With the free agency period set to start on Tuesday, dozens of quality NFL players will hit the market looking to cash in on their productive seasons or find new homes where they can be better utilized. With the NFL Draft being moved back to May, free agency will have a longer stay in the spotlight this year.
The NFC East was flip-flopped in 2013. The Eagles won the division at 10-6 after finishing the year 4-12 in 2012, while the Redskins finished at 3-13 after being NFC East champions the year before. The Cowboys went 8-8 for the third season in a row and the Giants were a hot mess for most of the year. Still, each team has some talented players who are scheduled to be let loose in March.
Below are some of the top free agents for each team in the NFC East.
The Eagles have been busy this offseason, having already re-signed their top two potential free agents in wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. They've also re-signed defensive lineman Cedric Thornton and extended the contracts of left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce.
A starter for most of his four seasons in Philadelphia, Allen was at his best in 2013. He has become more of an in-the-box safety for the Eagles after suffering a leg injury in his rookie year. While he is not much of a play-maker, Allen is a sturdy veteran who does his job. He is likely to be signed in the second wave of free agency after the likes of T.J. Ward, Jairus Byrd and Chris Clemons.
QB Michael Vick
All-in-all, the Michael Vick experiment in Philly was a success. However, injuries and turnover issues limited his impact over the last two seasons. With Nick Foles exploding onto the scene in 2013, Vick has no chance of returning to the starting role. The question is whether there's another team willing to give a 34-year-old with durability issues one last shot as the main man.
Team needs: S, OLB (3-4), CB, backup QB
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SB Nation NFL
The Cowboys have two major defensive players set to hit the market. Like the Eagles' top free agents, there is one who is coming off a breakout year and another who lost the season to injury. Defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer are expected to go to the highest bidders, as the Cowboys struggled to get under the salary cap and have very little space. That puts Dallas in a rough position when it comes to all of their prospective free agents.
DE Jason Hatcher
The long-time Cowboy is coming off a career year and is looking for a lot of cash. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time after collecting 11 sacks in his first season with the Tampa 2 defense. He'll be 32 in July, so the deal he gets will probably be in the three- to four-year range but will come with some serious guaranteed money. He is highly unlikely to return to Dallas, where he has played for his entire career.
DE/OLB Anthony Spencer
The owner of the Cowboys' 2013 franchise tag was limited to one game after undergoing microfracture surgery. The former Pro Bowl linebacker was converted to defensive end for the season, but will likely revert back to outside linebacker with a 3-4 defense once he signs elsewhere. Spencer had to delay his payday last season because he was slapped with the tag, but he will now look to sign a short-term deal for the most money possible. Microfracture surgery is considered one of the hardest procedures to return from in the NFL.
An aging and talented offensive lineman, Waters' future is a bit uncertain. The six-time Pro Bowl guard played in just seven games for the Cowboys last season and did not take the field in 2012. He may choose to stick around for another year or just bring his fantastic career to an end. He is not likely to make a decision any time soon.
Team needs: DT, FS, DE, OG, OT
The Giants are set to have several players hit free agency this offseason. With an older roster that needs a makeover, New York can really switch things up in March. Long-time pass rusher Justin Tuck is likely the most important free agent for New York, but he does not appear likely to re-sign. The Giants have several other starters likely to sign elsewhere including Terrell Thomas and Linval Joseph.
DE Justin Tuck
He has been their most notable pass rusher since the departure of Michael Strahan. While he has been a staple of the team for several seasons, his last year was not so pretty. He could land on a team looking to bolster its defensive line rotation.
DT Linval Joseph
The defensive tackle is one of the Giants' younger assets set to hit the market. A 2010 second-round pick, Joseph has been a full-time starter for three seasons. He has been a terrific run-stopper and has also shown the ability to rush the passer with nine career sacks. He is likely set to cash in with a major deal in the first wave of free agency.
WR Hakeem Nicks
The wide receiver is coming off a down year and is likely looking for a major raise. The Giants seem to be over him as a key player and appear set to let him walk. Nicks is in line for a nice deal, but probably not for as much as he thought he would get heading into the season.
Team needs: OG, C, TE, RB, WR, CB
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Washington had an awful season, but it still has some talented players set to make some serious dollars. With Brian Orakpo already under the franchise tag, most of the Redskins' free agents might be better off re-signing with Washington or getting "prove it" deals elsewhere. DeAngelo Hall was to be one of the bigger names, but he signed a four-year contract prior to hitting the open market. Perry Riley also re-signed with the team.
CB Josh Wilson
While Wilson did not have the best year, he is still a reliable veteran starter in the NFL. Wilson has been a productive player for the Seahawks, Ravens and Redskins in his career and could add a fourth team to his resume this offseason. A lot of cornerbacks are set to hit free agency and the market appears to be better than last season.
Team needs: CB, ILB, DE, S, OLB