Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week's topic: Who should be the primary target (including trades) for each team when free agency begins?
Houston Texans: The Texans might add no one of note in free agency, as they have minimal cap room and people they need to re-sign, starting with safety Glover Quin. But, given the players likely not to return, they will have more open spots than a draft class alone will be able to fill. One of those is nose tackle Shaun Cody. Much has been made of the team’s need to fortify at inside linebacker. Brian Cushing and whoever is beside him would benefit from better run-down play from the nose, so how about bringing in a guy for a spot where they’ll have only Earl Mitchell if Cody is gone? I propose Tampa Bay’s Roy Miller, a solid run-stopping player I believe could adjust to the role in Wade Phillips’ scheme, which is not like most 3-4 fronts.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have a lot of money and need to upgrade at several spots. What’s the best match given the available offensive linemen, cornerbacks, outside linebackers, safeties and receivers? I’m going with a cornerback. Perhaps the price of Atlanta’s Brent Grimes comes down a little because he’s coming off a torn Achilles tendon. But he’s the type of confident coverage player who would make for a very solid one-two combination with Vontae Davis, and could solve the team’s issue at a spot where it was incredibly vulnerable last season. If the Colts had Grimes and Davis, could re-sign Jerraud Powers and/or Darius Butler and add a player or two in the draft, they could turn a 2012 weakness into a 2013 strength.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The new regime in Jacksonville has downplayed the concept of spending big in free agency. Given the high-dollar contract failures of the team with some veterans in recent years, that’s understandable. The solution, however, is not to shut down spending -- it’s to spend smarter. Someone who ranks as a virtual sure thing at a position of need could help this team. New England right tackle Sebastian Vollmer qualifies, provided his back doesn’t appear to be an issue going forward. He can help make room for running backs and protect a quarterback, and the Jaguars need to do far better at both.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans have pledged to rebuild the inside of their offensive line, and it should mean two guards to sandwich around center Fernando Velasco. One of those guards should be a veteran, and Buffalo free agent Andy Levitre fits the bill. He’s a durable player who’s never missed a game; he’s good, if not great, at everything; and his best football should still be ahead of him. Head coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews haven’t given themselves enough to work with on the interior. With a talent like Levitre, the two Hall of Famers should really be able to help get peak production.