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NFL Free Agency Preview

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Today marks the eve of NFL free agency.

Usually, the first day of free agency is a frenzy with countless players changing teams.

However, this year will be quieter than those of years past.

The reason being the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement.

This requires players to have six years of service in the league in order to be a unrestricted free agent instead of the usual three or four.

The result is that around 200 players that would have been unrestricted free agents are now restricted free agents, which has left the free agency rather bare.

Still, there are some big names on the market and without a salary cap there will be teams willing to pay top dollar.

Top Unrestricted Free Agents:

Julius Peppers, DE

The prize of this year’s free agent class, Peppers will command a huge contract on the open market.  Though his effort can be questioned at times, there is no denying his ability to get the opposing quarterback (81 sacks in 8 years).

Signs with: Bears

Karlos Dansby, LB

After being franchised two years in a row, Dansby was too rich for Arizona’s blood and should have no problem landing a big pay day in free agency.  He is versatile enough to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

Signs with: Dolphins

Dunta Robinson, CB

Robinson’s production has never quite matched his talent, but as the top corner in an ultra thin corner market the man will overpaid.  I wouldn’t give $20 million guaranteed to a corner that didn’t have an interception last season.

Signs with: Redskins

Thomas Jones, RB

Jones ran for over 1,400 yards last season and has five 1,000 yard seasons in a row, yet he was released by the Jets in order to clear the way for Shonn Greene.  The key number with Jones is 32, his age before the start of next season.

Signs with: Lions

Darren Sharper, S

Despite leading a improved defense to a Super Bowl the Saints will let Sharper hit the open market.  Sharper was rejuvenated last year in New Orleans recording nine interceptions and returning three for touchdowns.

Signs with: Saints

Gary Brackett, MLB

Brackett has long been one of the most underrated players in the league.  He is a tackling machine and is the leader of the Colts defense.  He is worth more to the Colts than any other team.

Signs with: Colts

Antrel Rolle

The Cardinals released Rolle because he was due a $4 million bonus, but are still the favorite to sign him.  They will face serious competition though from the Bears and Dolphins.

Signs with: Giants

Other Notables:

Leigh Bodden, CB

Bodden had a nice rebound year with the Patriots and should cash in with a nice deal.

Ryan Clark, S

Clark is an above average starter, who can bring the lumber in the secondary.

Antonio Bryant, WR

Bryant is talented but way too inconsistent.  However, as the top wide receiver his agent will trick one team into giving him a long term deal.

Chester Taylor, RB

Taylor could be a great third down back for any team and has proven he could be the lead back if needed.

Aaron Kampman, DE

Kampman could be the steal of this year’s free agent class.  miscast as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Kampman will be a steal for any 4-3 team.

Kevin Walter, WR

Walter had a disappointing 2009 campaign, but is still young enough (28) to be a solid number two receiver on a team.

The best of the rest: Jamal Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Larry Foote, Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Owens, Joey Porter, Jarvis Green, Chad Pennington, Derrick Mason, Nate Burelson, Ben Watson, Stephen Neal, Rex Hadnot, Bobbie Williams, Adewale Ogunleye, Willie Parker, Dwan Edwards

As mentioned earlier there are a lot more restricted free agents this year.  Most of them have been tendered at one of the highest levels insuring they will be back with their respective teams next year.  But there are a few players that could sign offer sheets with other teams and perhaps insert a poison pill:

Brandon Marshall, WR (1st Round)

With the Broncos giving Marshall only a first round tender, they are tempting another team to sign him to an offer sheet.  It’s clear the Broncos don’t want Marshall in town and a trade seems like the most likely possibility.

Signs with: Seahawks

Pierre Thomas, RB (2nd Round)

The Saints are rolling the dice her by only placing a 2nd round tender on Thomas.  He is one of the most efficient backs in the league and if he can ever stay healthy he could be among the best in the league.

Signs with: Saints

Richard Marshall, CB (2nd Round)

The talented corner was surprisingly tendered at the second round level.  Coming off a season with four interceptions and nine pass deflections, Marshall should draw an offer from a team.

Signs with: Panthers

Kirk Morrison, LB (3rd Round)

I would call the Raiders crazy for tendering their best defender at a third round level while they tendered their nickel corner at a first and third level, but this is what we have come to expect from Al Davis.

Signs with: Raiders

Troy Smith, QB (5th Round)

The former Heisman winner has never gotten a chance to start in Baltimore.  WHile he may not be a pro bowler caliber quarterback he would make for a fine backup on any team.

Signs with: Ravens

O.J. Atogwe, S (No compensation)

Atogwe was the Rams franchise player last year and has to be insulted with this offer from the Rams.  Any team can sign Atogwe to an offer sheet without giving the Rams any draft pick compensation and I expect there to be a market for his services.

Signs with: Bears


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