Predicting the Landing Spots of the Top 30 NFL Free Agents
Top 30 NFL Free Agents
The NFL free agency period is set to begin on March 12th and with it the a feeding frenzy will begin. All teams are set with a salary cap and on that day, teams will have a clear picture of how much they can or cannot spend and the bidding will begin.
What we see every off-season is that some of the best players in the league find new homes and big new contracts that go with them. Fans of every NFL team hopes that they can retain their favorite players on a hometown discount and bring in all the best free agents to make their team contenders. But what really happens is some teams spend like mad, bringing in lots of players, other teams are more studious with their salary cap and rather than go out and sign a ton of big names, they focus in-house on retaining their own core. There's also a third group of teams who seem to always work well under the cap, frustrating their fans leaving so much money on the table year after year.
But where will the best free agents end up? Most teams with top free agents will certainly do their very best to try and retain them, however it often comes down to a player that wants more money than the team can offer, and even if it means leaving to go play on a bad football team to get that big payday.
Here's my top 30 free agents sorted by position to make it a little easier to navigate. Most every position is represented and I break down which team is the safest bet to sign the player and who the longshot might be. Enjoy and don't forget to comment below.
Joe Flacco, Quarterback
Joe Flacco, quarterback Baltimore Ravens
Likely landing spot-Baltimore Ravens-Flacco is going to get paid and he's going to get paid big. And it's all up to the Ravens to make it happen. If the Super Bowl MVP wants $20 million a year and 1,000lbs of Gummi Bears, that's what he will get.
Longshot-The Kansas City Chiefs have the cap to work a deal to sign him, but Flacco would be a fool to leave the Ravens.
Jason Campbell, Quarterback
Jason Campbell, quarterback-Chicago Bears
Likely landing spot-Depending on what the Bears do, I put the Minnesota Vikings at the top of the list to try and sign Campbell to come in and compete for a starting job.
Longshot-At this point it's probably the Bears. Campbell still believes he can start in this league so he's going to try and get one more starting shot and one more contract.
Matt Moore, Quarterback
Matt Moore, quarterback-Miami Dolphins
Likely landing spot-Moore is another quarterback who thinks he can start in this league, so he's going to try and find a spot where he can compete to start. put me down for the New York Jets as a real possibility because they need help
Longshot-Assuming he doesn't mind being a backup, let me toss out the Pittsburgh Steelers as a spot where he can come in and backup the starter and be on a winning team.
Reggie Bush, Running Back
Reggie Bush, running back-Miami Dolphins
Likely landing spot-Put me down for the Cincinnati Bengals. They need a back like Bush and the Dolphins aren't going to pay him what he wants.
Longshot-At this point it's the longest shot that he returns to the Dolphins. Seems they have moved on and he's headed out.
Rashard Mendenhall, Running Back
Rashard Mendenhall, running back-Pittsburgh Steelers
Likely landing spot-Mendenhall is very talented and could really be huge in the right system. And for me that system is with the Denver Broncos.
Longshot-The longshot is Mendenhall actually returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Anything is possible, but the Steelers are just so short on cap space, I can see them giving him the contract he wants.
Felix Jones, Running Back
Felix Jones, running back-Dallas Cowboys
Likely landing spot-Right back with the Cowboys. They need him on the roster, and Jones is not going to command the type of money he might think.
Longshot-If there's a team out there that might bring him in it would be the Cincinnati Bengals. They could get him fairly cheap, but wouldn't have to carry the load of the rushing game.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver
Mike Wallace, wide receiver-Pittsburgh Steelers
Likely landing spot-The Cleveland Browns need a dynamic playmaker and have the money to pay him. Seems like a good fit for both the player and the team.
Longshot-The San Francisco 49ers are the dark horse in this lottery, but I won't rule them out. He'd be a great fit on that type of offense.
Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver
Greg Jennings, wide receiver-Green Bay Packers
Likely landing spot-Jennings is coming back to the Packers. This seems like a sure thing, especially after the retirement of wide receiver Donald Driver.
Longshot-Not sure there's any team that can come in and scoop Jennings up. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the money and the need, but no way Jennings is leaving.
Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver
Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver-Kansas City Chiefs
Likely landing spot-I like Bowe to take his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have plenty of cap space and a nice young offense.
Longshot-The Longshot is that head coach Andy Reid can get him to return to the Chiefs. The Chiefs want him back but I'm not sure he wants to be there.
Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver
Danny Amendola, wide receiver-St. Louis Rams
Likely landing spot-Assuming the New England Patriots don't retain wide receiver Wes Welker, Amendola would be the best fit to fill that role.
Longshot-The Jacksonville Jaguars need to get reliable targets for whomever they have starting at quarterback in 2013 and Amendola has proven to be a great security blanket for a young quarterback.
Wes Welker, Wide Receiver
Wes Welker, wide receiver-New England Patriots
Likely landing spot-The Patriots don't overpay for players so Welker is likely gone. Where he's land is hard to predict, but if the St. Louis Rams lose Danny Amendola they could be a serious player for Welker.
Longshot-Another good wide receiver that could find his way to the Cleveland Browns if the opportunity was there. He'd definitely fit their offense.
Jared Cook, Tight End
Jared Cook, tight end-Tennessee Titans
Likely landing spot-Right back with the Titans. Cook is too talented to just let him walk. He's not going to be cheap, but the Titans are the top of the list to get him.
Longshot-The St. Louis Rams like Cook. And I hear they will make a push for him. Not sure if they can get him, but I know they will try.
Martellus Bennett, Tight End
Martellus Bennett, tight end-New York Giants
Likely landing spot-The Giants really want to sign Bennett to an extension, so they will be the top of the list. Bennett wants to be there, and they want him there, so I expect them to work it out.
Longshot-If by some miracle Bennett leaves the Giants, don't rule out the Carolina Panthers to bring him in to add a weapon in the passing game.
Fred Davis, Tight End
Fred Davis, tight end-Washington Redskins
Likely landing spot-The Redskins could franchise Davis or sign him to a longterm contract, but I think it's a safe bet he stays put.
Longshot-If he doesn't stay with the Redskins, I like the New York Giants to bring him in. He would fit very well in their offense.
Ryan Clady, Offensive Tackle
Ryan Clady, offensive tackle-Denver Broncos
Likely landing spot-Clady is probably the 2nd most expensive free agent on this list, and the big check is going to come from the Broncos.
Longshot-The only team I can see with the money and the need to go get Clady might be the Cincinnati Bengals if they let offensive tackle Andre Smith walk. This is highly unlikely however.
Jake Long, Offensive Tackle
Jake Long, offensive tackle-Miami Dolphins
Likely landing spot-After a down year the Dolphins might try and bring Long back at a discount, but a team like the San Diego Chargers need him and will likely pony up way more money.
Longshot-Returning to the Dolphins wouldn't be the longest shot, but if he decided to sign with a team like the Arizona Cardinals, that's a long shot.
Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals
Andre Smith, offensive tackle-Cincinnati Bengals
Likely landing spot-Smith is going to be the top free agent priority of the Bengals so I look for him to re-sign there. He's not going to command left tackle money so the Bengals should have no problems keeping him in the fold.
Longshot-The Houston Texans are in the market for an upgrade at right tackle, and have the money to make a run at Smith.
Sebastian Vollmer, Offensive Tackle
Sebastian Vollmer, offensive tackle-New England Patriots
Likely landing spot-The Patriots need Vollmer, but the Patriots don't like to overpay, so I'll go out on a limb and say Vollmer signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars to bolster their offensive line.
Longshot-Vollmer is going to want to get paid, and the Miami Dolphins might have the biggest check to cut if they let tackle Jake Long walk.
Branden Albert, Offensive Tackle
Branden Albert, offensive tackle-Kansas City Chiefs
Likely landing spot-Chiefs head coach Andy Reid can't afford to let Albert walk, but they won't overpay him either. Still, I think Albert wants to stay in Kansas City and I think in the end it'll be Albert back in Kansas City.
Longshot-If there is a team that might overpay for Albert it's the Chicago Bears who are desperate for help at tackle.
Michael Johnson, Defensive End
Michael Johnson, defensive end-Cincinnati Bengals
Likely landing spot-The Jacksonville Jaguars need a rush defensive end for their new defensive scheme and Johnson would be a great fit. Signing Johnson would allow them to use the no.2 pick in the 2013 NFL draft on another position of need.
Lonshot-At this point it might be a longshot for Johnson to come back to the Bengals with all the players they need to sign. Not to mention this is a franchise that doesn't give out huge contracts, so if money is an issue, Johnson is going elsewhere.
Cliff Avril, Defensive End
Cliff Avril, defensive end-Detroit Lions
Likely landing spot-Avril had a nice season and is going to turn that into a big payday, and looking at what Avril is good at, it seem the Atlanta Falcons would be the best fit.
Longshot-The Seattle Seahawks are my sleeper team try and lure Avril away from Detroit to help a defensive line that got pushed around.
Anthony Spencer, Linebacker
Anthony Spencer, linebacker-Dallas Cowboys
Likely landing spot-With so many teams moving to a 3-4 defense Spencer's options are open, but put me down for the Cleveland Browns to have the cash to lure him in.
Longshot-I suppose the longhost is that Spencer re-signs with the Cowboys, where it'll likely be a smaller contract than he can get on the free agent market.
Paul Kruger, Linebacker
Paul Kruger, linebacker-Baltimore Ravens
Likely landing spot-The Ravens are going to have to make Kruger a high priority and even if he wants a big contract, they are probably going to have to give it to him to hold onto a key player on that defense.
Longshot-If Kruger does leave, he could sign with the Cleveland Browns in the new attacking 3-4 defense as a pass rush specialist.
Brent Grimes, Cornerback
Brent Grimes, cornerback-Atlanta Falcons
Likely landing spot-After putting the franchise tag on him in 2012, I have to think the Falcons are going to do all they can to keep Grimes even if it means losing some other key players.
Longshot-The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can probably give Grimes more money than the Falcons so if he wants to get more money, it could be in Tampa.
Sean Smith, Cornerback
Sean Smith, cornerback-Miami Dolphins
Likely landing spot-Something tells me the Philadelphia Eagles are going to purge some salary and bring in some fresh faces on defense so I'll stick Smith in there as a cheaper alternative to who they have now.
Longshot-Don't rule out the Pittsburgh Steelers if they can find a way to get enough cap space to take a shot. He'd be a perfect fit in that defense.
Marcus Trufant, Cornerback
Marcus Trufant, cornerback-Seattle Seahawks
Likely landing spot-Something tells me that the Atlanta Falcons are going to let cornerback Brent Grimes walk and that means adding Trufant makes perfect sense.
Longshot-There's always the possibility the Seahawks will bring Trufant back, but I like the Kansas City Chiefs as a sleeper candidate to go in and sign him.
Cary Williams, Cornerback
Cary Williams, cornerback-Baltimore Ravens
Likely landing spot-Williams is going to be looking for a big payday and I doubt the Ravens will give it to him. But I can see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doing just that.
Longshot-Williams is another player who I think has to be on the Kansas City Chiefs wish list as an upgrade in the defensive secondary.
Ed Reed, Safety
Ed Reed, safety-Baltimore Ravens
Likely landing spot-It appears that Reed and the New England Patriots are destined to each other in 2013, so I will put him there for now.
Longshot-I think Reed has an exaggerated view of his value, and when that hits him, he'll end up back with the Ravens with a contract on the cheap.
William Moore, safety-Atlanta Falcons
Likely landing spot-Moore isn't coming back to the Falcons. He wants to test free agency which is code for sign with the highest bidder. I like the St. Louis Rams to bring him in to be that dynamic playmaker in the back of that Rams defense.
Longshot-The Dallas Cowboys need a safety badly, so don't rule him out here. Also if the Baltimore Ravens lose safety Ed Reed, they could be another target.
Jarius Byrd, Safety
Jarius Byrd, safety-Buffalo Bills
Likely landing spot-The Bills are building a nice defense, so they'd be foolish to let a safety as talented as Byrd too good to let go. Byrd is going to get paid and I think it will be by Buffalo.
Longshot-If somehow the Bills lose Byrd, it could very likely be to the Philadelphia Eagles who need a safety in the worst way.