Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) Leads This Year's Free Agent Class
While skeptics out there continue to say there will be an NFL lockout in 2011, Roger Goodell would be foolish to jeopardize the multibillion dollar machine that has made football America's No. 1 sport.
That being said, with a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) in place, the show must go on.
What makes the NFL unique, in the best way, is there are no expiring and guaranteed multimillion dollar contracts that plague the NBA and MLB respectively. This high turnover creates parity and makes every team only a few players away from turning the corner.
Last offseason, without a new CBA in place, we saw one of the most interesting free agencies in recent memory. Any player could be deemed a RFA, making it harder for teams to sign top-tier free agents without giving up draft picks; with a brand new bargaining agreement, there is bound to be a lot more movement.
Per usual, there are several game-changers out on this year's market that are bound to make an impact for a new team next season.
These are the top 25 players most likely to have a new mailing address come Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season.
These are the guys that are likely to stay even though they are hitting the market:
2010 Stats: Rec: 50 Yds: 679 TDs: 5
James Jones is the third wide receiver on a Packers team loaded with a lot of talent at the position. He does have a history of dropping big passes, but he stretches the field and works as a nice complement to teams with possession receivers.
The question is, does the team want to give him a big raise with a quarterback that can make anyone look good?
Potential Suitors: Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars
2010 Stats: Yds: 495 TDs: 4
As a former first-round pick, Addai has never lived up to the expectations the Colts front office had for him. Injuries plagued Addai in 2010, though it seems this change had been coming for some time. The writing was on the wall when Indianapolis drafted Donald Brown in 2009’s first round.
Addai’s greatest strength is still in short-yardage situations and he can be a nice complement to a team that needs a goal-line back. With the re-signing of Peyton Manning, the team may not be looking to give a sizable contract to Addai, who is replaceable in an offense that does not run the ball very often.
Potential Suitor: Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals
2010 Stats: Rec: 67 Yds: 831 TDs: 4
Chad Ochocinco, like the Cincinnati Bengals, needs a change. The team has been marred by inconsistencies since his arrival in 2001, and while he is the first Bengal on this list, he is certainly not the last.
The team is in a state of flux, and trading No. 85, while he still has value, would be in the their best interest.
The best possible thing for Ochocinco would be a trade to a contending team with an established quarterback and a well-disciplined coaching staff…just ask Randy Moss.
Potential Suitors: New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints
2010 Stats: Yds: 1,111 rushing (1,289 total) TDs: 7 rushing (8 total)
Cedric Benson has made a resurgence in his two-and-a-half years with the Bengals, but inconsistency combined with a team in transition has put his future with the organization in jeopardy.
At this point, it is not out of the question that he re-signs, as the team might want to rely on him more heavily to take over the load at running back if there is a change at quarterback. Benson is a wait-and-see case that will probably have his fate determined after the draft.
Potential Suitor: Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins
2010 Stats: Yds: 914 rushing (1,282 total) TDs: 6
LaDainian Tomlinson had a resurrection of sorts, regaining his burst, and at times, looking like the old LT. He signed a two-year deal with the Jets, but it looks like the team is going to make the shift to Shonn Greene as the full-time back.
Tomlinson is set to make a little over $2 million next season, but the Jets might still decide to go in another direction with their running back decision.
Potential Suitors: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins
2010 Stats: Tackles: 42 INTs: 3
Antonio Cromartie was supposed to come in and be the second half of the best cornerback tandem of the last five to 10 years. While he had some spectacular plays, and even bigger gabs during Hard Knocks, he did not live up to the hype.
The Jets need to make many important decisions about several free agents and the solid play of nickel- -and-dime cornerbacks Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery might make Cromartie expendable. He was constantly picked on when he defended smaller, crisp route running receivers (i.e. Wes Welker), and, at times, showed to be the unfocused and lazy defender he was in San Diego.
Potential Suitors: Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos
Rushing: Yds: 267 TDs: 0
Receiving: Yds: 520 TDs: 2
Return: (PR): 166 yards (KR): 1,257 yards (24.6 avg)
Sproles has always fit under the category of "he's more important to us than he is to you." Mostly a returner for years, it doesn't appear the Chargers can afford to bring him back at $7.283 million after only touching the ball 109 times on offense.
With Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Mike Tolbert all free agents, Sproles will most probably have to find time as a third-down back and returner for another team...that's unless he wants to take a serious pay cut.
Potential Suitors: New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers
These are guys who might very well be with another team next year:
2010 Stats: Yds: 734 rushing (976 total) TDs: 5
Ronnie Brown did something in 2010 he has never done in his entire career—played in all 16 games. While this might warrant a return to the team, he has many factors working against him.
First, he is 29 years old—only one year from the grave for running backs. Second, he averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry for a team that created the wildcat offense. Third and finally, he has only one career 1,000-yard season. As a former top-five overall pick, Brown has never lived up to the player the Dolphins believed they drafted back in 2005.
Potential Suitors: Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts
2010 Stats: Games: 3 (1 start) Tackles: 11 Sacks: 4
Mathias Kiwanuka has been the odd man out his entire career playing with the New York Giants. He has been moved from defensive end to outside linebacker and has done it with ease and consistent productivity.
His injury in 2010 might diminish his value slightly, but there is simply no room left on the team for him after drafting Jason Pierre-Paul in addition to well established DEs Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
At only 27, Kiwanuka would be a great addition to a team with a 3-4 scheme, as his versatility would be a major asset. He had 4.0 sacks in only three games last season and appears to be on his way to becoming a solid contributor. I would expect to see an array of teams pursue his services, offering both short- and long-term deals.
Potential Suitors: New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots
2010 Stats: Rec: 53 Yds: 904 TDs: 7
Both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are free agents for the New York Jets this offseason, and for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t seem like they can keep both. Edwards is the inferior of the two receivers, and his troubles off the field have not seemed to go away.
While he has the ability to extend the field, Edwards has been prone to costly drops and has not had a 1,000-yard season since 2007. He still has the height and big-game experience that might draw more teams to take a look at him even with his inconsistencies.
Potential Suitors: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams
2010 Stats: Tackles: 36 Sacks: 4.5
Shaun Ellis has been a staple on the left side of the New York Jets defensive line since 2000. He has never missed more than three games in any season and has been solid, even during the transition to the 3-4 defense. At 33, Ellis has slowed down considerably, as part of a defensive line that accounted for less than one-fourth of the team’s total sacks.
The team is looking to get younger and faster up front, and with the 30+ age mentality many teams have employed, the Jets may not be able to keep an aging Ellis at their price.
Potential Suitors: Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills
2010 Stats: Tackles: 45 INTs: 2
For the past seven seasons, Champ Bailey has been a cornerstone (no pun intended) at the cornerback position for the Broncos. He has been the type of lock-down defender that has shut down entire sides of the field.
The Broncos are a team that needs upgrades at many different positions and re-signing Bailey would take a huge chunk of the budget very much needed on other skill players. I see Bailey signing with a contending team and making a nice impact.
Potential Suitors: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins
2010 Stats: Yds: 269 rushing (470 total) TDs: 2
Pierre Thomas’ season was plagued by a nagging injury that sidelined him for 10 weeks and opened the door for the emergence of rookie RB Chris Ivory. Assuming the Saints passing attack remains at a high level, there is no need to keep Thomas for a price tag higher than market value.
The Saints will keep Thomas for the right price, but look for other teams to try and step in to take the physical running back.
Potential Suitors: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns
2010 Stats: Rec: 72 Yds: 983 TDs: 9
Owens had a surprisingly good season, despite the Bengals' record and sharing the same field as Chad Ochocinco. At 37, Owens might still have some mileage left on his tires but does not seem fit for the Bengals' long-term goals.
Retirement might be the best option for Owens, though if a team comes calling like the Bengals did at the end of the 2010 offseason, No. 81 might still be lining up on Sunday.
Potential Suitors: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New England Patriots
2010 Stats: LG on fourth-ranked offensive line
Logan Mankins held out until Week 12 of the season, and upon his return the Patriots offense flourished at a greater level than it already was. Mankins is an integral part of what the Patriots do, and will be an important piece to any team looking to add a game-changer.
He will ask for a record amount of money for an offensive guard, making it hard to see New England opening up their checkbooks, something they generally do not do.
Potential Suitors: Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions
2010 Stats: (5 games) Rec: 14 Yds: 248 TDs: 3
Vincent Jackson’s tenure in San Diego has been rocky to say the least. That being said, his talent level matches the headaches he has given the team. Despite two 1,000-yard seasons prior to 2010, the team did not want to give him a raise, and he responded by sitting for the first 11 games of the season.
There is no denying his talent, but giving him a huge raise would be going against everything the Chargers fought for. Bringing back Malcom Floyd would be key if they let Jackson walk. The team still has one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Philip Rivers and some guy named Antonio Gates.
Potential Suitors: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, St, Louis Rams
These guys are as good as gone:
2010 Stats: Yds: 361 TDs: 1
DeAngelo Williams got injured at the worst time. Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart showed that Williams is no longer needed in the Panthers' crowded backfield. He will be a nice commodity to swap for picks in the first or early second round. Look for many teams to be calling the Carolina front office inquiring about his availability.
Potential Suitors: New England patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins
2010 Stats: Rec: 28 Yds: 393 TDs: 5
Randy Moss had a broken season—three different teams and three situations that went from bad to worse to embarrassing. There is no telling if he will ever be as effective as he was years ago, but something tells me, if the right team takes a chance on him, he could again be over 1,000 yards and find the end zone week after week.
Potential Suitors: Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins
2010 Stats: Yds: 2,370 TDs: 14 INTs: 10
The Alex Smith era in San Francisco is over. The organization has already relieved the coach of his duties, and the QB is next on the list. There is a nice backup quarterback gig waiting for Smith somewhere in the league, and his next job will include holding a clipboard more than a football.
It's possible he was thrust into the pressure position too quickly, but nevertheless, we should be seeing a new man under center in Week 1 for SF.
Potential Suitors: Any team with a clipboard, 49ers practice squad, Canadian Football League
2010 Stats: Rec: 37 Yds: 530 TDs: 5
Roy Williams is the fourth-best receiver on the Cowboys—plain and simple. The team needs a lot of help on the defensive side and could use the money saved on his contract to improve the secondary.
The team needs to cut its loses and realize it paid too much back in 2008.
Potential Suitors: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns
2010 Stats: Yds: 3,970 TDs: 26 INTs: 20
The Bengals offense was horrible this year. Though Palmer’s stats were not that bad, his best games occurred when his team was getting blown out. I think he has worn out his welcome in town and with a fresh setting could thrive.
There are many teams that need quarterbacks, and with no NFL-ready quarterback in the draft, there should be a decent market for the 31-year-old quarterback.
Potential Suitors: Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals
2010 Stats: Yds: 3,377 TDs: 14 INTs: 15
This is not the same McNabb he had seen in Philly for all of those years. The team was dysfunctional from day one, the coach was constantly feuding with the players and the running game was nonexistent.
Even though McNabb signed an extension, he was relegated to backup duties for the last three games of the season. If Shanahan stays, I expect McNabb to be gone.
Potential Suitors: San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings
2010 Stats: Tackles: 19 INTs: 1
These stats look like that of the fourth cornerback on a middle-of-the-road team. The reason his stats are so low is because teams no longer throw at him. He takes the term shutdown corner to a new level. Imagine him playing on the other side of Revis or Samuel…
Whoever gets him will have to ante up and give him one of the biggest contracts for a cornerback in NFL history.
Potential Suitors: Everyone
2010 Stats: 8 games (0 starts) Tackles: 16 Sacks: 2.5
What can we say about Albert Haynesworth other than he became a terrible situation that went from bad to worse. The team needs him, yet he and coach cannot come to terms with their relationship and get past it. I foresee Haynesworth being released or traded for draft picks. Although they may have very little bargaining power, the Redskins can no longer be involved in the daily dramas surrounding this giant defensive tackle.
Potential Suitors: Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles
2010 Stats: Yds: 1,255 TDs: 10 INTs: 3
Vince Young’s time in Tennessee has been volatile and controversial. Ownership had to make a decision and decided to keep Jeff Fisher over Young. We will be seeing him on another team next year, but the question is, who is Vince Young? Is he the running QB who simply wins games or is he the inconsistent passer who shows signs of immaturity? All of these questions will be answered in time. As of now, we cannot speculate about where he will end up.
Potential Suitors: San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks