TOP NFL FREE AGENTS 2014: Pro Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher among NFL’s top 25 Free Agents
As the NFL’s 2013-2014 season comes to a close, let’s take a first glance at the 2014 NFL free-agent market.
It’s early in the offseason process. Franchise tags have yet to be discussed. There’s still time for clubs to lock up young stars to long-term contracts. Many of these names will be removed from consideration by the time the upcoming 2014 NFL free agents list is compiled in early March.
This list places the highest value on ascendant players with little or no reason to expect a dropoff in production over the next few years.
Here’s the Top-25 NFL Free Agents for 2014:
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints tight end
2. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers defensive end
3. Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins linebacker
4. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety
5. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns safety
6. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans cornerback
7. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs left tackle
8. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end
9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders defensive end
10. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback
11. Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens left tackle
12. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts cornerback
13. Linval Joseph, New York Giants defensive tackle
14. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle
15. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders left tackle
16. Aqib Talib, New England Patriots cornerback
17. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos cornerback
18. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center
19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos wide receiver
20. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive end
21. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers defensive tackle
22. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers cornerback
23. Walter Thurmond, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
24. Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers linebacker
25. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle
RELATED: Jason Hatcher added to NFL’s Pro Bowl 2013-2014 Roster
IRVING, Texas – And now the Dallas Cowboys have three Pro Bowlers. And once again, it’s a first-timer headed to Hawaii.
Jason Hatcher has been added to the Pro Bowl roster, replacing the spot of Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, who will not play for injury reasons.
Hatcher is set to join Cowboys’ teammates Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith in the game.
Hatcher led all NFL defensive tackles in sacks last year with a career-high 11 as just edged out Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey with 10.5.
Hatcher had the most sacks by a Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White had 12.5 in 1984.
He was the first player other than DeMarcus Ware to have the team’s outright sack title since 2004 when Greg Ellis had nine. Hatcher’s 11 sacks was the first double-digit finish other than Ware since Tony Tolbert’s 12 in 1996.
Along with his team-high in sacks, Hatcher was second on the team with 33 quarterback pressures, just behind Ware’s 35. Hatcher and George Selvie tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss and his 48 tackles ranked eighth on the defense.
Hatcher, who is an unrestricted free agent, has openly said he will test the free-agent market come March, so it’s very likely this game in Hawaii could be his last in a Dallas Cowboys helmet. However, he also said he thought he wouldn’t return to the Cowboys in 2011, but signed a three-year deal to remain in Dallas.
TWO-GAME TURNING POINT: Some believe Jason Garrett’s job at risk if Dallas Cowboys miss playoffs
Owner Jerry Jones does not want to discuss the future of coach Jason Garrett while the Dallas Cowboys remain in the playoff hunt. That much is abundantly clear.
If the Cowboys fail on national television with a chance to win the division for the third consecutive season finale, though, all bets are off.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported on Monday’s edition of NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” that jobs are indeed on the line in Dallas.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones told Silver that everybody in the organization is under pressure to perform for their jobs over the next two weeks. That includes “players, coaches, executives — everybody.”
Although ownership has given Garrett a vote of confidence regardless of the season’s outcome, that sentiment appears to have changed after the younger Jones referred to Sunday’s loss as one of the top-five most “brutal moments” in the 25 years he and his father have run the Cowboys.
Several people inside the Cowboys’ building have told Rapoport that nobody believes Jerry’s pledge to keep Garrett on board. In fact, the consensus is that it’s now “playoffs or bust” for Garrett’s livelihood in Dallas.
The front office changed defensive coordinators and play callers after the last two 8-8 seasons. If there’s a third, Garrett is expected to be the “next domino to fall,” per Silver.
There is an understanding at Valley Ranch that the talent level isn’t up to par, especially on defense. There’s also frustration among teammates that Romo has continued to audible from the run to the pass.
Those two factors aren’t enough to give Garrett a pass considering the ongoing struggles with game planning, play calling and time management in close games. The Week 17 showdown versus the Eagles might very well decide this coaching staff’s fate for the 2014 season.
AROUND THE NFL: Cleveland Browns 1946 championship trophy found in North Carolina garage
One of four NFL teams without a Super Bowl appearance, the Cleveland Browns finally have a tangible sign of their eight championships prior to the modern era.
Digging through a box in his North Carolina garage as part of the reality show “Garage Gold” on the DIY Network, the grandson of a former team minority owner found a trophy commemorating the 1946 All-America Football Conference championship.
The AAFC did not present teams with trophies, so the 38 players commissioned a pair for owner Arthur B. McBride and minority owner Daniel Sherby.
The 1946 season not only jumpstarted the Browns franchise, but was also the first of 10 consecutive seasons in the title game under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.
The Browns won AAFC titles in 1946, ’47, ’48 and ’49, and then won the NFL title in their first year in the league in 1950. The NFL did not hand out permanent championship trophies until 1966.
“We did not know that this one existed at all,” Browns alumni relations manager Tony Dick said after returning from North Carolina this week, via the Chronicle-Telegram. “It’s pretty special that we actually have something that’s physical and you can look and it says that we’ve won a championship.”
The Browns will work with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to decide where the trophy is displayed. If it ends up at the refurbished team headquarters in Berea, the Browns will have a surrogate connection to their halcyon days to overshadow the manufactured motivation that stands as a daily reminder of the “Factory of Sadness” era.
Courtesy: Chris Wesseling | The official NFL website writer
OFFICIAL NFL WEBSITE: NFC East Preview – Dallas Cowboys the favorites?
Dallas Cowboys the most popular pick in wide-open division
Around the League predicts NFC East
|Chris Wesseling||Marc Sessler||Dan Hanzus||Gregg Rosenthal|
|Cowboys (10-6)||Cowboys (9-7)||Redskins (10-6)||Eagles (10-6)|
|Redskins (10-6)||Redskins (9-7)||Giants (9-7)||Giants (9-7)|
|Giants (9-7)||Eagles (8-8)||Cowboys (8-8)||Redskins (8-8)|
|Eagles (7-9)||Giants (6-10)||Eagles (5-11)||Cowboys (6-10)|
The NFC East is the “SEC of the NFL,” but it is the most wide-open division in football. Two Around the League writers picked the Cowboys to win the division, and our podcast special guest Henry Hodgson also took Dallas for the top spot.
I (Gregg Rosenthal) have the Cowboys in dead last at 6-10 because the changes on their defense make no sense. Monte Kiffin hasn’t had a lot of success in college or the NFL for a long time, and some of Dallas’ aging talent might not fight in a 4-3 scheme. Kiffin may need time to implement his changes, but this is a win-now year for coach Jason Garrett. Chris Wesseling believes the Cowboys have the best offense and defense in the division.
Big disagreements on Eagles
I (Gregg Rosenthal) have Philadelphia winning the division. Everyone else has them in last place. The case for the Eagles: Coach Chip Kelly and plenty of latent offensive talent. Philadelphia’s offensive line should be a weapon; there isn’t a more imposing tackle duo than Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Kelly’s offensive concepts will be difficult for defenses to handle in year one, and he has two quarterbacks that can run his system.
All the last-place votes for Philadelphia were primarily because of the defense. The secondary is a collection of castoffs and disappointments. It’s not clear where their pass rush is going to come from.
Will Robert Griffin III take a step back?
Only one of us — Dan Hanzus — took the Redskins to repeat as division champions. There is great reason to doubt their defense, especially the secondary. (This is a trend throughout the division.) But we also wondered if RGIII is going to take a step back.
It’s not just about Griffin’s mobility or lack of practice time heading into his second season. It’s his accuracy. Tom Brady wasn’t the same right away after his ACL surgery. He wasn’t as comfortable in the pocket or as accurate. It took Brady half a season to look like himself. This Redskins team just isn’t that deep unless Griffin is all the way back sooner than later, and that’s a lot to ask.
Little love for Big Blue
No one took the Giants to win the division, although three of us had them at 9-7. (Just like the last two years, including their last Super Bowl title.) It’s hard to imagine the Giants’ defense playing worse this year, but it’s also hard to imagine it being a difference maker again.
Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers are a shaky starting linebacker trio. The secondary had big questions even before injuries were suffered on Saturday night. The offensive line is similarly banged up with trouble spots. Eli Manning has elevated his play overall the last two years, but he’s not the type of quarterback that consistently puts a team on his back month-after-month.
Listen to our entire NFC East podcast preview right here. (Note: 40 minute show, half of it dedicated to NON-NFC East related teams)
Gregg Rosenthal | NFL Around The League Editor
The Boys Are Back blog editors comment: Gregg Rosenthal is a dipshit. This staff is largely clueless and out-of-touch with the inner workings, philosophy, and capabilities of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys organization. If this article (or Gregg Rosenthal, in general) pisses you off … check out their idiotic NFC East podcast preview for even more insight into their bias. The official NFL website is the absolute LAST place a true fan should go for reliable information, or objectivity, regarding the Dallas Cowboys. Every (Dallas Cowboy) article has a negative cheap shot or slam in one regard or another. Ridiculous.