Michael Vick with New York Jets – Is DeSean Jackson following Him?

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia EaglesThe New York Jets have already made some big moves this offseason. They dumped polarizing quarterback Mark Sanchez and his bloated contract after the five-year veteran and four-year starter failed to play a single snap in 2013. Drafted fifth overall in 2009, following a stellar career at USC, Sanchez failed to put up the numbers of a true franchise QB, ending his Jets career with 12,092 passing yards, 68 TD’s, 69 interceptions and just a 71.7 passer rating. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the 2013 preseason, which ultimately ended his Jets career.

New York certainly didn’t waste any time in signing a new quarterback to fill Sanchez’s spot. They inked a one-year deal with Michael Vick that is said to be worth $5 million. Vick led off our list of top 2014 free agent quarterbacks, so we’re not surprised to see him land with a team where he’s got a legitimate shot at the starting job.

Another reason why this isn’t surprising is because his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, Marty Mornhinweg, is now the OC in New York. Mornhinweg is as pumped as anybody to have the duel-threat quarterback aboard as he stated the following:

We are excited to acquire Michael Vick. He’s a great talent who’s won many games, including playoff games, in this league. He has the respect of both his teammates and opponents. He’s here in a role where he’s going to compete and push Geno Smith to become the very best that he can be. Michael will be able to go in and play at a high level and a winning level if called upon.

michael-vickOver his 11-year career, Vick has proven to be a much better option that Sanchez ever was for the Jets. He’s thrown for 21,489 yards, 128 TD’s and 85 INT’s, generating an 80.9 passer rating. What really makes Vick special for a quarterback is what he’s done with his feet, rushing for 5,857 yards and 36 touchdowns. He’s the only player in NFL history to pass for 20,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards.

But Vick certainly doesn’t come without his drawbacks. The 33-year-old is still faster than most QB’s in the league, but he’s also years removed from the 4.33 forty-yard dash that he ran at the 2001 NFL Combine. More worrisome than a slight loss in speed is how injury prone the former Eagles QB is. Since winning the starting job in Philadelphia in 2010, he never missed fewer than three games in a season. Last year was especially bad as Vick played in just seven games due to a hamstring injury.

If Vick could stay healthy, there’s chance he could unseat Geno Smith as New York’s starting QB. Smith started his rookie year and put up fairly poor numbers, throwing for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 INT’s. Now that Vick is in town, Smith will have to improve if he wants to start in his second year. It doesn’t help matters that Smith (4.78 forty) is slower than Vick, which is significant because Mornhinweg encourages the QB to run in his offense.

Interestingly enough, Vick is already campaigning for DeSean Jackson to join him in New York. Jackson’s attitude has worn thin in Philly, and he’s due to make $10.5 million next season. So the Eagles are actively shopping the 27-year-old receiver, who’s coming of a career year where he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. So far, the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have all shown interest in the 5’10” speedster.

desean-jackson-jetsYou have to figure that with Vick already in management’s ear, the receiver-needy Jets will show some interest. New York’s top pass catcher last year was Jeremy Kerley, who grabbed 43 balls for 523 yards and three TD’s. This is a team that could really use a dynamic playmaker with speed in the receiving core. And Jackson, who runs a 4.35 forty, definitely fits this description.

But is this enough to convince New York to put up with everything that comes along with Jackson? Furthermore, is he worth the third-round asking price that Philadelphia wants and a $10.5 million salary? There’s little question that Jackson could create more headaches for Jets coach Rex Ryan. But then again, it can’t be half as bad as the headaches that a rookie quarterback throwing 21 interceptions or a punchless offense causes. That said, don’t be surprised if the Jets make a play for Jackson.

Free Agents who could Really Impact 2014 NFL Futures Bets

michael-vickIf you’re into making NFL futures bets, some experts suggest that you do it as early in the offseason as possible to get good value before lines shift. However, if you’re somebody who likes to wait and see how free agency impacts teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl, this is never a bad decision either. Keeping in mind that some players have already been re-signed or franchise tagged, let’s look at some game-changing free agents who are still on the market this year and where they might go (based on rumors and/or teams actively seeking position upgrades).

Quarterbacks

1. Michael Vick (possible destinations: NY Jets, San Francisco) – After Vick played in just seven games last year due to injuries/losing his job to Nick Foles, we have to wonder if the 33-year-old’s best years are behind him. Still, Vick is a name that stands out in a subpar crop of free agent quarterbacks, and there are plenty of teams that would love to see if he’s got one or two good years left.

2.  Josh McCown (possible destinations: Chicago, Detroit) – Although it seems like McCown came out of nowhere last year with his 13 TD’s and one interception, he’s actually been in the league since 2002. At 34, he’s even older than Vick, but McCown should still find a few suitors who need a solid backup.

3. Josh Freeman (possible destinations: Oakland, NY Jets) – Between the fiasco in Tampa Bay and his stop in Minnesota, last year was Freeman’s worst as a profession. But before this, he was a four-year starter who was having a pretty decent career. Given the fact that Freeman is only 26, somebody will sign him as a backup to compete for the starting role.

Running Backs

ben-tate-free-agent1. Ben Tate (possible destinations: Cleveland, NY Giants) – Injuries and a timeshare with Arian Foster have always held Tate back from emerging as a star. But we fully expect him to get a big deal somewhere since he’s only 25 and runs a 4.43 forty. Tate could definitely go over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

2. Knowshon Moreno (possible destinations: NY Giants, Tennessee) – The former first round pick had his best year as a pro with 1,038 rushing yards, 548 receiving yards and 13 total TD’s. At 26 years old, he could be a long-term option for many teams. But can he produce the same numbers without Peyton Manning taking the pressure off?

3. Maurice Jones-Drew (possible destinations: NY Jets, Houston) – It took Jones-Drew a while to get going last year, but he did come up with 803 yards and 5 touchdowns on a bad team. Unfortunately, his career is at a decline, but he could still provide some nice power running in a committee.

Wide Receivers

1. Eric Decker (possible destinations: Indianapolis, San Francisco) – With 2,342 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons, Decker has more than enough on his resume to land a big deal. Much like Moreno, the question now becomes if he’ll be able to live up to a big deal without Manning.

julian-edelman-free-agent2. Julian Edelman (possible destinations: Baltimore, Cleveland) – Last year couldn’t have gone any better for Edelman, who stepped in amidst New England’s receiver injuries and produced with 105 catches, 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. Now heading into free agency, he’s looking at millions of dollars.

3. James Jones (possible destinations: Minnesota, Seattle) – Often playing in a crowded Packers receiving corp, Jones still managed to produce 1,601 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two years. It’s especially impressive that he posted his highest career yardage total last season, despite Aaron Rodgers’ lengthy injury layoff.

Tight Ends

Garrett Graham (possible destinations: Houston, NY Giants) – Despite all of the quarterback turmoil in Houston, Graham still managed to post 545 yards and five touchdowns on 49 catches – and he only played in 13 games. He heads up an unimpressive crop of unsigned free agent tight ends this offseason.

Defensive Linemen

michael-johnson-cincinnati1. Michael Johnson (possible destinations: Atlanta, Tampa Bay) – After tallying 11.5 sacks in 2012, Johnson had a down season last year when he managed only 3.5 sacks. But at 6’7″ and just 27 years old, Johnson figures to draw tons of attention from teams wanting a tough defensive end – especially now that Greg Hardy is franchise tagged and Michael Bennett re-signed with Seattle.

2. Jason Hatcher (possible destinations: Atlanta, Dallas) – He’s 31 right now, but most teams will be concentrating on the 11 sacks he had last season. Hatcher definitely picked the perfect time to have a career year for an otherwise dismal Cowboys defense.

3. Henry Melton (possible destinations: Dallas, Jacksonville) – Melton tore his ACL and only appeared in three games for the Bears. But with just four seasons under his belt, Melton should make a comeback and remain a strong defensive tackle for whichever team signs him.

Linebackers

karlos-dansby-interception1. Karlos Dansby (possible destinations: Cleveland, Tennessee) – The 32-year-old Dansby won’t fetch any long-term deals. But he’s a huge reason why the Cardinals contended for a playoff spot in the brutal NFC West. Don’t expect him to score two touchdowns again or even pick off four passes. But do expect him to give the next team that signs him another 100-plus tackles.

2. Brandon Spikes (possible destinations: Buffalo, Cleveland) – After four years in New England, Spikes will probably be taking his run-stopping talents elsewhere. He’s racked up 178 combined tackles over the last two years and is still just 26.

3. Shaun Phillips (possible destinations: Green Bay, Tennessee) – 11 seasons in the league and Phillips is still producing. Last year he gave Denver’s defense a much-needed boost by tallying 10 sacks. He’ll likely go to a Super Bowl contender who’s looking to fill a pass-rushing hole.

Defensive Backs/Safeties

1. Aqib Talib (possible destinations: New England, Washington) – Following this offseason, Talib should send the Seahawks a thank you letter for making big cornerbacks so sought after. If the Patriots don’t tag him, the 6’1″, 205-pound corner is likely looking at an 8-figure deal.

tj-ward-free-agent2. T.J. Ward (possible destinations: Denver, Detroit) – Although he’s not the best coverage safety, Ward is a hard-hitter who’s great at finishing tackles. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Browns, Ward will definitely be highly valued somewhere else.

3. Jairus Byrd (possible destinations: Cleveland, Miami) – Byrd missed the beginning of the season with a foot injury and contract holdout. But in the 11 games that he played, the 27-year-old had a productive year with 48 tackles and four interceptions. Buffalo doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to re-sign Byrd, so expect this elite-coverage safety to test the waters.

Mark Sanchez: From Disgraced Backup to Guaranteed Starter?

mark-sanchezWith all but two teams eliminated from NFL title contention this year, many players have an eye towards the offseason and free agency. New York Jets backup QB Mark Sanchez is one of these players since he’s coming off a year where he didn’t play a single snap, yet he makes $8.25 million a season. Add in the fact that he’s due a $2 million signing bonus in March, and it only fuels speculation that the Jets will part with the 27-year-old.

With New York likely sticking to their second-year QB Geno Smith, there’s little reason to keep an overpaid backup. Sanchez hurt his shoulder in a preseason game while working behind the second team offensive line. He remained injured the rest of the season, though, it was largely reported that Smith had already won the starting job in the preseason anyways.

Assuming the Jets do cut Sanchez, there’s at least one team that guaranteed they would make him a starter. An anonymous head coach told the New York Post the following regarding the five-year veteran, “We’d take Sanchez. He’d be the starter as soon as he walked in the door for us.”

When looking at Sanchez’s numbers over the four years that he started, they don’t exactly scream high-profile free agent. He’s thrown just 68 touchdowns against 69 interceptions and has a career passer rating of 71.7%. But despite the subpar numbers, Sanchez’s talent has always intrigued teams.

mark-sanchez-1He was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and quickly assumed the Jets’ reigns in his rookie season. He also started twice in the AFC Championship game, just missing out on trips to the Super Bowl both times.

Given his experience, there are multiple teams that would be interested in a player like Sanchez. The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders all enter the offseason with huge questions under center. It’s very possible that one of these teams could have the mystery head coach with Sanchez on his wishlist.

When you put Sanchez up against some of the other free agent QB’s this year, he’s especially attractive. Michael Vick and Josh McCown lead the 2014 free agent class, while Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Shaun Hill and Matt Schaub (likely to be cut) will all draw interest too. Top NFL draft picks that’ll warrant heavy consideration among the league include Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr.

Still, that’s only 10 total quarterbacks when you consider both free agency and top-flight draft picks. So it’s no wonder that at least one head coach is already discussing how he’d start the veteran Sanchez in a heartbeat. The QB is currently rehabbing his shoulder in Birmingham, Alabama after having surgery last October. Assuming he can get back to full strength by the summer, there’s a great chance that he could land a starting job somewhere.