2013 NFL Free Agency: 20 Players That Will Re-Sign in 2013
Much of the excitement that the NFL’s free agency period brings comes from the suspense of wondering where the contract-seeking stars of this game might relocate before the kickoff of a new season.
The 2013 free-agent class is a particularly exciting bunch, with big names like Mike Wallace, Wes Welker and Jake Long possibly headed elsewhere this Spring. Naturally, this has franchises with loads of cap room practically drooling at the thought of making a massive upgrade to their roster with a single signing.
As exciting as that may be for those teams and their fans, the reality is that, more often than not, players of the All-Pro variety rarely pack their bags and head to a new NFL city while they’re still performing at a high level.
That might happen in the NBA, but this isn’t basketball. A team in the National Football League can’t let a prized asset walk out the door and simply buy their way back into contention the following offseason. You have to build through the draft, and typically when you see one of your former selections blossom, you do your best to keep him around.
That said, when a guy wants his money, he wants his money. The demand will be high for almost all of the top free agents, so bringing them back on another long-term deal isn’t as simple as it seems, especially when there are agents negotiating on behalf of the players.
Some will stay, some will go. That’s the nature of the business. But, typically, more stay than go. And with that said, here are 20 free agents from the 2013 class that I believe will be re-signing with their respective squads this offseason, rather than moving on.
Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers
When both parties want to get a deal done, it usually gets done. Goldson’s asking price is likely too high for the 49ers right now, but he’s quickly becoming one of the top free safeties in the NFL and I’m figuring a deal will eventually get pounded out to keep him in San Fran, though it may be after Goldson tests the market for a second time in three seasons.
Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have already released defensive end John Abraham and cornerback Dunta Robinson to clear up cap space, they can’t afford to lose Grimes, too. Atlanta lost Grimes for the season in Week 1 a year ago, but he’s only 29 and the talented cornerback has plenty of football left in him.
Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots
I just can’t see the Patriots letting Vollmer get away this Spring. He’s blossomed into an All-Pro tackle and, at age 28, is just now entering his prime. Injuries are a slight concern, but he’s been rock solid when healthy.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Of course plenty of teams are going to show interest in the uber-talented wide receiver, but I can’t imagine the Giants are stupid enough to let Cruz get away. He’s a restricted free agent and New York can always match any offer sent his way.
Justin Durant, Detroit Lions
The Lions don’t have much money to dole out, but Durant has been a solid member of the team’s linebacking corps since coming to Detroit two seasons ago and racked up 103 combined tackles in 2012.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
I’m really going out on a limb here, but I think Tony G comes back to Atlanta for one last round. Gonzalez came so tantalizingly close to his first Super Bowl ring a year ago, and the future Hall of Fame tight end is still playing like one of the best in the game at his position. I won’t give up until he officially hangs up the cleats for good.
Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
There is some justifiable concern regarding Talib and a long-term contract, considering his troubled past. That said, the Patriots need his size and range in the secondary and I’m thinking Bill Belichick and Co. will find a way to keep Talib in New England without making it too much of a gamble.
Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints
The Saints have made it known retaining the services of Bushrod is a clear priority. They lost All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to free agency a year ago and can ill afford to see Drew Brees’ blindside protector walk out the door in 2013.
Glover Quin, Houston Texans
I would imagine the Texans will do their best to keep Quin in town. The safety brings versatility and leadership to the secondary, and it sounds like he wants to stay right where he’s at.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Welker will continue to grab headlines throughout the offseason, but he’ll end up right back in New England, even if he does plan on testing the free-agent market first. I can’t see him matching the same level of production anywhere else, and he likely knows that, too.
Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
Offensive linemen as talented and proven as Jake Long don’t often hit free agency, especially ones that play left tackle. While he finally has a chance to test the market, I don’t think injury concerns or anything else will ultimately keep the Dolphins from coughing up the cash needed for him to stick around.
Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals say they’d like to keep Maualuga, and it’s pretty easy to see why. The fourth-year linebacker piled up 122 tackles in 2012. He’s only 26 years old, too, so a long-term deal isn’t going to put Cincy in a situation where they’ll have to deal with releasing him prematurely due to a decline in performance.
Delanie Walker, San Francisco 49ers
Walker probably deserves to be a starter somewhere else, but he fits into San Francisco’s offensive schemes so well that it’s hard to envision him in another uniform this Fall. The backup tight end to Vernon Davis doesn’t hold the same amount of value in many other offenses, either.
Andy Levitre, Buffalo Bills
Another one of the young and talented O-linemen in this free-agent class, Levitre has quickly developed into one of the more consistent guards in the game. The Bills would be silly not to do everything in their power to bring him back for another four-to-five years.
Dannell Ellerbe, Baltimore Ravens
Ellerbe played an important role in helping the Ravens become World Champions, and it sounds as if Baltimore would love to have him back. With Ray Lewis retiring and Paul Kruger (another free-agent linebacker) possibly going elsewhere, it makes a lot of sense.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Amendola, like everyone else on this list (obviously), is someone who I think will be staying put in 2013. The shifty WR is starting to develop quite the history of injuries, but they seem to be freak accidents more than anything. St. Louis is such a better team with him in the lineup, I think the Rams find a way to keep him in town.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
The Giants tried out Bennett on a one-year deal in 2012 and had to be pleased with what they got in return. 55 catches, 626 yards and five TDs later, he’s earned a long-term deal, and New York should be wise enough to offer him one.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Another free agent of the restricted variety, it’s not rocket science to predict that Pitta will be back in Baltimore next season, and probably much longer than that. The tight end helped Joe Flacco earn an insane amount of money, now he needs his share.
Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Barber is in the same boat as Tony Gonzalez as far as pondering retirement goes, but the Buccaneers are asking the veteran cornerback to give it one more season. By adding him to this list, it’s clear my belief is that they’ll get their wish.
Ramon Foster, Pittsburgh Steelers
The 27-year-old Foster has proven he’s got a bright future in this league, and the Steelers typically do their part to keep guys like that in town. Pittsburgh’s roster is going through a major overhaul this year, but I’d be surprised if the young and talented guard is one of the next to go.
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