Believe it or not, but NFL free agency is just a few days away, as it kicks off on Tuesday, March 13.
With that being said, we should have a free-agency frenzy that's led by quarterback Peyton Manning.
In that spirit, let's take a look at my 50 bold predictions for the 2012 NFL free agency period.
Despite what many believe, I do not see Peyton Manning staying in the AFC. Even though the majority of the teams who are interested in Manning are AFC teams, I just don't see it happening.
So what does this all mean?
Sorry, LeBron James. Peyton Manning will not be following your footsteps by taking his talents to South Beach.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback will be taking his talents elsewhere.
Putting aside all the hot rumors about Peyton Manning visiting the Denver Broncos this past weekend, I just don't see it happening. I don't believe the hype.
Why is that?
Well there are two things:
First, whatever Manning does this offseason before he signs with a team is going to be tremendously over-hyped and the other reason is...
Do the Denver Broncos really want to cause a mass hysteria? I don't think so.
They could achieve that if they sign Peyton Manning and then bench the beloved and ever-popular Tim Tebow. However, I just don't see that happening.
I firmly believe Denver is fully committed to Tebow as its starting quarterback entering 2012.
Well, this one's a little bit easier to understand.
Why would the New York Jets even attempt to sign Peyton Manning when they just handed out a five-year contract to quarterback Mark Sanchez that's worth $58.25 million?
You may think the Tennessee Titans would be a perfect fit for Peyton Manning.
Why's that? Well, that's Peyton's old stomping grounds as he went to school at Tennessee, but I just don't see this happening.
The Titans already have Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, and I think it would be far too complicated to land Manning.
Despite rumors that Peyton Manning would be interested in the Houston Texans, there is no chance of that happening.
Granted, the Texans would likely emerge as the top team in the AFC, but they already have two solid quarterbacks in Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates. It would be far too complicated to bring in Manning and trade away Schaub.
If Peyton Manning wants to win a Super Bowl, his best chance of doing so is with the Arizona Cardinals.
Yes—you heard me.
Peyton Manning will land with the Arizona Cardinals.
But what does that mean?
If Peyton Manning is 100 percent, then he is going to have an incredible season in 2012.
I see him throwing for 35 touchdowns and passing close to 4,800 yards if he signs with the Arizona Cardinals.
If Peyton Manning is healthy and 100 percent, then the Arizona Cardinals would immediately jump to the top of the NFC with with the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.
The NFC West is a very winnable division, and we could see something very similar to a few years back when Kurt Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, but ultimately lost against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Call me crazy, but I have a little domino effect plan laid out right here.
If Peyton Manning signs with the Arizona Cardinals, then Manning is going to be bringing along two pieces of the puzzle who will make the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender in 2012.
But who are those pieces?
Reggie Wayne is a free agent, so if he wants to make the best out of the remainder of his career, then he will follow Peyton Manning wherever he may go.
With that being said, there already have been reports of the Arizona Cardinals showing interest and speaking with Wayne about signing him.
Having Reggie Wayne starting opposite of Larry Fitzgerald can only mean trouble for opposing offenses in 2012.
Wayne has a lot to prove this season, and if he signs with the Arizona Cardinals alongside Peyton Manning, then he is going to put up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers.
Much like Reggie Wayne, if Dallas Clark wants to make the best out of the remainder of his career, then he needs to follow Peyton Manning.
Clark is turning 33 this summer and doesn't have much left in the tank, but he will be most effective with Manning throwing him passes rather than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Dallas Clark may not produce huge numbers in 2012, but I do believe he'll be there whenever Peyton Manning needs him the most next season.
Clark has always been Manning's go-to man, and he's going to continue to be that if he does sign with the Arizona Cardinals alongside Peyton Manning.
What does this all mean?
Well, it means the Arizona Cardinals are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
With Peyton Manning at quarterback, his top two wide receivers being Larry Fitzgerald and Reggie Wayne, and his tight end being Dallas Clark—I'm not sure anyone could stop that offensive attack.
If all of that happens this offseason, then Larry Fitzgerald is going to have a career year.
Let's just put it this way: He is going to be unstoppable.
I actually don't see the Arizona Cardinals moving Kevin Kolb if they acquire Peyton Manning since his contract is worth a hefty $65 million.
However, if there is a team who really wants a quarterback out there—such as the Seattle Seahawks or the Miami Dolphins—then the Cards will likely have to pull the trigger and start from scratch once Manning's time is done.
The Arizona Cardinals will be a very competitive team in 2012 if all of this happens.
However, it will not be a guaranteed Super Bowl or a guaranteed NFC West divisional title, for that matter. Winning football games is done on the field, not through free agency—just ask the Philadelphia Eagles.
I don't see Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints agreeing to a massive $100 million contract, but I do see them agreeing to something very similar to Tom Brady's five-year, $78.5 million deal.
Brees may hold out for a bit, but it won't last for very long.
Only assuming that the New Orleans Saints want to continue protecting Drew Brees, they're going to have to bring back Carl Nicks.
Nicks is one of the top offensive guards in the NFL, and I see him taking some sort of a hometown discount since New Orleans does have some salary cap issues.
As of right now, I don't see the Houston Texans coughing up enough money to re-sign Mario Williams.
However, I do see a team like the New England Patriots breaking the bank for the elite pass-rusher, believe it or not.
The New England Patriots need to win now, as Tom Brady turns 35 this summer, and Williams is exactly what New England needs on defense.
If the New England Patriots do sign Mario Williams, then that means they can do so many things defensively. Williams can be a stand-up pass-rusher in the 3-4 as well as defensive end in the 4-3.
Adding Williams to the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL from a year ago could really turn this unit into one of the better defenses the league has to offer.
This only makes perfect sense, right?
Much like LeBron James, Matt Flynn will take his talents to South Beach, as he'll be following his former offensive coordinator and newly hired head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Joe Philbin.
Call me crazy, but I truly believe Matt Flynn will turn into a top-tier quarterback in 2012 if he does sign with the Miami Dolphins.
I don't see the Miami Dolphins winning the AFC East if all the dominoes fall in the right place, but I do see them competing with the New York Jets for second place and a possible wild-card berth.
Adding Flynn is exactly what the Dolphins need, and they should make some noise if they do so.
If you ask me, I believe the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins will be the two teams going very hard for free-agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Jackson is the best available wide receiver this offseason and should receive a giant contract wherever he may choose to land.
But where will he choose to sign?
That's right, Chicago fans—Vincent Jackson is going to be a Chicago Bear in 2012.
This is exactly what Jay Cutler needs, and he is going to produce some pretty impressive numbers next season with Jackson as his No. 1 wide receiver.
The Chicago Bears are going to compete for the NFC North title in 2012 if they add Vincent Jackson to their offense.
Jay Cutler could be a top-tier quarterback, but he has never had an elite receiver to throw to. He will if Jackson chooses to head to Chicago.
Wait a second, so the New England Patriots are going to sign Marques Colston and Mario Williams?
How can they afford both?
For starters, I don't see Chad Ochocinco being back in 2012, and I also don't see too many teams putting a ton of value on Colston since they will likely believe he's just a product of Drew Brees.
I could see Bill Belichick and the Pats coughing up the right amount of dough to bring in a true No. 1 wide receiver for Tom Brady.
There's no secret that Deion Branch isn't as good as he used to be since he's so frequently injured.
However, I do believe he will be back in 2012, even if the New England Patriots sign Marques Colston.
Branch will likely take a huge pay-cut just to return to New England, as he'll likely realize that his best chance to win a third Super Bowl ring is with Tom Brady and the Patriots.
With the New England Patriots doing the unthinkable and breaking the bank, I see the team continuing to use their franchise tag on Wes Welker and not looking for an extension.
We all can assume that Welker wants to be a Patriot for a very long time, and I believe he'll settle for negotiating after next season in order to clear up some cap room.
Let's put it this way: The San Francisco 49ers are an elite football team, so why fix something that's not broken?
The 49ers will hold onto their No. 1 cornerback in Carlos Rogers this offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys really need a No. 1 cornerback, and Brandon Carr really wants to be a No. 1 cornerback.
So perfect match, right?
Believe it or not, but I really believe Cortland Finnegan is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL.
With that being said, I see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offering him a solid chunk of change this offseason, and I don't see him going anywhere besides Tampa Bay.
I do not see Michael Bush staying with the Oakland Raiders in 2012; instead I see him heading to Cincinnati to play for the Bengals.
Bush will join a very young offense in Cincinnati, and he'll be a major help to a team who needs an upgrade in the running game.
Cedric Benson is currently a free agent, and I do not see the Cincinnati Bengals offering him any sort of contract.
His days are done as a Bengal, and he'll be forced to move on.
In late February, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden came out to publicly say the team will plan on using a running back-by-committee offense in 2012.
So, what does that mean?
Michael Bush will likely be the lead running back, if they do sign him, and I believe the team will draft a young running back to split carries with Bush.
I do not see the Detroit Lions making any moves toward Stephen Tulloch.
With that being said, I do believe he'll be a Philadelphia Eagle in 2012.
The Eagles really need help at inside linebacker, and the 27-year-old could certainly fill that void.
I do not see DeSean Jackson staying with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, and with that being said, the Cleveland Browns will be the team who offers Philly a deal.
The Browns lost out on Robert Griffin III and they need to add some offensive firepower, so why not add D-Jax?
It appears that the Cleveland Browns have missed out on Robert Griffin III since the Washington Redskins traded for the No. 2 overall pick, but I see the Browns settling for DeSean Jackson.
Jackson is an elite wide receiver who could turn Colt McCoy into one of the better quarterbacks in 2012.
Laurent Robinson was a really solid wide receiver for Tony Romo in 2012, and I see him returning to the Dallas Cowboys.
In my opinion, there's no way around it.
The San Diego Chargers have a ton of offensive line issues, and Jared Gaither was one of their lone bright spots from a year ago.
If you ask me, the Chargers are going to be pursuing Gaither pretty hard this offseason.
Brandon Lloyd to the New England Patriots? You bet.
Lloyd may be looking for a ton of money, but he needs to realize that he's only played well in Josh McDaniels' offenses, which leads me to believe that Lloyd will take a team-friendly contract to play for the Patriots.
Brandon Lloyd and Tom Brady should gel right away.
Lloyd knows the New England Patriots offense, unlike Chad Ochocinco, and Brady will likely soon develop a nice chemistry with one of his new weapons for 2012.
Let's think about this for a second.
Tom Brady is now going to have Marques Colston, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch as his wide receivers in 2012—that is, if everything falls into place.
The New England Patriots do have the money to make these kind of moves, believe me. If this situation does happen, Brady will likely throw for 45 touchdowns and close to 5,000 yards.
Just look at how well Alex Smith played with the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Smith led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game and was one of the reasons why San Fran was so successful in 2011.
He will be back in 2012.
The San Francisco 49ers may have Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, but adding a guy such as Mario Manningham wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Manningham would be the player the 49ers hoped Braylon Edwards should have been a year ago.
With the San Francisco 49ers adding Mario Manningham, I really believe Alex Smith is going to take several steps forward in 2012.
Smith was a pretty effective game-manager in 2011, but I think if the 49ers add weapons for him, then Smith has the talent and potential to be a very productive quarterback.