Free agency is all about new beginnings. For a player, it is a chance to reinvent himself with a new team and hopefully be a part of something special. For the team, it is a chance to start anew with a player who can play an integral role for a championship.
In the NFL, the level of movement from player to player isn't nearly as high as what you will find in other sports. Players and teams often find ways to work in their best interests to ensure a long, healthy and prosperous relationship.
Looking at the 2013 NFL free-agent class, though, there are a few players who should plan on a new start with a new team. Here are the best of the best.
Wide Receiver Dwayne Bowe
This one is almost too easy, as Bowe hasn't seemed happy in Kansas City or with the franchise for the last two seasons. We know he wasn't thrilled with the franchise tag last season, but he eventually signed the one-year tender like every player does.
Bowe picked a good time to enter free agency, as the receiving class is not particularly deep. Greg Jennings will be at the top of the list, but Bowe is not that far behind.
His numbers didn't look great because the Chiefs' quarterback situation was so abysmal, but that shouldn't dissuade teams from going after Bowe. He will turn 29 in September, still managed 801 yards without a real quarterback and has a history of producing. He has three career 1,000-yard seasons, including two straight in 2010 and 2011.
He also led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches in 2010.
Safety Ed Reed
Which player will be the biggest bust next season?
I am torn about what to do with Reed's free agency. On the one hand, he is still a great "center fielder," capable of getting to the ball from most spots on the field. He has also played in all 16 games in each of the last two seasons after battling injuries in 2009 and 2010.
On the other hand, Reed is going to be 35 years old in September and is clearly not the impact player he once was.
The Ravens have a lot of decisions to make this offseason—most notably, how much to spend on Joe Flacco after an impressive run to the Super Bowl—and Reed's future will be near the top of the list.
For a team that has seen its defense age rapidly, the Ravens need to start adding some youth at the skill positions in order to maintain this high level of excellence they have built for themselves over the last five years.
Offensive Tackle Jake Long
When the Miami Dolphins drafted Jake Long with the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft, the assumption was that he was a sure thing and would solidify the line for the next decade.
Long has not been a complete bust in the NFL. In fact, there have been times when he has been exceptional. The problem is, those times are becoming few and far between for a player who could be looking for a huge payday.
He will turn 28 in May, putting him in prime position to cash in if there is a team that values him that highly. The Dolphins really can't afford to invest a huge sum of money on a player like Long, even if it's just for one year, and hope to get a good return on investment.
The Dolphins' offensive line is soft right now, so it is time for the team to develop a strategy to build that unit up front to keep Ryan Tannehill on the proper development path.