This year's crop of free agents could potentially be a very, very strong class of players. Key positions like wide receiver, defensive end, cornerback and safety have a lot of possible depth, and there are more than a few impact players that look destined to hit free agency.
With that being said, there are also several players who should be viewed as very big risks, despite their talent. Whether it be because of age, injury history or simply that they'll come with a price tag that might not be reflective of their actual ability, these players are the siren songs of free agency.
NFL teams should be aware of the potentially rocky shores ahead when wooing the following three players.
Jake Long, OT
On one hand, Jake Long still has the skill set of a top-10, and possibly top-five, left tackle. On the other hand, he's regressed in recent years and has missed six games over the past two seasons. Plus, he won't come cheap on the free-agent market.
That, folks, is the perfect recipe for a risky free agent.
In his rankings of the top 35 left tackles in football, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had Long at No. 23, writing, "Long isn’t the elite tackle that he once was and only time will tell if he will be able to return to that level."
An NFL team will likely have to pay him like an elite left tackle to sign him. Whether or not they actually get an elite left tackle, however, remains to be seen.
Greg Jennings, WR
He turns 30 in September. He's missed 11 games in the past two seasons after not missing a single game in the previous three. Even when he was healthy this season, it was clear he had fallen down the pecking order in Green Bay behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones.
The question isn't whether or not Jennings is talented enough to post big numbers over the next several seasons. He is. The question is whether or not he can stay healthy and justify a large contract, which he'll want and think he deserves after several seasons of elite play.
This could shape up to be a very strong class of wide receivers, hurting Jennings on the market. With that being said, if players like Wes Welker and Dwayne Bowe return to their respective teams, Jennings will be one of the most sought-after free agents this year.
Will he be worth the risk?
Ed Reed, S
Ed Reed hasn't missed a game in two years. He's registered at least three interceptions in seven straight seasons. He remains one of the smartest defensive players in the game, and he's always a threat to change a game by returning an interception for a touchdown.
He'll also be 35 in September. Outside of the quarterback position, 35-year-olds generally don't get paid big bucks on the free-agent market. We saw his old teammate, Ray Lewis, inspire the Baltimore Ravens but generally look like a player who had lost more than a step this year.
At what point will the same happen to Reed? Has it already? With younger players available at safety, is banking on Reed maintaining a high level of play really worth the risk?
I don't think so, but hey, it's not my money to spend. I'd be surprised if Reed isn't a Raven next year, but he's a risky buy no matter where he ends up.