RSS ranks top 101 free agents

Posted Mar 4, 2014 ranks the league's top 101 unrestricted free agents-to-be, a list that begins with Bills safety Jairus Byrd and includes three Bears players. analysts Chris Wesseling and Gregg Rosenthal have ranked the league's top 101 players who are set to become unrestricted free agents March 11.

Bills safety Jairus Byrd battles Saints receiver Marques Colston for the ball.
The list is topped by Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd, the son of former Bears defensive assistant Gil Byrd. Wesserling and Rosenthal write: "A natural playmaker with plus ball skills, Byrd is Earl Thomas' chief rival as the game's top cover safety."

Byrd is the only difference-maker in the rankings, which also include 23 impact starters, 37 starters with questions and 50 players who would be effective in the right role.

Three Bears are on the list: Defensive tackle Henry Melton at No. 17, cornerback Charles Tillman at No. 72 and quarterback Josh McCown at No. 76.

The two analysts write that Melton could have been No. 1 on the list a year ago before he sustained a torn ACL last Sept. 22 in Pittsburgh, "so why not swing for the fences for a young player that has displayed top-five talent at his position?"

Wesseling and Rosenthal write that Tillman "was alternately injured and ineffective one season after joining the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year" and that McCown "would make for a much more attractive stopgap option" if he could bring Bears coach Marc Trestman with him.

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