2012 NFL Free Agents: Flight Risk Odds for Every Team's Top Free Agent

James TateAnalyst IIIFebruary 29, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Flight Risk Odds for Every Team's Top Free Agent

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    The start of free agency in the NFL is just two weeks away.  Every NFL team is in the process of trying to lock up the guys from their roster that they know are crucial to their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. 

    Obviously not every player will be re-signed.  Here is a look at the odds that each team's top free agent hits the open market.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Carlos Rogers

    Rogers had six interceptions in 2011 and was a key cog in the San Francisco defense.

    The 49ers will have to decide if Rogers is worth top 10 cornerback money because that is what he is going to want.  While he is a really good player, the 49ers are unlikely to meet his contract demands.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Chicago Bears

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    Matt Forte

    Forte was having a fantastic season before it was cut short with a knee injury.

    Chicago simply cannot afford to let him walk, and they won't.  They will try to work out a long-term deal, but if they cannot, they will use the franchise tag on him to make sure he is in the fold in 2012.

    Flight Risk Odds: 1,000:1

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Cedric Benson

    Benson is not the most explosive back in the NFL, but he had a really good year for the Bengals in 2011.  He finished the season with 1,067 yards and six touchdowns.

    There is a good chance that Cincinnati would like to re-sign Benson and draft a running back.  Running back by committee is the thing to do in today's NFL, and Benson is getting to the age where he cannot shoulder the entire load by himself.

    Flight Risk Odds: 50:1

Buffalo Bills

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    Stevie Johnson

    Johnson has had his issues with drops and celebrations after touchdowns, but there is no doubt that he is a really important part of the Bills offense.  They really cannot afford to lose him.

    The odds are pretty good that Buffalo will use the franchise tag on Johnson if they cannot reach a long-term deal.  That might be the best-case scenario for both sides because it keeps Johnson hungry, and it gives a nice one-year guaranteed sum.

    Flight Risk Odds: 10:1

Denver Broncos

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    Wesley Woodyard

    Woodyard was a key player on the Broncos defense that carried the team to the playoffs.  He was the captain of the unit.

    Woodyard does not have spectacular numbers, so you would not expect the market to be all that crazy for him.  His best bet will be to make a deal to stay in Denver.

    It will be in the Broncos' best interest to get a deal done with him to keep the defense as much in tact as possible.

    Flight Risk Odds: 50:1

Cleveland Browns

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    Peyton Hillis

    Hillis did not have a very good year in 2011, but he was one of the best running backs in the league in 2010.  You can bet he will be looking for a deal that pays him based off of 2010 performance.

    Things between Hillis and the Browns got pretty contentious last season.  There were even some rumblings that he was sitting out games because he was unhappy about his contract.

    Things seems to be better before the end of the season between the two sides, but there is still a pretty good chance that Hillis continues his career in another city.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Michael Bennett

    Bennett has not lived up to the expectations the Buccaneers had for him when he was drafted, but he did start playing better as the season went along last year. 

    Pass-rushers are at a premium in today's NFL, so it would be tough to let one that is young and talented hit the market, but this really looks like a situation where the player needs a change of scenery.  Things just have not worked out for him in Tampa.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Arizona Cardinals

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    Calais Campbell

    Campbell is another young and talented pass-rusher.  There is no way the Cardinals are going to let him hit the open market.

    They are still trying to work out a long-term deal with him, but there is no doubt they will use the franchise tag on him if one cannot be reached.  Pass-rushers are just too important in today's NFL.

    Flight Risk Odds: 100:1

San Diego Chargers

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    Vincent Jackson

    Jackson is one of the best receivers in all of football, but it looks like his time in San Diego is about over.  The team and Jackson's people have said all of the right things since the season ended, but there has been no movement on a new contract.

    Look for some team to break the bank for VJ.  He had a huge year last year with 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns.  

    Flight Risk Odds: 2:1

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Dwayne Bowe

    Bowe had a slow start to his career, but he has come on strong in the last couple of years.  In 2011 he had 1,159 yards and five touchdowns.

    The Chiefs signed Stanford Routt earlier this offseason.  That means it is not nearly as big of a deal for them to bring Brandon Carr back.  That frees up the franchise tag for the team to use on Bowe.  There is no way they let him walk away.

    Flight Risk Odds: 100:1

Indianapolis Colts

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    Reggie Wayne

    Since Peyton Manning is not technically a free agent yet, Reggie Wayne is the Colts' biggest free agent.

    Wayne has had a fantastic career in Indianapolis, but it looks like the Colts are ready to move into full rebuild mode.  That means they will no longer need his services.

    He will not command the huge contract he would have a few years back, but there is no doubt he can still help a team.

    Flight Risk Odds: 2:1

Dallas Cowboys

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    Laurent Robinson

    Robinson emerged as a big-play threat last season while Miles Austin was out with an injury.  Now the Cowboys have to decide if he is worth big money on a long-term deal.

    Since Dallas is already strong at the receiver position, and they have so many other needs, there is a good chance that Robinson will be playing somewhere else next season.  

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Miami Dolphins

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    Will Allen

    The Dolphins are in a good position because they really do not have a key player that is a free agent.  The best player that is currently not under contract is Allen.  While Allen was highly thought of coming out of college, he is nearing the end of his career.  He only has five interceptions in the last three seasons, but he was the team's nickel corner in 2012.

    There is a good chance that he will not be with the team in 2013.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Philadelphia Eagles

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    DeSean Jackson

    Jackson had a rather eventful season in 2011.  He had some disciplinary issues during the season that made his production on the field suffer.

    When he is at his best, he is among the biggest deep-ball threats in all of the NFL.  He is worth big money on the open market, but the Eagles will not allow him to get there.  They need his big-play threat for their offense to reach its full potential.

    Odds are that he ends up playing 2012 under the franchise tag.

    Flight Risk Odds: 10:1 

Atlanta Falcons

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    John Abraham

    The Falcons have two key free agents in Brent Grimes and John Abraham.  Grimes is a very good player, but Abraham is key for Atlanta who had pass rush issues in 2011.

    Abraham is nearing the end of his career.  He will not be getting a long-term deal from anyone, but he could end up making good money on a two-year deal.  The Falcons will do everything they can to keep him in house.

    Flight Risk Odds: 7:1

New York Giants

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    Mario Manningham

    Mannigham did not have that great of a season, but he finished it with a bang.  That catch in the Super Bowl will end up making him a lot of money on his next contract.

    The Giants probably cannot afford to pay Victor Cruz, which they absolutely need to do, and re-sign Manningham.  They could use the franchise tag on him, but he is not anywhere close to being a top five receiver.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Josh Scobee

    The Jacksonville Jaguars do not have many good players.  Scobee is one of their better ones, and he is not under contract for 2012.

    For the most part, kickers are interchangeable.  One guy is not much better than the other, but Scobee is an exception.  Jacksonville cannot afford to let him walk.

    Flight Risk Odds: 100:1

New York Jets

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    Plaxico Burress

    Burress was not as good with the Jets in 2011 as he was in his time before he went to prison, but he was a red-zone threat.  That is a big need in today's NFL.

    The Jets locker room was such a mess last season that it is hard to say who they want to re-sign and who they are going to let walk.  The one thing that is for sure is that they need to surround Mark Sanchez with as many weapons as possible.  They will try everything they can to bring Burress back.

    Flight Risk Odds: 10:1

Detroit Lions

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    Cliff Avril

    Avril had a really nice season is 2011 with 11 sacks.  There is no doubt he would make a lot of money on the open market.

    The Lions are going to have to decide if Avril is really that good, or if he is a product of playing on a defensive line that is full of stars.  

    At the end of the day, they are not going to let him walk because they need people to get after Aaron Rodgers.  Avril is another prime candidate for a franchise tag.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Green Bay Packers

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    Matt Flynn

    Flynn made a lot of money in his performance against the Lions at the end of the regular season.  The only option the Packers have to keep him is to franchise him, and it would not be a good move for them to do that.

    Flynn will test the free-agent market, and there is no doubt going to be some team that will pay a lot of money for his services.  History suggests that paying a career backup quarterback a lot of money is a bad decision.

    Flight Risk Odds: 1:1

Carolina Panthers

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    Jeremy Shockey

    The Panthers have pretty much their whole roster locked up for 2012.  That is why Shockey is their biggest free agent.

    Shockey is not the impact player that he once was, but he is still a productive player that was a safety valve for Cam Newton in 2011.  Carolina will want to bring him back to team with Greg Olsen.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

New England Patriots

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    Wes Welker

    Welker dropped one of the most important passes of his season, but he is still Tom Brady's favorite target as a wide receiver.  New England will do everything in their power to have him back in 2012.

    Welker probably also wants to be back with the Patriots to atone for his drop in the Super Bowl.  There is little doubt that both sides will do what it takes to make that happen.

    Flight Risk Odds: 20:1

Oakland Raiders

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    Michael Bush

    Bush did a fantastic job filling in for Darren McFadden last season.  He ended the season with 977 yards and seven touchdowns.

    McFadden is the star in Oakland, but he has proven that he cannot stay healthy for a whole season.  There is no way the Raiders can enter the 2012 season without Bush on the roster.

    Flight Risk Odds: 20:1

St. Louis Rams

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    Brandon Lloyd

    Lloyd joined the Rams in the middle of the 2011 season, and it was obvious from the beginning that he had an excellent chemistry with Sam Bradford.

    Jeff Fisher has already said that he will make it a priority to get Lloyd under contract.  That is going to be a big deal for Bradford's development.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Ray Rice

    Rice has already said that he wants to be paid as one of the top running backs in the NFL.  There is no doubt that he deserves that type of money, but the Ravens are not going to want to pay it to a running back.

    The two sides will not be able to agree to a long-term deal before the franchise deadline, and Baltimore will slap the tag on him in hopes to work out a deal before the season starts.  There is no way they are letting him walk away.

    Flight Risk Odds: 500:1

Washington Redskins

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    Fred Davis

    Davis still has not reached his potential.  He has the size and speed to create mismatches against any defense he faces.

    There is a good chance that the Redskins will trade up to get Robert Griffin III in this year's draft.  He is going to need all of the weapons possible to ensure that he is successful from the minute he steps on the field.  Davis is a key cog in that plan.

    Flight Risk Odds: 15:1

New Orleans Saints

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    Drew Brees

    Obviously, there is no way the Saints are going to let Drew Brees hit the open market.  If he were to get out there, some team would be willing to make him an offer he could not refuse.

    Brees and his people will be negotiating a deal right up to the franchise tag deadline.  If they cannot agree on a deal, New Orleans will not be hesitant to slap the tag on him to give them more time.

    Flight Risk Odds: 1,000,000:1

Seattle Seahawks

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    Marshawn Lynch

    Lynch rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011.  He has become a fan favorite in Seattle.  There is no way the Seahawks can afford to let him walk.

    They would like to work out a long-term deal, but there is no way they are going to let him walk.  It might even be better for the Seahawks to hit Lynch with the franchise tag because it would keep him motivated to keep playing for a contract.  Lynch has had some motivation issues in his past.

    At the end of the day, there is no way Lynch spends the 2012 season with anyone other than Seattle.

    Flight Risk Odds: 500:1

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Mike Wallace

    Wallace is a restricted free agent.  In years past it would have been easy for the Steelers to keep him because they would have just slapped him with a first and third tender.  They cannot do that anymore with the new CBA.

    Pittsburgh is going to have trouble matching a big offer made to Wallace by another team because they do not have any salary cap room.  They also cannot afford to franchise him.  He is as good as gone.

    Flight Risk Odds: 2:1

Houston Texans

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    Mario Williams

    Williams missed most of the 2011 season with an injury, but there is no doubt that he is an elite pass-rusher.  As we have already mentioned in this post, pass-rushers are at a premium in today's NFL.

    Like the Steelers, the Texans do not have a lot of salary cap room to work with in 2012.  They would like to bring Williams back, but they cannot really afford to franchise him.  

    Super Mario will want to test the free-agent waters now that he is this close.  Some team is going to make him a very rich man.

    Flight Risk Odds: 5:1

Tennessee Titans

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    Cortland Finnegan

    Finnegan really got his head on straight in 2011.  He played well without all of the after the whistle stuff that he had become known for in years past.  

    Cortland thinks he should be payed like one of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL.  The Titans do not think he is one of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL.  That is the reason that no agreement has been reached to this point.

    Tennessee could use the franchise tag on Finnegan, but that does not seem to be something they really want to do at this point.

    Flight Risk Odds: 2:1

Minnesota Vikings

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    Visanthe Shiancoe

    Shiancoe does not put up great numbers week in and week out, but he is a huge threat in the red zone.  That is key for a young quarterback like Christian Ponder.

    The Vikings might not be able to get Shiancoe locked up before free agency opens, but they will make it a priority to get him in the fold before the season kicks off.

    Flight Risk Odds: 10:1