The NFL owner’s choice to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement created an unprecedented number of restricted free agents in 2010. This has left over 200 players with less than six seasons in the NFL almost completely under the control of their current teams.
The other issue with being a restricted free agent is that it usually costs another team at least one draft pick, if not multiple picks. Depending on the tender offer made by the player’s current team, these picks could be as high as first, second, or third round picks.
Unfortunately for most of these players, their compensation will cause them to re-sign with their current club and hope that there is no work stoppage in 2011 so they can cash in on bigger pay-days.
So, who on the market is worth spending a top draft pick on?
Here are the top seven.
Note: Miles Austin is currently off this list due to the extreme unlikeliness of Dallas letting him walk.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver Broncos
Marshall’s had three straight 100+ catch seasons, and has shown he can single-handedly win games.
He'll cost someone a first round choice, but if I’m a team with a low first-round pick, why not make that move?
The reason is clear: money.
It'll cost a team more per season than a rookie.
Though there's no salary cap, teams are still working as if there is which makes spending the money Marshall is worth difficult to do.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland Browns
Harrison is second round tender. Teams have to figure out if he can be a top NFL running back or if his one huge game last season was just a one-time occurrence.
He showed that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and displayed strong running skills.
I think a team that could use a running back and have multiple second round picks, like the New England Patriots, would be wise to take a chance on him.
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