The 2014 NFL Free Agency period officially begins at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, with plenty of movement expected. While the marquee players may be lacking in terms of offseasons past, some pretty big names may soon find themselves on the free agent market. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to trade Darrelle Revis after just one season. The Chicago Bears would like to move Julius Peppers. The Carolina Panthers are gauging the interest level of other teams for Steve Smith. The Tennessee Titans would love to deal Chris Johnson. The problem is, all of these players have cap hits in their contracts that make them nearly impossible to deal.
That means that within the next few days, we are far more likely to see the Bucs cut Revis, the Bears cut Peppers, the Panthers cut Smith and the Titans cut Johnson. All four will likely soon join this year’s free agent class.
While none of the four aforementioned former Pro-Bowl players are anywhere near the type of player they were in years’ past, they will still find some sort of market. That level of interest that is unlikely to come via a trade will not prevent teams from making a run at them as free agents, where their salary cap numbers and guaranteed money will be much more team-friendly.
Revis is most likely to get the biggest offer, despite the fact that he often tends to wear out his welcome rather quickly. He may no longer be the top shut-down corner in the game, but he is still capable of playing at near a Pro-Bowl level, provided he can stay healthy. Johnson can still rush for 1,000 yards in the right system, but he is nowhere near the best back in the league. Not even close. His numbers have decreased, so now it is time for his contract to do the same. Peppers can still rush the quarterback, meaning there will always be a certain level of interest, despite his declining skill set. Smith does not seem to have the same explosion that he once possessed, but he may be able to help a team as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.
None of the four will be traded as the free agency period begins, meaning they will likely be cut and have to clear waivers. That is why we should not expect to see any of them join a new team over the next few days. But, a few days after they are cut, all of them should attract some interest.