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NFL 17 Eight trends that will impact free agency market

 INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL teams reveal what they value in free agency before it even starts.

If a player can win on third down he probably won't make it to the market. Pass rushers who can wreak havoc are protected like endangered wildlife. Offensive tackles who start and avoid comparisons to turnstiles get re-signed.

With just a few days left before free agency kicks off a few other trends have emerged. Teams with a need at running back cornerback or wide receiver will have options. Teams searching for a quarterback or needing someone to fly off the edge may have to wait for the draft.

After listening to coaches and general managers all week at the NFL Scouting Combine here's a look at some of the big-picture developments to expect in the 2017 free-agent market:

Veteran running backs could be disappointed

The decline in salary for veteran running backs is hardly a new trend but market forces are dramatically working against running backs this year.

As noted in Thursday's winners and losers edition of the Debrief the release of Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles adds to an already deep group of free-agent running backs. The Vikings can hold the line on paying Peterson like a superstar because they know the draft can supplement the depth chart.

Cornerbacks will get paid

No position has a greater supply and demand than cornerback this year. It's a premium position which is why the Los Angeles Rams felt compelled to spend $16.7 million on a franchise tag for Trumaine Johnson a mid-level starter. According to Cardinals general manager Steve Keim cornerback is one of three positions that he believes traditionally are difficult to address in free agency.

Teams feel more comfortable paying cornerbacks in part because they transcend scheme easily. Arians believes that running backs and defensive backs face the smoothest transition from college to the pros because their roles are similar at both levels. The quick success of young running backs certainly won't help this year's older runners get paid in the open market.


Wide receivers available in all shapes and sizes

Chiefs general manager John Dorsey praised the depth of this rookie receiver class a common sentiment throughout the week. The depth and variety of the free-agent crop is also better than it is at most positions. There are young players just hitting their prime (Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor) proven deep threats (DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills) and trusty veteran chain-movers (Brandon Marshall and Pierre Garcon). There are also intriguing young players with red flags such as Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd who will get second chances. Similar to the pass rushers there is good depth at wideout in free agency and the draft.

Few edge rushers

Carolina's early contract extension for little known defensive end Mario Addison was a bellwether move. Addison would have been one of the most compelling young pass rushers in free agency so the Panthers showed foresight by preventing him from making it to free agency.

Franchise tags for Jason Pierre-Paul and Melvin Ingram highlighted the paucity of options available. The best edge rushers on our Top 101 list include Nick Perry Jabaal Sheard and Andre Branch. Teams desperate for help can take a chance on older one-year solutions such as DeMarcus Ware Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney.

Watch the Patriots and Packers

Green Bay is going to be busy over the next month whether Packers GM Ted Thompson likes it or not. So will the Patriots who combined with the Packers account for 11 of our top 35 players available overall. Green Bay has nine players in our Top 101 free agents list while New England has eight. No other team has more than five.

QB market could take time to shake out

Hurry up and wait. That could be the attitude for teams in need of a veteran quarterback this offseason. While players such as Mike Glennon should be signed quickly the situations surrounding Tyrod Taylor Kirk Cousins Tony Romo AJ McCarron Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo could take more time to shake out. Remember that Peyton Manning didn't sign with the Broncos for a full week after free agency started.

Unchartered territory with cap room

The most common question I heard in Indianapolis from executives: What will teams do with all of this cap space?

One theory: All of the cap space will encourage more trading. There aren't great free agents available but teams should have more salary flexibility to take on big contracts in trades  or deal for players wanting new contracts.

A league-wide offensive tackle problem

There is an offensive tackle epidemic plaguing the NFL. Practically half of the teams in the league are looking for help and there are precious few quality options available in this year's draft.

That lack of talent is exacerbated by the struggle to develop tackles in the NFL. Plenty of ink has been spilled about the difficulty in converting spread quarterbacks to pro-style offenses

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