NFL Free Agency 2011: Who Your Team Needs Most
Free agency awaits the NFL impatiently as the labor situation drags on—soon, hopefully, the process will begin.
Every team has holes and needs, no matter how strong or weak the team is, and look for all 32 NFL teams to have some degree of activity should free agency begin.
That being said, every team must make one acquisition in the upcoming free-agent period, and here is a comprehensive review of all of these acquisitions.
Arizona Cardinals: Marc Bulger
Assume the Cardinals balk at the high price that the Eagles ask for Kevin Kolb and ultimately bail out on trading for the Eagle backup.
Marc Bulger presents an interesting alternative in that he knows the NFC West like the back of his hand and can be an effective veteran leader.
Larry Fitzgerald will bolt for greener pastures in free agency if the Cardinals don't please him this year, and acquiring a competent veteran quarterback (not you, Derek Anderson) would be a step in a better direction for Arizona.
Ken Whisenhunt needs a real starting quarterback at the helm for his team to succeed, and Bulger can be that guy.
Atlanta Falcons: Tanard Jackson
In 2011, the Falcons will have no problem pushing the ball down the field and scoring touchdowns at will with new weapons Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers.
On the other side of the ball, however, Atlanta needs to shore up its pass defense before we can talk about deep playoff runs in Atlanta.
Tanard Jackson may have off-the-field issues, but the family atmosphere in the Atlanta Falcon locker room will help him be a contributing member on and off the field.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is all a player needs to succeed, and Jackson may have been a product of an environment in Tampa Bay that breeds criminal behavior (see Talib, Aqib).
Baltimore Ravens: Barrett Ruud
Before shooting down this idea, consider the many ways this could go right for the Baltimore Ravens.
In a 3-4 defense, Baltimore will need two competent middle linebackers playing on the field at once, and while Jameel McClain played well last year, he is too valuable on special teams to be a full-time starter.
Likewise, Barrett Ruud struggled when asked to do a lot of pass coverage last year, and he was also eaten up by interior linemen.
Both problems would be cured on the Ravens, as Haloti Ngata could clear out the middle while Ruud does what he does best—make plays.
Also, once Ray Lewis retires, Ruud could continue the tradition of good middle linebacker play in Baltimore after a year or two of experience in this defense.
Buffalo Bills: Tyson Clabo
The Buffalo offensive line was nothing to be excited about for Bills fans in 2010, and as it stands, there won't be much there in 2011 either.
Demetrius Bell can hold down the fort at left tackle, certainly, but Buffalo needs a stonewaller at right tackle, and Tyson Clabo is just that.
Clabo blocked well for Matt Ryan last year and sealed the edges for Michael Turner (a back with a similar running style to Fred Jackson).
Bringing in the Falcon tackle would give Demetrius Bell a true bookend on the other side, and it would upgrade the entire Buffalo line in 2011.
Carolina Panthers: Brandon Mebane
The Carolina Panthers got good play from Charles Johnson last year but lack an explosive defensive tackle who would make this line stellar.
Brandon Mebane's high-motor play would make him a fan favorite in Carolina, and he would be a fantastic five-technique defensive end in Ron Rivera's new 3-4 scheme.
The Panthers are going through changes, and their first order needs to be rebuilding the defensive line.
Should Carolina bring Mebane to the fold, they will be gifted with a passionate winner with playoff experience.
Chicago Bears: Vincent Jackson
Jay Cutler dealt with a lot of things last year, ranging from learning a new system to getting pummeled behind a bad offensive line.
One thing that seems to go unnoticed, however, is how Cutler didn't even have a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to.
Cutler had his most success when he threw to Brandon Marshall in Denver, and bringing in Vincent Jackson would do the same for the Bears quarterback.
Jackson has a diverse skill set, and Jay Cutler could truly benefit from throwing passes to the big-bodied Chargers receiver.
Cincinnati Bengals: TJ Houshmandzadeh
It seems like it's been forever since TJ Houshmandzadeh wore a Bengals uniform, and it's time to bring the veteran receiver back to town.
The Bengals are in the throes of a rebuild and need someone to mentor young talents like AJ Green and Andy Dalton on how to make it as a Bengal.
Houshmandzadeh can still contribute somewhat, and he'd be able to retire as a Bengal where he spent most of his career.
Also, the older pass catcher has played for the Ravens and can provide the Bengals with insight about Cam Cameron's schemes and packages from an insider's perspective.
Cleveland Browns: Ray Edwards
The Browns are moving to a 4-3, and with two rookie defensive linemen (Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard), the team could use a pass-rushing bookend.
Sheard and Taylor are both run stuffers, and the Browns could use something in the pass rush from their defensive line.
Ray Edwards brings real skill in that regard and can help Taylor to become a Kevin Williams-type player, whom Edwards played with in Minnesota.
The defensive end has proven his ability to play in cold weather and would be a smart sign for Cleveland.
Dallas Cowboys: Antonio Cromartie
The Cowboys need help in the secondary, and Antonio Cromartie needs to play in a city big enough for his massive ego.
Cromartie to the Cowboys presents an interesting scenario, and the corner's brash attitude would fire up an apathetic locker room.
Dallas once had a fast, game-breaking, ball-hawk cornerback with an attitude to match his vast skill set, and it worked out.
This is not to say that Cromartie is Deion Sanders, but it would be worth a shot.
Denver Broncos: Barry Cofield
Thus far, the lockout has bred uncertainty, and as such, Barry Cofield may hit the open market.
Cofield is a very underrated 4-3 defensive tackle, capable of making plays against both the rush and the pass.
The lineman would provide a spark on a revamped Denver defense and would make it easier for Von Miller to succeed.
Playing next to Elvis Dumervil could do wonders for Cofield, who has had a lot of success playing next to elite pass-rushers on the Giants.
Detroit Lions: Richard Marshall
Richard Marshall has done an admirable job on the back end for the Panthers, covering receivers on the other side of Chris Gamble.
Marshall deserves a chance to be the No. 1 corner somewhere, and Detroit provides him with an excellent opportunity to experience real success.
The Lions are one defensive back away from being a playoff team, and Marshall could be a cheap, effective option at the cornerback position.
Running out players like Chris Houston and Nathan Vasher won't subdue quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler, and thus, the Lions need a true cover corner on their roster.
Green Bay Packers: Cullen Jenkins
Despite a need at weak-side rush LB, the Packers desperately need to resign their scheme-diverse defensive lineman.
I tried to stay away from re-signing players to teams in this slideshow, but Jenkins was too valuable to Green Bay to let go.
They must re-sign him.
Jenkins helped BJ Raji become a breakout star and made life easier for Clay Matthews by drawing double teams.
Houston Texans: Nnamdi Asomugha
The Houston Texans need to find some way to make Houston enticing for Nnamdi Asomugha...and they need to do it fast.
The Texans have one of the league's best offenses coupled with a formidable front seven, but their secondary keeps them a six-win team.
Should the Texans sign Asomugha, it could be Super Bowl or bust in Houston for the next few years.
For a team that hasn't even made the playoffs in its short life span, Asomugha upgrades this team from good to unstoppable.
Indianapolis Colts: DeAngelo Williams
Peyton Manning's window of opportunity is slowly closing, and as the star quarterback enters the twilight of his career, it's time for the Colts to give him one more chance at a Super Bowl.
DeAngelo Williams would finally give the Colts a running threat, something that neither Joseph Addai nor Donald Brown could do.
Acquiring Williams opens up the Colts offense and gives Peyton Manning another weapon to utilize however he sees fit.
The former Panther running back can still be productive and has fresh legs from sharing the load with Jonathan Stewart.
Jacksonville Jaguars: James Jones
The Jaguars have a lowly receiving corps, highlighted by average players like Mike Thomas and Mike Sims-Walker.
David Garrard needs a real weapon other than Marcedes Lewis, and James Jones is an interesting possibility for a team in need of a pass catcher.
While Jones doesn't have the best hands, he can run the entire route tree well and make plays on any corner in the AFC South right now.
The Jaguars need to match the offensive firepower of the Texans and Colts, and signing Jones would be a big step in that direction.
Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Light
With Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel already entrenched as two faces of the Chief organization, it is obvious that this team wants to follow the 'Patriot way' to a playoff berth.
Matt Light is coming off a disappointing year and has since been replaced by Sebastian Vollmer/Nate Solder.
However, a move to a new city and a gig on the right side of the line could be just what the doctor ordered for this declining star.
Light has blocked for Cassel before and is a true Patriot player—he'd fit right in with the Chiefs.
Miami Dolphins: Vince Young
He's not a free agent, and I don't really care—the Miami Dolphins need to go out and get Vince Young once he's cut by the Titans.
Tony Sparano doesn't have a safe job, and his only shot at getting off of the hot seat would be a winner like Young.
Brian Daboll may run this offense into the ground, but Young is creative enough to make any play work with his feet or his arm.
The quarterback may be immature, but he is a gamer and a winner—the Dolphins have to go get him.
Minnesota Vikings: Al Harris
The Vikings secondary was one of the multitude of reasons that the team didn't contend last year, and the team needs to shore themselves up in that department.
Al Harris is getting up there in age, and he's lost a step or two, but he would play his heart out wherever he went—it's just his nature.
Harris has experience in the cold weather and the NFC North, and he also knows the archrival Packers in-and-out.
The veteran corner would be a great nickel guy in Minnesota and would help the team guard against empty sets run by the Bears or Packers.
New England Patriots: Randy Moss
Yes, I just suggested the unthinkable, but there are ways that this could work really, really well.
Moss was given a rude awakening when he left the playoff atmosphere of New England where everything is happy-go-lucky and went to places like Minnesota and Tennessee where underachieving is encouraged.
Now with a new attitude, Moss can return to New England and put up big numbers with Tom Brady.
There is no reason that Moss can't get back to what he does best—taking the top off of the defense for the Patriots.
New York Giants: Owen Daniels
The Giants were plagued with the turnover bug in 2010 thanks to many passes that bounced off of receiver's hands or careless ballcarrying.
Eli Manning could truly use a top weapon at the tight end position, and acquiring Owen Daniels would open up the Giants offense.
Manning already has weapons like Hakeem Nicks and possibly Steve Smith, depending on whether or not he returns, but Daniels would be an interesting option to take away double teams from Nicks.
The Giants quarterback needs a pass-catching tight end like Daniels to replace what he had in Jeremy Shockey.
New York Jets: Terrell Owens
The Jets are going to have a tough time getting all of the money necessary to sign all of their impending free agents.
Though they've said that they want to re-sign Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, the Jets could release one of the two and sign Owens.
Owens' trash talking would be welcome in New York, and he'd be a fan favorite if he played his cards right.
He can still produce, as he proved last year, and could be a cheap alternative to a guy like Braylon Edwards.
New Orleans Saints: Ernie Sims
For a team like the Saints that run a 4-3 front, skilled outside linebackers are relatively important.
With players like Scott Shanle and Danny up for free agency, New Orleans would be smart to go after Sims, an experienced 4-3 linebacker.
Sims is athletic, can make all the plays and is a valuable asset when motivated to perform at his highest level.
The linebacker is a master at his craft and knows the ins and outs of the 4-3 OLB position, something the Saints need.
Oakland Raiders: Jared Gaither
Jared Gaither was injured much of last year, which is why he didn't make much noise despite his talent and athleticism.
The offensive tackle knows how to get the job done and be a stonewall right tackle in the tough AFC North.
A move to the lower-key AFC West could be just what Gaither needs as he recovers from his injuries.
The Raiders need help on the line, and Stefen Wisniewski just isn't going to do that yet—Gaither really could be the guy.
Philadelphia Eagles: Plaxico Burress
The Eagles have, arguably, the most explosive offense in the NFL.
Adding Plaxico Burress to that offense would just be scary.
Michael Vick knows what it's like for a pro athlete to experience jail time, and he could mentor Burress on how to rebuild the receiver's image.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin need a worthy third receiver with size and big-play ability—Burress is a much cheaper option than Sidney Rice.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LaMarr Woodley
Like I said in the Packers slide, I tried to avoid resignings.
When a team makes the Super Bowl, though, re-signing instrumental players becomes a bigger focus than signing new players to the fold.
LaMarr Woodley is an elite rush linebacker in the Pittsburgh defense, and it would be a crime to separate the two.
Woodley is prepared to take the next step in his development in 2011 and should become one of the game's best at his position in the upcoming year.
St. Louis Rams: Mike Sims-Walker
Mike Sims-Walker and the Rams seem like a very underrated fit that could end up working out very well for both parties.
Sims-Walker has been developed as a No. 1 receiver despite having a No. 2's skill set, and ending up in St. Louis would let him continue to be a No. 1 target.
St. Louis needs to provide Sam Bradford with a threatening target taller than 6'1", and Sims-Walker is a big-bodied wideout who can make the plays.
The Rams would be well suited to get a receiver in free agency, and Sims-Walker would be their best bet.
San Diego Chargers: Sidney Rice
Just imagine Philip Rivers throwing passes to a healthy Sidney Rice for a second.
Rivers to Rice could be the Brady to Moss of 2011—that's how good the Viking receiver would be in San Diego' offense.
Despite injury problems, the Minnesota pass catcher was able to return and post good numbers at the end of 2010.
He could carry that success into 2011 and make Charger fans forget who Vincent Jackson even was.
San Francisco 49ers: Josh Wilson
The 49ers couldn't stop the bleeding in 2010, and despite good play from the front seven, the secondary did the team in.
Josh Wilson isn't a fantastic cornerback, but it's rare that he gets burned down the field.
Josh McDaniels is going to try to work the ball down the field this year, and the 49ers need a speedy cornerback to keep up with the Rams' aerial attack if the team wants to win the division in 2011.
The pieces are in place for San Francisco, but a player like Josh Wilson makes this team legitimate.
Seattle Seahawks: Steve Smith
Pete Carroll was able to squeeze a really good season out of former USC standout Mike Williams, and it's scary to think what he could do with an established USC-wideout like Smith.
Smith may be out in New York after injuries and inconsistency plagued him in 2010.
Carroll could scoop up his former player and pair him with Mike Williams, recreating good memories from USC.
Memories are one thing, but the Seahawk coach would probably also be able to get positive contributions from Smith.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Braylon Edwards
Braylon Edwards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn't a rumor that's been heard too much but don't rule it out if a few things happen.
The Buccaneers like to push the ball down the field, and Braylon has the size and body control to help them do that.
Mike Williams had a nice year in 2010, but there's no guarantee he repeats his performance, and Edwards has shown that he can be a No. 1 target for quarterbacks from the 2009 draft.
The Jets wideout has some familiarity with Buccaneer tight end Kellen Winslow, and he could have success in Tampa.
Tennessee Titans: Mathias Kiwanuka
Mathias Kiwanuka doesn't really have much of a place with the Giants anymore, sitting behind Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora while blocking the way for Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Titans love good defensive linemen, and Kiwanuka would fit in on the team as a pure pass-rushing 4-3 end.
With Jason Babin due for a new contract, the Titans could just elect to go after the more interesting Kiwanuka.
Look for Tennessee to explore all possible options and realize that Kiwanuka would be a great fit.
Washington Redskins: Dawan Landry
I was tempted to just put "Freeze the Funds" as their "acquisition," but loyal Redskins fans deserve a treat for sticking with their team and this slideshow.
Rather than throw a lot of money at another defensive tackle, let's be safe and conservative, giving the Redskins a covering safety.
LaRon Landry and DeAngelo Hall make this a very good secondary, and Dawan Landry can play a complementary role in Washington like he did in Baltimore.
Plus, having LaRon Landry and Dawan Landry in the same secondary leaves for a lot of nickname possbilities...leave your most creative suggestions in the comments section below.
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