NFL Free Agent Speculation: Top 5 Players Available and Where They Could End Up
The 2011 Free Agent class offers some of the best talent we've seen in recent years.
Now, although the players mentioned above will almost certainly sign contracts to remain with their current teams, there are plenty of other free agents who will likely be taking their talents elsewhere for the 2012 NFL Season.
As labor talks continue, nothing is for certain yet in free agency, but here are the top five players likely to move and the teams that will be going after them.
5. Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Likely Destination: Chicago Bears, Saint Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns
Sleeper Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals
Sidney Rice is one of the best wide receivers available in 2011 NFL Free Agency.
Before suffering a hip injury, Rice was considered one of the top young receivers in the league and he was only improving.
Even after surgery, there are a lot of teams that will be in the market for Rice.
The Chicago Bears are in definite need of a wide receiver.
Between Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, there is no clear No. 1 guy who Jay Cutler can rely on.
Sidney Rice could solve this problem and bring them one step closer to a serious run at the Super Bowl.
The Saint Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns are also in the running for a wide receiver of Rice's caliber. Also look out for the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, who will both be in the market for a receiver once they get their quarterback situations locked up.
4. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
Likely Destinations: Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers
Sleeper Teams: St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos
DeAngelo Williams is the most attractive free agent running back available.
In 2008 and 2009, prior to his injury, Williams produced some of the best seasons of any running back in the NFL. During those seasons WIlliams rushed for a combined 2,600 yards and 25 touchdowns, all while sharing time with fellow running back, Jonathan Stewart.
However, after a season that ended in injury, the Panthers may choose to favor Stewart and Mike Goodson over Williams.
Should Williams choose not to resign with the Carolina Panthers, the Miami Dolphins might be the favorite.
Both Dolphin's running backs, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, are entering free agency and the chances of them staying in Miami seem to be growing smaller and smaller as the offseason progresses.
DeAngelo Williams would be able to step into whatever offense Miami chooses to run (Wildcat or other style) and solidify the Dolphins running game for 2012.
Other than Miami, the Colts, Rams and Broncos could make a play for Williams. The Carolina Panthers will also likely make a legitimate offer to try and get Williams to stay put.
3. Logan Mankins, G, New England Patriots
Likely Destinations: Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears
Sleeper Teams: Miami Dolphins
Logan Mankins would have been the best offensive guard and one of the best overall players available in 2011 free agency had the New England Patriots not put the franchise tag on the offensive lineman. However, since Mankins has made it clear he does not want to remain in New England, we'll play out his trade talk and possible 2012 free agency.
The three time pro-bowler and a member of last year's all-pro team, Mankins, has made it pretty clear that he does not want to be back in New England next year after the Patriots offered him big money to stay put and he denied.
Any team in need of a guard will be pursuing Mankins, but the Pittsburgh Steelers could be the early favorite to land him for 2011/2012.
Although the Steelers aren't bad on the interior of their offensive line, a player like Mankins could make them a whole lot better.
The Steelers showed some interest in trading for Mankins last season, so they will logically go after him again as a free agent.
The Bears and Dolphins will also likely make an offer to Mankins.
2. Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers
Likely Destinations: Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers
Sleeper Teams: Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets
As long as the Chargers don't put the franchise tag on Vincent Jackson, the wide receiver should get plenty of attention as a free agent in 2011.
Jackson came back to play for the Chargers late in the season after nursing an injury that allowed him to only play five games. However, the year before his injury, Jackson had over 1,100 yards receiving and caught nine touchdowns.
At 6'5" and weighing over 240 pounds, Jackson is a big target that many NFL teams will be interested in pursuing this offseason.
The Broncos never fully recovered from the loss of Brandon Marshall. Jackson would be able to replace a lot of what Marshall brought to Denver.
With the quarterback situation somewhat uncertain in Denver, another big target like Jackson would only make Orton or Tebow's job easier.
Look for the Browns, Seahawks and Jets to make a push for Jackson as well as his current team.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Oakland Raiders
Likely Destinations: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys
Sleeper Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans
The most attractive free agent who is legitimately available in 2011 is Nnamdi Asomugha.
Asomugha is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and his surprise free agency status makes him a must-have for several teams.
There have been many rumors and speculation about what team will be the best fit for him, but in my opinion, it's the Philadelphia Eagles.
Asomugha's friend, DeSean Jackson, has been "recruiting" the all-pro cornerback to the Eagles for some time now. Not only that, but if Asomugha wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, Philadelphia would be a perfect destination.
The Eagles are one of the youngest and most talented teams in the NFL and with Asante Samuel already locking down one side of the field, the addition of Asomugha would make it very difficult for any offense to throw against the Eagles.
The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys have also been rumored to have interest in Asomugha, but don't sleep on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who are in need of a corner) making a play at the most touted free agent of 2011.
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