NFL Lockout: Peyton Manning and 10 Veterans That Need a Deal Done Now
As the NFL lockout rolls on, veterans whose contracts have expired will have increasingly less time with which to shop their services around to prospective employers. Normally, free agency would be in full boom for a while now, and mini camps and training camps would be getting started up soon.
However, with the lockout in full swing, players are not allowed to sign with new teams, or even have any kind of contact with a team owner, general manager or coach.
Because of the shortened free agency period that is expected this year, players will have more limited options than ever before.
Coaches and general managers are more likely to stick with players they know and who know their system rather than reaching for an unknown player who will have little time to learn the system and fit into their style of play.
Other players who are getting older and searching for a deal that will take them to the end of their careers may be looking at a contract that shortchanges them in terms of number of years because there is a significant danger of missing actual football games this season.
What follows is a list of 10 veterans that need a new collective bargaining agreement to be assented to as soon as possible so they can cash in on their pay day or get as much time as possible to adjust to a new situation before the season starts.
10. DeAngelo Williams
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DeAngelo Williams has been one of the best backs in the NFL for at least a few years, but it's just about a guarantee he will not be back in Carolina next season.
Williams' future employers will have to bank on him being able to come back from an injury that limited him to just six games in 2010-11, and he will also have precious little time to learn a new offensive system, play-calling terminology and his role both on his new team and in the locker room.
Although he was limited because of injury last year, Williams has been fairly durable over the course of his career. Through his first four season he played in 48 of a possible 54 games, and rushed for just under 4,000 yards.
Williams is an explosive playmaker who can move the chains and break loose for a big run. He also has solid hands out of the backfield, evidenced by his 118 career catches for a 7.8 yards per catch average.
9. Adam Vinatieri
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Adam Vinatieri is one of, and possible the, best kickers in the history of the NFL.
However, at 37 years old and going on 38, his leg is not nearly as strong as it used to be, and the Indianapolis Colts used him that way last season.
He will be looking for one last go around in this league, and probably a shot at another Super Bowl as well.
With many teams being settled at the kicker position, and with Indianapolis possible looking to move on from a kicker whose range doesn't extend much further than 40-45 yards, Vinatieri could have less options than he is used to.
8. Santonio Holmes
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Santonio Holmes was the best wide receiver on the New York Jets last season, but that does not mean he will be back in the green and white next year.
Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith are all free agents this offseason, and the Jets are unlikely to bring all three back. Holmes certainly has the most talent of the three, but he will also almost definitely be the most expensive.
Santonio is a former Super Bowl MVP with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has immense talent. However, he has had some personal problems throughout his tenure in the NFL after coming out of Ohio State University and that may cause some of his offers to be not as lucrative as one might think.
He is going to get paid this offseason, the question is how much and by who. With a lockout preventing Holmes from discussing employment with any teams, the Jets may have a chance to bring him back at a discounted rate if he can't get a superstar type deal elsewhere.
7. Cullen Jenkins
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The Green Bay Packers are coming off a Super Bowl winning season in which they had many players contribute along an oft-injured defensive line.
Cullen Jenkins is just one of those many players, and he could have been a hot commodity on the free agent market if it opened on schedule this season.
Jenkins has shown the versatility to play defensive end in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, and that makes him very attractive across the league.
In order to maximize his market potential, Jenkins can shop his services around to the highest bidder. However, the shortened offseason and his somewhat injury littered past could lead some teams to take a pass on him where they may have taken the risk in a different offseason.
6. Antonio Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie had another solid season last year in his first go round with the New York Jets.
However, he is not the top cornerback on the market this offseason. Because any team interested in Cromartie's services will likely also be interested in Nnamdi Asomugha, Cromartie may have a hard time getting a deal done quickly.
The expected shorter turnaround time between free agency, training camp and the start of the season will therefore work to Cromartie's disadvantage.
His troubled personal past and possible problems with Commissioner Gooddell's personal conduct policy may give some teams pause as well.
5. Sidney Rice
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After having a breakout season in 2009-10, Sidney Rice missed much of last season with an injury that limited him to just six games played and 17 catches last season.
There is now a question of whether the Vikings are ready to win right away with the retirement of quarterback Brett Favre and the entrance of rookie signal caller Christian Ponder.
The Vikings have a new offensive coordinator this season in Bill Musgrave, and just about none of the players have a copy of his playbook yet because they are by rule prohibited with having any contact with him.
So it seems that no matter where Rice is playing next season he will have an adjustment period before setting foot on the field. He'll also be working to prove that he is fully back from his injury problems.
It doesn't help Rice's cause that his career track record includes just one season in which he produced top flight numbers, as he totaled just 46 catches in two seasons prior to 2009-10's breakout campaign.
4. Vincent Jackson
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Because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules, Vincent Jackson became a restricted free agent last offseason, and he was not very happy about that development.
The San Diego Chargers placed the highest tender offer on Jackson, for a one year deal worth $3.2 million dollars.
Jackson decided he was worth much more than that based on his level of production and held out for a better, long term deal.
The holdout, and a subsequent suspension for DUI caused him to miss 11 games last season.
In the 5 games he did play for the Chargers, he produced just 14 catches for 248 yards.
Jackson will undoubtedly go shopping for a long-term high money deal again this offseason, and it may take a while to find a team willing to give him what he is looking for.
3. Ronnie Brown
There was already a logjam in the backfield of the Miami Dolphins, even before they drafted Kansas State standout Daniel Thomas.
With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams essentially splitting carries last season and the season before, Brown has not had a full workhorse's work load in some time.
It doesn't help that he keeps getting injured either.
However, now with Thomas in tow, it is unlikely that Brown will return to the only NFL team he has ever known. With running backs being viewed as increasingly replaceable, Brown is unlikely to get a big money deal elsewhere either.
Since he will likely enter the season on a new team, Brown needs a deal reached as soon as possible so he can weigh what his best options are moving forward.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha
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Depending on who you ask, Nnamdi Asomugha is either the best cornerback in the league, or a close second behind Darelle Revis.
He should have no trouble finding a deal this offseason, and one that will pay him handsomely.
However, after being saddled in a losing situation in Oakland for the entirety of his career so far, Asomugha could be looking forward to some wins along with his hefty pay day.
He would be wise to carefully consider which of his suitors gives him the best chance at making the playoffs, and hopefully, a Super Bowl run.
He is expected to be pursued by Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, Detroit and Houston, among others. With all those offers expected to be coming in, Asomugha could have used a little time to deliberate on his situation, the situation of the potential teams he may sign with and their coaching staffs, but due to the lockout that plan was thwarted.
A team such as Dallas may have a leg up on the others now due to Asomugha's familiarity with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached Asomugha with the Raiders earlier in his career.
1. Peyton Manning
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Peyton Manning does not want to leave the Indianapolis Colts, the only team he has ever known in his long and storied NFL career.
The Indianapolis Colts do not want to see Peyton Manning, the quarterback who has led them on an unprecedented run of consistent greatness throughout his career, leave the team.
Manning will be looking to cash in one last time in what should be the contract that takes him through the end of his career.
He'll likely be looking to become the league's highest paid player, and he deserves it considering he calls most of the Colts' plays from the line of scrimmage and is just as much of a coach on the field as he is a quarterback.
It would also be helpful to Manning to get his name off the lawsuit that is playing out in the United States court system right now, Brady et al. v. NFL. Manning is one of a few players who signed on with Tom Brady to be co-plaintiffs in the suit that will hopefully, eventually turn into a new collective bargaining agreement.
Public perception is still pretty squarely behind the players right now, but it could turn against them the longer the lockout drags on. Manning, Brady, Drew Brees, rookie linebacker Von Miller and others could turn into the villains in the story if the situation is not resolved soon.