This is my priority. Time to make a splash. A stud in the middle turns this defense from a middle of the pack D into one that can take over games. Top Defensive Tackles: Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots (28) The Patriots acknowledged being unable to keep both of their elite defensive linemen by trading away Richard Seymour, freeing up enough money to retain Vince Wilfork. Wilfork is one of the league’s premier nose tackles and one of the cornerstones for the Patriots’ defense. Once the season ends, the Patriots should start immediately trying to get him under contract so not to give him an option to walk. If he hits free agency, there are a number of teams that will heavily court Wilfork at a premium position. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders (30) Seymour has been coined one of the best defensive linemen of the decade and made himself a fixture in Honolulu prior to the last two seasons, including one curtailed by injury. Seymour has the ability and experience of playing 4-3 DT and 3-4 DE. He excels in run defense, but also has the ability to apply pressure and collapse the pocket. Moving to Oakland, the defensive line has been injected with a burst of energy and has performed pretty well overall. Seymour didn’t seem too excited about being blindsided in a trade to Oakland and I’d be surprised to see him make a full-time switch to a losing team from a winning organization like the Patriots. Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco 49ers (30) Franklin has emerged as one of the elite nose tackles this year, helping the 49ers to fielding one of the best run defenses in the league this year. He doesn’t provide much against the pass, but is able to occupy blockers and hold at the point of attack. If the Niners can’t reach a deal with Franklin, they’re expected to use the franchise tag on him. Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers (32) Hampton has played pretty well this season, just outside of an elite level with a contract set to expire at the end of the year. The Steelers are among the top 3 teams in run defense this year and lead the league from a raw yardage standpoint. With a number of teams making the switch to the 3-4 without a proper nose tackle, Hampton’s salary could skyrocket through free agency. Great championship teams like the Steelers won’t overpay for players and that could be the case here. Hampton, earlier this season, hinted toward a move away from Pittsburgh if the money warrants it. Ryan Pickett, Green Bay Packers (30) Under Dom Capers, the Packers defense has made a complete transformation into a new unit. The most impressive turnaround comes from the defensive line and the front 7’s ability to stop the run. Pickett has turned around his career in Green Bay and done a fantastic job at NT on run downs, where almost all of his snaps have come. First round pick BJ Raji is seeing most of the snaps in passing situations. He’s one of the under-the-radar tackles in the league. The Packers should look to retain Pickett, but if he ends up costing too much, the Packers already have some coin committed to Raji who has also played remarkably well in shared snaps. Losing Pickett would be a big blow to the depth of the Packers DL. If I cant sign one of the above I move to the next level talent wise. Tony Brown, Tennessee Titans (29) While some of the Titans’ defensive line has struggled this season, Tony Brown hasn’t been one of them. Actually, he’s one of the underrated defensive tackles in the league and one of the best pass rushers from the interior. He is a quick, penetrating UT that the Titans are expected to re-sign. After losing Haynesworth last year, losing Tony Brown would be a big blow to the front line. Kevin Walter, Houston Texans (29) Walter hasn’t been nearly as effective as last year, coming off an injury early in the year. For the Texans offense that hasn’t been short of scoring this year, it could be a good thing for the team. Keeping Walter under the radar could help them hang on to him at season’s end for a less competitive price. His size and style of play suggests that he should be a solid complementary receiver for a long time in the league. He fits in good here but I wouldnt break the bank on him. Jacoby Jones should factor into this decision. Physically he is ready to take over this spot but where is he mentaly? Its really up in the air IMO. There are several ways we could go here. I think we low ball Walter and see where it goes from there. If he doesnt bite we let Walter walk and take a chance on Jacoby. If they dont think Jones is the answer we could dip into FA for a guy like Malcom Floyd, San Chargers (28) Over the recent weeks, Malcom Floyd has been given more responsibilities, starting 6 of the last 7 games, in the Chargers offense and this lengthy, 6’5”, 225-pound receiver has delivered for the Chargers. Similar to Vincent Jackson, Floyd does a great job getting vertical down the sidelines to make grabs in single coverage. He uses his height and balance to come down with the ball more often than not. Floyd will be a full-time starting number two receiver next year either in San Diego or elsewhere. His size alone would make him a dangerous redzone threat opposite Johnson. We all know how much that would help the team. If it were up to me------Floyd would be my first option. I would offer him solid #2 type money. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans (27) Daniels was well on his way to potentially leading all tight ends in the three big statistical categories prior to his ACL injury which required reconstructive surgery. With that, Daniels’ hopes of receiving a contract in line with the league’s premier tight ends were lost. Expect the Texans to offer Daniels a one-year contract to get an idea of his post-injury ability before negotiating a long-term deal. The franchise tag is always also another option if the two sides can’t reach a one-year agreement. Obviously he was extremely important to this team. However we did offer him a solid contract and he turned it down. Im not sure I want to go the Daunte Robinson route again. If he checks out physically I would weight my options and either offer him a low one year contract or go after a cheaper but solid FA. Someone like Tony Scheffler, Denver Broncos (27) Scheffler hasn’t been the weapon he could be with his great athleticism and soft hands. Instead, the Broncos have used him more frequently in their offensive sets this year, but also have asked him to block more often. Scheffler had a big Monday Night game earlier this year against San Diego where he showed his potential by eclipsing the 100 yard mark, but has broken 50 only one other time this entire season. He’s on pace for his worst season since his rookie year where he was sparingly used. As far as we know, Scheffler hasn’t voiced any dissatisfaction, but is as at least as likely to leave Denver as he is to stay. OR Bo Scaife, Tennessee Titans (29) Scaife isn’t a particularly flashy tight end or doesn’t have the athletic gifts of one of the top pass catchers, but he’s a balanced tight end who excels at making catches in the short game. As the Titans’ leader in receptions a year ago, don’t expect his numbers to decrease much with Vince Young at quarterback, his collegiate quarterback at Texas; the two have nice chemistry. The Titans love what they have in the more gifted rookie, Jared Cook, so if the money isn’t right, Scaife could be a nice pick-up for many teams around the league. OR Ben Watson, New England Patriots (29) For stretch there, it appeared as if the athletically-gifted Watson was about to shoulder a larger role in the Patriots offense. He’s shown his long speed and ability to vertically challenge defenses on several occasions this year. Bill Belichick has never featured tight ends in his offense, but Watson could be one of the better potential tight ends on the market this year if a team offers a bigger pass-catching role to him. OR Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins (26) You will get a good look at him this Sunday. All these guys are on the right side of 30, would fit in nicely in this offense and would be cheaper than what OD will cost if he even returns to the player he was before injury. If it were my decision I think I would go FA route and see if I could bring in one of these guys at a reasonable rate first. I would imagine any one of them would rather play in our TE freindly offense over where they are at now. I just dont want to break the bank on a this position with so many holes still on this team. Mike Brisiel, Houston Texans (27) Im looking to upgrade here anyway so offer a lowball conract. Chester Pitts, Houston Texans (31) He's on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a major injury. He has been a good guy but its time to move on. If I werent able to get one of the top DT's available Guard would be second on my list of big FA splash. I would try going after Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints (27) Jahri Evans is continuing to grade out as the team’s best run-blocking linemen week after week. The Saints have done a nice job of efficiently running the ball through the middle and on the right side of the line. His continual high level of play and positive, team-first attitude should translate to a high-end offensive guard contract at year’s end. Expect the Saints, who have nothing but positive things to say towards Evans, to richly reward him for his hard work and production. Second on my list would be Logan Mankins, New England Patriots (28) Logan Mankins has been a very consistent player for the Patriots since he was drafted, starting all 77 games. That type of consistency is difficult to match, but with free agency inflating the value of offensive guards, the Patriots may end up letting him walk if the price isn’t right. They drafted a couple interior linemen last year and have to use some of their free money to re-sign other players. From what Mankins has said, he wants to stay on this winning franchise, but he could be one of the top players available next offseason. DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans (26) Ryans has been a stalwart for the Texans, displaying consistency from game-to-game and year-to-year. With rookie sensation Brian Cushing next to him, the Texans have the beginnings of a good front 7. Ryans would like a long-term contract with the Texans, and Houston will almost definitely re-sign Ryans to keep intact the foundation of Ryans-Cushing-Williams front 7. If the two sides can’t reach a deal, there’s a chance he would be willing to accept a deal elsewhere. Simple, do what it takes and Resign him so long as it doesnt handcuff the team from making future moves. Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans (28) After holding out for nearly the entire offseason, Dunta Robinson stepped in and played pretty poorly, allowing a number of intermediate catches against him. Over the last few weeks, Robinson has stepped up his play and limited the damage. With an entire offseason of workouts, Robinson can return to form and be one of the better corners in the league, but it’ll be interesting to see how the situation plays out next offseason after an up and down season this year. The Texans may not be ready to commit top-end money and if Dunta isn’t given it, he may try free agency if Houston doesn’t place the franchise tag on him yet again. No way I franchise him again. I dont think he has played as bad as other seem to think but he is most certainly not an elite CB and doesnt deserve to be paid as one. I would offer him a contract that would put him in the top 15 range and let him decide if he wants it or walks. With an improved front seven I wouldnt be scared going into next season with Quin and Reeves as my starters. I know that isnt ideal but it wouldnt be as bad as some think. We could also add some talent in the draft and maybe a second teir veteran FA.