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2012 NFL Free Agents: The Top 30 Free Agents and Their Possible Destinations

Matt BowenAnalyst IIApril 24, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: The Top 30 Free Agents and Their Possible Destinations

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    The 2012 NFL draft begins on April 26, when teams hope to find their next franchise cornerstone, but there are still plenty of players on the NFL free-agency market who shouldn't be overlooked.

    The thing about a team signing a free agent at this point is that the team has a good idea of what it's going to get from that player, and they come cheap this time of year. 

    Signing one of these players just days before the draft would open up a draft pick to fill another void. 

    Before teams take a gamble in the draft, they should reach out to these veterans to satisfy a vacant roster spot.

The Extra Point: Does LaDainian Tomlinson Have Anything Left?

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    Once upon a time in the NFL, running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the baddest man to walk the planet.

    Now 32 years old, LT has had better days on the gridiron, but that doesn't mean he's worthless.

    Currently a free agent, it will be interesting to see if Tomlinson gets another go-round in the league. 

    It's always a sad day when fans realize one of the all-time greats is past his prime, but everyone wants to see LT dazzle one last time.

Nos. 30-26: Right Now These Guys Are on the Outside Looking In

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    No. 30: Vince Young Could Be an Oakland Raider

    Hey, Vince Young is better than current Oakland Raiders backup quarterbacks Rhett Bomar and Terrelle Pryor. If Carson Palmer goes down to injury, at least Young has quality NFL experience.

     

    No. 29: Ryan Grant Has a Puncher's Chance with the New York Giants

    Before injury in 2010, running back Ryan Grant had back-to-back 1,200-plus yard seasons. Unfortunately, he only has 604 yards since. Now having to prove himself, Grant would fit in nicely with the New York Giants as a replacement for Brandon Jacobs.

     

    No. 28: Albert Haynesworth Has One Chance Left with His Old Coach in St. Louis

    Although Albert Haynesworth has nearly talked himself out of the NFL, he could get one last shot in the league with his former coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. The Rams need a defensive tackle, and they would only have to pay Haynesworth pennies compared to his old contract.

     

    No. 27: Keith Brooking Has Enough in the Tank for a Year with the Indianapolis Colts

    Albeit 36 years old, linebacker Keith Brooking wants one last year in the NFL. Unfortunately that usually means one has to sign with a non-playoff team. That team could be the Indianapolis Colts for Brooking, as both sides will benefit from this one-year deal.

     

    No. 26: Dallas Clark Will Reunite with Peyton Manning in Denver

    While it's true that Dallas Clark has been decimated by injury the last two seasons, he'll muster up enough energy to play another season. He may not be feeling like it now, but the Denver Broncos will call and change his mind.  

Nos. 25-21: These Guys Could Boom or Bust

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    No. 25: Visanthe Shiancoe Would Fit Well With the Seattle Seahawks

    Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is currently looking for a job, and the Seattle Seahawks need a solid backup tight end. Rumor has it the two sides have talked too. This seems like a good deal for all parties involved.

     

    No. 24: All Kevin Faulk Has Done Is Win with the New England Patriots

    Running back Kevin Faulk will remain with the New England Patriots in 2012. The 35-year-old Faulk has never played with another team, and he doesn't want to. The Patriots owe him one.

     

    No. 23: Derrick Ward Is Similar to Kevin Faulk These Days

    Running back Derrick Ward is more of a coach than anything else these days. That's why the Houston Texans would like him to stay in town. Ward is still serviceable if need be.

     

    No. 22: Jerome Simpson Will Be a Minnesota Viking

    There's no doubt that this wide receiver has over-the-top athletic ability. It's no secret that the Minnesota Vikings need someone like Simpson. The two sides have been in discussions, and this deal should be inked soon. 

     

    No. 21: Tony Pashos Would Be a Great Pickup for the Detroit Lions

    Right guard Tony Pashos may be recovering from injury, but the Detroit Lions shouldn't hesitate about signing him. Pashos would put pressure on Lions starter Stephen Peterman to perform at a high level and be there if he doesn't.

Nos. 20-16: These Guys Are Still Good

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    No. 20: The New York Jets Would Be Better with Justin Forsett

    The New York Jets need another running back, and Justin Forsett would serve them well. He's only 26 years old and can still easily average four yards per carry. Right now, the Jets need anything they can get.

     

    No. 19: Shaun Rogers Should Be Wanted by the Oakland Raiders

    The Oakland Raiders struggled in 2011 when it came to stopping the run, allowing 136.1 yards per game. Shaun Rogers is larger than life and would fit the part in a Raiders uniform.

     

    No. 18: Jim Leonhard Would Be Best Playing for the New England Patriots

    Jim Leonhard is a better-than-average NFL safety. Now a free agent, he's looking for employment. The New England Patriots need help in the secondary and should sign this guy tomorrow.

     

    No. 17: Yeremiah Bell Should Become a Member of the New York Giants

    Yes, safety Yeremiah Bell is 34 years old, but that didn't stop him from amassing 107 tackles in 2011. The New York Giants should act quickly to make sure the New York Jets don't sign him first.

     

    No. 16: Marcus Thomas Should Stay in Denver 

    Defensive tackle Marcus Thomas should stay put in Denver. Although he's looking for playing time, the 26-year-old should realize the Broncos got drastically better overnight.  

Nos. 15-11: These Are the Type of Guys Who Can Make or Break a Team

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    No. 15: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Could Use a Guy Like E.J. Henderson

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be commended on their offseason signings, but that doesn't mean they should be done improving via free agency. Linebacker E.J. Henderson is the veteran linebacker they need. 

     

    No. 14: Rocky McIntosh Should Be a Member of the Chicago Bears

    Doesn't his name sounds like it belongs in a Chicago Bears uniform? McIntosh visited Chicago last week, and the two sides should agree to terms soon. 

     

    No. 13: Joseph Addai Will End Up in St. Louis

    Becoming a backup to Steven Jackson wouldn't be a bad thing for Joseph Addai. There's no question his days as a premier back in the NFL are behind him. 

     

    No. 12: Next Stop for Braylon Edwards—Miami

    The Miami Dolphins and Braylon Edwards are in the same boat—no one believes in them any more. The pairing makes sense, as both sides could resurrect their reputations together.

     

    No. 11: Aubrayo Franklin Makes Sense for the Atlanta Falcons

    Who doesn't need a 320-lb monster in the middle of their defensive line? The Atlanta Falcons are expressing interest, as this deal could be done in a matter of days.  

No. 10: Kicker Neil Rackers May Be a Washington Redskin Soon

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    Neil Rackers is one of the better kickers in the NFL, and he's for hire right now.

    Rackers, 35, recently visited with the Washington Redskins. He has made 80 percent of his attempts over his 12-year NFL career. 

    While every team has a kicker, there's not too many that you can trust on a weekly basis. Rackers is definitely trustworthy and would help Redskins fans breathe a little easier.

No. 9: Matt Roth Wants to Play for a Winner, and the Bengals Will Be It

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    The addition of Matt Roth to the Cincinnati Bengals would add valuable depth to their already strong defensive line. 

    Roth only played in nine games in 2011 due to concussion issues but looks to have a bounce-back 2012. 

    When healthy, he's very consistent and would be an asset on the Bengals.

No. 8: Ronnie Brown Just Needs a Change of Scenery, Like San Diego

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    It wasn't too long ago when running back Ronnie Brown was running the Wildcat in Miami. Believe it or not, he's still got some juice left.

    A place like San Diego would do the 30-year-old back a world of good, extending his career a few more years.

    While a 1,000-yard season shouldn't be expected, 750 yards isn't out of the question.

    The San Diego Chargers need a backup, and they should look no further than Brown.

No. 7: The Detroit Lions Are Still Trying to Lure Oshiomogho Atogwe Their Way

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    The Detroit Lions would love to have Oshiomogho Atogwe reside in their secondary in 2012.

    Atogwe, 30, would be a much-needed improvement for the Lions secondary.

    The Lions have already tried to sway Atogwe their way, but he's not ready to make his decision yet.

    Perhaps a strong draft for the Lions would land him.

No. 6: The Chicago Bears Should Strongly Consider Plaxico Burress

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    The Chicago Bears need legitimate playmakers in their receiving corps, and Plaxico Burress should be acquired.

    The tandem of Burress and Brandon Marshall would suddenly make opposing defenses think twice about how they're going to defend the Bears.

    It's no secret that before this offseason, no defense in the league was afraid of Bears receivers, but they would be if Burress were to join.

No. 5: Tim Hightower Will Be a New England Patriot

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    Running back Tim Hightower will be a New England Patriot by the time it's all said and done. 

    He has already visited with the Pats and makes total sense for New England. 

    His low profile and versatility are just what Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes in a running back.

No. 4: Cedric Benson to the Detroit Lions Would Make Sense

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    Cedric Benson may be 29 years old, but he still has plenty of value as a free agent.

    He's coming off three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and would be a nice pickup for a team like the Detroit Lions.

    The Lions need a running back for insurance purposes and to put pressure on young players like Mikel Leshoure.

    Benson would add some consistency to a Lions backfield that can't depend on anyone.

No. 3: Jonathan Goff Is a Sleeper at This Point and Needs a Home Like Miami

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    Jonathan Goff missed all of 2011 with a torn ACL, but he is still just 26 years old.

    A fresh start is what he needs in a place like Miami, where the Dolphins have shown interest.

    In 2010 Goff tallied 80 tackles, and he will be expected to put up similar numbers in his new home.

    A place like Miami with a two-year deal would fit Goff well.

No. 2: Double-Digit Sacks Talk to Many Teams, Especially the New York Jets

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    Defensive end Andre Carter recorded 10 sacks before tearing his quadriceps in 2011.

    Although he's still recovering, many teams are interested.

    At nearly 33 years old, its safe to say that age isn't on his side, but numbers don't lie, and Carter has a case for any team needing a proven pass-rusher.

    In the end, the New York Jets will take a chance on Carter just to spice up their rivalry with the New England Patriots.

No. 1: Marcus McNeill Will Be a Member of the Green Bay Packers

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    Left tackle Marcus McNeill may be riddled with injuries, but he's only 28 years old and could very well make a full recovery.

    He's a two-time Pro Bowler and is downright dominant when healthy.

    With the Green Bay Packers just releasing longtime left tackle Chad Clifton, McNeill should be a prime target for the Packers.

    He would most likely compete for the starting job with Marshall Newhouse but could easily win it based on reputation alone.

    Getting McNeill on the cheap could make an already dominant Packers franchise that much better.

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