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2011 NFL Free Agents


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Top Cornerbacks:

Champ Bailey (DEN) – With the Broncos in a period of transition, this may very well be Champ Bailey’s final season in Denver. While injuries have lessened his effectiveness the last couple years, he returned to form this season to stay among the league’s 5 best corners. There have been no talks of a contract extension so far, but Champ remains committed to returning to the Broncos if the interest is mutual.

Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) – It should say something about the importance of statistics when a player can have an All-Pro season, yet not achieve minimal performance marks, which renders the rest of his contract null and void. The Raiders are unable to place the franchise tag on Asomugha, making the league’s best corner the prize of free agency. There’s some buzz that he wants to go to a Super Bowl contender such as the Jets or Packers (where he has ties with Woodson). The Packers seem like an unlikely destination given their strong, highly paid secondary and the Jets may want to pursue him, but that would leave holes in their roster elsewhere. This will be the most exciting story to follow this offseason.

Brent Grimes (ATL) – Grimes had a fantastic season for an improved Falcons defense. Going into the final week, he’s one back of the leader in deflected passes. As an undrafted player, he’s worked his way and improved each season to become one of the league’s better corners now. With the secondary struggles in Atlanta over the past few years, they’ll show their appreciation for Grimes in the offseason.

Carlos Rogers (WAS) – Rogers has been a solid cover corner for years now and one of the leaders in Washington’s secondary. Still, I’ve never seen anyone in the league with worse hands than Rogers. An average set of hands would have allowed him at least a couple more picks per season and that’s why he doesn’t generally get the credit he deserves. Some Redskins fans will cringe if the Redskins bring him back, but in reality, they could do much worse from a starting corner.

Johnathan Joseph (CIN) – The Bengals’ corners awakened in 2009 to help lead a good pass defense, but 2010 turned out to be a different story. Both Joseph and Hall regressed and the results in the Bengals secondary showed. Joseph is physical and aggressive and good in any scheme. If the Bengals do hit him with the franchise tag, Joseph has said he’ll sign it on the first day, though he’s holding out hope that the two sides can reach a deal before that point.

Ronde Barber (TB) – Though Barber and the Buccaneers haven’t discussed a new contract, he’s returned to playing at a high level and Coach Raheem Morris has given Barber plenty of praise asking him to return to the team in 2011. It should just be a matter of getting the business side sorted out if Barber decides he wants to continue playing.

Antonio Cromartie (NYJ) – Cromartie is one of several big names hitting the market this year for the Jets. He hasn’t panned out as the elite playmaker many media outlets expected he would opposite Darrelle Revis, but he has given the Jets some flexibility at cornerback. Cromartie’s stiffness and long strides makes him an ideal candidate to be victimized by smaller, elite route running receivers, but he’s effective defending down the field. Because Kyle Wilson hasn’t lived up to expectations, the Jets may look to re-sign him with more urgency.

Ike Taylor (PIT) – Ike Taylor has been the lone, consistent cornerback for the Steelers over the past 5+ years. His ability to shadow receivers effectively and come up in run support has allowed the Steelers to do a little more creatively up front. With a lack of depth behind him, it would be surprising to see the Steelers let Ike Taylor to leave, even though he has lost a step.

Richard Marshall (CAR) – Marshall has been okay in coverage over the years, but good in run support. He won’t be at the top of the Panthers priority list, but if they do offer him a fair long-term deal, Marshall is ready to sign immediately.


Quintin Mikell (PHI) – It looks like the Eagles will be set at safety if they can re-sign Quintin Mikell at strong safety next to rookie Nate Allen at free safety. Mikell hasn’t been as impressive this season as last, but is still one of the league’s better starting strong safeties. The Eagles secondary has struggled this year and will look to bring back one of their most consistent pieces in the back end.

Roman Harper (NO) – The Saints feel they have something going in the secondary and their top 10 defense reflects just that. The entire defense was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but the tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper at safety is about as good as it gets. Jenkins, a converted corner, has developed into a fine coverage safety, while Roman Harper is a great hitter and tough in run support. Aside from reinvesting in their offensive line, Harper will be one of the team’s highest priorities this season.

Eric Weddle (SD) – Though Weddle hasn’t made too many impact plays this season, he’s been a great emerging player for them in the secondary. He’s a well-rounded player—which stems back from his days at Utah—who can play both the run and pass effectively. The Chargers have several expiring contracts, primarily on offense, but re-signing Weddle defensively seems like a solid logical bet.

Dawan Landry (BAL) – Dawan Landry is having a bounce back season after a pair of disappointing ones in coverage. The Ravens had high expectations following a superb rookie season, but had been beaten over the top too often the next two years. Though he hasn’t made as many impact plays as his rookie year, or even last season, Landry has been far more consistent and is building off of his career high in tackles.

Tanard Jackson (TB) – Jackson is an impressive young safety on the football field and figured to be a difference maker for the Buccaneers early this season. However, after the 2nd game, he was suspended indefinitely for his 3rd violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. The Buccaneers are standing behind him, but it comes as a big disappointment. He won’t be eligible to be reinstated until September 22, 2011, making him a big gamble for whoever looks to retain his services.

Bernard Pollard (HOU) – The Texans had reason to be ecstatic over their free agent signing of 2009, who immensely improved the team’s run defense. This year has brought a different tune and shown why Pollard was cut from the Chiefs last year to begin with. While he’s still strong in run support, he’s been victimized more than any other Texan for touchdowns this season. His lousy pass defense is further accentuated by poor cornerback play. Pollard is a marginal safety, but can be a decent fill-in for a team with an already strong secondary, something the Texans cannot claim to have.

Atari Bigby (GB) – Bigby has plenty of potential as a safety, but also embodies the definition of injury-prone. Rookie Morgan Burnett was playing well before his season-ending injury and Charlie Peprah has been more than adequate as his replacement. Peprah’s also a free agent, but should be a cheaper alternative to the hard-hitting Bigby.

Other Notable Free Agents:

Matt Ware (ARZ)

Haruki Nakamura (BAL)

Tom Zbikowski (BAL)

George Wilson (BUF)

Gerald Alexander (CAR)

Chinedum Ndukwe (CIN)

Gibril Wilson (CIN)

Danieal Manning (CHI)

Abram Elam (CLE)

Sabby Piscitelli (CLE)

Alan Ball (DAL)

Gerald Sensabaugh (DAL)

Charlie Peprah (GB)

Anthony Smith (GB)

Melvin Bullitt (IND)

Sean Considine (JAC)

Tyrell Johnson (MIN)

Husain Abdullah (MIN)

Brandon McGowan (NE)

Jarrad Page (NE)

Darren Sharper (NO)

Michael Johnson (NYG)

Deon Grant (NYG)

Brodney Pool (NYJ)

Eric Smith (NYJ)

Lawyer Milloy (SEA)

Reed Doughty (WAS)

Defensive Ends:

Cullen Jenkins (GB) – Jenkins is a scheme-diverse linemen who consistently plays with outstanding leverage. He’s a terrific pass rusher who can get penetration on tackles and guards en route to the quarterback. The Packers have a strong rotation and while they will still pursue him, they may not be willing to pay him what it takes to keep him in Green Bay. If he hits the market, his only concern is that he’s somewhat injury-prone, but should otherwise be a disruptive lineman on any team.

Mathias Kiwanuka (NYG) – Kiwanuka is an explosive pass rusher who over the years has gotten lost amidst the talented Giants front 7. He’s an explosive pass rusher who was having a productive year before a herniated disc in his neck sidelined him for much of the season. The Giants have expressed interest in bringing him back, but with playing time in question, it will be interesting to see what Kiwanuka decides.

Charles Johnson (CAR) – Julius who? The Panthers replaced Peppers with 2007 3rd round pick, who quietly reached double digit sacks and surpassed Peppers’ sack total this year. The Panthers hope they can get most of the production with half the cost in Charles Johnson. Re-signing Johnson is right up there with Ryan Kalil in the team’s no-brainer moves this offseason.

Ray Edwards (MIN) – Edwards came very quietly out of the gates recording only 1.5 sacks in his first 7 games. He’s since picked up the slack, but the Vikings have a lot of faith in their team’s ability to groom defensive line prospects, such as Brian Robison, who is also a free agent. Re-signing Edwards probably won’t be at the top of the team’s priority list and his return to Minnesota will depend upon Edwards’ contract expectations.

Jason Babin (TEN) – Babin has finally put together a season worthy of his 1st round draft status many years ago. He’s a hard-working end with a strong motor and has only 1 game this season without a sack or stuff. Given the long list of teams where he hasn’t succeeded, the Titans should be the heavy favorites to re-sign Babin.

Shaun Ellis (NYJ) – Ellis has been a key component of the Jets’ defense for many years now, but this may be his final season there. The team has plenty of free agents, or soon-to-be free agents that will need to be addressed to keep the core components of the team intact. Ellis is still an adequate 5-technique and may have moderate interest this offseason.

Other Notable Free Agents:

Kenny Iwebema (ARZ)

Bryan Robinson (ARZ)

Jayme Mitchell (CLE)

Robaire Smith (CLE)

Stephen Bowen (DAL)

Jason Hatcher (DAL)

Marcus Spears (DAL)

Cliff Avril (DET)

Turk McBride (DET)

Mark Anderson (HOU)

Wallace Gilberry (KC)

Shaun Smith (KC)

Tony McDaniel (MIA)

Brian Robison (MIN)

Anthony Hargrove (NO)

Jimmy Wilkerson (NO)

Dave Tollefson (NYG)

Victor Abiamiri (PHI)

Nick Eason (PIT)

Chris Hoke (PIT)

Jacques Cesaire (SD)

Travis Johnson (SD)

Ray McDonald (SF)

CJ Ah You (STL)

Tim Crowder (TB)

Greg White (TB)

Dave Ball (TEN)

Kedric Golston (WAS)

Defensive Tackles:

Haloti Ngata (BAL) - The contract Ngata will get from the Ravens this year probably still won’t be large enough to accommodate him as the league’s best defensive linemen who has been playing several years for far below his actual value. His impact on the Ravens defense is immeasurable and he’s made great strides as a pass rusher over the years as well. Ngata is a truly dominant football player.

Richard Seymour (OAK) – Seymour’s presence, production, and incalculable veteran leadership has helped spark a resurgence in Oakland. While initially displeased with the trade that brought him to the Raiders last year, Seymour has opened up to donning the silver and black long term. Al Davis has no problem spending money, so it would be a surprise if he didn’t have the highest offer on the table for Seymour, who has earned every penny he’ll see through his play this year.

Brandon Mebane (SEA) – At only 6’1, Mebane has the natural leverage and quickness to give interior linemen fits. He’s as underrated as they come and when you look at his numbers, it’s easy to see why he’s often snubbed when the discussion of the best defensive tackles comes up. Mebane has the work ethic and the tools to be a dominant defensive tackle for next decade and has been instrumental to the Seahawks’ run defense over the last 2 seasons.

Aubrayo Franklin (SF) – Though not as terrific as last year, Franklin had another strong season as the nose tackle for the 49ers. He was late to report to the Niners after they slapped him with the franchise tag. Franklin will be looking for his long-term extension this season and if the organization doesn’t reward him again this year, he’ll won’t hesitate to look elsewhere, as long as they don’t place the franchise tag on him yet again.

Pat Williams (MIN) – So much for the retirement talks of last offseason. Through recent comments, he already seems ready for next year and he’s already the league’s oldest defensive player. While the Vikings have had a disappointing season, Pat Williams has continued to play at a productive level. With a lot of upcoming free agents, it’ll be interesting to see how the front office approaches this offseason. Williams has predicted a “rough” transition for the team. Though he’s ready to return if the Vikings want him, he’s also open to going to another Super Bowl contender.

Other Notable Free Agents:

Alan Branch (ARZ)

Gabe Watson (ARZ)

John McCargo (BUF)

Nick Hayden (CAR)

Anthony Adams (CHI)

Matt Toeaina (CHI)

Andre Fluellen (DET)

Shaun Cody (HOU)

Antonio Johnson (IND)

Daniel Muir (IND)

Eric Foster (IND)

Ron Edwards (KC)

Paul Soliai (MIA)

Fred Evans (MIN)

Gerard Warren (NE)

Remi Ayodele (NO)

Barry Coefield (NYG)

John Henderson (OAK)

Chris Hovan (STL)

Clifton Ryan (STL)

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Running Backs:

DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – Jonathan Stewart and the emergence of Mike Goodson could make DeAngelo Williams expendable to the Panthers. After a short-lived, ineffective 2010 season, a tag and trade seems less likely. If he’s an unrestricted free agent after this year, Williams could leave Carolina for a team willing to offer him a starting position and the money that comes along with it.

Arian Foster (HOU) – With little else to play for, the Texans remain committed in helping Arian Foster win the rushing title. After spending time on the team’s practice squad last year, he was promoted late in the season and rolled his success into this year. He’s quickly become of the league’s most talented and polished running backs. He’ll likely be an exclusive rights free agent, giving the Texans all the leverage in the world to re-sign him below market value.

Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – While sharing the run game with Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw put together his most impressive season yet with over 1500 yards from scrimmage. Still, there seems to be some sort of hex on Giants’ running backs who just can’t protect the ball. First it was Barber and now Jacobs and Bradshaw, who lost 6 of 7 fumbles this year. Turnovers were a big part of Giants’ losses, including a crucial one to Green Bay on the road, but it would be surprising to see New York part ways with a good runner and receiver because of fumble problems after watching Tiki Barber get over the same issues later in his career.

Cedric Benson (CIN) – The former first-round bust ran for over 1000 yards in his 2nd consecutive season, though far less efficiently this year. The Bengals are also high on Bernard Scott who ran effectively late in the season, but Cincinnati seems like a good home for Benson where he can run between the tackles.

Mike Tolbert (SD) – The 2010 season ushered in the return of the bruisers at running back and few were more effective than the former fullback, Mike Tolbert. With first round pick, Ryan Mathews, banged up for much of the year, Tolbert took control of the Chargers backfield and plowed over defenders for nearly 1000 yards from scrimmage. The organization is very high on Tolbert and will make all efforts to re-sign him this offseason, where he’ll probably be a restricted free agent, regardless of how the CBA plays out.

Darren Sproles (SD) – With Tolbert seizing the hype out of San Diego, the need for Sproles may have diminished enough where the Chargers may allow him to leave in free agency for a more lucrative offer elsewhere. They heavily utilized him as a receiving back where he eclipsed the 500 yard mark on around 60 receptions. Including returns, he averaged about 10 touches per game, which is probably his ideal number.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) – Heading into the final week, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has a shot at eclipsing the 1000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He’s been effective bouncing between the tackles and is a perfect fit in New England. He’ll most likely be a restricted free agent in any CBA scenario, giving the Patriots the edge to re-sign Ellis, a tough back who lacks long speed.

Ronnie Brown (MIA) – In a contract year, Brown accomplished something he’s never done in his entire six-year career: start all 16 games. He also posted another first and that is finishing the season with a YPC below 4. At 29 with an injury history and a lone 1000 yard season in his career, Brown hasn’t earned his second big contract, despite the talent that would warrant it. He may look for a short deal—either in Miami or elsewhere—hoping to recapture some of his youth and cash in on one larger one in the very near future.

Ricky Williams (MIA) – Williams continues to defy the odds as he turned in another successful rushing season over the age of 30. The Dolphins would be wise to offer him an incentive-laden contract and continue to use him in a timeshare role in the offense, whether or not it’s with Ronnie Brown.

Michael Bush (OAK) – Even with McFadden’s breakout season, his lingering injuries may concern the Raiders enough to keep Michael Bush as an insurance policy. Bush hasn’t been explosive enough to warrant consideration as a starter around the league, improving the odds he stays Oakland.

Pierre Thomas (NO) – Thomas hasn’t been very effective this season even when healthy. However, a good postseason could go a long way into earning himself some coin this offseason. If he can shine in the spotlight, the Saints may feel obligated to re-sign Thomas.

Leon Washington (SEA) – The dynamic returner will surely receive a long-term offer from the Seahawks after his sensational year. After getting his legs back, he should expect an expanded workload on offense in addition to his special teams duties where he’s single-handedly kept them in several games.

Vonta Leach (HOU) (FB) – The Pro Bowl fullback loves smashing heads with linebackers and has paved the way for what may be the league’s leading rusher. Houston will look to keep its ground success going, which very much includes Leach.

Le’Ron McClain (BAL) (FB) – McClain will probably ask for more carries and given the success of Peyton Hillis, a similarly proportioned back, maybe he’ll find it elsewhere. The Ravens will still have strong interest in retaining his services though.

John Kuhn (GB) (FB) – Kuhn has become a fan favorite and a locker room leader in Green Bay. He’s a lunch pail guy who provides versatility on offense and consistency on special teams. The Packers tend to take care of their own.

Other Notable Free Agents:

Tim Hightower (ARZ)

Jerious Norwood (ATL)

Mike Bell (CLE)

Laurence Maroney (DEN)

Kevin Smith (DET)

Brandon Jackson (GB)

Derrick Ward (HOU)

Joseph Addai (IND)

Mike Hart (IND)

Patrick Cobbs (MIA)

Sammy Morris (NE)

Kevin Faulk (NE)

Fred Taylor (NE)

Danny Ware (NYG)

Jerome Harrison (PHI)

Mewelde Moore (PIT)

Brian Westbrook (SF)

Kenneth Darby (STL)

Michael Spurlock (TB)

Cadillac Williams (TB)

Jason Snelling (ATL) (FB)

Brian Leonard (CIN) (FB)

Lawrence Vickers (CLE) (FB)

Jerome Felton (DET) (FB)

Korey Hall (GB) (FB)

Lex Hilliard (MIA) (FB)

Naufahu Tahi (MIN) (FB)

Tony Richardson (NYJ) (FB)

Heath Evans (NO) (FB)

Marcel Reece (OAK) (FB)

Ahmard Hall (TEN) (FB)

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Kellen Clemens GONE

Tony Richardson GONE

Santonio Holmes

Braylon Edwards

Wayne Hunter

Shaun Ellis

David Harris

Antonio Cromartie

Brodney Pool

Eric Smith

Tanne has some big decisons to make. I didnt include those like JT,VG,KJ,MB who are under contract and need to be GONE also.

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Manny Lawson

Athyba Rubin

Jonathan Joseph

ftw...iunno there's other routes too...Hatcher/Bowens from the Cowboys...Branch and Watson from Arizona....I want new DL.

I distinctly remember how high people were on guys like lawson and cliff avril coming out and it's a shame they haven't amounted to as much as I thought they would have. Rubin could be a good rotational guy to keep Pouha fresh if there's no big jenks this year.

I'm personally eager to see the development of guys like Pito and Gilbert. I remember Rex and Pettine being very high on Pito before his achilles injury this offseason.

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As far as FAs go, my VERY premature wish list would go like this:

QB - Seneca Wallace and re-sign Clemens (obviously, this means Brunell is out).

RB - If LT returns, then the Jets stay put. They will add some camp/PS squad guys obviously (maybe bring back Chauncey Washington). If LT retires, then I certainly see the Jets making a FA play. Leon Washington anyone?!?! Okay, not likely, but it would be sweet! Others I would consider would be Sproles, Michael Bush, Jerious Norwood, and ronnie brown on the cheap.

WR - Must re-sign Brad Smith. All the hubub is about Holmes and Edwards, but Smith is a FA too. I would love to see the Jets re-sign all three, but that would be the best case scenario. This will be huge for the Jets, but there are other great free agent options too. Vincent Jackson will garner as much coin as Holmes and Edwards, so one would think he is out. Sydney Rice would be great, but the Vikings will never let him go. James Jones or Houshmanzadeh would be decent replacements. What about bringing in Santana Moss to retire a Jet? Lots of decisions to make here.

TE - Would love to steal Zach Miller from Oakland to compliment Keller, but he will be too expensive. I see the Jets drafting a blocking TE this year.

OL - No big moves here, maybe a savvy vet for depth. Likely re-sign Hunter and draft depth.

DL - Yet again, numerous factors and decisions here. Will Kris Jenkins return and will the Jets welcome him back? If he does return, what about signing his bro Cullen? Those two up front would be huge (literally and figuratively), if only for one season. I would like to see Ellis and Pryce return too, and I think Ropati Pitotua will really help up front this year. Combine that with solid play from DeVito and Pouha, and the possible emergence of Kroul, then the D-line starts to look good for next season. I would still recommend grabbing a NT and DE in the draft. If Jenkins does not come back, I would entertain bringing in Pat Williams for a year, and if Ellis leaves town, I would like to see the Jets aggressively target Marcus Spears.

LB - Must re-sign Harris! Aside from that, there are only two FA LBs worth a look. Woodley or Hali would be tremendous additions, but they are not likely to leave their respective teams. Looks like the Jets will, yet again, try to find that dominant edge rusher in the draft.

CB - Asomugha would be a giant upgrade from Cro, but can the Jets really afford either with a salary cap looming? Cross your fingers Jets fans! Mike T will need to play his cards right, cause if he flirts with Nnamdi, then Cro might lose his affection for his new-found friends. I think Drew Coleman has earned a renewed contract for the right price too.

S - Dawan Landry would be the best FA fit for the Jets, but he will likely remain with the Ravens. I would take a shot at Melvin Bullitt, if we do not re-sign Pool and Smith. Without a doubt, the Jets take a hard look at safety in the draft.

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I distinctly remember how high people were on guys like lawson and cliff avril coming out and it's a shame they haven't amounted to as much as I thought they would have. Rubin could be a good rotational guy to keep Pouha fresh if there's no big jenks this year.

I'm personally eager to see the development of guys like Pito and Gilbert. I remember Rex and Pettine being very high on Pito before his achilles injury this offseason.

Lawson is nasty...very good against the run and probably the best 3-4 OLB in the league dropping in coverage...he's going to get paid so we might be limited to guys like Wimbley...maybe if we're lucky Mathias K will come here and maybe even stay healthy.

I'm not excited about this whole Pito/Gilbert/Kroul gang...If one of those guys becomes legit NFLers I'd be ecstatic and surprised....Gilbert or Pito would be my bet, but both is asking for alot.

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