NFL Free Agency Preview: Predicting Where the Stars Will Sign

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Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With Super Bowl XLIX now firmly in the books, the NFL free agency period is right around the corner. We have already written that the 2015 class of free agents may be the best ever, which is something that only adds to the anticipation of the upcoming NFL offseason.

Here is a look at 10 NFL superstars who are set to become free agents this offseason with predictions on where they will be continuing their careers in 2015.

All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference, Spotrac, and Pro Football Focus.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers


Age: 24
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $812,648

2014 stats:

  • 91 receptions
  • 1,287 receiving yards
  • 12 touchdown receptions
  • Pro Football Focus 9th ranked wide receiver

Cobb teamed up with Jordy Nelson to give the Packers one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. He has an excellent chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, and Green Bay should have more than enough salary cap space to sign Cobb to a market value contract. With that being said, the emergence of 2014 rookie Davante Adams may make Cobb expendable in Green Bay.

The Packers will likely make an offer to Cobb, but with more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay’s offer will probably be substantially lower than the type of contract Cobb could land on the open market. The Oakland Raiders have money to spend, and Cobb is familiar with both Raiders’ General Manager Reggie McKenzie and their top wide receiver from 2014, James Jones. Cobb would give quarterback Derek Carr an elite wide receiver, and Oakland would give Cobb the big money he is looking for.

2015 team prediction: Oakland Raiders

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs


Age: 25
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $1.4 million

2014 stats:

  • 22 sacks
  • 4 forced fumbles
  • 68 total tackles
  • Pro Football Focus 1st ranked outside linebacker

There is very little chance that the Chiefs let Houston test the free agency market, but may have to use the franchise tag on him to keep him in Kansas City. The team is expected to restructure the contracts of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and defensive end/outside linebacker Tamba Hali, and Houston will be their top priority this offseason.

2015 team prediction:  Kansas City Chiefs

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys


Age: 26
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $1.4 million

2014 stats:

  • 392 carries
  • 1,845 rushing yards
  • 13 rushing touchdowns
  • 57 receptions
  • 416 receiving yards
  • Pro Football Focus 5th ranked running back

Despite having a 2014 season that was worthy of MVP consideration, Murray may have a hard time getting paid like one of the best players in the league. His injury history, heavy workload this season, and the running back market may limit his earnings, but it would come as a major surprise if Murray was playing anywhere other than Dallas in 2015.

2015 team prediction:  Dallas Cowboys

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Julius Thomas, Tight End, Denver Broncos


Age: 26
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $645,000

2014 stats:

  • 43 receptions
  • 489 yards
  • 12 touchdown receptions
  • Pro Football Focus 13th ranked tight end

Thomas has proven to be a dynamic playmaker from the tight end position, but has struggled staying healthy and is likely the worst blocking tight end in the league. On top of that, Thomas missed three games in 2014 causing many people within the Broncos’ organization to question his toughness. Broncos’ General Manager John Elway has said that Thomas is a priority, but the team’s salary cap situation may make signing the former college basketball player extremely difficult. Thomas will likely get more money on the open market than he will be able to in Denver. Don’t be surprised to see Thomas playing for someone else in 2015.

Two teams that are said to be interested in Thomas are the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders. The Raiders appear to be the better fit, and they have the money to offer Thomas a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. On top of that, Thomas grew up a diehard Raiders fan, and his Dad and Grandpa have been Raiders season ticket holders for the last 15 years.

2015 team prediction:  Oakland Raiders

 

Harry How/Getty Images

Harry How/Getty Images

Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions


Age: 28
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $12.6 million

2014 stats:

  • 8.5 sacks
  • 3 passes deflected
  • 54 total tackles
  • Pro Football Focus 3rd ranked defensive tackle

Suh is looking for a contract that is close to the contract extension that the Houston Texans gave defensive end J.J. Watt. The problem with that is the Lions will have a hard time fitting that kind of contract into their salary cap. The other option for Detroit is to use the franchise tag on Suh, but that will only serve as a temporary solution to their dilemma. Expect to see Suh suiting up for another team in 2015.

2015 team prediction:  Oakland Raiders

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys


Age: 26
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $1.78 million

2014 stats:

  • 88 receptions
  • 1,320 receiving yards
  • 16 touchdown receptions
  • Pro Football Focus 2nd ranked wide receiver

Bryant put together a huge season in his contract year and could be in line for a $100 million contract from the Cowboys. There is little to no chance that Bryant plays anywhere other than Dallas in 2015.

2015 team prediction: Dallas Cowboys

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos


Age: 27
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $3.26 million

2014 stats:

  • 111 receptions
  • 1,619 receiving yards
  • 11 touchdown receptions
  • Pro Football Focus 5th ranked wide receiver

Thomas will be a Denver Bronco in 2015. Thomas has already said that he would consider taking a hometown discount to stay with the Broncos, so the only uncertainty surrounding Thomas’s future is over just how big his contract extension from Denver will be.

2015 team prediction: Denver Broncos

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles


Age: 27
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $5.5 million

2014 stats:

  • 85 receptions
  • 1,318 receiving yards
  • 10 touchdown receptions
  • Pro Football Focus 14th ranked wide receiver

Maclin is an excellent fit for head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, and the 2015 Pro Bowler has made it no secret that he wants to stay in Philadelphia. The Eagles and Maclin’s representatives are working on an extension, and if they are unable to reach an agreement, the franchise tag could come into play. Expect to see Maclin back in Philly in 2015.

2015 team prediction: Philadelphia Eagles

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Devin McCourty, Safety, New England Patriots


Age: 27
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $3.92 million

2014 stats:

  • 2 interceptions
  • 8 passes deflected
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 72 total tackles
  • Pro Football Focus 8th ranked safety

Most people around the league are fully expecting McCourty to be back in New England in 2015. McCourty will likely be expecting to be paid like one of the top safeties in the league, but Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ front office do an excellent job of finding a way to avoid overpaying for players. With that being said, McCourty is a player the Pats cannot afford to lose. Expect to see him back in New England in 2015.

2015 team prediction: New England Patriots

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End, New York Giants


Age: 25
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2015
2014 salary: $3.16 million

2014 stats:

  • 12.5 sacks
  • 6 passes deflected
  • 3 forced fumbles
  • 1 fumble recovery
  • 77 total tackles
  • Pro Football Focus 7th ranked defensive end

JPP is expecting a massive payday this offseason. The Giants have the salary cap space to bring him back, but also have a lot of other holes to fill on their roster. JPP has said that he wants to be a “Giant for life,” but to do so he will likely need to be somewhat flexible on what he is asking for the team. The simple truth is JPP is too talented to let walk away. Expect to see him in a Giants’ uniform in 2015.

2015 team prediction: New York Giants

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