2012 NFL Free Agents: Ranking Available Players by Clutch Factor

Jacqueline KirbyContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 13:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants has this pass go off his fingertips against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game at Candlestick Park November 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 27-20. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

While most are still reveling in all of the Giants' glory from Sunday, some have acknowledged that it's time to prepare for the 2012 season. Let's kick it off with free agency. 

There are some major players from Sunday's game that are eligible for free agency this coming season.  Whether they, or other major free agents, will go anywhere or stay put is a pretty obvious choice.


1) Mario Manningham made some of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl, including that catch at the end, ultimately giving the Giants the lead.  While he only had 39 catches for 523 yards during the regular season, he made them all count and helped earn that ring.

2) Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and can almost always come through in the clutch.  Even though the Saints didn't make it to the NFC Championship game, Brees has the respect of his entire team. He is a huge free agent, but New Orleans certainly won't let him get away.

3) Ray Rice is arguably one of the most influential players for the Ravens.  This past season, he had 76 catches for 704 yards and three touchdowns. While he was not as influential as some would have hoped in the AFC Championship game, Rice still came out ranking second in the league for rushing yards.

4) Alex Smith took the San Francisco 49ers to their first playoff appearance since 2002.  Smith had been a mediocre QB for the duration of his six-year contract, but something clicked this year and the 49ers went all the way to the NFC Championship game.  In 2010, he threw 10 picks and managed to cut that number down to only five in 2011. 

5) Wes Welker definitely crushed his clutch factor during the Super Bowl on Sunday, but if you want to relive all of those dropped passes, you can just call Gisele—she can give you the rundown. But for the most part, the Patriots WR is a huge part of their game, with 554 receptions for 6,105 yards prior to Sunday's Super Bowl appearance.


The majority of these players who are free agents this season will probably get re-signed by their teams, so big-name free agency may not be so exciting.  However, how free agents and draft picks are traded this offseason will definitely be interesting to watch pan out.