Though an unnecessary lockout continues to increase the chances that there may not be a season, NFL fans still hold out hope that an agreement will be reached soon. As a result, fans are keeping themselves occupied by discussing one of my favorite topics with any sport: free agency!
Free agency during an offseason is just plain awesome. The speculation, the drama and just the anticipation of the fans is great to witness. I mean, come on. Who wasn't glued to their TV the night LeBron made his "decision"?
There are lots of great players on the free-agent market this NFL offseason (or lack thereof), so let's dive right in. Here are the seven best stories on this year's free-agent market.
Each of the past two seasons, Ahmad Bradshaw has worked his way towards becoming a top running back. Last year, he had his first 1,000-yard season as he rushed for 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 314 receiving yards.
Yet despite a hot start, his New York Giants fizzled and ultimately missed the playoffs. He is a restricted free agent (RFA) this year and the question looms: Will he remain in New York or go to another team?
In watching interview footage of him, Bradshaw seems like a loyal individual who truly enjoys playing for the Giants. However, does he really want to spend a good part of his career playing for a team that consistently underachieves?
Ever since his great 2005 season, Matt Hasselbeck has just not been the same. Injuries have derailed what once could have been a great career and on top of that, the Seattle Seahawks have never repeated the success that made them NFC champions that one year.
Last season, Hasselbeck threw for 3,001 yards and 12 touchdowns, but also threw 17 interceptions and had six fumbles. He will turn 36 early next season and his contract with Seattle is expired. At this point, it looks like he will need to find a job elsewhere.
Yet, Hasselbeck's future in the NFL is not guaranteed. Not only will few teams look to sign him, but whichever teams do talk to him probably won't see him as a starter. Yet there have been miracle seasons in the NFL before, and Hasselbeck might just be due for one.
Ricky Williams's career since joining the Miami Dolphins has been interesting. He has tested positive for a banned substance, retired, rejoined the Dolphins, tested positive again, been suspended for an entire season and rejoined the Dolphins again. This offseason, he enters free agency.
Despite the fact that Williams has been able to clean up his act over the past few years, will teams want to gamble on him? He is 34 now and only ran for 673 yards and two touchdowns last year, far from the electrifying runner he once was.
Overall, I'd be surprised if Ricky Williams didn't find a job for the next NFL season. He's still a decent runner for his age and in a run-first offense, he can flourish if paired with another talented back.
This coming December, Terrell Owens will turn 38. The amazing part is that he can still play football like an All-Star. Last season, with the Cincinnati Bengals, he had 72 receptions for 983 yards and nine touchdowns. Had he not been placed on injured reserve, he easily would have had another 1,000-yard season.
Owens, once again, is a free agent. Call me crazy, but he may just get a multi-year offer with guaranteed money. Yet that in itself isn't a guarantee, because team GMs may be turned off by his outlandish personality and ego that can be frustrating to deal with at times.
Still, with his big mouth and sense of humor, TO's offseason is one worth watching.
Last season was one to forget for Randy Moss. He played four games for the New England Patriots before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings, with whom he began his career. After four games in Minnesota, team management (definition: then-head coach Brad Childress) had had enough of him and placed him on waivers. He was then claimed by the Tennessee Titans and was a non-factor with them for the remainder of the season.
Moss finished 2010-2011 with a career low 393 yards and 28 receptions. He is 34 years old and fans and scouts alike are wondering if he can compete on the professional level anymore. On top of that, he is easily the biggest head case in the history of the NFL.
Putting all of that together, you have to wonder not only if Moss can still play in the NFL, but does any team want to deal with him? Either way, an ideal story for the free-agency market this offseason.
As an Oakland Raiders fan, it pains me to write this slide. In 2006, Nnamdi Asomugha had eight interceptions. Since then, he has had only three.
It's not that this man is a bad cornerback. Really, he isn't. Rather, Asomugha is such a threat defensively that opposing quarterbacks just don't throw the ball in his direction.
His contract with the Raiders was voided back in January and once teams are allowed to sign players again, there is no doubt that Asomugha will be the top defensive player available. Look for the bidding war for his services to get ugly.
The story of Mark Herzlich is an interesting one. He is an NFL free agent, yet has never played in an NFL game. He entered the 2011 NFL draft and went unpicked.
Still, his story is amazing. After being a star linebacker at Boston College from 2006-2008, Herzlich received scary news. He was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer.
He missed the 2009 season, but was declared cancer-free shortly after it began. He returned in 2010 and was a veritable force on the Eagles' defense.
As of now, Herzlich plans to play in the UFL this coming season. Yet an NFL team needed depth at linebacker would only be cheating itself if it passed up on this young man. He is a great leader with an even greater story and would be an asset to any team.