NFL Free Agency 2013: How the Class of 2013 Compares to 2012

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NFL Free Agency 2013: How the Class of 2013 Compares to 2012
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.

As the city of New Orleans begins to prepare for the media frenzy that is Super Bowl week, 30 other organizations around the NFL have their sights set on the offseason and the impending commencement of free agency. However, in order to understand how free agency is going to play out in 2013, it's imperative to study its past effects on teams around the NFL.

A year ago, we saw the likes of Peyton Manning, Mario Williams, Brandon Carr, Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Cortland Finnegan take gaudy contracts to switch teams. Perhaps not coincidentally, none of the aforementioned players won a playoff game this season.

Historically speaking, championship squads use free agency to plug minor holes on their roster. Rarely, if ever, do those lavish contracts handed out to elite veterans result in Lombardi Trophies. Even if big-money free agents play up to their contract, there is rarely enough remaining cap room to assemble an adequate supporting cast. The elite general managers in the NFL build through the draft and supplement their needs with minor free-agent acquisitions.

However, given the monstrosity of the 2013 free-agent class, this offseason could break from tradition. There are impact players entering the market from nearly every position. There are so many quality players out there for teams to sign, that there will inevitably be some free-agent success stories in 2013. 

As you will see throughout this article, the 2012 class had some very significant names in it. Peyton Manning and Mario Williams are considered among the best players in the NFL at their respective positions. However, the depth of the 2013 class separates it from that of most recent free agency periods.

Let's compare the 2013 free-agent class to that of 2012 and see why this rapid cycle of player movement will have a significant impact on next season's outcome.

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