, with so many good young players on the cusp of second contracts. But if I’m John Schneider, I’m fighting like crazy to convince Bennett to stay.

9. Best players to make money whom you don’t know well. DE Arthur Jones (Ravens), who should end up being a better long-term player than his former teammate, Paul Kruger, who was overpaid by the Browns last year … DT Paul Soliai (Dolphins), the best of a bad crop of defensive tackles and best nosetackle in the field … G/T Geoff Schwartz (Chiefs), versatile and underrated … T Anthony Collins (Bengals), whom I wrote about above. … Oh, and I can’t believe more teams, and more people, aren’t talking about wideout James Jones of the Packers. Great hands, and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

10. First dominoes to fall: tackles. Too many deals too close to fruition.

Should be a fun week. We’ll have some good stories at The MMQB this week. We’re following a key free-agent and the trends of the system, so check back through the week for our stories.

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148 comments
dmarie166
dmarie166

How can you even compare food sources to what was done to those poor defenseless dogs?  I will NEVER forget or forgive him for what he did. It will be some form of "poetic justice" if his career goes down the tubes and far less then what he deserves.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

Good grief, people! That Vick dog-killing thing is prehistoric news. He did his time in jail, lost millions, apologized in 110 different languages, conducted speaking engagements acknowledging his mistakes, what more do you want the man to do? Think about the steak, chicken and other meat you eat. Animals were killed for that too! Game meats like deer, rabbit and such, animals are killed for that and some are kept as pets. Yes, what he did was heinous and such, but he didn't murder PEOPLE. Why don't you tree-hugging animal lovers get over yourselves and move on with your lives? You don't have to like Vick, but bringing up the past isn't going to get you anywhere. 

bullcrap
bullcrap

plus he is not a great qb.

bullcrap
bullcrap

I'm tired of hearing vick did his time and should be able to move on.He didn't just watch dog tear each other apart,but he killed them and enjoyed it. anyone who can kill anything and really enjoy like he did has no morals and no conscience.if he didn't get caught he will still be doing it and enjoying it.There is no jail time that fixes that.And just so you know i am not an animal lover!!!!!There are more important things then football!!!! And i love football

mariatmaguire
mariatmaguire

It's called KARMA & no one deserves this as much as Michael Vick.

dogwoodtree
dogwoodtree

I hope Vick finds a good home.  Before he was injured last seasons, he was in the top 5 qb ratings in terms of yards and completions....do your research folks.  He is a four time pro-bowler and was up for league MVP in 2010...second to Brady.  This man can play...does he get injured alot, yes, mostly because he's a "bawler" and warrior that refuse to lay down when there is nothing there like Eli, Brady, and all of the other non-mobile QB's.  Like Peter says, he is a great locker room guy.  Help save that punk Cooper after using the N word in such dramatic fashion and help change the minds of team mates Mckoy and others.

Even though you people hate him, and jump at the chance to spread your cyber hate.  We love him, and your garbage posts will never change that!!

mariemangi
mariemangi

He is tied along with Casey Anthony (Caylee's Mom) for being the most hated man on this earth. He along with Roger Goodell should be banned from making any kind of money and put on the chain gang.  The time he spent in jail was only a slap on the wrist.  As far as I'm concerned he never has paid his debt for what he did to those poor dogs, and I am not even a dog lover.  Thrown Both of Da Bums Out.

MarkTwarkins
MarkTwarkins

Why should Micheal Vick be in any type of demand.  He is at best an average quarterback with limited skills (he can run and has a strong arm) and has proved nothing on the field except that he can get hurt.  He is definately one of the most over rated qb's of this era.


JennJenn
JennJenn

No good follows conVick, none

dianedoerrs
dianedoerrs

Who'd want Vick???? feed him to the dogs!

cmoss50202
cmoss50202

Any team that ask the question, "what have you done lately" then they would be wise not to take on this once was.

davidhd
davidhd

As a Seattle guy, I hope San Fran signs Vick. There are QBs that can run, and then there are running QBs. Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck are QBs who can run. Russell Wilson is growing into one of those, and has a ring because of that. Vick is a running QB, the type who defenses probably hate to chase, but love to play pass defense against. With Vick backing him up, and hopefully giving him advice, Kaepernick could continue his development into the ultimate running QB. Neither has developed the patience to stand in the pocket and follow progressions, so their instinct is always to either throw to the primary receiver or take off running. Kaepernick ran like a gazelle in the NFC championship game, but he started turning the ball over and lost the game when Seattle stopped him from running in the 2nd half. 

dogwoodtree
dogwoodtree

I hope Vick finds a good home.  Before he was injured last seasons, he was in the top 5 qb ratings in terms of yards and completions....do your research folks.  He is a four time pro-bowler and was up for league MVP in 2010...second to Brady.  This man can play...does he get injured alot, yes, mostly because he's a "bawler" and warrior that refuse to lay down when there is nothing there like Eli, Brady, and all of the other non-mobile QB's.  Like Peter says, he is a great locker room guy.  Help save that punk Cooper after using the N word in such dramatic fashion and help change the minds of team mates Mckoy and others.

Even though you people hate him, and jump at the chance to spread your cyber hate.  We love him, and your garbage posts will never change that!!

Poch_DLR
Poch_DLR

Anybody who has read Rashard Mendenhall's retirement blog on The Huffington Post can tell the man can flat out write -- after all, he is well-read and it is his passion. 


That being said, please hire him to write full-time for the MMQB, Mr. King! 


It would be great to read both Mendenhall's and Richard Sherman's articles on this site. Keep up the good work! 

endless554
endless554

after reading this entire article and there is no mention of the Atlanta Falcons, if I was the GM or the Owner of the Falcons, I would be asking myself WHY???? after such a dismal season, WHY are they not making headlines as to whom and how they plan to salvage a pathetic team ....... one must conclude the Falcons have NO DESIRE TO IMPROVE !

CyndiSmith
CyndiSmith

Everything you do to others will come back to you, Karma - yep Michael you abused, killed and tortured dogs for money, even though you made millions while playing football and I guess Karma is here for you, you will never be what you were you destroyed yourself by your inhume treatment to dogs, your book trying to fix it did not work, promising the HSUS you would change and tell children not to fight dogs did not work, you are over done goodbye, your an animal abuser and a punk!

cmoss50202
cmoss50202

Can't finish a season, can't control turnovers, can't control interceptions, just let him fade away, and let the game move on without him.

cmoss50202
cmoss50202

Look at why the Eagles finally came to realize what a mistake they made. He is done, toast, history, end of game.

Elsbeth
Elsbeth

I would really hate to see Vick get even the chance of coming close to a Super Bowl Ring.  That worthless loser should never even have the opportunity.  I pray each night that no team will pick him up.  

giwan1259
giwan1259

OH please stop this Vick talk, he's been done for years

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Peter i could not believe what i read in your column today. That Mr Ford guy owned the Lions for as long as i was alive and didn't win nothing, zero, zip, nada. I follow the league and know it better than you, i just thought this guy bought it in the early 80's. I remember you ripping Al Davis for the last 12 years of his life. Ford wow did he get a free pass not one mention of his losing team. Rip Mr Ford Peter King let you off the hook, oh well i will take our Super Bowls.

gary7
gary7

I see why NBC spent all that money on English soccer. Being in England, you feel the fever. The season’s a soap opera. I think it’s going to translate and is already.........It will translate like that here in the States when you get that GM/Coach job you secretly wish you had

drudown
drudown

If you are QB needy and can get Mallet for a 4th or higher? Why not do it.


What, do you think a 4th, 5th or 6th round QB is going to be as productive?


(cricket, cricket)



Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Packers giving in to sucking wind.....think the "Shield"...hope it works out guru master (uncle teddy).... 

TheOfficer
TheOfficer

@mariatmaguire...Really...I would have thought Casey Anthony's crime would have trumped Michael Vick's......  

JoeHercik
JoeHercik

@dogwoodtree  

So to you animal abuse, slaughter of puppies. Slamming dogs heads onto concrete, and hanging dogs that lost from trees just as what was done to African Americans in the past is ok and not nearly as bad as an idiot who says racial words? Your either not very smart or just stupid. Who would take a broken down guy who would make your franchise be percieved as a classless city like Phiily is now looked at. Graet morals you got their hpe you don't have children to spread that stupidity too.

dogwoodtree
dogwoodtree

@mariemangi  

REALLY...He is the most hated when you have a serial killer running around...Thieves on Wall-street that stole billions and making it hard for all of us...and he is the most hated!!??  Why dont you take a self examination and say what it really is.  

sonnysuz
sonnysuz

@MarkTwarkins come on mark can you stand in front of a defensive line and take those hits with no help from your line  not even superman can do that. I'm glad he will move on he needs a real team not those bum eagles

TheOfficer
TheOfficer

@davidhd...I don't think Michael Vick is in any position to give Kaepernick any advice about anything...I don't think Vick can really read or recognize defenses.  In the beginning of his career he didn't need to because he could just run away from you, now Michael Vick isn't the "running" threat he used to be like when he was in Atlanta where he relied on his speed and quickness to keep him out of trouble and all the while defenses were chasing him around his receivers could get away from the coverage where Vick could hit them deep or across the middle of the field...Now Defensive Coordinators are more prepared and Vick isn't as fast as he used to be and he most definitely isn't durable.

dianedoerrs
dianedoerrs

@dogwoodtree He's been injured every year  he's play.....it was beginning to look like he rather sit on the bench with a fake injury then play and get one.

cmoss50202
cmoss50202

@dogwoodtree  He also has not finisihed a season since 2009, ranks in the top 5 in turnovers, and interceptions.

timdderbs
timdderbs

@CyndiSmith  you need a spanking!!! i'm sure you have sin in your life!!!!!!!! lets get over it and yourself! 

dogwoodtree
dogwoodtree

@CyndiSmith  Please get over this 9 year old crime.  He has paid for it already...gezzzz.  Please remember that your continued attempt to remind everyone the low part of his life will be the same method used for you on your day of judgement!

sonnysuz
sonnysuz

@TheOfficer @davidhd officer you will eat those words the lucky team that gets Vick will go to the super bowl ever one keeps saying and talking about the defensive line but I think we have two lines don't we, maybe we don't .

CyndiSmith
CyndiSmith

@timdderbs @CyndiSmith  yes BUT I HAVE CAUSED NO HARM TO ANY ANIMAL OR HUMANBEING IN MY LIFETIME, I HAVE ONLY VOLUNTEERED AT ALZHEMIZERS HOMES, ADOPTED AND RAISED FOUR CHILDREN WHOS PARENTS GAVE THEM UP FOR DRUGS, VOLUNTEERED FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS SO I THINK MY JUDGEMENT WILL BE FROM THE LORD "WELCOME CYNDI WE WANT YOU TO JOIN US IN HEAVEN" WHILE VICKS WILL BE "NOT ONLY ARE YOU AN ANIMAL TORTURER, BUT YOU WERE GREEDY AND A LIAR TOO! 

CyndiSmith
CyndiSmith

@dogwoodtree @CyndiSmith BEING AS I HAVE TWO LOVING DOGS I WILL NEVER EVER EVER GET OVER WHAT A SCUM SUCKING PIG VICK IS AND I WILL NEVER EVER EVER FORGIVE HIM NEVER - ANIMAL ABUSE CHILD ABUSE AND ELDERLY ABUSE IS UNFORGIVABLE SO YOU CAN ARGUE ALL YOU WANT I DONT CARE. THANK YOU

CyndiSmith
CyndiSmith

@dogwoodtree @CyndiSmith yes BUT I HAVE CAUSED NO HARM TO ANY ANIMAL OR HUMANBEING IN MY LIFETIME, I HAVE ONLY VOLUNTEERED AT ALZHEMIZERS HOMES, ADOPTED AND RAISED FOUR CHILDREN WHOS PARENTS GAVE THEM UP FOR DRUGS, VOLUNTEERED FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS SO I THINK MY JUDGEMENT WILL BE FROM THE LORD "WELCOME CYNDI WE WANT YOU TO JOIN US IN HEAVEN" WHILE VICKS WILL BE "NOT ONLY ARE YOU AN ANIMAL TORTURER, BUT YOU WERE GREEDY AND A LIAR TOO!

TheOfficer
TheOfficer

@sonnysuz @TheOfficer @davidhd  ...Well, I do have a healthy appetite...I'm just not believing there's going to be much of anything to eat....but time will be the teller of this tale....won't it..???

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