2012 NFL Free Agency: One Player That Would Most Improve Each NFL Roster

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agency: One Player That Would Most Improve Each NFL Roster

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    With the regular season finished, teams that aren't in the playoffs will be looking forward to two things: the 2012 NFL Draft and the 2012 free agency period.

    With plenty of big name players available, such as Drew Brees, Ray Rice and Mario Williams available, w could see some major power shifts by the time free agency is over.

    Here is one free agent in 2012 that would most improve each NFL roster.

Arizona Cardinals: Carl Nicks, OG

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    The Arizona Cardinals turned it on at the end of the season and could be a dangerous team in 2012. If Kevin Kolb can develop into the quarterback everyone expected him to be, they could be very, very dangerous.

    The one area of concern is still he offensive line which is why Carl Nicks would most improve this team. With not many top offensive linemen available, you can bet that Nicks will be a highly sought after player in he offseason.

Atlanta Falcons: Cortland Finnegan, CB

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    Playing in the same division as the New Orleans Saints can take a toll on a team's secondary. Drew Brees has the ability to make even the best cornerbacks and safeties look like high-school players.

    With Brent Grimes becoming a free agent in 2012, the Atlanta Falcons need to make a run at a talented cornerback in free agency. No free agent in 2012 is as talented as Cortland Finnegan.

    Should the Falcons re-sign Grimes and add Finnegan, Brees might not look forward to taking on the Falcons.

Baltimore Ravens: Mike Wallace, WR (Restricted)

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    Even a blind squirrel could tell you that the Baltimore Ravens desperately need a true No. 1 receiver for Joe Flacco.

    Look, I like Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Lee Evans, but none of them are even in the same league as Mike Wallace. With Flacco's huge arm, just imagine the type of season that Wallace could have as a deep-threat wide receiver.

    Of course, Wallace is a restricted free agent, and it isn't likely that the Pittsburgh Steelers will let him go, but the Ravens can still dream.

Buffalo Bills: Robert Mathis, DE

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    With Fred Jackson returning in 2012, the Buffalo Bills seem pretty stacked on offense.

    What they are lacking, though, is a dominant pass rusher. Rookie Marcell Dareus had an impressive rookie season, and will likely improve in 2012, but other than him, the Bills don't really have anyone to pressure the quarterback.

    Even though Robert Mathis is beginning to show signs of aging, he is still the best pass rusher available in free agency. He could be a hot commodity come free agency.

Carolina Panthers: Dwayne Bowe, WR

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    With the revelation that Cam Newton is not only a franchise quarterback, but will likely become one of the better quarterbacks in the game is good news for the Carolina Panthers.

    While Steve Smith and Newton had an instant connection, the Panthers would still be wise to add another wide receiver to Newton's arsenal.

    The reason that Dwayne Bowe is their best option is because he would compliment Smith the best. He isn't a burner like Mike Wallace, but he is a tough receiver who can play underneath and provide another great option for Newton.

Chicago Bears: Carl Nicks, OG

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    There is no doubt that the Chicago Bears weakest link for the past two years has been their offensive line. They did a good job at drafting Gabe Carimi in 2011, but they still have major issues.

    Carl Nicks is the best available offensive linemen, and we've seen in the past where the Bears haven't been worried about breaking the bank to sign a big name player (see Julius Peppers). 

    Nicks would go a long way to keeping Jay Cutler off his back more, which Chicago desperately needs to do.

Cincinnati Bengals: Cortland Finnegan, CB

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    Losing cornerback Jonathan Joseph to free agency was a huge hit to the secondary of the Cincinnati Bengals. While they've been decent at the position this year, they haven't been great and could definitely use a high profile player at that position.

    That's where Cortland Finnegan comes in with his aggressive style of play. He would instantly make the Bengals' secondary better, and give them a bright future moving forward.

    With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green leading the way on offense, the Bengals could become a potential juggernaut with Finnegan.

Cleveland Browns: Ray Rice, RB

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    First, let me say that the chances of Ray Rice leaving the Baltimore Ravens are like one-in-a-katrillion. Still, there is no doubt that Rice would most improve the Browns roster in 2012.

    After Peyton Hillis showed us in 2011 that he absolutely wasn't worth the hype, it's time for the Cleveland Browns to find a new franchise running back. 

    There may not be a better one in the league than Rice who is a true dual-threat player. His addition would not only greatly improve the Browns ground game, it would also help Colt McCoy develop.

Dallas Cowboys: LaRon Landry, S

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    If anyone thought that the Dallas Cowboys didn't need major help in their secondary only needs to look at their Week 17 game against the New York Giants just to see how badly they need help.

    The problem with Dallas is that one player may not be enough to improve them enough. Granted, LaRon Landry is one of the better safeties in the league, the Cowboys would still be another piece or two away from having a competent unit.

    Even with that being the case, the Cowboys should absolutely make a move for Landry as his impact would be felt instantly. 

Denver Broncos: Wes Welker, WR

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    Considering the lack of Tim Tebow's ability to throw the ball accurately down the field, having the best slot receiver in the business would be huge for the Denver Broncos.

    Even though Wes Welker has become the No. 1 man for the New England Patriots, he still excels at running short routes. This type of ability is one that none of the receivers for Denver currently have.

    With Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos could actually become a pretty good team through the air.

Detroit Lions: Matt Forte, RB

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    With Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson taking the step to elite status, if the Detroit Lions can add a dynamic running back like Matt Forte, their offense would be completely unstoppable.

    Not only would Forte greatly improve the Lions' ground game, he would also be a lethal weapon as a receiver. With an improving defense, Detroit would drastically improve their team with a player like Forte.

Green Bay Packers: Mario Williams, DE/OLB

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    There is absolutely no doubt that the Green Bay Packers' Achilles heel is their inability to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    With a player like Mario Williams, they could put him at outside linebacker or on the defensive line to make an impact. He's got an incredible mixture of speed and power, and he has been one of the best pass rushers since being drafted.

    A player like Williams would solve a ton of problems for Green Bay, and could possibly make their defense legitimate again.

Houston Texans: Tracy Porter, CB

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    For years, the Houston Texans biggest issue has been their secondary. They signed Jonathan Joseph in the 2011 offseason, and he has been a huge help.

    Now if the Texans can add another top cornerback their defense would get to the next level. A player like Tracy Porter teaming with Joseph would make it extremely difficult for quarterbacks to throw against them.

    Should the Texans sign a top cornerback in free agency, they might enter the 2012 season as a Super Bowl favorite.

Indianapolis Colts: Ben Grubbs, OG

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    For years and years the Indianapolis Colts have needed to add some talent across their offensive line.

    They drafted Anthony Castonzo in 2011, and he has done a decent job in his rookie season. However, one player won't be able to fix this major problem.

    While Ben Grubbs may not be as impressive as Carl Nicks, he is still one of the better young offensive guards in the league. Grubbs would really help in protecting Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck or whoever Indianapolis has at quarterback in 2012.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Drew Brees, QB

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    As much as this must hurt for the Jacksonville Jaguars, there is simply no way that they can put Blaine Gabbert back on the field as their starting quarterback in 2012.

    While they could possibly spend another high draft pick on a quarterback, they would be much better looking for a quarterback via free agency. Drew Brees is the best there is, and is the best free agent prospect in years.

    Of course, the possibility of him leaving the New Orleans Saints is about as likely as me becoming President in 2012.

Kansas City Chiefs: Carl Nicks, OG

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    No team was affected as much by injuries in 2011 as the Kansas City Chiefs were. They lost their best offensive and defensive players early, and never really recovered from that.

    One area of concern for Kansas City is still their offensive line where they could really use a talented guard. Not only would Carl Nicks help protect Matt Cassel, he would also be able to open huge holes for Jamaal Charles to run through.

    Don't be surprising if the Chiefs make it back into the playoffs in 2012, and if they can add Nicks, they might even make a deep run in the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins: Brent Grimes, CB

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    Quarterback is a much bigger need for the Miami Dolphins, but they would do best to draft a young quarterback to completely revamp that position.

    With Vontae Davis locking down one side of the field, Miami could get a player like Brent Grimes to lock down the other side. Davis and Grimes would form an impressive one-two combo on the field.

    This team is still a few years away from really competing in the AFC East, but Grimes would be a nice addition.

Minnesota Vikings: Mike Wallace (Restricted)

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    When the Minnesota Vikings were unable to re-sign Sidney Rice in the offseason, they took a major hit offensively. 

    They absolutely need to add an elite receiver to their roster to not only improve their offense, but to also help in the development of Christian Ponder. Teaming Ponder with a player like Mike Wallace would instantly improve Ponder's game.

    They would also have a deep threat to pair with Percy Harvin. Those two players would form one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the NFL.

New England Patriots: Mario Williams, DE/OLB

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    When you look at the New England Patriots, there aren't many holes on their roster. And with their 36 draft picks in 2012 (I'm exaggerating, they will likely find some nice additions to their roster to make their team better.

    With that said, the player that would most improve the Patriots would be Mario Williams. Even though he's coming from a 3-4 defense, he spent the majority of his career playing in a 4-3 defense, and that is where he really excels.

    With Williams on their roster, the Patriots would be good to go at defensive end for the next decade.

New Orleans Saints: Cortland Finnegan, CB

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    On offense, the New Orleans are set. If they add any other playmakers to their roster, Roger Goodell should make a rule that they can only play three quarters per game.

    On defense, they could still use a few pieces. One piece would be a cornerback opposite Tracy Porter.

    Enter Cortland Finnegan.

    While his style of play may not be exactly the "New Orleans Way", he is still ultra-talented and would be a huge boost to the Saints' secondary.

New York Giants: Brent Grimes, CB

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    The New York Giants could also use some help at linebacker, but I think they'll let some of their young players get a chance in 2012. This is why the player that would most help their roster would be Brent Grimes.

    He's a talented cornerback who could come in and let Prince Amukamara really develop instead of just throwing him into the lineup. He would also be an improvement over Aaron Ross and Corey Webster.

    With Eli Manning taking his game to the next level in 2011, the 2012 Giants could be a very dangerous team.

New York Jets: Dwayne Bowe, WR

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    The New York Jets have some major issues at wide receiver. 

    First, Plaxico Burress is not the player he used to be. Secondly, Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez need some major peer mediation.

    It's likely that neither Holmes or Burress will be back playing for the Jets in 2012, which leaves a major void in their receiving corps. That is where Dwayne Bowe would come in and provide Sanchez with a big target.

    Even though he doesn't have the best hands, and Sanchez isn't the most accurate quarterback, the Jets need to do something at wide receiver and Bowe is one of the best options on the free-agent market.

Oakland Raiders: Cliff Avril, DE

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    In 2011, Cliff Avril become one of the better defensive ends in the league.

    The Oakland Raiders desperately need to improve their pass rush, and Avril and his 11 sacks could absolutely do that. The Raiders are on the verge of making the playoffs, and could be one pass rusher away from finally winning the AFC West.

Philadelphia Eagles: Stephen Tulloch, LB

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    Anyone who watched the Philadelphia Eagles play football this year saw that this team desperately needs help a the linebacker position.

    Of all the 2012 free agents, Stephen Tulloch is the best linebacker available. He has been extremely good for the Detroit Lions in 2011. He's got a great nose for the ball and racks up tackles in bunches.

    He could also be a major asset in helping guys like Casey Matthews grow and mature into their position. It's possible that Tulloch would make the Eagles a "Dream Team".

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Grubbs, OG

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    If you don't believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers need an offensive linemen, just ask Ben Roethlisberger.

    Big Ben was pulverized this year, thanks to an extremely shaky offensive line. Ben Grubbs would be a huge upgrade over any other offensive guard on the roster.

    He would also be stolen away from the Baltimore Ravens, which would be another reason the Steelers would love to have him.

San Diego Chargers: Stephen Tulloch, LB

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    Linebacker has been somewhat of an issue for the San Diego Chargers, especially middle linebacker. Takeo Spikes is a nice player, but he is definitely getting up there in age.

    If the Chargers landed a player like Stephen Tulloch, they would finally have an anchor in their linebacker corps. Tulloch is a defensive leader on the field, and he is also extremely talented.

    Tulloch would be a huge boost to San Diego's roster.

San Francisco 49ers: Mike Wallace, WR (Restricted)

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    When the San Francisco 49ers signed Braylon Edwards in the offseason, they hoped he would become a legitimate top receiver for them. Obviously, that didn't work out.

    Wide receiver is still a need for the 49ers, even with the late-season emergence of Michael Crabtree. Just imagine a duo of Crabtree and Mike Wallace, and what the 49ers could do with that.

    San Francisco is already one of the best defensive teams in the league, and if they improved their offense by adding Wallace, they would have to be considered the best team in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks: Matt Flynn, QB

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    It's no surprise that the Seattle Seahawks need a quarterback in the worst way. However, it may be surprising to see that Drew Brees wouldn't be their best option, but rather Matt Flynn of the Green Bay Packers.

    There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that Flynn is younger. The Seahawks have some young pieces on their team, and bringing in a young quarterback would help them all grow and develop together.

    The second reason is that Flynn would be a much cheaper option than Brees. The Seahawks have some nice pieces, but they also have other areas of their team that they need to improve. If they spend a ton of money on Brees, that won't happen.

    Also, Matt Flynn can throw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in his first start of the season.

St. Louis Rams: Wes Welker, WR

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    Sam Bradford absolutely needs a wide receiver. The St. Louis Rams will likely draft one early in the draft, but I really don't think that will be enough.

    That's where a player like Wes Welker could come in and really help Bradford. Welker is one of the smartest wide receivers in the game today, and after playing with Tom Brady, he probably has quite a bit of advice for a young quarterback.

    A player like Welker is a confidence-booster for any quarterback, and confidence is absolutely what Bradford needs after the 2011 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cliff Avril, DE

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    I really don't even know where to begin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They had so many problems in 2011 that they deserve their own slideshow on who to get in free agency.

    However, since I have to pick one player, I'll go with a pass rusher in Cliff Avril. Tampa Bay was awful at getting pressure on quarterbacks. Yes, they have some nice young defensive linemen, but even they didn't do much good this year.

    Avril is a veteran who knows how to get pressure on quarterbacks. He's not enough to turn around the franchise, but he would definitely be a nice start.

Tennessee Titans: Jermichael Finley, TE

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    When looking over the Tennessee Titans' roster, you have to like what you see. They have nice pieces all around, and will be a competitive team for the next few years.

    One area of concern is at the tight end position. Sure, Jared Cook is an interesting prospect, but he still hasn't put it all together. With Jermichael Finley, you're getting one of the better tight ends in football, and he is still improving.

    With Jake Locker hopefully taking over starting quarterback duties in 2012, he could use a safety valve like Finley on his team.

Washington Redskins: Drew Brees, QB

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    Was their really any doubt that the player who could improve the Washington Redskins the most is Drew Brees? I mean, Washington needs a quarterback worse than any other team in the league.

    They'll likely draft one this year after passing on drafting one last year, but Dan Snyder will likely throw boatloads of money in Brees' face.

    He won't get him, of course, but it will be fun to watch him try.