2013 NFL Free Agents: Latest Buzz and Storylines for Top Targets

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 4, 2013

The new league year is just around the corner, and things are starting to get interesting in the NFL. Free agents are seeking new deals for 2013 and now is the time for monster contracts to be handed out.

Joe Flacco started things off in a huge way with his signing of the most lucrative contract in NFL history. The Ravens' quarterback will make $120.6 million over the next six years.

While Flacco was a special case—the QB market is incredibly thin, and he was coming off a huge playoff performance—his deal still helps to set a financial benchmark for this year's free-agency pool.

With plenty of big names set to hit the market, here's some of the latest buzz surrounding the NFL's free agents to be.


Plenty of tags being handed out

Not surprisingly enough, the free-agent market is already being saturated with franchise tags.

The Denver Broncos have tagged Ryan Clady, who was arguably the best offensive lineman in this year's market.

But mostly it's been defensive players that have seen themselves being hit with tags.

The Chicago Bears have tagged defensive tackle Henry Melton, while the Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly slapped theirs on defensive end Michael Johnson.

In the least surprising move of the early offseason, the Buffalo Bills made sure to hit safety Jairus Byrd with their franchise tag.

The franchise tag deadline is looming, and so far most of the moves have been expected.

Only one decision has yet to be made, and that's on the Kansas City Chiefs. They have the option of tagging wide receiver Dwayne Bowe or tackle Branden Albert.

The Chiefs are reportedly hopeful they can sign one player and tag the other, so figuring out who to use the tag on is a big decision.

Either way, with time to use a tag running out, it looks like the market will retain plenty of big names this year.


Randy Moss parts ways with Niners

It wasn't that long ago that San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was saying he "definitely" wanted wide receiver Randy Moss back after 2013.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when Moss tweeted over the weekend:

According to CBS Sports' Mike Freeman, Moss wants to play for a contender next season. And since he just played in the Super Bowl with the Niners, it seems a little surprising that he's jumping ship.

The veteran receiver had a solid season with San Francisco, which is already thin at the wide receiver position.

It would have seemed like a smart move for both sides if Moss were to stay, but now it looks like that's no going to happen.

And so the market welcomes one more big receiver into the folds.


Andre Smith wants a big deal

It was a little surprising when the Bengals decided to use their franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson.

The 26-year-old did have 11.5 sacks in 2012, but Cincinnati is deep up front. Not to mention this year's draft is incredibly deep in pass-rushing talent.

Obviously the Bengals are smart to retain a player like Johnson, but hitting him with a franchise tag may not have been the best decision.

Now Cincinnati has task of attempting to re-sign starting right tackle Andre Smith. One of the better tackles in this year's market, Smith is seeking a big payday.

According to CBS Sports' Josh Katzowitz, Smith wants to be paid $9 million a year. The Bengals have money to make it happen, but that doesn't mean it's not a hefty request.

The 26-year-old started off his career looking like a bust, but has since evolved into one of the best right tackles in the league. Chances are, he finds someone willing to give him big money.


Pats have heavy interest in Ed Reed

With Joe Flacco re-signed, the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly turning their attention towards signing Dannel Ellerbe. That could leave veteran safety Ed Reed the odd man out in Baltimore.

While age is still a factor for Reed, the veteran could make a killing in free agency. The 34-year-old is arguably the best to ever play the position and had four interceptions during the 2012 season.

Topping Reed's list of suitors are the New England Patriots, who need major upgrades in the secondary. What is surprising is how much money the Pats are willing to drop.

According to the The Boston Globe's Greg Bedard, the Pats are willing to drop $5 million a season into Reed's lap.

That's big money to begin with, especially for the frugal Patriots. But with that secondary in the state it is, there's worse ways for them to spend money.


Stevie Johnson's courting big names

It's been a long time since the Buffalo Bills have been a contender, despite big names like wide receiver Stevie Johnson. 

While Johnson has been an impact player on the field, now he's trying to make an impact off it as well.

According to a recent article by Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, Johnson has been attempting to woo the likes of Dashon Goldson, Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe.

According to Graham, Johnson was quoted as saying this about Goldson:

I just asked him, 'Who would you want to go to?' Out of his lips, he was talking about Buffalo a lot.

Hopefully, we give him an offer.

Whether the Bills make a play for any big name is yet to be seen. Even more unsure is if any big-name free agent would sign there—though it would certainly help.

Either way, Bills fans have one more reason to love Stevie Johnson.


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