Maybe it’s the lockout being over, or maybe it’s the frantic nature of it. But this has been one heck of a fun free agency.
So we’ll make a deal with you. You keep reading, we’ll keep writing, and well all get ready for the new NFL season to start.
What I’m going to do now is pretty simple. Way back when it seemed like football was a million miles away (so about two weeks), I wrote a list of my 51 top free agents. Well some of them are gone, but 20 are still left! So I’ll run down what the talking heads have been saying about them, and suggest some possible destinations.
Aubrayo Franklin, NT (7)
Speculation: Washington appears to have gone and changed what type of 3-4 they’re running, which meant a move for Franklin was never on the cards. There’s be next to nothing out there about Franklin.
What Should Happen: The Chiefs and Franklin makes too much sense. Simple as. They need a nose tackle, and he needs a team. Assuming the 49ers are 100% committed to Isaac Sopoaga.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (8)
Speculation: Bradshaw tried to play the Dolphins and the Giants against each other. He only served to push Miami into the arms of Reggie Bush and as such, he’s kind of left in New York.
What Should Happen: It’s a little surprising this deal hasn’t happened yet. Bradshaw will be back in New York and tell everyone that ‘he only ever wanted to return to the Giants’.
Jared Gaither, OT (10)
Speculation: On day one there was talk of Gaither to the Raiders, but since then? Nothing. Is he still negotiating with them? Is it just the physical holding things up? Nobody is quite sure. Either that or nobody quite cares.
What Should Happen: Arizona should protect their investment in Kevin Kolb, by getting involved. He’d be a huge upgrade over Levi Brown. Will they? Who knows. The market for a young, elite talent like Gaither should be a lot stronger than it appears to be so I wouldn’t be surprised by a move out of left field.
Matt Roth, OLB (12)
Speculation: He’s been mentioned a couple of times, but there’s been nothing concrete on Roth.
What Should Happen: A team should read my article and make him a number two pass rusher. Oh hello, Chiefs, how you doing?
Cullen Jenkins, DE (14)
Speculation: It looked like Jenkins was on his way to Washington, but they decided to get younger with Stephen Bowen. Who knew? That probably set Dallas into a panic and makes them the logical choice. Both Denver and New Orleans are in the mix, as they seem to be for any defensive lineman who can play inside and has a good burst off the ball.
What Should Happen: I really like what Jenkins could do a DLE in Denver, kicking inside to tackle on passing downs. That could be a perfect role for him given how good he was in the Packers 4-3 years ago. He’s more than capable of playing DT in base downs though. He’s a good fit everywhere, but Dallas seems to have the biggest need.
Michael Huff, S (20)
Speculation: With the safety market focusing on Weddle, Mikell and Manning, one guys whose name has been whispered only in hushed tones is Huff. There’s been practically nothing about a player who is coming off the back of a break out year. The market has likely been set for him to take advantage of it now.
What Should Happen: Dallas simply has to get better play from the FS spot, and Huff can bring that better play. He should be back in Texas.
Malcolm Floyd, WR (21)
Speculation: With receivers flying off the board on day one, the market for Malcolm Floyd has heated up quite nicely. The Vikings are looking at him to replace Sidney Rice, the Bears are looking at every receiver going and the 49ers are pretty desperate with news Michael Crabtree may not be ready to go for the start of the season.
What Should Happen: The Vikings can’t leave their receiving group untouched, and Floyd’s vertical ability is about as good as you’ll get when trying to replace Sidney Rice. Either that or the Redskins fancy one more receiver.
Braylon Edwards, WR (24)
Speculation: Edwards tweeted that he feels the Jets don’t want him back, and while he removed that tweet, there other dealings may limit their ability to lock a talented receiver like Edwards down. Real good down the field threat, the Vikings have been interested, and don’t discount the Redskins.
What Should Happen: I really don’t know. My gut tells me Floyd to the Vikings, which leaves Edwards where? San Francisco is a pretty nice place to live, but will they shell out top receiver money? Edwards is likely to cost more than Floyd.
Manny Lawson, OLB (25)
Speculation: Before free agency started there was a lot of talk of teams that would be interested in Lawson. Well those teams are either not interested or playing it awfully coy. Some rumors suggest teams are waiting to check out Lawson’s knee on the back of an old ACL tear. That makes sem
What Should Happen: The more I think about it, the more KC seems like a good fit for him. Presuming they don’t go with Matt Roth. I have Roth ranked higher, so Lawson should be selling himself before teams can pull the trigger on a superior player in Roth.
Zach Miller, TE (27)
Speculation: Another player we’ve heard next to nothing about. Teams just don’t appear to value tight ends in free agency as much as they do other positions. Either that or they feel it’s a given he returns to the Raiders.
What Should Happen: He’s a better player than Greg Olsen, but that trade and subsequent contract he agreed should encourage people to show their interest. He’s an every down tight end who just needs to get a little bit more consistent game to game.
Stylez White, DE (31)
Speculation: Nothing has come out in regards to White, but he could resign with the Bucs. He’d be doing so as a stop gap and find himself way down the depth chart. They don’t like his practice habits, though he’s been a consistently productive pass rusher.
What Should Happen: Any team in need of a backup DE and third down pass rusher should get in touch. 2008-2009 White was superb in that role. Tennessee could really use the Stylish one.
Stephen Tulloch, MLB (32)
Speculation: It seemed like the Lions and Tulloch were getting along like a house on fire. Unfortunately money seems to be an issue, and the Lions are out of the running. The Eagles have also said they have no interest so the question is where does Tulloch go?
What Should Happen: Could he return to Tennessee? He’s running out of options after allegedly turning down $6m a year and $10m from Detroit. There really isn’t much of a market for him now and I doubt he gets a better offer than that. Very good player in a tricky situation it appears.
Raheem Brock, DE (38)
Speculation: Surprisingly Seattle have been looking around at all sorts of defensive ends. But no mention of Brock. This is most peculiar. After playing poorly as a Colt he was in demand. Now he’s playing superbly as a Seahawk no one cares? Just watch what he did last year for goodness sake and pay the man.
What Should Happen: Seattle should realize they’re better off with him. If not, any team looking for some additional pass rush should put an incentive laden deal in front of Brock and watch him prosper.
Antonio Cromartie, CB (39)
Speculation: He’s the fall back plan for the Jets it seems. Cromartie is having to wait until something happens there, though the 49ers are showing interest.
What Should Happen: The 49ers could use a playmaking corner. Cromartie could very be that guy. He’ll be expensive, but not that expensive.
Jacob Ford, DE (41)
Speculation: No news out there. Excellent situational player, he had his chance as a starter and he didn’t hold up so well, but look at what he did in 2008 and 2009. He will beat tackles.
What Should Happen: A team in the market for a situational passer should be getting in contact with his agent. You want a player to get to the quarterback, so Ford is a valuable commodity. He could help plenty of teams in their sub package look. Ultimately he’ll probably find this role at Tennessee for him.
Steve Smith, WR (42)
Speculation: His injury has scared all teams away from him. The Giants have all the leverage.
What Should Happen: He’s at the mercy of the Giants, but will probably sign on with them for two-three years and get another shot at a big contract.
Andre Carter, DE (43)
Speculation: Only real link has Carter going to Denver. He’s worked with their new DC and they need a replacement for Jason Babin. Logical.
What Should Happen: He should go to Tennessee and show people he’s still a good player. He was a force in 2009, and people have forgotten that. Everyone knew he couldn’t play the 3-4 OLB role and it ruined his season. He’s a guy who should bounce back.
Chris Carr, CB (46)
Speculation: Carr is in demand, but teams seem to just view him as a slot corner. He played pretty well as a starter for the Ravens, and can kick inside in sub packages. No reason why he’d want to take a demotion. Jaguars, 49ers, Jets and Ravens all in the mix.
What Should Happen: It looks like a tough break for Carr with the Jags being an ideal spot but only seeing him as a nickel. San Francisco may be the best place for him. He could replace Nate Clements at a fraction of the cost and become their top corner.
Kevin Boss, TE (47)
Speculation: The Giants are focusing on Boss and seem to be close to getting a deal done.
What Should Happen: As so often is the case, a player has a sub standard year and teams forget about him. The Giants haven’t forgot though. They know Boss is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and a very capable receiver.
Shaun Ellis, DE (48)
Speculation: Nothing at this moment. Dallas could use a defensive end like Ellis to steady the ship after losing a few guys. Same can be said for Green Bay. He’s a short term solution who shouldn’t be playing as much as the Jets played him, but he can help teams.
What Should Happen: When Cullen Jenkins has gone we’ll know better. If the Cowboys can’t pick him up, Ellis is the best they can really bring in to add some depth to what is becoming a weak spot for them.
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