This time of year, NFL players never feel safe on their respective teams. To save cap space, some of the highest paid veteran players are let go and become free agents.
This year was no different. We’ve seen established players pack their bags and start searching for new homes.
Some will take longer to sign, others will hope to get new teams relatively quick. Every team has addressed their needs heading into free agency, so we'll start to see where some of the top "cap casualties" will land. Here are some predictions.
Steven Jackson: Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ biggest need is running back. Despite the superstar status of Aaron Rodgers, he hasn’t had a reliable running back in years. Ryan Grant played his part. James Starks played his part. But with the likes of Steven Jackson on the market, the Packers have to jump.
Jackson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season since 2005 and he will bring experience and a willingness to win.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported there is indeed interest in Jackson, but only for the right price.
Jackson can come in and give Rodgers another weapon. He can catch out of the backfield and has shown his consistency in the ground game.
Adding Jackson would set high expectations for the Packers. There is a need for an explosive, powerful running back in a Packer uniform.
Nnamdi Asomugha: New Orleans Saints
The Philadelphia Eagles released disappointing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was owed $15 million in 2013.
The most coveted free agent two years ago, Nnamdi finds himself back on the market. One of the most realistic possibilities is to see him sign with the New Orleans Saints. There’s a glaring need for an upgrade in their secondary. The Saints had the 31st ranked passing defense last year.
For five years, Rob Ryan, the new Saints defensive coordinator, held the same position with the Oakland Raiders. Those five years were some of the best of Asomugha’s career. He intercepted eight passes and had 50 tackles in 2006.
His production has dropped dramatically with the Eagles, but with the needs of the Saints and the familiarity between Ryan and Asomugha, it makes sense for the Saints to make a play. With the connection to Ryan, his career could be rejuvenated in New Orleans.
James Harrison: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have to fill three linebacker spots from last year. They lost Ray Lewis to retirement as well as Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe to free agency.
Despite the helmet-to-helmet hits and constant fines, there are many positives associated with Harrison. His leadership, knowledge of the game and experience will give the Ravens a solid, hard-nosed linebacker.
The five-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season where he had 70 total tackles. His agent, Bill Parise, has expressed Harrison’s interest in joining the Ravens to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, saying "Baltimore would be a great fit for James. They're a contender and a class organization."
Parise also indicated there have been “some good conversations” between the Ravens and Harrison’s camp (h/t CBSSports.com).
The Ravens clearly need a linebacker. Harrison is the right choice.
The market for these players is going to be competitive, but to fill glaring needs, these teams make the most sense.