2013 NFL Free Agents: Studs Who Will Be Most Sought-After Impact Players
Teams in search of playmakers on offense and defense will have players to choose from, and there is one franchise quarterback potentially on the market as well.
Here are the top six free agents available:
Joe Flacco, QB
The Baltimore Ravens' QB still hasn't re-signed, and he will hit the open market. Will the Ravens be able to bring him back, or will another team break the bank to woo him away?
If the Arizona Cardinals don't believe in any of the top QB prospects in the draft, it would seem that they would be interested in Flacco. He has had his detractors with the Ravens, but Flacco has thrown for at least 3,600 yards in every season but his rookie year.
He set a career-high in passing yards this season, is clearly the best free-agent quarterback, and any team interested in signing a potential starter will at least give Flacco a look.
Jake Long, LT
Long isn't officially a free agent yet, but unless the Miami Dolphins give him the franchise tag, he'll become a free agent during the offseason.
ESPN reports the Fins are unlikely to place the tag on Long, as it would be in excess of $15 million dollars. That is a hefty price tag for the Fins, but potential suitors won't have to spend as deep to bring Long in.
The Chicago Bears, Cardinals and Green Bay Packers should be interested in the former Pro Bowl tackle. Long's season ended with injury, but when he's healthy, there are few better at protecting the quarterback off the edge.
Dwayne Bowe, WR
Bowe already had the franchise tag used on him this season, he will almost certainly become a free agent now.
He has the physical traits of a No. 1 receiver, and he's had the production in the past to validate the concept. He's had three 1,000-yard seasons and he's only missed four games in his six years as a professional.
Any team that values a big-bodied receiver that is a nightmare for the opposition in the red zone should give Bowe a look. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers could really benefit from Bowe's talents.
Henry Melton, DT
The Bears would be nuts to allow Melton to leave town, but if they do, the line to acquire the Pro Bowl DT will be long.
Melton was invited to Hawaii for the first time in his three-year career this season. His play speaks for itself, despite what Detroit Lions' center Dominic Raiola says.
The Lions' loose cannon recently called Melton a "clown" and questioned his credentials for the Pro Bowl, per Chicago Tribune.
Melton had six sacks, but more than the sacks, his constant pressure in the face of opposing quarterbacks is what the voters recognized. It is also what general managers around the league will reference when they chase Melton in free agency.
He is one of the most athletic interior lineman in the league, and will be paid handsomely this offseason.
Cliff Avril, DE
The Lions' defensive end has come up with 9.5 sacks this season, despite the team's struggles. Heading into free agency, he is in position to cash in this offseason.
He has tremendous burst off the edge and long arms. Both are obviously enviable traits for a pass-rusher. This isn't a flash-in-the-pan year for Avril.
He has 29 sacks in the last three seasons.
At only 26 years old, Avril has a ton of quality football still left in him. A proven pass-rusher, still three-plus years shy of 30 years old, will draw a lot of interest around the league.
Michael Johnson, DE
The Cincinnati Bengals have been among the NFL's leaders in sacks all season, Johnson is a big reason why. Geno Atkins leads the team in that category, but Johnson's 12.5 sacks can't be ignored.
He is 6'6" 270 pounds of speed and power. Some teams may have some concern as to how well he'll do on a defensive line without an anchor in the middle like Atkins, but Johnson seems to be worth the gamble.
He's only 25 years old, and his sack total has escalated every year of his career. The most attractive free agents are the relatively young ones that still seem to be on the upswing.
Johnson fits that profile.
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