Top 12 NFL free agents for the 2014 offseason

Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd flexes his Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd flexes his muscles during an AFC photo session for the Pro Bowl at a resort in Kapolei, Hawaii on Jan. 25, 2013. Photo Credit: AP

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NFL free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m.. Here are 12 players who figure to be among those that general managers have at the tops of their wish lists.

JAIRUS BYRD

Position: Safety

Most recent team: Bills

Age: 27

A playmaker and one of the best cover men at safety, Byrd's value may have gone up because of the impact that Earl Thomas had for the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks. Anyone looking to follow in Seattle's Legion Of Boom footsteps will be in the market for Byrd.

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Possible landing spots: Bears, Packers, Ravens

ALTERRAUN VERNER

Position: Cornerback

Most recent team: Titans

Age: 25

An up-and-coming star that many considered to be the next shutdown corner in the NFL. But so was Nnamdi Asomugha when his market went berserk and that didn't work out very well so it's hard to predict these things. Verner does have the most potential upside of a crowded cornerback field that also includes Sam Shields, Vontae Davis and Charles Tillman.

Possible landing spots: Rams, Chargers, Raiders

MICHAEL JOHNSON

Position: Defensive end

Most recent team: Bengals

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Age: 27

An edge pass rusher who may not put up a lot of sacks (3.5 in 2013 after 11.5 in 2012), but is an every-down player who is strong against the run. Following his former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to the Vikings seems to make sense, but there will be others wooing him as well.

Possible landing spots: Vikings, Eagles, Jaguars

HAKEEM NICKS

Position: Wide receiver

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Most recent team: Giants

Age: 26

He hasn't caught a touchdown in over a year and has had two straight seasons of unimpressive production. But if he can regain some of his speed from leg injuries and match himself up with the right quarterback, Nicks still has a chance to flourish as a top receiver in the league.

Possible landing spots: Rams, Panthers, Patriots

MICHAEL BENNETT

Position: Defensive end

Most recent team: Seahawks

Age: 28

Part of Seattle's Super Bowl-winning formula, he signed a one-year "prove-it" deal with the champs. And he did. His pressure on Peyton Manning in the big game was one of the keys to the blowout. His brother Martellus, a tight end for the Bears, has been wooing him to join him in Chicago. That might not be a bad fit.

Possible landing spots: Bears, Jaguars, 49ers

EUGENE MONROE

Position: Left tackle

Most recent team: Ravens

Age: 27

If you subscribe to the idea that left tackle is the second most-important position on offense behind quarterback, then Monroe might be the most valuable free agent on the market. He's a sturdy blindside bodyguard who helped shore up the Ravens when he arrived midseason from the Jaguars. Brandon Albert is another top-flight option at left tackle, but is two years older.

Possible landing spots: Dolphins, Cardinals, Raiders

AQIB TALIB

Position: Cornerback

Most recent team: Patriots

Age: 28

At 6-1 and 205 pounds he's able to match up against the larger receivers in the league and he has good hands when the ball is in the air (4 interceptions in 2013). He comes with some off-the-field issues and a history of injuries.

Possible landing spots: Redskins, Broncos, Patriots

ERIC DECKER

Position: Wide receiver

Most recent team: Broncos

Age: 27

He's coming off two outstanding statistical seasons, which will mean teams will pay him like a No. 1 receiver. But he's never really filled that role and it's unclear just how much of his production was based on his own abilities or those of Peyton Manning. One team will certainly find out.

Possible landing spots: Jets, Raiders, Colts

LINVAL JOSEPH

Position: Defensive tackle

Most recent team: Giants

Age: 25

One of the few second-round picks of the Giants that has flourished in recent years, Joseph's production as a run-stuffer in the middle probably overpriced him for a return to Big Blue. Besides playing the run, he also gets good pressure on QBs up the middle. He'll never be a household name, unless you live in a house full of admiring NFL scouts.

Possible landing spots: Redskins, Giants, Packers

LAMARR HOUSTON

Position: Defensive end

Most recent team: Raiders

Age: 27

His combination of size and speed give him the possibility of playing defensive end or tackle in a 4-3, much the way fellow free-agent Justin Tuck has for the Giants over the years (but with a few less miles on him), or even end in s 3-4. Also has the age advantage over Jared Allen.

Possible landing spots: Bucs, Bears, Cowboys

ALEX MACK

Position: Center

Most recent team: Browns

Age: 28

A bulldozer as a run-blocker who has improved over the years as a pass-protector. The Browns put a transition tag on him, which means they have the right to match any offer for Mack but won't receive compensation for him if he signs elsewhere. The tag starts the bidding for Mack at about $10 million for 2014, but other teams can spread that out over a longer deal.

Possible landing spots: Browns, Giants, Colts

KARLOS DANSBY

Position: Inside linebacker

Most recent team: Cardinals

Age: 32

There aren't a lot of three-down inside linebackers on the market this year, which works out well for Dansby (as does his Pro Bowl-level play in 2013). Age becomes an issue for him, but he's shown he still has the ability to play the run and the pass. That's something that others who are available -- Jon Beason, Brandon Spikes -- can't truly say.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Titans, Bills

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