NFL Free Agency 2013: Predictions for Every Team
2013 NFL free agency is hours away, and despite a new three-day legal tampering period, it is hard to determine where the NFL's top free agents will land once the deadline passes.
What better way to pass the time than by predicting the major names each NFL team will sign?
In the following slideshow we will attempt to accurately predict some of the major signings or re-signings each team will make based on their needs and salary-cap situation. How teams will behave and which reports you can trust during a tampering period is difficult to determine, but you can form a general idea each year regardless.
Let's take a look at NFL free-agency predictions for each team.
Free Agent Signings: S Dashon Goldson, OLB Shaun Phillips
The Arizona Cardinals have a few needs that could be addressed in the free-agency period, especially after releasing longtime safety Adrian Wilson.
There is no better way to shore up the position than by nabbing the best safety on the market in Dashon Goldson.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has reported the Cardinals are making Goldson a top priority:
According to a good source, the Cardinals will aggressively pursue a safety in free agency.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 9, 2013
Outside of breaking the bank for Goldson, the Cardinals could use free agency to wisely spend some money on a veteran such as Shaun Phillips. According to Mike Jurecki on Twitter, the Cardinals have interest, and he would provide a boost thanks to his pass-rushing skills.
Free-Agent Signings: RB Steven Jackson, OT Sam Baker, TE Tony Gonzalez, DE Osi Umenyiora
The Atlanta Falcons are looking to take the next big step, and they can do so by retaining some of their own while bringing in some veteran help.
As for retaining their own, Sam Baker will likely be back with the team after the outstanding market sets his price tag low. According to USA Today, Tony Gonzalez will play in 2013 and there is no way he leaves Atlanta.
Outside help should come in the form of running back Steven Jackson, who is looking to play for a contender. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Falcons are the front-runners to land him, which makes all too much sense.
Finally, Osi Umenyiora is a wild card, but a report from Profootballtalk suggest the Falcons are highly interested in his services as a cheaper replacement for the recently cut John Abraham.
Free-Agent Signings: S Ed Reed, OT Bryant McKinnie
After a Super Bowl victory, the Baltimore Ravens do not have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to cap space. This means the team is best served by bringing back some of its own and improving through the draft.
Safety Ed Reed and tackle Bryant McKinnie are the two targets Baltimore will bring back. Reed is up there in age and will not have a large market, as is McKinnie who has struggled with weight and consistency.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens have offered incentive-laded contracts to both, who would be wise to accept. Expect that they will.
Free-Agent Signings: ILB Brad Jones, S Adrian Wilson, CB Mike Williams
The Arizona Cardinals recently released Adrian Wilson (per Mike Jurecki on Twitter), which is nothing but great news for the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo franchise tagged Jairus Byrd (per BuffaloBills.com), so spending a lot of money on the safety opposite of him does not make sense. Wilson is 33 years old and will come cheap as a two-down safety against the run.
Brad Jones is an underrated player on the market who transformed into an every-down starter last season in Green Bay. Jones would fit well in the middle of the Bills scheme.
Finally, Mike Williams has flashed brilliance in the past and is a cheap risk the Bills could afford to take as they build depth in the secondary.
Free-Agent Signings: CB Captain Munnerlyn
The Carolina Panthers have some serious cap issues heading into free agency, but that should not deter the front office from bringing back cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
Munnerlyn's stock is reportedly blowing up on the market, according to Aaron Wilson on Twitter, so the Panthers have to act fast.
After cutting veteran Chris Gamble, the team is in some serious trouble at the position. Securing the 24-year-old corner at any cost is a great way to get things back on track in Carolina.
Free-Agent Signings: TE Jared Cook, QB Jason Campbell, OG Brandon Moore, DE Israel Idonije, LB Nick Roach, LB Brian Urlacher
The Chicago Bears have many of their own free agents to take care of during the free-agency period. It is safe to bet the front office will bring back Jason Campbell and Israel Idonije.
As far as linebackers go, the front office and Brian Urlacher continue to communicate (per Lou Canellis on Twitter). He will be back with the team at a cheap price, as will fellow linebacker Nick Roach. While Roach is reportedly blowing up on the market (Chicago Tribune), Chicago will find a way to keep the talented up-and-comer around.
Chicago can also make a major splash on offense if it can find the cap space. Tight end Jared Cook is an elite weapon when used properly, and he fits perfectly in the offense with quarterback Jay Cutler. Chicago is in the running for Cook, and expect the front office to find a way to fork over his desired $6 million per year (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
Free-Agent Signings: RT Andre Smith, CB Adam Jones, CB Terence Newman, OLB Thomas Howard, ILB Rey Maualuga
Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Andre Smith is in for a rude awakening when he enters free agency. He wants $9 million per year, but NFL teams are afraid of his lack of consistency and battles with injuries and weight over the years (per Sports Illustrated).
Smith will have a hard time finding what he wants and work his way back into Cincinnati's price range.
Cincinnati will also use its NFL-leading cap room to bring back critical elements of the defense such as cornerback Adam Jones and Thomas Howard. According to a report by Bengals.com, it sounds as if the team will bring back embattled linebacker Rey Maualuga but shift him to outside linebacker.
Free-Agent Signings: OLB Paul Kruger, DT Desmond Bryant, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, CB Keenan Lewis
The Cleveland Browns have a thing for stealing from other AFC North members. They have an interest in Baltimore Ravens linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe as the defense transitions to a 3-4 scheme.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Browns are in a bidding war for Kruger, but will end up winning. The team is familiar enough with him to know he is worth the cap space, so it looks like Cleveland will do whatever it takes. Same thing with Ellerbe.
Cleveland also needs another corner opposite Joe Haden, and will likely target former Pittsburgh Steelers youngster Keenan Lewis. According to ESPN Cleveland, he is the perfect fit.
The Browns can also make a major splash by picking up Desmond Bryant, who is only 27 years old and quietly one of the better defensive tackles in the league. He is an intriguing fit, and one that new defensive coordinator Ray Horton could use to create advantages.
Free-Agent Signings: CB Greg Toler, S Jim Leonard, WR Josh Cribbs
Despite being in an iffy cap situation, the Dallas Cowboys can find some solid pieces on the market if they looks close enough.
The team has already expressed an interest in return man Josh Cribbs (Mary Kay Cabot on Twitter). He will come cheap and provide an immediate spark to the special teams unit.
After that, the Cowboys have to look at addressing the depth of the defensive backs portion of the depth chart. Jim Leonard is a savvy veteran who will come cheap.
Dallas could sneak one by the rest of the league by bringing in cornerback Greg Toler, who was solid last season. Toler has the capabilities to be a starter, but he will be lost early on in free agency at a position flooded with talent and more recognizable names.
Free-Agent Signings: DE Dwight Freeney, RB Rashard Mendenhall, CB Chris Gamble
-- UPDATE --
According to Josina Anderson on Twitter, veteran cornerback Chris Gamble is planning on retiring at the age of 30. Several teams have shown interest in signing him.
-- END UPDATE --
The Denver Broncos do not have a ridiculous amount of needs heading into free agency as a team that is a lock to compete for a championship for the next few seasons.
Quarterback Peyton Manning may be able to further those chances at a Lombardi by persuading former teammate Dwight Freeney to join him in Denver.
According to the Denver Post, the Broncos are considering pursuing Freeney if Elvis Dumervil does not take a pay cut. Freeney is much cheaper and is looking to compete for a championship. It's a no-brainer.
Other than that, the Broncos can make a cheap signing that could pay off drastically by taking a gamble on running back Rashard Mendenhall. The team has shown interest (per Denver Post), and he is a perfect fit in the scheme and has loads of potential as an every-down starter when healthy.
Denver could also look to add some talent at cornerback, as referenced by its showing interest in Dunta Robinson (per Denver Post). The Broncos do not have to look much further than recently released Chris Gamble to upgrade.
Free-Agent Signings: RB Reggie Bush, CB Chris Houston, S Louis Delmas, CB Bradley Fletcher, P Shane Lechler
The Detroit Lions need a change-of-pace back to go with Mikel Leshoure next season. The perfect, and popular fit would be Reggie Bush.
Detroit has already shown an interest in Bush, and according to Mike Freeman on Twitter, players withing the organization are attempting to recruit him there.
Another not-so-secret issues around Lions camp is the secondary. Chris Houston is a free agent, but the team has made him an offer (per Detroit Free Press) and its hard to imagine him finding anything better in a deep market. The same can be said for safety Louis Delmas.
Bradley Fletcher is in the same situation after making folks angry on his way out of St. Louis. He has big-time talent along with the risk, and its one the Lions would be silly to pass on at this point given the state of the secondary.
Green Bay Packers
Free-Agent Signings: WR Greg Jennings, DT Chris Canty
The Green Bay Packers made the brilliant decision to not place the franchise tag on receiver Greg Jennings, who was at one point reportedly seeking $14 million per year (per Tom Pelissero on Twitter).
Jennings' market is already evaporating. The Miami Dolphins (per NFL.com) and Minnesota Vikings (per Minneapolis Star-Tribune) are already backing off, and they were considered to be his only serious suitors.
At this point Jennings will be lucky to land somewhere between $5-7 million per year, which is not a price ridiculously out of Green Bay's range. Expect him back after a lengthy, fruitless search.
Green Bay has also met with defensive tackle Chris Canty (per Jim Wyatt on Twitter). Expect him to sign on as his market is not exactly booming.
Free-Agent Signings: S Glover Quin
The Houston Texans have a variety of free agents set to hit the market and not an insane amount of cap room to bring most back. Big names such as linebacker Connor Barwin are gone, as he seeks the biggest deal possible, which simply is not realistic for Houston.
One player the Texans should be able to afford to bring back is safety Glover Quin. Houston ended up not using the tag on him, and he is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the one William Moore just signed with the Atlanta Falcons, according to CSN Houston.
Quin will not find that money on the market. According to Adam Caplan on Twitter, he is the focal point of the Texans' offseason. He can expect a competitive offer from Houston, and ultimately the best one from his team as well.
Free-Agent Signings: OLB Cliff Avril, OG Louis Vasquez, CB Cary Williams, CB Darius Butler
The Indianapolis Colts are a team on the rise and can take the next step by making some smart decisions in free agency.
The first would be signing Cliff Avril. According to MLive.com, the Colts are in a race with a few other teams and are going to land either Avril or Paul Kruger. Indianapolis would be wise to take the sure thing in Avril as he will wreak havoc from the outside linebacker position.
Indianapolis can make its next big splash by signing guard Louis Vasquez. The Colts are just one team in the race for Vasquez (per Jason Cole on Twitter), but have an advantage in that it is a more attractive team to play for as he protects Andrew Luck in the long term.
Finally, the Colts can improve the secondary by making sure Darius Butler sticks around and by targeting Cary Williams, who has starter potential of his own. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts have already made it known Williams is a target.
Free-Agent Signings: CB Brent Grimes, DT Terrance Knighton
If you had read this last offseason, your jaw would have hit the floor after seeing the Jacksonville Jaguars somehow landed one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.
Instead, this is 2013 and Brent Grimes tore his Achillies tendon last season.
Jacksonville needs help in the secondary and should look no further than Grimes, who may be lost in the shuffle when free agency beings thanks to his injury. According to ESPN.com, he is only seeking a one-year "prove-it" deal, and the Jaguars should take advantage.
At his best, Grimes is elite. Even hobbled, he could be one of the better players the Jaguars have on the defensive side of the football.
Look for Jacksonville to also bring back defensive tackle Terrance Knighton now that the unit is switching schemes—he was benched last year but fits much better and is well-liked by the new coaching staff.
Kansas City Chiefs
Free-Agent Signings: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
The Kansas City Chiefs have possibly had the best offseason of any team in the NFL so far. They kept their franchise wide receiver in Dwayne Bowe (per Jason La Canfora on Twitter). They managed to keep their punter, Dustin Colquitt with a long-term deal as well (per Adam Schefter on Twitter) .
After that, the Chiefs managed to swing a trade for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who will start for the team next season (per Jay Glazer on Twitter). Not to mention the Chiefs have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
This means Kansas City can take some chances in free agency. A wise one would be to gamble on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He is a boom-or-bust type younger player with outstanding measurables who should come cheap on an over-saturated market.
Free-Agent Signings: WR Mike Wallace, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, LT Jake Long
The Miami Dolphins figure to be big players in the free-agency period, and that starts with receiver Mike Wallace
Miami has been considered to be the front-runner for Wallace for quite some time now, and that still has not changed (per FoxSports.com). All that needs to be known now is how much the Dolphins are actually forking over in the process.
The Dolphins will likely also get Jake Long back once he realizes the money he wants per year is a joke. According to Ian Rapoport on Twitter, Long is seeking $11 million per year despite being average and possibly needing to change positions.
Ahmad Bradshaw is a nice sleeper free agent for the Dolphins, who have been poking around running backs leading up to the deadline. He is only 26 years old, is medically cleared to play (per Profootballtalk) and fits what the Dolphins do offensively well.
Free-Agent Signings: OT Phil Loadholt, WR Donald Jones
The Minnesota Vikings may be losing a mammoth of an offensive tackle in Phil Loadholt after not using the franchise tag on him before the deadline.
Luckily for Minnesota, Loadholt plays a position that has some premier talent entering the market, which will give the Vikings time to figure something out. The Minnesota front office prefers a long-term deal with Loadholt (per ESPN 1500 Twin Cities) and will get one done sooner rather than later.
Minnesota also needs help at receiver, even more so because of the basket case that is Percy Harvin. Look for them to gamble at least once in free agency on a man like Donald Jones, who has outstanding potential for production but a shady medical record.
New England Patriots
Free-Agent Signings: WR Wes Welker, WR Brandon Gibson, OT Sebastian Vollmer, OLB Connor Barwin, CB Aqib Talib
The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in free agency. Bringing back corner Aqib Talib appears to be a priority (per ESPN Boston), so that will get done. As will bringing back receiver Wes Welker, who has to understand he will not perform at such a high level without Tom Brady tossing him the rock.
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer will also be back once he understands the market is not going to pay him his desired $7 million per year (per ESPN Boston).
Look for New England to make a few splashes as well. The team has been linked to linebacker Connor Barwin (per NFL.com) and has the cash to make it happen. He could excel in a system such as New England's.
Finally, the Patriots could take a gamble on a player such as Brandon Gibson. New England appears serious about upgrading the wide receiver spot, and a man with as much potential as Gibson will benefit highly from playing with Brady and also not cost the franchise an insane amount of money.
New Orleans Saints
Free-Agent Signings: OT Jermon Bushrod, OLB James Harrison
The New Orleans Saints do not have an overwhelming amount of cap room to work with, but they can still make some noise in free agency.
New Orleans has been linked to recently cut James Harrison (per New Orleans Times Picayune). It is true Harrison is almost 35 years old, but he was still great last season when healthy and could help the defense as it transitions to a 3-4 scheme.
Jermon Bushrod still does not have a new deal, but according to SI.com, the Saints plan on pursuing a long-term agreement with him in an aggressive manner. The Saints will not allow him to get away because the front office is committed to protecting Drew Brees.
New York Giants
Free-Agent Signings: DT Cullen Jenkins, OLB Daryl Smith, S Kenny Phillips
The New York Giants have started to improve the team via free agency early by signing defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins to a three-year deal, according to Kimberly Jones on Twitter.
Defensive tackle was an area of concern for New York, but with the signing of Jenkins, it can now turn its attention to the linebacker spot.
New York can find a cheap and effective option in former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith. He is a savvy veteran who can be a stop-gap for the team while providing an important veteran presence in the heart of the Giants defense.
The Giants have already been linked to Smith and are expected to pursue him when the deadline passes (per Florida Times Union).
Kenny Phillips is headed to free agency, but the Giants should be able to find a way to bring him back once the market sets his value.
New York Jets
Free-Agent Signings: QB David Garrard, K Nick Folk, QB Brady Quinn
The New York Jets appear serious about using free agency to provide some competition to starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The team has been linked to both Brady Quinn (per New York Daily News) and David Garrard (per ESPN New York). Both appear to be locks to be brought in, especially in Garrard's case, as he had a workout with the team recently.
Outside of quarterbacks, expect the Jets to be active in retaining some of their own, especially kicker Nick Folk. He is coming off his best season in New York and it is highly unlikely the team lets him slip away.
Free-Agent Signings: DT Sen'Derrick Marks, OLB Erin Henderson
Oakland has a lot of work to do on the interior of the defensive line after letting go of Richard Seymour and likely not having the cap space to bring back Desmond Bryant.
Sen'Derrick Marks is a name seriously heating up on the free-agent market (per Jim Wyatt on Twitter), and could be an ideal candidate to land in Oakland. He is solid in all phases and young enough that we have yet to see his best.
The Raiders are also likely losing Phillip Wheeler after his career year, so a decent replacement could be Erin Henderson. It appears Henderson will not be back in Minnesota after reportedly having issues with the team's handling of his contract situation (per Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
Free-Agent Signings: WR Danny Amendola, OT Gosder Cherilus, CB Brice McCain
The Philadelphia Eagles have a few holes to address in free agency, and there are some quality players available in their price range.
First up is wide receiver Danny Amendola, who will be the most expensive. Amendola is a massive injury risk, but he fits well in Chip Kelly's system and could help rebuild the offense when healthy. Philadelphia has already shown an interest in him (per SI.com).
Next is offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, who could help improve the offensive line. He has had knee issues in the past, but he has shown to be a more than capable player when healthy.
Last is corner Brice McCain, who could be a great replacement for Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and potentially Nnamdi Asomugha. Philadelphia showed interest in bringing him in at the scouting combine, according to Jason Cole on Twitter.
Free-Agent Signings: LB Lorenzo Alexander, WR Steve Breaston
The Pittsburgh Steelers do not have a vast amount of worries heading into free agency. The Mike Wallace headache is gone, although concerns about salary-cap space still linger.
Pittsburgh can still find some viable pieces on the market despite the cap-space issue. It needs some depth at wide receiver and can find that in the form of Steve Breaston. He has medical issues but is on the Steelers' radar, according to Ed Bouchette on Twitter.
After that, the team can purse elite special teams player Lorenzo Alexander to help boost the unit. He can also take snaps in a rotation at linebacker if need be. He is reportedly garnering a large amount of interest on the market (per FoxSports.com), but he fits great with Pittsburgh.
San Diego Chargers
Free-Agent Signings: ILB Tim Dobbins, S Patrick Chung
The San Diego Chargers have a few areas on defense that need help, but most importantly, the front office has to stop quarterback Philip Rivers from getting killed next season.
The problem is, the Chargers do not appear to know what they are doing. Louis Vasquez has yet to receive an offer from San Diego despite being one of the NFL's top guards (Union-Tribune San Diego). Instead, the team has shown interest in Andy Levitre (per Kevin Acee on Twitter), who is of equal caliber.
It is hard to tell who advised the Chargers that neglecting someone that is familiar with your team in order to go after a foreign entirety of the same skill level was a good idea, but they should be fired.
San Diego will lose out on offensive guards with the way it has handled the situation. The team will make up for it by grabbing some bargain-bin players to address defensive needs—players such as Tim Dobbins and Patrick Chung come to mind. Dobbins is a solid veteran, while Chung will come cheap thanks to health concerns.
San Francisco 49ers
Free-Agent Signings: TE Delanie Walker, K Phil Dawson
The San Francisco 49ers do not exactly have a lot of areas that need upgrading in preparation for another Super Bowl run.
One thing the team absolutely must do in free agency is find a way to bring back tight end Delanie Walker. The 49ers labeled him as a candidate for the franchise tag but elected not to use it (per CSN Bay Area).
Walker is a versatile tight end who could start on most teams. Bringing him back makes the 49ers that much better heading into next season.
After the David Akers debacle of last season, the team also has to find a new kicker. That man could be Phil Dawson now that he is set to hit the open market.
Free-Agent Signings: DE John Abraham, S Charles Woodson
The Seattle Seahawks are close to contending for a Super Bowl. All that remains now is an excellent free agency and draft period to improve the roster.
That quest starts with defensive end John Abraham. He visited with the Seahawks after being cut by Atlanta and returned home to make a decision (per John Abraham on Twitter).
Abraham is a cost-effective option with plenty left in the tank. Signing him allows Chris Clemons to recover from ACL surgery, and when he returns the duo can wreak havoc on quarterbacks together.
Seattle has also shown interest in safety Charles Woodson (per Josina Anderson on Twitter). Woodson is a veteran presence that could mentor the young, elite crop of defensive backs and provide big plays every now and then while chasing a Lombardi Trophy.
St. Louis Rams
Free-Agent Signings: TE Brandon Myers, DT Jason Jones, OLB Phillip Wheeler
The St. Louis Rams are a team that could use a few key free agents to jump-start what could be a very successful 2013 campaign.
Tight end is an issue, but Brandon Myers is the answer after Oakland has done little to keep him around. Myers had a breakout season last year and fits what the Rams do well. He is not an amazing blocker, but he does not have to be if used correctly.
Jason Jones is a man who could solve the issues at defensive tackle. Jones has been linked to the Rams already (per StLouisRams.com) and actually turned down St. Louis this time last year to play for Seattle. He could have a massive impact for the Rams as a pass-rusher.
Finally, Phillip Wheeler is coming off of a breakout campaign and would fit extremely well next to James Laurinaitis. According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams know this all too well and have solid interest in him when free agency opens.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Free-Agent Signings: CB Sean Smith, TE Dustin Keller, S Ronde Barber
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known for spending big in free agency and doing it well—look no further than the signings of Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks last offseason.
This offseason, the Bucs need some help at cornerback and could take a chance on Sean Smith, a corner looking to cash in big time despite only looking great at an off-and-on basis. According to Stephen Holder on Twitter, the Bucs have already reached out to him about joining the team.
Tight end is another area the Bucs could look to improve, and could throw major cash at one of the market's best in Dustin Keller. He is set to his free agency and is the game changer at the position the Bucs need.
According to Buccaneers.com, the team wants veteran safety Ronde Barber back for at least one more year. Bank on the two sides working something out and extending what has been an amazing relationship to date.
Free-Agent Signings: OG Andy Levitre, DE Michael Bennett, TE Martellus Bennett
The Tennessee Titans have made it clear that guard Andy Levitre is the No. 1 target heading into free agency (per Jim Wyatt on Twitter). For a team with so much cap space, grabbing the best guard available makes a ton of sense
Outside of improving the interior of the offensive line, the Titans could go after the best all-around defensive end as well in Michael Bennett. According to Terry McCormick on Twitter, the Titans are targeting him as well, which they should—he is a great all-around player that upgrades the unit significantly.
As is much-speculated, the Bennett brothers could be a package deal this offseason. This means stud tight end Martellus Bennett could be heading to Tennessee as well. The Titans have already expressed interest in Bennett (per Terry McCormick on Twitter), who is a year removed from a breakout campaign that launched him into the upper echelons of his position.
Free-Agent Signings: CB Derek Cox, TE Fred Davis, OT Eric Winston
The Washington Redskins are yet another team stuck in some serious cap issues. However, the front office could elect to cut cornerback DeAngelo Hall and upgrade the position in the form of free agent Derek Cox.
According to the Washington Post, the Redskins will cut Hall and save $8 million. This could allow the team to pursue up-and-comer Derek Cox, who the team has already identified as a target this offseason (per Florida Times Union).
Eric Winston is another name the Redskins could pursue for cheap. He has been cut by two teams in two years for a variety of issues but could be worth the gamble. Washington has been linked to him since his release (Washington Post).
Of course, the Redskins still have to take care of their own as well. That would mean bringing back tight end Fred Davis despite his injuries. Washington sounds committed to bringing him back (per Rich Campbell on Twitter), but it needs to simply get a deal done in order to not lose him on the market.