Mario Williams: Who Are the Favorites to Land Top Free-Agent DE?

Ryan AlfieriCorrespondent IIIMarch 13, 2012

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 09:  Outside linebacker Mario Williams #90 of the  Houston Texans reacts after a big defensive stop in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

If it weren't for Peyton Manning, Mario Williams would be the biggest name in free agency this year. He is a dominant pass rusher who showed his versatility last season playing as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. 

There will be intense competition for his services as the need for pass rushers continues to grow throughout the NFL in an effort to slow down complex passing attacks. Rarely does a player of Williams' magnitude hit the open market while still in his prime. 

Here are some of the rumored favorites to land Mario Williams.

Chicago Bears

Combining Julius Peppers with Mario Williams will give the Bears a tandem of pass rushers that would easily be the best in football. In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, adding a player like Williams would be the Bears' only hope of slowing either of them down. 

The Bears have the cap room to do it—it just depends on if they want someone like Vincent Jackson just a little more. Many in Chicago are pulling for Williams to be a Bear

Seattle Seahawks

After missing out on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, the Seahawks are expected to make some more big moves in free agency with their abundance of cap room. 

Apparently, they want to use it on the best defensive player on the market

Pairing Mario Williams with Chris Clemons would give the Seahawks a pair of pass rushers that would make the Seahawks defense elite.  

Houston Texans

After a stunning move on Monday, the Texans cut the best right tackle in football, Eric Winston. From the outside, the move makes little sense, but if they are able to use the extra money to retain Williams, it a least makes some sense. 

Still, the Texans may be banking on a hometown discount—cutting Eric Winston only gives them so much extra cap space to work with.