NFL Free Agency 2011: The Most Valuable Free Agent Each Team Must Re-Sign
Every year, each team faces the same dilemma: figuring out which of their free agents is a "must sign."
In some cases, the choice is obvious. In other cases, there really is no good pick, if there is any at all.
The drive to sign free agents varies from team to team, depending on how close to the playoffs they are, what the management philosophy is and what free agents are available.
Each team has to assess what its needs are, and here is a list of which free agent each team should go the extra mile to keep.
Arizona Cardinals: Deuce Latui
In a year of slim pickings, we'll go with Deuce Lutui for the Cardinals. He's 27 and hasn't been terrible. In fact, he's probably one of the better offensive linemen on the team.
This is about the only free agent priority the Cardinals have on their team this offseason.
Buffalo Bills: Paul Posluszny
The Bills have very little worth keeping from the 2010 season, but Paul Posluszny is one of the few that the Bills should try to sign.
He's battled injuries, but when he's healthy, he's as dangerous as any of the top linebackers in the league.
Carolina Panthers: Ryan Kalil
The Panthers have holes everywhere, so they don't need to create another one by letting center Ryan Kalil go elsewhere.
Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Benson
If the Bengals are going to lose their quarterback, they should at least try to keep some continuity on their offense by signing Cedric Benson.
Benson will never be a Barry Sanders or a Maurice Jones-Drew, but he will chew up yards and give the Bengals a chance to score.
Cleveland Browns: Kicker Phil Dawson
The Cleveland Browns are now are entering their 5th rebuild since entering the league in 1999. Eric Mangini's attempt to reconstruct the team only resulted in setting the franchise back another 2 years, as a disastrous 2009 draft produced only one quality player.
With a new coach, the Browns are turning over the roster, cutting six players last week due mainly to age and lack of production.
The only free agent even worth pursuing on the Browns' roster is kicker, Phil Dawson. He is one of the best in the league but is starting to get up there in years. Still, the Browns couldn't do any better than him, and signing Dawson should be a priority for the club.
It appears it isn't, though, and the Browns probably will go younger at the kicking position as well.
Houston Texans: Rashad Butler
The Texans don't have a lot of free agent issues this year. Arian Foster is an exclusive rights free agent, so he's really not a concern.
That leaves Rashad Butler as the only other guy the Texans are going to want to keep. He makes this list by process of elimination, though. If he goes, he goes.
Detroit Lions: Kevin Smith
The Detroit Lions don't have a lot of free agents this season, and no one they truly need to re-sign. But for purposes of this piece, we will single out Kevin Smith as a priority signing, purely for depth and continuity purposes.
San Diego Chargers: Mike Tolbert
While the Chargers tagged Vincent Jackson, it's players like Mike Tolbert that allow Jackson to succeed.
Jackson's camp may argue otherwise, but his absence wasn't the reason the Chargers missed the playoffs.
Letting Tolbert go could be a reason the Chargers miss the playoffs in 2011, so they don't want to let that happen.
Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick
The Eagles know a good thing when they see one and already have put the franchise tag on Vick. A long-term contract is all Vick needs, and it will get done once a new CBA is signed.
Oakland Raiders: Michael Bush
Michael Bush is 1 of 2 reasons why the Raiders running game was so big in 2010.
In this league, though, you don't want to go into a season with just one running back, no matter how good Darren McFadden is. To keep the running game as potent in 2011 as it was in 2010, Michael Bush must be re-signed.
With Richard Seymour now back, the Raiders should turn to Bush.
You might be thinking, "What about Nnamdi Asomugha?"
Asomugha is going to test the waters, and if the Raiders truly wanted to keep him, they already would've picked up his option or given him a new contract.
Tennessee Titans: Jason Babin
Jason Babin has proven that he not only is worthy of a new contract, but probably a sizable one at that.
The Titans will re-sign Babin, or their defense will be diminished without him.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcedes Lewis
Marcedes Lewis is one of the best tight ends in the league and it is very important that the Jags get him signed to another deal.
Jack Del Rio has a mandate to make the playoffs this year, and his job will be a lot easier if Marcedes Lewis is on the roster.
Dallas Cowboys: Doug Free
Dallas doesn't have a lot of priority free agents to sign this offseason, but Doug Free is the one they need.
Free replaced Flozell Adams and improved as the year went on. With a full year in the system under his belt, he can help solidify the offensive line for the next several years.
Washington Redskins: Santana Moss
The Redskins are facing a number of questions this offseason, but Santana Moss should not be one of them.
As far as receivers go, he's very reliable, and he'll give the Redskins some continuity in 2011.
St. Louis Rams: Adam Goldberg
Adam Goldberg did a great job protecting Sam Bradford in 2010, and the Rams need to keep him on the line for the next several years to ensure that their franchise quarterback stays upright.
Denver Broncos: Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey put his house up for sale in Denver- but that doesn't mean the Broncos should give up on him.
Signing him to a short-term deal covers a need for the Broncos and allows them to focus on other areas in the draft.
Atlanta Falcons: Tyson Clabo
You want to keep Matt Ryan standing and make the playoffs again in 2011?
Sign Tyson Clabo. This is not an option, this is an order.
While you're at it, sign Harvey Dahl. Those 2 guys really shouldn't be going anywhere else.
Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Brown
The Dolphins are undergoing a lot of change, and while new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll may design plays that intentionally lose yards, that is another argument, for another time.
Ronnie Brown is still under the age of 30 and will give the Dolphins some continuity and some depth in 2011.
Ricky Williams already has stated his intention to move on, and the Dolphins will end up drafting a running back this year. Brown gives them somebody to help teach the new guy the ropes while they toil under Daboll's idiotic approach to offense.
San Francisco 49ers: Aubrayo Franklin
The 49ers slapped Aubrayo Franklin with the franchise tag last year, now it's time to pay up in 2011.
Franklin has played well and he's earned a long-term contract.
Minnesota Vikings: Sidney Rice
Sidney Rice is a great wide receiver, and if you're going to have questions at quarterback, it's always good to not have questions at wide receiver.
Rice can make great catches and make an average quarterback look like a great quarterback.
New York Jets: Santonio Holmes
The Jets may have tagged David Harris, but Santonio Holmes is the man they need to keep. Holmes is a game-changing wide receiver who makes catches that few other receivers can.
While Braylon Edwards had a good year, his drops will return once he has the comfort of a new contract.
Holmes doesn't drop balls, and Mark Sanchez has accuracy problems. So when Sanchez does hit the receiver, you want him to catch it.
Holmes is the guy that the Jets can't afford to lose in free agency.
Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck is approaching the end of his career, but he still has some life left in him. To help pass the torch to the next quarterback, the Seahawks need to sign Hasselbeck to a 2-year deal to give a rookie quarterback a chance to develop, and eventually take over.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali led the AFC in sacks in 2010 with 14.5. The Chiefs also went to the playoffs.
There is a connection between the two, and the Chiefs need to make sure Hali is sacking for them for a long time to come.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronde Barber
The Buccaneers need Ronde Barber, and that's all you can really say on the subject.
Barber had a great 2010 and still has some gas left in the tank. A short-term deal of 2 or 3 years ought to wrap Barber's career up nicely.
Chicago Bears: Anthony Adams
Anthony Adams is solid depth on the Bears defensive line, and the Bears need to keep this line intact.
It served them well in 2010 and it will serve them well in 2011.
New England Patriots: Logan Mankins
You didn't need to be a football expert to see the difference in Tom Brady's protection once Logan Mankins returned.
Mankins wanted to test the market but the Patriots tagged him. Mankins' wishes aside, this team needs him and that's why the tag was applied. Mankins will be a Patriot for at least 1 more year.
Baltimore Ravens: Haloti Ngata
Haloti Ngata has become one of the best defensive linemen in the league. The Ravens recognized this by putting the franchise tag on him.
Now it's time to get a long-term deal done, because Ray Lewis isn't going to be around much longer.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LaMarr Woodley
LaMarr Woodley is another example of why the Steelers draft better than most other teams. Woodley has reached the end of his rookie contract and the club franchised him this week.
Entering the prime of his career, the Steelers need to lock him up for the next five years.
New Orleans Saints: Carl Nicks
Carl Nicks is a big reason why Drew Brees has all the time in the world to make his reads and make good throws.
Nicks is a top priority for New Orleans because the game is won and lost by the 8 fat guys in the middle.
New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw
The Giants running game is fueled in large part by Ahmad Bradshaw. He's still got plenty of gas left in the tank and the Giants can lock him up for the rest of his prime and worry about other things this offseason.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning
The Colts have already put the franchise tag on Manning, but they need to sign him to a long-term deal to avoid going through this drama again next year.
Green Bay Packers: John Kuhn
John Kuhn is one of those players you just have to hold on to. He's a great fullback who gives the Packers an option out of the backfield, whether he's running or blocking.
Kuhn is the kind of player that allows Aaron Rodgers to do his job and the Packers need to re-sign him ASAP.