NFL Free Agents 2013: Last-Minute Predictions for Biggest Names on the Market
Dashon Goldson, Cliff Avril and Mike Wallace are three of the hottest NFL free agents available in 2013, and they are all going to get paid big money to play for new teams this season.
But where will they end up?
That's the question of the hour, and we're tracking all the latest reports on the web to predict the answers.
With mere hours left before teams can officially sign new free agents for the 2013 season, here are some last-minute predictions for the top players in this year's free-agent class.
Dashon Goldson, Safety
Dashon Goldson is a tone-setting, hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety who's had his name linked to many an NFL team the past few weeks.
Since becoming the starting free safety for the San Francisco 49ers four years ago, Goldson has racked up impressive stats, including three sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 14 interceptions and 31 defended passes.
ESPN's Adam Schefter recently reported that four teams are vying for Goldson's services:
Four teams - SF, PHIL, DET, TB - in play on Dashon Goldson - but DET, TB considered favorites. TB also in on CBs Sean Smith, B. Grimes, DRC.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2013
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora confirmed Philadelphia's interest, and he thinks the Eagles will be the team to pay Goldson "what he wants, or close to it."
Goldson will sign with the Eagles.
Reggie Bush, Running Back
Reggie Bush hasn't had the NFL career most fans thought he would after the former USC superstar was drafted No. 2 overall in 2006, but he's still one of the most dynamic running backs in the league.
He isn't a traditional between-the-tackles runner, but his ability to make plays on the perimeter and catch passes out of the backfield make him a dangerous weapon and one that a couple of teams reportedly covet.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport recently reported that the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals both had "significant" interest in landing Bush this year.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio confirmed the Lions' interest, and he called Detroit the "likely winners."
Bush will sign with the Dolphins.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver
Mike Wallace is the most coveted free-agent offensive weapon in 2013.
His raw speed makes him a valuable commodity, as he routinely gets open deep despite the fact that opposing teams often cover him over the top with a safety.
Even more impressive is the fact that Wallace has reeled in 32 touchdowns in his first four years as a pro, and if he learns to run better routes underneath and works on his hands, he could become one of the best overall receivers in the league.
The two teams that have the best shot at landing him at this time appear to be the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. NFL Network's Jeff Darlington recently updated the race between these two teams, via Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith:
According to Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, the Dolphins expect the Vikings to get involved in the Wallace sweepstakes, and the Dolphins believe that landing Wallace may cost up to $13 million a year.
Wallace will sign with the Dolphins.
Paul Kruger, Outside Linebacker
Paul Kruger is an up-and-coming pass-rusher who has yet to prove himself as a consistent force on the edge, but after an impressive 2012 campaign, he's in high demand.
Kruger totaled nine sacks and one forced fumble last year, playing in 15 regular-season games, before really turning it on in the playoffs, tallying 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble in four postseason games.
He's the best pure 3-4 outside linebacker in this year's free-agent class, and there are at least two teams in hot pursuit of his services.
The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson recently reported that the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns were prepared to go to battle in a bidding war for Kruger. Wilson more recently tweeted that the Browns were "closing in on their target," in reference to Kruger.
Kruger will sign with the Browns.
Cliff Avril, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
This year's top prize in free agency is Cliff Avril, the pass-rushing specialist who played his first five years with the Detroit Lions.
He's proven to be a sack master for the Lions the past three seasons, as he's totaled 29 sacks and a staggering nine forced fumbles since 2010.
Avril has been a defensive end since joining the league in 2008, but he was an outside linebacker at Purdue before being converted to a defensive end in his final two seasons with the Boilermakers. He's not a big man at 6'3" and 260 pounds, and he struggled against the run in the Lions' 4-3 scheme.
Therefore it's not a big surprise that he's being pursued by teams that run a 3-4 scheme, as they envision him wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks as an outside linebacker.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King recently reported that the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns were both hotly pursuing Avril, and he put his money on the Browns. But the latest reports indicate that Avril might land with the Colts, according to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Avril will sign with the Colts.
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