As the official start of NFL Free Agency nears, I take a look at the prospects and provide my top 5 for each position. Keeping things short and sweet with my blunt, occasionally offensive statements as always.
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1. Joe Flacco
- I was never a fan of Flacco, especially not in a fantasy football sense. The guy gets things done, but he’s typically inconsistent, doesn’t mesh well in a run-first/short-pass offense, and most notably, doesn’t deserve to be the top paid player in NFL history. Odds are that he’ll never play as good as he did in the 2012 playoffs ever again. I’d bet on that any day. 6 years, 120.6 million—he’s got a lot to prove.
2. Matt Moore
- I like the way this kid plays. He’s a seasoned vet but still has the energy and drive of a rookie—willing to step up and compete when called upon. I credit his wisdom and guidance with Tannehill’s success in his rookie season. Ryan will continue to grow with Matt behind him for another couple years—if not due to knowledge, due to competition for the starting gig.
3. Jason Campbell
- Limited role with Chicago last season as he only started a couple of games in mid-November when Cutler was suffering from his usual late-season menstrual cramps. When called upon, he had very mediocre success—probably because the games were against tough Houston and San Fran defenses. He’s still got some left in the tank. He’s ready to compete for a starting gig, at least a solid #2.
4. Dennis Dixon
- I was a fan of Dixon throughout his collegiate career at Oregon and the start of his professional career with Pittsburgh. He can compete with high intensity and speed. Now reunited with his former Head Coach at Oregon, he and Chip could shake things up in Philly.
5. David Garrard
- Had he not suffered a knee injury in training camp last season in Miami, he would have started the season as the Dolphin’s starting QB (According to an episode on HBO’s Hard Knocks). They simply had enough talent at QB to do without an aging, cap filling, wounded QB like Garrard. He’ll be picked up this off season if he’s proven to be healthy. Dude still has a serious cannon and poise to lead a team into battle.
1. Steven Jackson
- Gritty, beast-like running back who you wouldn’t wanna step in front of, especially not flat-footed—‘cuz this dude steamrolls. He’s an aging vet that’s most likely going to join a team in a tandem RB role, but he’s still got it in him to run the ball 25-30 times a game if necessary. Usually pretty durable, but as he has aged, he’s become more and more bruised up. I’d still take a chance on him if he’s not willing to break my cap space.
2. Reggie Bush
- Reggie is still young and he’s still got plenty left in the tank. His high energy, fluid quickness will provide him with future success within the league. Could totally see him ending up on a team like the Detroit Lions where he would be needed (to replace Jahvid Best) and paid accordingly. Move up North, Kid!
3. Ahmad Bradshaw
- Another Free Agent who has been beat up with injuries. Believe it or not, but he’ll only be 27 this year. This past season he was in and out of play with a serious foot injury. He’s been a successful back in past years. If the price is right, I’d take a chance on him. Ahmad would fit well in a place like Pittsburgh, replacing Mendenhall and Dwyer.
4. Rashard Mendenhall
- Injury prone, but a dude that has shown some serious potential. Last season was not the year he wanted to have before going through free agency. He will most likely take a significant pay cut and go somewhere that wouldn’t be in his top list of teams or playing in a limited role.
5. Chris Ivory
- Chris Ivory has been great despite sharing time with 3 or 4 other running backs over the past couple seasons in New Orleans. Ivory isn’t the best pass catcher but he does have a 5.1 yards per carry career average on the ground. Numbers like that don’t lie.
Wide Receiver: (The deepest position in free agency this year)
1. Victor Cruz
- Dude is about to get paid big time. He proved that his 2011 season and Superbowl run was no fluke. This past season, with Nicks out of play off and on, Cruz stepped up and led his team’s receiving corps—catching 10 TD’s and almost 1,100 yards.
2. Dwayne Bowe
- If the guy can have success with Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn under center, he will flourish with any seasoned starting QB in the NFL. After the Chiefs made their move for Alex Smith, these two are gonna be filling up stat sheets by leaning heavily on one another—primarily, Bowe making Smith look real good.
“Who has two thumbs and needs help?! THIS GUYYYY!!!”
3. Greg Jennings
- A talented wide out who has come through in the clutch. Being that he’s used to playing on a Superbowl caliber team, he may only look to sign with one.
4. Mike Wallace
- That boy fast. Fast receiver that can’t seem to stay healthy, so former Central Michigan Chippewa (shout out to my Alma Mater) Antonio Brown took his #1 spot in Pittsburgh and got paid. Wallace will most likely fit in with a team like New England.
5. Wes Welker
- Belicheck won’t let Wes walk if he knows what’s good for him. Welker was a huge reason for Brady’s success the past couple of years as he has been the NFL’s most dangerous man in the slot. Pay this man, Mr. Kraft.
1. Tony Gonzalez
- I can’t see Tony Gonzo going anywhere besides re-signing with Atlanta for one more go at a Superbowl with Matty Ice.
2. Martellus Bennett
- Young, big, talented tight end that could fit well in many different situations throughout the NFL. Could be a quality starter on plenty of squads and will be paid accordingly.
3. Dustin Keller
- Athletic, hybrid TE that just can’t seem to stay healthy. It also didn’t help his stats with having Sanchez and Tebow under center in New York.
4. Dennis Pitta
- One of my favorite clutch playoff performers this past season. Not only did he have a breakout season with Baltimore, but he carried that momentum throughout the entire post-season and Superbowl. My dude deserved a ring.
5. Jared Cook
- Cook is a tall, lean, quick TE that could potentially become a Gronk-like impact on a team that uses him correctly. Link him with a big time QB, he could do some damage on the field.
1. Jake Long
- Arguably one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately, with nagging injuries he’s been sidetracked season after season. But you can most definitely credit him solely with Reggie Bush’s success in Miami.
2. Sebastian Vollmer
- Probably the best right tackle in the NFL. With he and Jake Long in free agency, teams could completely transform their offensive line by adding one of these Pro Bowl tackles.
3. Ryan Clady
- Clady has been franchised by Denver so he’ll be sticking around to cover Peyton’s ass for at least one more season. (He only gave up one sack in all of the 2012 season.)
4. Andre Smith
- He’s young, athletic, and can both run and pass block like a stud. He’s a guy that could potentially get lazy with a big contract, but he may be worth the gamble to keep him around. At 26, Smith has a lot of potential upside.
5. Branden Albert
- Albert has been franchised by KC. A team that produced 3 times as many Pro Bowlers than wins this past season (6 to 2 for you geniuses out there). With having a new, mildly competent QB in Alex Smith, Albert and company will have less to worry about when it comes to protection.
“Shittttt. I was out cold by pick 10.”
Defensive Free Agent Analysis to come!