Wes Welker Silver Coin Photo Mint
Predicting who are the top 10 free agents of 2013 in the NFL will be is not an easy task, especially since many of the free agents will be re-signed by their respective teams in the buildup to the free agency period that officially begins on March 12th. One player in particular, Joe Flacco, is surely going to continue playing as a Baltimore Raven following his Super Bowl victory. Several other players are simply too important to be let go too. Therefore, this list is my prediction of the best players available in the NFL who are highly unlikely to stay on board with their current teams:
10. Cliff Avril – Free agency is always full of big money players who will fail to live up to their hype and I think Cliff Avril will be the guy this year. His statistics appear to be that of a premier pass rusher as he has reached about 10 sacks per year in the last 3 seasons. But Avril is rather poor otherwise, so although he will occasionally get to the quarterback, he does little else for the team, which is why the Detroit Lions will let him go. Expect him to sign a big contract but end up disappointing.
9. Reggie Bush – The world was expected of him when he came to the NFL in 2006, but he has largely failed to live up to the hype. Nevertheless, Reggie Bush has actually been a solid player for the Miami Dolphins in the last two seasons, generating around 1,000 rushing yards and scoring 15 touchdowns while averaging well over 4 yards/carry. He still has a few good years left at age 27 and presents a solid, dynamic playmaking type player who makes an impact. Not necessarily a team’s number 1 running back, Reggie Bush would fit nicely in a running back by committee situation but probably wants premier money.
8. Wes Welker – With five 1,000-yard seasons behind him, Wes Welker has been a great player. He routinely catches over 100 balls a season and is a great receiver to move the chains. However at age 31, Welker is also reaching the end of his talents. Teams will also be wary of his success at the New England Patriots, who are known to get the best out of less than stellar players. Will Welker still be a great wide receiver somewhere else without Tom Brady? I believe so and I think someone will benefit with a couple solid years of production with his signing.
7. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie – He never quite produced for the Philadelphia Eagles despite his solid years with the Arizona Cardinals. Very athletic and talented, I feel that Rogers-Cromartie will benefit from a change of scenery. Although he will command a high dollar amount, he will produce if placed within the right defensive scheme. Clearly the faults of the Eagles went beyond him alone, and I think a fortunate team will be happy to have him, though he is hardly going to be a bargain buy at cornerback.
6. Derek Cox – Another intriguing cornerback on the market has 12 career interceptions in just 44
starts with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has had some niggling injuries but has also proven to be effective in guarding receivers and making plays. Less known than some of the other stars in the league, Cox is looking for a huge contract and may find just that given his young age and solid potential as a consistent and impactful cornerback.
5. Greg Jennings – A great wide receiver when healthy, it is worth noting that Jennings has missed a good deal of time over the last two seasons and hasn’t surpassed 1,000 receiving yards since 2010. Nevertheless, when healthy he is a great catcher of the ball with an eye for yards after the catch. Approaching 30, he may be reaching the end of the line, but will still command a decent price from a desperate team. How he fares without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers tossing him the ball is an entirely different question though.
4. Osi Umenyiora – Some teams may shy away from the 31-year-old pass rusher who only earned 6 sacks last year, but Umenyiora can be a beast and performed remarkably in the playoffs during the New York Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl run, forcing a fumble and earning 3.5 sacks. A true professional, he will cement the end position for a team for several seasons and can make the plays. The Giants don’t have much cap room so he has to go, but I do suspect him to make a small fortune in a few weeks and be a solid starter for whomever he signs with.
3. Shonn Greene – Big and strong, Greene has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past 2 seasons and also makes for a great pass blocker. His intangibles make him a great free agent buy and the New York Jets are fools to let him go. Only 27 years old, he will be a force for a lucky team with more direction, and could well be on his way to reinvigorating his career at a legitimate NFL contender.
2. Mike Wallace – He catches a lot of balls for good yardage and scores a lot of touchdowns. What more could a team want? One of the fastest players around he will command a ton of money, and he knows it. The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely cave to players demanding big money, so Mike Wallace is set to hit the road and take his talents elsewhere. Although costly, Wallace will definitely make fans happy and score a lot of points for whomever he signs with. He is surely among the best free agent wide receivers available.
1. Jake Long – A capable left tackle, the Miami Dolphins seem to be annoyed with Long’s late-season injuries the past two seasons and his demands for $10 million per year. As the former top draft pick in 2008, Long has the publicity and talent to command this kind of money. Although this year’s draft is filled with great offensive tackles, Long is proven and will be a foundation for whichever team he signs for. Yes he is expensive, but he will be worth the high price with his great play. His injury worries are a definite concern though and make him a bit of a risk.
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