NFL Free Agency 2012: 8 Free Agents Who Will Be Worth Every Penny
Free agency is about finding the right fit for one's team rather than stockpiling stars as the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins have shown. However, adding depth to a team's strong point isn't necessarily bad if it's done at the right cost.
The list isn't solely highlighting the best players, but also factoring in their price tag, making each person well worth what they'll receive.
These eight players will be of good value come the offseason.
8. John Carlson
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Seems odd to find a player who missed all of last season on this list but it can be explained.
John Carlson will be signed for cheap and he has a good blocking-receiving combination. Teams will have to make sure his torn labrum is healed but if so, Carlson would be a great fit for a system like San Francisco's as a team's second tight end in a run heavy offense.
For the price, Seattle may as well resign Carlson and try to employ what they were attempting with Carlson and Zach Miller for 2011.
7. LaRon Landry
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Safeties have been overpaid recently in free agency (see Rolle, Antrelle) but a slightly inflated price tag isn't too detrimental if given to the right guy. LaRon Landry is unique for his position.
While he may not be great in coverage, Landry is good in run support and he gives kill shots that make receivers think twice about going down the middle.
Dan Sneider will get better value for Landry than he did on the previous contract as the strong safety earned north of $10 million annually.
6. David Hawthorne
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David Hawthorne is being slept on in Seattle, but the linebacker has racked up 100 plus tackles in the previous three seasons. He's been durable, missing just two games in those three seasons, while being an upgrade from LeRoy Hill.
Only being 26, Hawthorne should be able to receive a four-year deal.
Hawthorne will find a home with a 4-3 team where he'll be able to play behind a big line like he has for the Seahawks. Possible landing spots include Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Tennessee, or he could stay in Seattle.
5. Marshawn Lynch
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2011 was Marshawn Lynch's contract year, but the Seattle Seahawk star has always ran hard. Lynch came into last season in great shape and his training in the offseason definitely paid off.
Signing Lynch shouldn't be compared to the Chris Johnson fiasco. He has a completely different running style, relying on effort and cuts while having a completely different mentality.
Pete Carrol should make sure Lynch stays in the Emerald city behind the physical offensive line the former USC coach is building.
What'll make Lynch more valuable is that he'll likely sign for less because teams will be skeptical due to other bad running back deals (see Johnson, Chris and Williams, DeAngelo).
4. Cortland Finnegan
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Cortland Finnegan is a complete football player—a corner that can obviously cover, but help out stopping the ball carrier despite his small frame.
Nnamdi Asomugha's season with the Eagles may hinder Finnegan's ability to land a large deal, but the Tennessee Titan should cash in for around $8 million per season.
Finnegan brings attitude to the field. He's someone any fan would love to have on their team while hating to play against him.
3. Curtis Lofton
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The Atlanta Falcons will have some decisions to make on defense. Not only is middle linebacker Curtis Lofton a free agent, John Abraham and Brent Grimes are up for new deals as well.
Mike Smith will need to keep what little pass rush his defense has so it may be up for Thomas Demitroff to choose between Grimes and Lofton. The smart bet says Lofton, the younger of the two, to stay in Atlanta.
Middle linebacker signings in recent past have been successful, including Karlos Dansby in Miami and Bart Scott in New York.
Lofton is a tackling machine and the Falcons' 4-3 needs to keep him covering the carpet in the Georgia Dome.
2. Brandon Lloyd
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St. Louis gave up a minimal amount to get Brandon Lloyd's services midway through the 2011 season, so the Rams won't feel obligated to keep the former Bear for Jeff Fisher.
With the new regime, there is no loyalty to Lloyd which doesn't mean the Rams shouldn't attempt to keep the receiver. Sam Bradford doesn't have any target better than Lloyd to look for and letting him go could stunt the young quarterback's growth.
A contending playoff team would be smart to snag up Lloyd, a 31-year old that thrives on route running and spectacular catches rather than blazing speed.
Any potential suitor would be signing Lloyd as a second receiver at best, a spot that would certainly suite a receiver who led the NFL in receiving yards just two years ago.
1. Drew Brees
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Don't expect Drew Brees to go anywhere, but New Orleans needs to avoid placing the franchise tag on their quarterback. Brees has revived the city and he runs one of the NFL's most complicated and demanding systems.
Locking the future Hall of Famer up for five-plus years would be well worth it. The Purdue product keeps himself in great shape and he shows no sign of slowing down.