Preview to the Top NFL Free Agents in 2013

Greg Maiola@Gom1094Senior Analyst IIDecember 15, 2012

Preview to the Top NFL Free Agents in 2013

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    As the holiday season is in full swing, it is never too early for NFL fans to starting wishing for new additions to their favorite clubs in 2013.

    This list looks at the top realistic free agents this March. Some players, like Joe Flacco, are expecting big deals to stay with their current teams and won't be included on this list. Nonetheless, there should be some real players on the open market in a few months and a few players that can change the fortune of a team.

    Here are the top free agents that should be on the market this March.

Dwayne Bowe

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    Dwayne Bowe is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL, but Kansas City isn't helping him develop into the true playmaker that he should be.

    In 2010, Bowe showed what damage he could do at the NFL level. He finished that season with 72 receptions for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. That's correct, 15 touchdowns from Matt Cassel. He followed that up with a 81-catch 1,159-yard and five-touchdown 2011 season.

    This year, he has seen a lousy performance at the quarterback position from Cassel and Brady Quinn. Through 13 games, Bowe has 59 receptions for 801 yards and three touchdowns.

    He was a free agent last year but had the franchise tag placed on him. It doesn't appear likely that Bowe wants to be a Chief for life, especially when the offense runs through the talented Jamaal Charles.

    Anticipating that Bowe wants out, here are some reasonable destinations for the receiver in 2013.

    Possible Destinations: Chicago, Buffalo, Houston

Reggie Bush

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    The Miami Dolphins have a capable back in Daniel Thomas and there are no apparent contract negotiations between Reggie Bush and the Dolphins at this point, leaving the door open for Bush to walk in 2013.

    After being labeled as a bust who can't run between the tackles and a game-changer only on special teams, Bush changed his identity when the Saints traded him to Miami. In 15 games last season, Bush proved his doubters wrong, rushing for 1,086 yards and averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He also chipped in seven offensive touchdowns and made 43 receptions.

    Through 13 games in 2012, Bush has 179 carries for 791 yards and four scores, with a 4.4 yards-per-carry average. That rushing total is impressive due to Bush losing a lot of carries to Thomas.

    After this season, the Dolphins and Bush will probably part ways. Miami invested a high draft pick to Thomas and his role has grown from last season to this one. Bush is one of the most explosive players in the league and can score on any given play.

    For teams looking for explosive playmakers in 2013, Bush is at the top of the list.

    Possible Destinations: Indianapolis, St. Louis, Atlanta

Osi Umenyiora

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    Osi Umenyiora plays on one of the most talented defensive lines in all of football. He plays alongside Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

    In 13 games in 2012, Umenyiora has only two starts but six sacks and two forced fumbles. In his nine-year Giants career, he has 75 sacks and 32 forced fumbles, along with two Super Bowl rings.

    He is 31 years old and still has quality football left in him. He simply gets to the quarterback and creates turnovers. There is no questioning his talent or level of impact. The only question is whether he wants to be part of a rotation and compete for a Super Bowl year in and year out or if he wants to go somewhere to start on a game-to-game basis.

    Possible Destination: New York Giants, Baltimore, New Orleans

Jared Cook

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    Tight ends at the NFL level continue to develop into premier threats on offense. The only problem is that there are few tight ends that can be elite pass-catchers.

    Jared Cook is one of the few that can make a difference in the passing game. In 2011, Cook showed flashes of brilliance with 49 receptions for 759 yards and three touchdowns. He even scored an 80-yard touchdown—not bad for a big boy.

    Through 14 weeks of the 2012 NFL season, Cook has 44 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns. It appears that he is only scratching the surface of his potential and that he may be held back a tad in Tennessee.

    He is one of a few players that can be an impact on offense and his 6'5'', 248-pound frame makes him ideal on third downs and in the red zone.

    Possible Destinations: New York Jets, Atlanta, Washington

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

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    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was brought to Philly in a trade that sent Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals. It's safe to say the trade hasn't really worked out for either side.

    Rodgers-Cromartie has been burned on several occasions and he and Nnamdi Asomugha have simply disappointed in the secondary. After a 2011 season with zero interceptions, three starts and 28 tackles, his play has improved in 2012. He has 14 starts, 42 tackles and three interceptions.

    However, it is likely that Andy Reid won't return to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and that the new coach won't be willing to keep Rodgers-Cromartie at a relatively large salary. It may be best for the organization and player to part ways, but a reunion is realistic as well.

    Possible Destinations: Philadelphia, Denver, Tampa Bay

Greg Jennings

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    The Green Bay Packers have had a loaded receiving corps the past few years, with Greg Jennings leading the way. But after the 2012 season, the Packers might be willing to let Jennings walk.

    Jennings is a Pro Bowl receiver who was crucial to Green Bay's Super Bowl run a few years back. However, injuries have impacted his performance this year. Through 14 weeks, Jennings has 17 receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown.

    His absence has sparked the emergence of Randall Cobb, who is becoming one of the most explosive players in the league. The Packers also have Jordy Nelson and James Jones at the position, still making them dangerous with Jennings' absence.

    He is in the final year of a four-year $27 million deal he signed in 2009 and his production over the past few years has definitely earned him a higher salary. The fact of the matter is that Jennings may be looking for double the contract he signed four years ago and Green Bay might not be willing to spend it. Their wideouts are still top-tier without Jennings and his lousy 2012 season isn't helping his cause.

    It is possible that Jennings returns to Green Bay in 2013, but very likely that the Pack lets him test the open market first.

    Possible Destinations: Green Bay, Houston, Cincinnati