NFL Free Agency – March 13
With that said, football fans have a lot to be excited about. The Superbowl was 3 weeks ago, and free agency is just around the corner. Even before that, we will know the status of future Hall of fame QB, Peyton Manning.
Football is a sport, but it’s also a business. There is no way you can pay a 35-year old football player a $28 million bonus, especially coming off 4 neck procedures. Thinking back to the previous offseason he was recovering from knee issues. The Colts went 2-14 and have the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. In Andrew Luck (most likely the #1 pick) and Robert Griffin III, there are 2 franchise QBs that they can select: cheaper, younger, and probably a longer future in the NFL. Many believe they will cut ties with Manning and rebuild. This would be the right decision in every aspect. Paying a talented and promising rookie with a future as the face of a franchise sounds logical. Paying an aging quarterback $28 million before you get to see him throw and take hits, that would be a loyal choice to make. The question becomes, which uniform will Peyton Manning play for next season?
Dwayne Bowe (WR) – No way does Bowe hit the market; he will be in Kansas City even if they don’t work out a long-term contract.
Wes Welker (WR) – New England is playing it smart and rumor is, they will be tagging Wes Welker. He has been good and productive in their system, but he is 30 years old and they are measuring just how long he has left in the tank. A long-term contract is out the question, but a short-term deal could take place.
DeSean Jackson (WR) – The value of DeSean Jackson can be debated on and it has. He is explosive and opens the field for the offense. Cornerbacks give him plenty of space underneath but safeties shade to his side because his speed makes him a threat to score on any play. He may not be on the Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson level, but he has proved his worth more than Stevie Johnson and Mike Wallace. That could make him comparable to Marques Colston’s value, but the doubt may result in a franchise tag. In this situation, Philadelphia may place the franchise tag to give them time to work on one of two things: (1) a long-term contract, and (2) a trade.
Ray Rice (RB) – Perhaps Baltimore is concerned with the durability of their offensive workhorse. He has certainly earned a new contract with Pro Bowl production. If they don’t agree on a deal, he will surely stick around in Baltimore next season with a franchise tag.
D’Qwell Jackson (LB) – Whether Cleveland a work out a long-term deal with the Pro Bowl linebacker or not, he will play for the Browns because of the franchise tag. They stayed loyal with him through his knee injuries and he may return the favor. If he ever hit the open market, you can bet 20 teams would be calling for this stud.
Not to Franchise Tag
Drew Brees (QB) – New Orleans will tag Brees if they have to, but there is absolutely no way that a long-term deal doesn’t get worked out soon. Brees and the Saints have revived together and achieved special things, you can book their commitment to each other.
Vincent Jackson (WR) – Last year the Chargers wanted Jackson to prove he can stay out of trouble. This year, they may be low-balling him and hoping for a hometown discount. He has not produced like a #1 receiver with 70 catches being his season high, but the talent is there and a new system may bring out the best of V.J. The tag would net him $13.5 next season, but word is that San Diego has a price range between $9-11 million. Expect a different team to show him the money.
Marques Colston (WR) – No franchise tag here because that will be placed on OG Carl Nicks. That situation will take place after they extend Drew Brees as well, which leaves Colston as the 3rd priority on the agenda for New Orleans. They would love him back if he is patient, especially since they will be losing the other starting wideout, Robert Meachem. A team may swoop in and overpay the former 7th round pick, but he is likely to stay in the Superdome.
Stevie Johnson (WR) – Perhaps Buffalo is playing the waiting game to see the value of the receiver pool, but they will not tag Johnson based off a season and a half. They may work out a deal, unless Johnson goes for the paycheck early in free agency.
Marshawn Lynch (RB) – Beast mode only applies to half of the season, and you don’t pay big money to an inconsistent player. Running backs don’t have a long lifespan in the NFL, but Seattle is likely to resign Lynch.
Cedric Benson (RB) – Cincinnati appears ready to move on from the resurgent Benson, and he will find a gig elsewhere because he played well enough the past few seasons.
Matt Forte (RB) – He played through last year’s contract situation, and Chicago will reward the all-around playmaker.
Fred Davis (TE) – He will be sought after by several teams, but Washington cannot afford to keep a 2nd tight end on the roster at a high price. Plus, there are many prospects in the upcoming draft at the tight end position.
Matt Flynn (QB) – He won’t be sitting behind Aaron Rodgers any longer. You don’t franchise tag a backup, now it’s a matter of who takes a chance on him as the starting quarterback. Flynn is in a similar situation that Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, and Kevin Kolb were in.
Mario Williams (DE/OLB) – Coming off a knee injury, he is expected to hit the market and get a big payday. Williams is a former #1 pick that has played at a Pro Bowl level. Houston just extended Andre Johnson, and have a situation with Arian Foster that is a priority. Also, Wade Phillips turned 2010’s worst defense into 2011’s best defense. Most of 2011, the Texans played without Williams. So although he is a talented and elite player, they may draft his replacement for a lot less money; another team will have to work with paying him after his knee injury.
Carlos Rogers (CB) – San Francisco signed him to a one-year deal last season, and he made the Pro Bowl. No franchise tag will be needed here, because they will negotiate a deal to keep Rogers in a 49ers uniform. He was an integral part of an elite defense.
Courtland Finnegan (CB) – He may get a change of scenery, but not after Tennessee tries to negotiate a short-term deal with him. He will draw interest from several teams, but no tag will be placed.
Brent Grimes (CB) – Atlanta will find a way to keep this guy locked in. No franchise necessary here either, because he is going to get taken care of for his exceptional performance, opposite Dunta Robinson.
Brandon Carr (CB) – He has stepped his game up and become a playmaker on the Kansas City defense. He may not have played to the caliber of a franchise player, but he’s getting a long-term contract somewhere. If the Chiefs can’t find a way to keep him, someone will snag him.
LaRon Landry (S) – It remains to be seen if he wants to stay in Washington for the long haul. He is a good safety that would certainly gain interest if the Redskins let him hit free agency.
Michael Griffin (S) – He will either work out a deal to stay in Tennessee or they will tag him, simple as that.
Restricted Free Agents (that can be had for a 1st Round Pick)
Arian Foster (RB) – He has thrusted onto the elite platform by producing for the past couple of seasons. Houston will do anything they can to make sure he remains a Texan.
Mike Wallace (WR) – It seems that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a system for developing wide receivers. This situation draws curiosity because they now have a new offensive coordinator. Todd Haley was the receivers coach in Arizona, when they had both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. An outside team may try to sign him because the Steelers do not have the cap space to extend Wallace to a long-term deal. In this case, Pittsburgh would get a first round pick. They could either draft a replacement, or pickup a 2nd tier receiver via free agency.
Other Key Free Agents (expect most of these players to wear uniforms next season)
Mario Manningham (WR) – Super Mario has been linked to former Giants QB coach Mike Sullivan, and is rumored to follow him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dashon Goldson (S) – He will be staying in San Francisco, they will get a deal done to keep the fine safety.
Reggie Wayne (WR)
Brandon Lloyd (WR)
Robert Meachem (WR)
Laurent Robinson (WR)
Mike Tolbert (RB)
BenJarvis Green-Ellis (RB)
Peyton Hillis (RB)
Michael Bush (RB)
Ryan Grant (RB)
Robert Mathis (DE)
Calais Campbell (DE)
Cliff Avril (DE)
John Abraham (DE)
Curtis Lofton (LB)
Anthony Spencer (LB)
Stephen Tulloch (LB)
London Fletcher (LB)
David Hawthorne (LB)
Terrelle Thomas (CB)
Reshean Mathis (CB)
Ronde Barber (CB)