2012 NFL Free Agents: 5 Offensive Backups Who Will Be Starters

Rocky BrownCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: 5 Offensive Backups Who Will Be Starters

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    NFL free agency is a time for front offices to line up in their attempts to acquire players.

    Some go after established stars to fill the holes in their team, while others try to turn another team's backup into their future star.

    A few backups got starting jobs through free agency and trades this last offseason. The results were mixed.

    Examples include: the Miami Dolphins turning Reggie Bush from New Orleans Saints scat back/decoy into a 1,000-yard rusher; Tarvaris Jackson went from Minnesota Vikings backup to Seattle Seahawks starter with average results; Aaron Maybin went from Buffalo Bills flop to leading the New York Jets in sacks; and Tim Hightower went from the Arizona Cardinals to the Washington Redskins but battled injuries and only started five games.

    As we close in on the offseason, teams will review the available free-agent backups hoping to score big on an acquisition.

    Here are five free agents that will be starters in 2012.

5. Harry Douglas

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    Harry Douglas hasn't had over 500 yards receiving in a season in his NFL career. He's also never had more than one touchdown reception in a season. Adding to that, it seems Douglas may be better suited for the slot.

    So why is Douglas going to be a starter? New Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey.

    I know some may say that if Mularkey loved Douglas so much he would have made sure Douglas got the ball more when Mularkey was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta.

    However, it has been shown that when a coach moves around they like bringing familiar faces with them, making Douglas an obvious choice for Jacksonville. Jaguars.com has even said as much.

    In addition, Jacksonville really doesn't have much at wide receiver. They must improve this area for the sake of Blaine Gabbert's development.

    I look for Douglas to get his shot with the Jaguars as a No. 2 receiver next year and, if he doesn't perform, move back to what some feel is his more natural position in the slot.

4. Laurent Robinson

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    Laurent Robinson was cut by the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys before the start of the season. The Cowboys did re-sign Robinson and the WR had a career year.

    Robinson set career receiving highs in receptions (54), yards (858), touchdowns (11) and yards per reception (15.9).

    Robinson has said all the right things about wanting to come back to the Cowboys.

    Robinson said during an interview with KESN 103.3-FM ESPN that he doesn't care where he is on the depth chart and that he feels Dallas is a good fit for him. He also added that money won't be a determining factor.

    So he wants to come back and it seems Dallas wants him back, so why do I still think he will be a starter next year?

    Robinson has always been a guy teams have thought was very talented but he had battled injuries and hadn't performed to the level people thought he was capable of.

    This year he put it all together and I think he will get high-end, No. 2-receiver money. The issue will come down to whether the Cowboys want to pay a third receiver decent money. I don't know if that will happen.

    Maybe Laurent gives the Cowboys a huge discount and stays; right now I just can't see that happening.

3. Anthony Collins

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    Anthony Collins is the lone lineman on my list.

    Collins has filled in well for the Bengals when given the opportunity. An article on Bengals.com at the start of the season said when Collins started nine games the past two seasons the Bengals were 7-2, averaging 110 yards rushing per game.

    After Collins started two games filling in for Andre Smith late in the season, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said, "Anthony Collins continues to show that he deserves to be a starter in this league." High praise from one of the better LTs in the league. 

    Collins has experience at left tackle but is ideally suited for the right tackle position. Still only 26 years old, Collins could man the right side for a team for many years to come.

    Not being able to crack the lineup with the Bengals isn't going to stop Collins from starting next year.

2. Michael Bush

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    Michael Bush was pressed into the Raiders starting lineup after starter Darren McFadden went down with an injury. Bush filled in admirably and finished with over 977 rushing yards and added seven rushing touchdowns.

    The 977 rushing yards was a career high. Bush also set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. However, Bush did average a career low with 3.8 yards a carry this season.

    Bush seemed to slow down as the season went on, but the talent he has displayed will be enough for a team to hand the power runner a starting job.

    Bush is going to be 28 before the start of next season. My gut feeling tells me that Bush will be overpaid during free agency.

    Then again, it's rumored that Bush is likely to receive the franchise tag from the Raiders. Even if Oakland has no confidence in McFadden to stay healthy, it's a lot to pay for a backup.

    Something tells me Bush will still be a starter in 2012, one way or another.

1. Matt Flynn

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    Matt Flynn will have more suitors than any other available QB this offseason, and that's while thinking Peyton Manning will be released.

    Flynn has only started two games in four seasons with the Packers but during those two games played well.

    In 2010, the 26-year-old took the New England Patriots to the limit and threw for 251 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while completing 64.9 percent of his passes. The Packers only lost by four.

    In the last game of the regular season for the Packers, Flynn won a shootout with the Detroit Lions. In that game Flynn threw for 480 yards, six touchdowns, only one interception and completed over 70 percent of his passes in a 45-41 victory. The 480 yards and six touchdowns were franchise records for a Packers team that had Brett Favre and has Aaron Rodgers.

    Two performances are all it took and now Flynn will be a very rich man.

    While Flynn will be coveted by a lot of teams, Dolphins WR and Pro Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall is pushing for the QB to come to South Florida.