The 2011 offseason was marred by the NFL lockout which stripped football fans of a proper NFL free agency period. The 2012 offseason offers a ray of hope with the class of free agents stocked with big name talent.
A lot of these guys will never see the light of free agency day but its good conversation piece. In our first edition of the Offseason Primer series we released 2012 cap projections. This edition should give the fan a pretty good idea of who they want their team to spend that money on. For over half the teams in the NFL this list is irrelevant with the money or philosophy to spend big in free agency. We aren’t likely to see another Eagles-esque spending spree but there are some names that could make dollars fly out of wallets.
Here’s a look at our top 50 NFL free agents:
1. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: Keep dreaming. Brees is a lock to be re-signed or franchised by the Saints. New Orleans will look to make him a Saint for life.
2. Mario Williams, DE, Houston Texans: It’s going to cost the Texans $22 million to franchise Williams. Probably not going to happen, so he’s the prize of free agency. Williams is 27 and one of the premier pass rushers when healthy. He’s coming off a season ending knee injury but will have his choice of suitors.
3. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte was playing the best football of his young career before a season ending injury. One could make an argument that Forte is the most complete back in the NFL. I can’t see the Bears letting Forte walk, but stranger things have happened.
4. Carl Nicks, G, New Orleans Saints: Nicks is arguably the best guard in the NFL and he will be 27 next season. A big payday will be coming for Nicks and the Saints may not be able to afford him with Brees and Colston looming.
5. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: The 25-year old will most likely be franchised by Baltimore but there’s a slim possibility that they let him walk. Real slim, like not happening slim.
6. Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals: A see about a .0001% chance of the Cards letting Campbell test the market. He’s young with a ton of upside. No chance.
7. Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions: Coming off an 11 sack 2011 season, Avril will receive a big payday in Detroit or elsewhere. Detroit is tight on the cap and will have to work at restructuring some contracts to fit Avril in.
8. Brandon Carr, CB, Kansas City Chiefs: 26-year old corner that is bordering on top corner status, will get top corner pay. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 Offseason Primer: Top 50 NFL Free Agents»