NFL: Predicting the 10 Biggest Contracts of the 2012 Offseason

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2012

NFL: Predicting the 10 Biggest Contracts of the 2012 Offseason

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    The 2012 NFL offseason is sure to be a frenzy with big names like Drew Brees, Mario Williams and Ray Rice set to become free agents.

    While the 2012 offseason period may not be as hectic as the 2011 period was, there are certainly many more big name prospects to be had by teams.

    Today we'll predict the 10 biggest contracts of the 2012 NFL offseason.

10. LaRon Landy, Safety

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    Contract Prediction: 4 Years, $26 Million

    LaRon Landry is easily the best free agent at the safety position available this year, and he should get a rather lucrative contract from whichever team signs him.

    Landry has great instincts and the ability to make plays all over the field. There will be plenty of teams looking to sign Landry's services to their roster, but I believe he'll ultimately decide to stay with the Washington Redskins.

9. Matt Forte, Running Back

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    Contract Prediction: 4 Years, $36 Million

    Had Matt Forte not gotten injured this year, he would definitely be signing a much better contract this offseason.

    Unfortunately, he did get injured and now he'll sign a good contract, but not a great one. With his dual-threat ability, Forte would be a gem for any team.

    The Chicago Bears are the likely front runners for Forte, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him sign elsewhere since Chicago didn't have any desire to give him a contract extension before the 2011 season started.

8. Carl Nicks, Offensive Guard

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    Contract Prediction: 5 Years, $38 Million

    There isn't a better offensive lineman available this year than Carl Nicks.

    Nicks has been a consistent fixture on the Pro Bowl roster since he entered the league, and there are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.

    The New Orleans Saints need to do everything in their power to re-sign Nicks, but with numerous other big name free agents on their roster such as Marques Colston and that guy named Drew Brees, they will have a difficult decision to make concerning Nicks.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints keep Nicks and part ways with Colston.

7. Brandon Carr, Cornerback

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    Contract Prediction: 5 Years, $46 Million

    Few players improved their game as much as Brandon Carr did during the 2011 season. He posted a career-high four interceptions.

    He's a great cover cornerback with good ball skills and he can make tackles in the open field.

    Numerous teams will be vying to sign Carr. Look for the Kansas City Chiefs to get some competition from teams like the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.

6. Mario Williams, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

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    Contract Prediction: 4 Years, $52 Million

    Much like Matt Forte, had Mario Williams not been injured this year, he would likely be seeing a much larger projected contract.

    The 2011 season was the second straight season cut short by injuries for Williams. However, when healthy, Williams is an absolute force of nature. He can get after the quarterback at will and will instantly boost any defense.

    It's hard to see Williams leaving the only team he's played for, but a team in desperate need of a pass rusher like the Green Bay Packers could try to steal him away.

5. Matt Flynn, Quarterback

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    Contract Prediction: 6 Years, $60 Million

    Had Matt Flynn not thrown for 480 yards and six touchdowns in Week 17, it's likely that he wouldn't even be on this list. We all knew he was talented, but we had no idea he could sling it like that.

    However, Flynn lit-up the Detroit Lions and he will now be a highly sought after free agent. Teams that don't get their quarterback of the future in the draft will certainly be looking to sign Flynn.

4. Ray Rice, Running Back

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    Contract Prediction: 6 Years, $62 Million

    There are few dual-threat running backs as talented as Ray Rice. Even less have been as productive as Rice has been for the last few years, which is why he'll be signing such a nice contract in the offseason.

    The Baltimore Ravens would be foolish to not give Rice whatever money he wants because without him, they are simply a mediocre team.

    However, with him, they are a Super Bowl contender.

3. Arian Foster, Running Back

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    Contract Prediction: 6 Years, $65 Million

    Arian Foster is going to go from undrafted free agent to one of the highest paid running backs thanks to his stellar play the past two seasons.

    Even with a rough start to the 2011 season because of injuries, Foster rebounded nicely and was pivotal to the Houston Texans making their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

    There's simply no way that Foster won't be resigned by Houston in the offseason.

2. Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver

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    Contract Prediction: 5 Years, $72 Million

    Over the past two years, Mike Wallace has become one of the better wide receivers in the league. He's a home-run threat every time he touches the ball.

    Wallace is a restricted free agent, but I still expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign their top receiver to a lucrative contract in the offseason. With the declined play of Hines Ward, the Steelers need Wallace on their roster more than ever.

1. Drew Brees, Quarterback

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    Contract Prediction: 5 Years, $94 Million

    Was there any doubt that Drew Brees would be signing the biggest offseason contract in 2012?

    He is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, if not the single best quarterback. There aren't many teams who wouldn't want to add a player like Brees to their roster.

    I just can't see Brees leaving the New Orleans Saints. It's not just because of what he means to the team, it's also because of what he means to the community.

    Brees will sign this monster contract and be a Saint for the remainder of his career.