A Look At The Top 10 NFL Free Agents of 2015
With a quarter of the regular season still to play, one conclusion can already be made about the NFL in 2014: It is as unpredictable as ever. I liken being an NFL fan to riding a roller coaster blindfolded. All you know is that ups, downs and turns are coming, but you can’t be exactly sure what’s going to happen next. The unknown leaves us unsettled and keeps us watching the NFL.
Despite this week-to-week volatility, teams are well aware of their consistent strengths and weaknesses, and it is never too early to begin formulating a plan for how you will improve for next season.
Free agency is a tool to bolster your team if it’s used wisely, but it can also ruin a team’s salary cap without giving them much in return. The biggest spenders often don’t enjoy the biggest improvements. Big financial mistakes can linger with a team for years; just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins.
Just to let you in on my own personal philosophy as it pertains to building a roster, I think it’s best for teams to use free agency sparingly and rely on drafting well and developing the players they draft.
Teams can also find gems in the undrafted rookie pool (TE Antonio Gates, RB Arian Foster). What should be paramount is a team’s salary cap, because without a healthy cap number the team is almost guaranteed to struggle, constantly letting talent walk because they can’t afford it. Maintaining a young roster and a strong salary cap doesn’t guarantee long-term success (there are no guarantees) but in my humble opinion provides the best chance at it.
Teams can no longer be head-and-shoulder above the competition in terms of talent for longer than a season, like the Packers of the 1960s, Steelers of the 1970s, 49ers of the 1980s and the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s. A team’s best bet at winning it all is, as mentioned, keeping a strong cap figure, and then getting hot at the end of the year and going on a run. The 2006 Steelers, 2010 Packers, and 2007 Giants may be the best examples. Each of these teams entered the playoffs as the last seed in their conference and went on to win it all. They maintain a young and talented roster, and got hot at the right time. Too many fans want free agency to put their team out of reach of the rest of the league and to provide easy wins.
Now that I feel I have sufficiently warned fans who are over-zealous when it comes to free agency, I have one other disclaimer. The players on this list will become unrestricted free agents, but my guess would be most will sign with their current team. That being said, nothing is a given and it will be a heated bidding war as most players share Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett’s sentiment of not giving their team a hometown discount when it comes to getting paid.
Let’s take a look at the cream of this year’s free agent crop.