- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Happy Valentine's Day to everyone in our AFC East community.
In the spirit of the occasion, here are ideal free-agent pairings AFC East teams may fall in love with this offseason:
Free-agent match: WR Greg Jennings
Analysis: Miami needs a No. 1 receiver and Jennings needs a home. I think we have a match. The Dolphins have more than $40 million in cap room, and some of that will go towards landing a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver to assist in the development of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Jennings, 29, has been a legit No. 1 receiver for the Green Bay Packers for years. He also has a strong tie with Miami head coach Joe Philbin, who was the offensive coordinator in Green Bay. Jennings wouldn’t have much of a learning curve and is already dreaming of the possibilities. Miami should have the inside track to bringing Jennings’ talents to South Beach in March as long as the Dolphins are willing to pay.
Free-agent match: LB Dannell Ellerbe
Analysis: Last year, the AFC East blog correctly predicted Buffalo would aggressively go after defensive end Mario Williams. He was the biggest defensive free agent available in 2012. Could the Bills go after another top defensive free agent in 2013? Ellerbe will be one of the hottest commodities this offseason. He recorded 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Many believe he was Baltimore’s best and most consistent linebacker last season -- and that includes retiring linebacker Ray Lewis. Ellerbe is a physical linebacker who can add much-needed toughness and attitude to Buffalo’s front seven. Former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needs a thumper and his version of David Harris in Buffalo. Ellerbe could be that player if the Bills are willing to outbid against many suitors.
Free-agent match: S Ed Reed
Analysis: This is no secret. Pundits began linking Reed to the Patriots before the final game in the playoffs was even played. Baltimore’s offseason priority will be making quarterback Joe Flacco one of the highest-paid players in the league. That means other good players like Reed, Ellerbe and defensive end Paul Kruger could be let go by the reigning Super Bowl champs. Reed and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have a lot of mutual respect for one another. On the field, New England’s pass defense led the NFL in passing plays allowed of 20 yards or more. Reed has the ball-hawking skills to turn those big passing plays in the interceptions. However, the future Hall of Famer will be expensive.
Free-agent match: QB Matt Moore
Analysis: Keep in mind the Jets will have little wiggle room this offseason. The team is already more than $19 million over the cap, and New York has to make enough cuts to provide money for its draft class and a few affordable free agents. Moore is the kind of cheap free agent who could provide the Jets some bang for their buck. Moore was Ryan Tannehill’s backup in Miami all last season but is looking for a chance to compete. That opportunity would be in New York against the struggling Mark Sanchez. Jets fans want Alex Smith, but need to realize they don’t have that kind of cap room. I think a trade for Seattle's Matt Flynn would be the best option. But if nothing happens in the trade market, a cheap signing like Moore would not be a bad option.