2013 NFL Free Agency: Breaking Down Available Free Agents by Position
We're not even officially to the playoffs yet, but it's never too early to preview the potential list of NFL free agents.
Here's a look at each position that assesses the quality and depth of each pool of players.
All of these players are potential free agents with expiring contracts, but not all of them will hit the open market. Some will, no doubt, choose to re-sign with their current teams.
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Notables: Jason Campbell, Pat Devlin, Joe Flacco, Brian Hoyer, Matt Moore
No, seriously, those are the notable free-agent quarterbacks. This pool is not very deep. Diving is discouraged.
If a team is willing to take a shot on developing a young quarterback in a backup role, Hoyer, Devlin or Moore is a possibility since the incoming rookie pool is reportedly quite shallow as well.
How far he takes Baltimore in the playoffs will determine the market for Flacco, the only full-time starter in the group.
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Notables: Reggie Bush, LeGarrette Blount, Jonathan Dwyer (RFA), Shonn Greene, Chris Ivory (RFA), Steven Jackson, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman (RFA), LaRod Stephens-Howling, Danny Woodhead
Free-agent running backs are always a crapshoot, even for the most proven backs.
Reggie Bush will most likely be coming off his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season (he needs 40 yards in Week 17), but will he give a team better value than a Chris Ivory would with an expanded role?
Many teams struggling in the running game do so because of a struggling offensive line, and smart teams will fix the front first.
Still, there are plenty of teams that will shell out money for a Bush or Steven Jackson to attempt to improve the ground game.
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Notables: Danario Alexander (RFA), Danny Amendola, Dwayne Bowe, Joshua Cribbs, Victor Cruz (RFA), Julian Edelman, Brian Hartline, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, Wes Welker
Teams looking for wide receiver help could have a pretty good group to pick from this offseason.
Free-agent wide receivers could include Wes Welker, the poor man's Wes Welker in Danny Amendola and the poor man's Danny Amendola in Brian Hartline.
Greg Jennings has the ability to be a No. 1 receiver but is coming off a year full of injuries.
Victor Cruz is interesting as a restricted free agent.
The pool of receivers goes deeper than just the notables. Teams could find a bargain in an impact player such as Donnie Avery or Brandon Gibson.
Notables: Martellus Bennett, James Casey, Jared Cook, Tony Gonzalez, Dustin Keller
Gems at tight end could be found at low prices. Just ask the Giants how they feel about Martellus Bennett's production this season. Bennett could once again be next year's Bennett, as he only signed a one-year deal with the Giants.
Jared Cook was projected to have a breakout year in Tennessee but fell short of expectations even before a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season.
James Casey could be a breakout candidate in an expanded role outside of Houston.
No one stands out in the group of tight ends as a big name, but there will be players like Bennett who will bring plenty of value to a new team.
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Notables: Jermon Bushrod, Ryan Clady, Jake Long, Andre Smith, Sebastian Vollmer
The prospective free agents on the offensive line include some pretty big names.
All of those names seem to come at the tackle position. All of the notables play tackle, and that position is deeper than just those names.
The other positions on the line aren't quite as deep.
If you're a team searching for a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle, you're in luck. If you're looking for a center, you're going to be looking for a while.
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Notables: Cliff Avril, Glenn Dorsey, Dwight Freeney
For teams that miss out on Cliff Avril, the drop in production among pass-rushers at defensive end is quite noticeable.
Avril might not be well known, but he needs half a sack in Week 17 to finish his second straight double-digit-sack season.
Dorsey, a former first-round pick, hasn't played in a game since November 1 and is on IR after playing in only four games.
Freeney has only played in 13 games this season and will finish with his lowest sack total since 2007 and the second-lowest of his career.
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Notables: Alan Branch, Casey Hampton, Jason Jones, Terrance Knighton, Henry Melton
The list of defensive tackles that may hit the open market is a bit deeper than the list of ends.
Although that list is made up mostly of older veterans like Casey Hampton, Shaun Cody and Rocky Bernard, the production on the field is still there.
Teams looking younger could consider signing Terrance Knighton or Jason Jones.
Either way, there are plenty of potential free agents capable of plugging up the middle of a defensive line.
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Notables: Connor Barwin, Erin Henderson, Manny Lawson, Rey Maualuga, Daryl Smith, Anthony Spencer, Brian Urlacher
There are some pretty good names in the pool of potential free-agent linebackers. They range from young players like Erin Henderson to the older ones like Brian Urlacher.
Teams needing to improve at linebacker will definitely be able to find an option in free agency if that is how they choose to fill the hole. There are a decent number of starters on the list, so most of them should be able to make an impact with a new team.
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Notables: Sheldon Brown, Brent Grimes, Tracy Porter, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Sam Shields (RFA), Aqib Talib
The cornerback position has another pretty decent market. Any of the notables could fill in as a starter on a majority of teams.
After the bigger names, there's still plenty of depth on the market. Teams thin at corner can find some other starters on the list, and teams looking for nickel and dime corners will have decent options.
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Notables: Ronde Barber, Jairus Byrd, Dashon Goldson, LaRon Landry, Kenny Phillips, Ed Reed
Safety might be the deepest position on the potential free-agent market. There more impact names at safety than any other position.
Of course, the Reeds and Byrds are the bigger names, but even deeper are players like Chris Clemons, Patrick Chung and Will Allen.
Any team looking to add a safety can easily do so if all the potential names become free agents. There figure to be no shortage of suitors for any of these players.