2012 NFL Free Agents: 7 Best Veterans on the Market

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: 7 Best Veterans on the Market

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    Many people have varying opinions about who the best NFL free agents are in 2012.  Some favor younger players who have great upside, while others prefer older players who bring more experience and the drive to do their best at the ends of their careers.

    My list will consist of the best players available, period. Just because a guy is over thirty doesn't mean he doesn't belong on my list.  He might be someone who has one really good year left to give, which could make all the difference to a team.

    My list also contains no running backs. In a passing league, I just can't justify putting any of them in the top seven.

    Of course, it's difficult to compare players across positions, so these are not in order of their ability. They are simply the seven best players available. Available means that they're not locks to be taken back by their current teams (like Drew Brees).

Mario Williams

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    Franchise tagging Williams would be a really tough move for the Houston Texans, who are already very close to the cap.

    Instead, I expect him to check out his other options before he signs with Houston.

    And I think teams would be willing to pay him.

    Williams has 53 sacks in five-and-half seasons and is 27 years old. I think that he may become the highest paid defensive player in the league if he hits the market.

Carl Nicks

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    At 26 years old, Nicks is the best guard in the NFL.

    He is fantastic in both run and pass-blocking and has proved his worth as New Orleans' offense has thrived.

    As he was only a fifth-round draft pick, Nicks is slated to make a whole lot more money this time around, and the Saints will miss his presence on their offensive line if he goes.

Robert Mathis

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    Mathis turns 31 this month, but he is coming off another brilliant season, as we've come to expect.

    He recorded 9.5 sacks and forced three fumbles in 2011.

    Robert has been voted to the last four Pro Bowls and I think he still has a few left in him.

    As a career-long Indianapolis Colt, his time in Indiana may finally be coming to a close.

Brandon Carr

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    Carr is going to make some extremely good money in the coming years.

    As the league is constantly shifting more and more toward being a passing league, the top corners in the game are that much more valuable.

    Carr is 25 years old and has lots of football left to play.

    He made a career-high four interceptions this season for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cliff Avril

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    The 26-year-old Avril is in his prime and is another very valuable defensive end.

    In the last two seasons, he's had 19.5 sacks.  This past season, he forced six fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

    Avril is a very alert player who has a nose for the quarterback. You can be sure he'll be getting his money this offseason.

Carlos Rogers

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    Carlos Rogers is turning 31 this year, but he just came off a great season with the San Fransisco 49ers.

    His durability might be a little issue, but any team would want him given what he helped his team do this last season.

    He has 14 career interceptions, six of which were this past season.

Dwayne Bowe

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    This may be a surprise.

    But I don't think we've seen nearly everything Dwayne Bowe can do yet.  Matt Cassel was a huge disappointment in 2012, and Bowe has never really had stability with an offense.

    That said, the Chiefs really want Bowe back, but who knows what that will cost them. I think he will be a hot commodity at the age of 27.