Top 5 NFL Free Agents for 2014: RB Edition

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Source: Daniel X. O'Neil, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Source: Daniel X. O’Neil, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Out of all the major sports, the NFL has the most restrictions on player movement. This is most obvious in the franchise tag, instituted in 2007, which allows teams to keep a player on the roster for the cost of a non-negotiable, single-year contract worth the average of the top five positional contracts in the league. New Orleans Saints tight end (and superstar) Jimmy Graham just got franchised, which will give him a one year deal worth just over $7 million dollars. Not a bad deal if you can get it, but a far cry from the $12.1 million he’d be making as a franchised wide receiver, and as Graham — and anyone who plays fantasy football — will tell you, he’s just as much of a wide receiver as anyone on the Saints.

Usually, free agency in the NFL comes down to unwanted assets. The Denver Broncos made it all the way to the Super Bowl on the back of an ancient quarterback with a noodle arm who was released by his original team as soon as they drafted his successor. As Broncos’ front office executive John Elway told ESPN, ”With free agency, we’re always trying to get ourselves in a position where when we go into the draft, we don’t have a glaring weakness where we are reaching for somebody in the draft.”

While the running back has fallen slightly out of fashion in an NFL that places a heavy emphasis on the air game, there are still many more faces to find new teams by the time the negotiation period officially starts on March 8 and when free agency officially begins on March 11. As unrestricted free agents under the current NFL collective bargaining agreement, these players can sign new contracts with their most recent team at any time this week.

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