The 2013 NFL free agency period officially begins Tuesday, March 12, but the rumors of which teams are interested in the top names on the market are creating a frenzy in the football community.
Now it’s time to predict where these potential game-changers will end up signing after they hit the open market.
Reggie Bush, Running Back
Despite finding a new lease on his career in Miami, Reggie Bush will likely not be back with the Dolphins next season, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald:
A source very close to Bush tells me three teams have been talking to Bush agent Joel Segal and that money involved in those talks is significant. The source would provide no details of the money or name the teams but it is clear the interest in Bush isn't just of the making-a-call variety. The source is, however, telling me the Dolphins are not one of those teams.
Indeed, the source is saying Reggie Bush categorically will not be back in Miami.
There are plenty of teams in the league that would love to sign a running back that boasted 227 carries for 986 yards and six touchdowns in all 16 games last year.
Add in the receiving numbers he puts up consistently—35 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns in 2012—and Bush will be one of the hottest commodities on the open market.
The best fit would be the Detroit Lions.
The injury to Jahvid Best has his NFL future in question (h/t Chris Wesseling), and the Lions will be looking for a speedy complement for the power running of Mikel LeShoure. Detroit’s players are already trying to convince Bush to come to the Lions (h/t Mike Freeman).
Predicted Landing Spot: Detroit Lions
Josh Cribbs, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner
While the changes in the kickoffs have hurt Josh Cribbs’ ability to be the game-changer he was earlier in his career, the threat to take it all the way is there every time he touches the ball.
Whether he’s receiving kickoffs or punts, catching the ball as a receiver or running the ball as an option back, Cribbs is versatile enough to be dangerous in every offense in the NFL.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cribbs is drawing serious interest from across the league:
The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl participants this year and last, are among about five teams interested in Browns free agent receiver/special teamer Josh Cribbs, league sources said. The other teams are the Patriots, Cowboys and Cardinals.
The first two interested teams will capture all the headlines, but the best fit for Cribbs would be in Dallas. Not only could the Cowboys use another receiver for depth, the addition of a consistent special-teams assault would be a welcomed site in Big D.
Dallas has several areas of need it must address this offseason, but if it can sign Cribbs for a fair price, the talent he brings to the team at multiple positions would make this one of the best all-around signings of the 2013 free-agent period.
Predicted Landing Spot: Dallas Cowboys
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver
The Pittsburgh Steelers had great success with impending free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, but the payday the deep threat is expecting is likely too rich for the franchise’s blood (a reported $13 million per season via Dan Pompei of National Football Post).
In the same report from Salguero, not only are the Miami Dolphins interested in Wallace, so are the AFC East juggernauts, the New England Patriots:
An NFL agent which I trust but does not represent Wallace told me early Saturday that he has it on good authority the New England Patriots are one of the teams showing some interest in the prospective Pittsburgh Steelers free agent.
Acquiring Wallace’s services would be a huge coup for the Patriots and could shift the balance of power solely in the favor of New England in the AFC.
Wallace would become the deep threat Randy Moss was for Tom Brady and the Patriots for years, taking the tops off defenses and opening up the middle of the field for the short passes to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
The asking price as reported is higher than New England typically pays for a wide receiver, but the cash the team will save if Wes Welker leaves via free agency makes the deal easier to sell.
Add in the fact that Wallace will be only 27 years old next season, and the team should have no problem signing the veteran to a long-term deal.
Predicted Landing Spot: New England Patriots