Like the last sip of a cold drink on a hot day all things come to an inevitable end and so too will the great lockout of 2011. When that time comes, and trust me it's coming, fans will witness one of the strangest free agency periods of the NFL era.
Having the draft precede free agency and given the current state of the CBA, teams have been forced to fill needs via other avenues. Whether it was pre-lockout signings of key players such as Denver did with future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey or gambling by filling needs through the draft, this season will be one for the books.
So, when the NFL opens again for business here are some of the top player sure to garner attention from inside their own divisions.
Let's face it, in Detroit there is only one true option at wide receiver for young Mathew Stafford and that is Calvin Johnson.
As it stands now the Lions are a one-trick pony on offense. Sure they signed Nate Burleson last season and yes he did a fair job but the Lions still lack a bona fide second option to throw the ball to.
With the additions made on the defensive side of the ball Rice could be that number two threat that makes the Lions relevant again.
In the modern NFL when a team is expected to win a super bowl and fails to achieve that task heads are sure to roll. In this case that head belongs to Lamar Woodley.
He is a stud at linebacker, but with the lack of production from this above average player his chances of being retained are slim.
Sure the Steelers could pony up the dough to keep him, but as history has told us age and a slow season don't mix well in the NFL. This is not to say that he has nothing left to contribute. Woodley is one of the most athletic rushers to come off the edge this writer has ever seen. Unfortunately for the Steelers the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.
Enter the Bengals. Here is a team that has fallen down the slope into obscurity. Just a few short seasons ago the Bengals were in position to compete for a division title. Today they face an unsure future both offensively and defensively.
But if you are going to roll the dice and let go of your star QB in favor of a rookie you better have a good defense and Woodley is where to start.
In the 2011 NFL draft the Saints have shown their hand as far as the lack of faith in the run game. With their first pick they nabbed Mark Ingram with the hopes that he can be the spark they never got from Bush.
They do have Thomas who found a place in the hearts of the "who-dat" faithful but to have a legit one-two punch the Saints need a proven back that can work well with others. DeAngelo Williams is that man.
Embattled wide receiver Vincent Jackson decided to take his ball and go home at the beginning of last season kicking and screaming the whole way.
He took a selfish me-first approach with his decision to hold out and not play. He is a distraction in the locker room and has lost the respect of his fellow teammates.
So where do you go when the league has branded you a problem child with more talent than common sense, Oakland. Enough said......
When you ask folks that follow football who the best cornerback in the league is you get one of two answers, Nnamdi Asomugha or Champ Bailey. Prior to the lockout Denver Extended Baileys contract all but ensuring the future first ballot Hall of Famer will retire a Bronco.
Across from him however Denver has struggled to find a CB to compliment Bailey's undeniable skills. Last season the Mile High faithful were pleasantly surprised with the play of Perrish Cox. Much to their dismay, Cox has fallen into legal troubles and his future as a player not just as a Bronco is highly in doubt.
With the Broncos coming in at the bottom of most defensive rankings owner Pat Bowlen decided to clean house in hopes to returning this once proud franchise to AFC West dominance. To do that he retooled the front office with individuals such as Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champ John Elway and defensive mastermind John Fox.
They also brought in a new defensive coordinator and with the first pick of the draft they attained Von Miller. This leaves all signs pointing to an attempt to build a dominant defense to return the Broncos to their winning ways. Nnamdi Asomugha is the answer to the other side of the field. With two proven shutdown corners and a revamped front seven Bronco fans may be in store for a return of the Orange Crush.
But this is just this writers opinion, what's yours? Drop a comment or question down below and let me know what you think and as always thanks for posting.