It’s money grab time in the NFL with free agency kicking off next week. The NFL was late to the free agent game. Baseball players won the right in 1975 when former Orioles pitcher Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith challenged the owners long-time restrictive reserve clause. Football had Plan B, a watered down form of free agency, in 1989 but players didn’t get total free agency until 1993. Now the big guys are making the most of it. There could be some big money scores this year the NFL has bumped up the cap the last 2 years.
Here’s a look at the class of the 2015 free agent class.
Ndamukong Suh DT — He’s a game changer and the best of this bunch of free agents. The Dolphins are waving a big pile of money at Suh, reports say over $100 million. That’s quarterback money but teams desperate to upgrade their defense will pay it for this guy.
Randall Cobb WR — Green Bay has until Saturday to keep him in house but the 24 year old receiver will get paid. The Packers are reluctant to pay Cobb more than Jordy Nelson’s $9.763 annually and $14.2 million in guarantees. Reports say Cobb could collect up to $12 million a year with $30 million in guarantees.
Byron Maxwell CB — He offers size (6-1, 207) at one of the game’s most important positions. It doesn’t hurt that he’s played in the last 2 Super Bowls. When teams stayed away from Richard Sherman, Maxwell usually passed the test with 24 passes defensed and six interceptions over the past two seasons.
Demarco Murray RB — I get it many teams don’t value running backs like they once did. I know he ran behind the NFL’s top O-line and his heavy workload may inhibit his future production, but c’mon Murray had 1,845 rushing yards in 2014 and led all backs by nearly 500 yards.
Greg Hardy DE — The league has ruled he’s available for hire. Pursuit of Hardy however is complicated and many teams will just say no. He isn’t allowed to play until he’s removed from the exempt list. At 26 with a recent 17 sack season on his resume there should be a few teams willing to roll the dice here.
Jeremy Macklin WR — Another terrific receiver here. Will the Eagles offense lose playmakers LeSean McCoy (traded to Bills) and Macklin? Maclin missed the 2013 season with a torn ACL but came back big-time in 2014. He finished with 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s just hitting his prime at age 26.
Other Top Free Agents — Devin McCourty, the Patriots safety has corner skills.
Julius Thomas is the top tight end and a red-zone star.
The top offensive linemen include guard Mike Iupati and tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Ravens defender Pernell McPhee will cash a nice check and Torrey Smith is third on the free agent receiver list.