NFL Free Agency: 10 Free Agents Most Likely to Be Pro Bowlers in 2011
As soon as the players and the NFL reach a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), the floodgates will come flying open and every team will be frantically searching for a free agent that fits their scheme.
Although there are plenty of free agents out there that could be beneficial for certain teams, only a handful of them are ready to produce at a Pro Bowl level no matter what.
This is a list of players that will likely produce top tier statistics for the teams lucky enough to win their services.
Santionio Holmes (Wide Receiver, New York Jets)
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Wide receiver Santonio Holmes has yet to make a Pro Bowl after five seasons in the NFL.
But if the 27-year-old did not miss six starts due to injury in 2010, then he likely would’ve had Pro Bowl type numbers for the New York Jets.
The Jets will have to choose between signing Holmes and wide receiver Braylon Edwards, but they will likely stick with Holmes, given that he was a much more reliable every-down target for quarterback Mark Sanchez.
If Holmes starts all 16 games for the Jets in 2011, then look for him to win his first trip to Hawaii.
Haloti Ngata (Nose Tackle, Baltimore Ravens)
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The Baltimore Ravens are not going to let nose tackle Haloti Ngata sign with another team.
The game of football is won up front in the trenches, and it would be hard to find another nose tackle as effective as the 27-year-old Ngata is.
The Ravens will meet his contract demands.
And as long as Ngata is at front and center for the dominate Ravens defense, then the two time Pro Bowler will have many more Pro Bowls in his future.
Tamba Hali (Defensive End, Kansas City Chiefs)
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Tamba Hali has developed into the Kansas City Chiefs’ premiere pass rush specialist, and he’ll look to be paid as such.
Hali wants to play for Kansas City, but he’s not likely willing to take a price break.
The 27-year-old just finished the 2010 season with 14.5 sacks, which was a career high.
On top of that, he also made his first Pro Bowl in 2010, and he will likely continue with Pro Bowl production for the team that wins his services.
Ahmad Bradshaw (Running Back, New York Giants)
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The 25-year-old Ahmed Bradshaw showed in 2010 that he is capable of being a workhorse, despite sharing carries with Brandon Jacobs.
Bradshaw just wrapped us his first season as the primary running back for the New York Giants, and he was able to finish the season with 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns with only 276 carries on the season.
Bradshaw will be a free agent, and he will look for a team to make him into a starting running back, which means he will also demand a starting running back salary.
If the Giants don’t meet his demands, then he will likely put up Pro Bowl numbers for whichever team signs him.
DeAngelo Williams (Running Back, Carolina Panthers)
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DeAngelo Williams will almost certainly opt to escape the shadowy depths of Carolina, and he will also pursue a team that will make him their feature back, as he’s currently sharing carries with running back Jonathan Stewart for the Panthers.
Williams missed 10 games in 2010 due to injury, but he has a combined 2,632 yards and 25 touchdowns from the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
If Williams finds a team that’s a possible playoff contender, and if he gets his wish to be the primary running back in an offense, then expect him to put up possibly All Pro numbers.
Sidney Rice (Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings)
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The only standing between Sidney Rice and a trip to Hawaii in 2011 is his health, and possibly a capable quarterback.
The Minnesota receiver had missed 22 of his 48 career games for the Vikings, but the 24 year old’s career is so young that his injuries could easily prove to be nothing but a fluke.
In 2009 he recorded 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns, which earned him a trip to his first Pro Bowl.
Rice was able to catch passes from veteran quarterback Brett Favre in 2009, so he might not post the same numbers with the rookie Christian Ponder throwing him passes in Favre’s place.
However, if Rice leaves the Vikings and finds a team with a capable quarterback, then there is no limit on what he can accomplish in 2011.
Logan Mankins (Offensive Guard, New England Patriots)
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The 29-year-old Logan Mankins just wrapped up his sixth season as an offensive guard for the New England Patriots.
A contract dispute caused Mankins to sit out for seven games last season, before he finally suited up for the team’s Week 9 game at Cleveland.
Mankins missed seven games in 2010 and was still able to make the Pro Bowl, which should tell you that he is probably the only free agent practically guaranteed to be heading for Hawaii after the 2011 season, no matter who he’s playing for.
Carl Nicks (Offensive Guard, New Orleans Saints)
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Carl Nicks just finished his second season as an every game starter at offensive guard for the New Orleans Saints.
The 26-year-old Nicks is not a sure thing for the Pro Bowl like Logan Mankins is, but Nicks is a better long-term value given his age.
Whether the Saints decide to bring him back, or if he signs with another bidder, he is sure to help solidify the offensive line for any team that he plays for.
Vincent Jackson (Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers)
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Maybe the 6’5” receiver out of San Diego needs the Chargers’ offense to succeed, or maybe not.
Either way, Vincent Jackson is a capable player.
The free agent receiver will be a priority for the Chargers, but if they let him walk, then look for him to market himself to a competitive team with a solid quarterback situation.
Regardless of who he plays for, there are likely Pro Bowl caliber stats in his future.
Nnamdi Asomugha (Cornerback, Oakland Raiders)
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The Oakland Raiders’ cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha-despite having an All Pro season- did not meet certain requirements set by his contract, which automatically made him a free agent after the 2010 season.
Asomugha failed to get a single interception in 2010, but that’s only because he’s such a shutdown corner that teams rarely threw the ball to his side.
The 29-year-old is still playing at an elite level, and he is almost a sure Pro Bowl player for whichever team wins the auction for his services.