If you enjoyed watching last year’s free-agent bonanza, you’re in for a treat in 2012. Some of the NFL’s biggest names will be without a contract after this season. Most will probably stick around with their current squads, but a handful of stars will have other plans.
Here are the top free agents who will leave their teams for greener pastures next year.
Mathis will be 31 years old next season, but he’s still a pass-rushing fiend. This will most likely be his final opportunity for a massive contract and with the Indianapolis Colts in rebuilding mode, he’ll want to sign on with a legitimate contender.
Unlike Reggie Wayne, who may just stick around because of his connection with Peyton Manning, Mathis will have no such attraction to stay in town.
If you’ve paid attention to free agency at all over the past half-dozen years, you’d have seen teams break the bank for cornerbacks like no other position. Finnegan is lucky enough to be the top corner in free agency this offseason and will demand big bucks.
This one is conditional; if the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are likely to retire. If the Ravens' two leaders leave, Grubbs is going to be much less likely to stick around for the rebound.
With only one franchise tag and Ray Rice a free agent as well, Baltimore may have to pick one or the other.
After not being offered an extension despite a holdout, it would be a surprise if Jackson stuck around in Philadelphia. The Dream Team turned out to be an utter disaster and after being benched against the Patriots, Jackson might not want to shoulder any of the blame for the heart-breaking season.
While he didn’t fully live up to expectations, Jackson is still one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the NFL and will demand an insane contract on the open market.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer. Follow him on Twitter.