2012 NFL Free Agency: Top 5 Free Agents Who Will Hit the Market

Justin Stewart@@JustinLStewartContributor IFebruary 21, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agency: Top 5 Free Agents Who Will Hit the Market

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    The 2012 NFL free-agent market looks to be one of the biggest ever, creating a large pool of talent available to whatever teams have the money to spend on them. That being said, a lot of the top-tier players won't even make it to free agency as they will likely be re-signed by their own team before the deadline of March 13th, 2012.

    The Chargers almost have to bring WR Vincent Jackson back, due to a lack of depth. There's no way the Saints let Drew Brees go after he broke Dan Marino's record for most passing yards in a season. One of the best emerging receivers in the NFL, Dwayne Bowe, should also see a new contract thrown his way.

    So who are the big guns who'll hit the NFL free-agency market? Let's take a look...

5: QB Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers

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    Matt Flynn has showed a lot of talent and promise in his limited playing time, enough that someone is going to make him their starter. As nice as its been for the Packers to have Flynn behind Aaron Rodgers, he'll demand a lot more money than anyone wants to pay their backup QB.

    This is a quarterback league now and Flynn is almost certain to find a home somewhere as a starter. His game against the Detroit Lions, in which he set a new franchise record with six touchdowns, did wonders for his free-agent stock. 

    Some of the teams he could draw interest from include the Washington Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks and the Miami Dolphins. 

4: CB Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans

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    Cortland Finnegan has had a great career with the Tennessee Titans, but it seems to be drawing to a close. Finnegan walked out after contract talks stalled at the beginning of the season and things haven't been the same between him and the front office since.

    Finnegan has been a fiery part of the Titans defense, earning a Pro Bowl appearance after his 2008 season in which he collected five interceptions and recorded one sack, as well as a defensive touchdown.

    Finnegan will most likely land with either the Detroit Lions or the St. Louis Rams, as both teams are in dire need of a good corner and headed up by former coaches of his.

3: RB Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns

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    Peyton Hillis had a tumultuous season as a Brown and was another player who failed to get a contract extension during the year. 

    It wasn't his best season, totaling 587 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He was hampered by injuries and sickness all year, blame the Madden Curse if you will.

    Hillis is one of the best power backs in the league and on top of that, he's a pretty decent receiving one as well. There seems to be a pretty big divide between Hillis and the Browns which means he'll almost certainly be a free agent.

    Teams interested in his services should include the Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Jets and the New York Giants.

2: WR DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    DeSean Jackson is yet another player who has worn out his welcome. 

    It was a rough season for him and the "Dream Team," but he still almost broke 1,000 yards. There was a lot of tension in the locker room and on the sideline this season, which came to a boiling point when he ignored Eagles QB Vince Young during a loss to the Seahawks.

    There is a lot of talk about Jackson being given the franchise tag. We'll see about that.

    They're a few teams out there that could be looking to sign him, namely the Cleveland Browns, the Seattle Seahawks, the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins.

1:DE/LB Mario Williams, Houston Texans

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    Topping off the list is Mario Williams.

    Williams unfortunately missed almost all of the 2011 NFL season with a torn pectoral muscle. Now that he's healed, his contract is up and the Texans don't appear to have the cap space to bring him back. They have too many other important players to re-sign, including star RB Arian Foster, C Chris Meyers, RB Derrick Ward, K Neil Rackers and TE Joel Dreessen. 

    With the success their defense had without Williams, he's just not as important as he's been in the past and the Texans can't afford him.

    He's a terror at DE, recording 53 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 241 tackles in his first six years in the league. He's the hottest free agent on the market and is going to be paid as such.

    Teams he could end up playing for in 2012 include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.


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