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    PFW's Top 100 Free Agents

    PFWs top 100 free agents

    By Mike Wilkening
    ProFootballWeekly.com
    March 2, 2012


    We can say this much for the 2012 free-agent class: There have been worse years to be looking for WR help.


    About one in six players in PFW's list of the top 100 free agents is a wide receiver. Four of the top 10 free agents Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, San Diego's Vincent Jackson, Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson and Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe are Pro Bowl receivers.


    Wallace, the highest-ranked of the wideouts at No. 4, is a restricted free agent. At press time, the Steelers were expected to at least tender him at a first-round level.


    The thinning of the free-agent ranks with the franchise tag is an annual offseason rite. But even if the tag is widely used, the start of the 2012 league year still figures to bring no shortage of big-money, multiyear deals.


    Several teams could have especially tough decisions in free agency. The Saints will not let QB Drew Brees go, but if Brees receives the franchise tag, what happens to OLG Carl Nicks and WR Marques Colston two of their foremost offensive stars? WR Robert Meachem and CB Tracy Porter are other Saints Unrestricted free agents who could draw interest if unsigned at the start of the new league year, March 13.


    The Texans are also in a challenging spot. Giving the franchise tag to Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster doesn't help the odds of finding the money necessary to bring back top pass rusher Mario Williams. The Chiefs, Colts, Falcons and ***** are other clubs with numerous desirable free agents.


    PFW ranked these free agents on the basis of these criteria: talent, position value, age and all other relevant factors. The PFW editorial staff provided feedback throughout the process, and multiple league evaluators were polled for their insight. All evaluators participated on condition of anonymity.


    QB Peyton Manning's fate has yet to be determined by the Colts. If available, and if healthy, he would rank among the most in-demand players in an already deep free-agent class.


    (Listed age is as of Sept. 1, 2012)


    1. Drew Brees
    QB | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 33 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Make no mistake: There's no way the Saints are letting Brees test the market. One of the greatest free-agent additions of all time, Brees broke the single-season passing yardage record in 2011. He has led New Orleans to four playoff berths in six seasons with the team and captured Super Bowl XLIV MVP honors after helping the Saints to the first NFL title in franchise history. Players like Brees, a difference maker of the highest order, don't hit free agency very often, and with good reason. He will receive the franchise tag if the club cannot sign him to a long-term deal.


    2. Mario Williams
    OLB-DE | Houston Texans
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Williams, one of the game's top pass rushers, who has shown he can play in 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, is expected to draw major interest if he tests free agency. He possesses a rare combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism and can be downright dominant at times. His durability is something of a concern he missed most of last season with a pectoral injury and missed multiple games with a sports hernia in 2010 but there is no doubting his talent.


    3. Arian Foster
    RB | Houston Texans
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Restricted


    Foster has worked his way from undrafted free agent to one of the NFL's elite backs. He is fast, strong and elusive, has very good vision, hits the hole hard and has a knack for getting the most out of every run. Plus, he is excellent in the passing game. Finally, he was outstanding in his first two postseason games, rushing for 285 yards and three TDs. The concern with Foster, as it seemingly is with every running back, is durability, considering the rigors of the position.


    4. Mike Wallace
    WR | Pittsburgh Steelers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Restricted


    We don't see many restricted free agents tendered at the first-round level drawing offer sheets, but if the Steelers simply tender Wallace instead of giving him the franchise tag which would require interested teams to surrender two No. 1 picks if Pittsburgh didn't match a contract proposal we could see that happening. The fleet Wallace can stretch any secondary with his speed and has improved his all-around game, too.


    5. Ray Rice
    RB | Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 25 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Versatile and productive, Rice is a true dual-threat back, with an NFL-best 2,068 total yards in 2011. That made him the second player in NFL history (along with Marshall Faulk) to tally multiple seasons of 1,000 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards. If the Ravens cannot sign him to a long-term contract, they figure to give him the franchise tag.


    6. Carl Nicks
    OG | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Nicks was one of the best interior offensive linemen in football a season ago. Considering the Saints gave ORG Jahri Evans a monster contract last offseason, they could be challenged to keep the powerful Nicks, who is likely to be the latest in a growing line of guards to strike it rich in free agency.


    7. Vincent Jackson
    WR | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Will this be the year that Jackson finally gets to test free agency unfettered? The Chargers gave him the franchise tag a season ago, but such a move would be even more costly this year. Jackson's size and speed can present major problems for secondaries, and he fits Norv Turner's offense well. Will the Chargers ink him to a long-term deal, or will he sign elsewhere? He's clearly one of the top offensive players available in free agency.


    8. Matt Fort
    RB | Chicago Bears
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Fort's 2011 season was cut short by an MCL sprain in early December, but before the injury, he was one of the NFL's top all-around threats at his position. Quick, tough and versatile, Fort is a major threat as a runner and as a pass catcher. The Bears are likely to use the franchise tag on him if a multiyear pact cannot be reached.


    9. DeSean Jackson
    WR | Philadelphia Eagles
    Age: 25 | FA Type: Franchise player



    Jackson wasn't as productive in 2011 as he had been in previous seasons, and his contract situation admittedly affected him. Considering that Jackson still hauled in 56 passes for 961 yards and four TDs, the expectations for him are quite clear. His speed is his greatest gift, and he can be an elite playmaker on offense and on special teams. However, he is on the small side, and he could be tough for a coaching staff to manage. Whether he remains in Philadelphia or goes elsewhere, he's a wonderful talent who figures to be highly compensated.


    10. Dwayne Bowe
    WR | Kansas City Chiefs
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Strength and physicality define Bowe's game. Concerns about his consistency have subsided a bit after two strong seasons, though dropped passes still can be an issue for him. The Chiefs could give the franchise tag to Bowe, who has exceeded 1,000 yards receiving three times in the past four seasons and has a total of 31 TD catches the past three campaigns. If he hits the market, he figures to draw considerable interest.


    11. Cortland Finnegan
    CB | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Finnegan is one of the game's better players at a position that has become exceedingly valuable with passing on the increase and the stellar play of quarterbacks one of the defining traits of the 2011 season. He is instinctive, competitive and tough, will not back down from opponents and is capable of shutting down quality receivers when he's at his best. He will be very much in demand if Tennessee allows him to test the market.


    12. Cliff Avril
    DE | Detroit Lions
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Pass-rushing skill like Avril possesses is a valuable talent to have in this pass-happy league. Avril, who notched a career-high 11 sacks in 2011, is quick off the edge and has a good motor. He fits the Lions' hard-charging scheme well. Detroit could use the franchise tag to retain him if it cannot strike a long-term deal with him.


    13. Wes Welker
    WR | New England Patriots
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Welker is the Patriots' top priority in free agency. A quick, tough, productive slot receiver, Welker caught 122 passes in 2011 22 more than any other player. No AFC pass catcher was targeted more (173), and he is adept at working open for QB Tom Brady. Welker has made a strong comeback from a 2009 knee injury and continues to play at a high level.


    14. Calais Campbell
    DE | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Campbell set career highs in tackles (72), passes defended (10) and sacks (eight) in 2011. The 6-8, 300-pound defensive end works hard and has produced at a high level since entering the starting lineup. The Cardinals are unlikely to let him go.


    15. Robert Mathis
    DE | Indianapolis Colts
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Mathis, who has notched at least 9 sacks in seven of the last eight NFL seasons, will appeal to clubs looking for a disruptive, high-motor (if undersized) pass rusher. (He also has improved vs. the run.) He has always played in Dwight Freeney's shadow; the question is: How will he fare if he's the rush threat that opponents focus on?


    16. Stevie Johnson
    WR | Buffalo Bills
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The good: Johnson can hold his own against top-caliber competition, as evidenced by his play against Jets CB Darrelle Revis. Moreover, he has gained more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons. The bad: His endzone antics will not endear him to coaches, and he has dropped multiple passes in key situations.


    17. Marshawn Lynch
    RB | Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Lynch was the tone setter for the Seahawks' offense in 2011, rushing for a career-best 1,204 yards and 12 TDs. He is still relatively young, and his punishing style would endear him to teams looking for a tough focal point for their running game. The Seahawks figure to work to bring him back. The knocks on Lynch? He has encountered some off-field trouble in the past. Also, how much longer can he play at a high level, considering his running style?


    18. Brandon Carr
    CB | Kansas City Chiefs
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With the Chiefs signing ex-Raiders CB Stanford Routt to a three-year deal on Feb. 21, Carr might price himself out of Kansas City. A productive starter who has defended 65 passes and grabbed eight interceptions in four NFL seasons, Carr is likely to be in demand when free agency begins.


    19. Ben Grubbs
    OG | Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Grubbs, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011, doesn't make many mistakes and is solid both as a run blocker and as a pass protector. The Ravens would like to keep him. "Ben is a player that we'd love to have back in Baltimore," GM Ozzie Newsome said at the NFL Scouting Combine.


    20. Matt Flynn
    QB | Green Bay Packers
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Flynn's rsum is short two regular-season starts but his potential is considerable, and he plays the most valuable position on the field. There's reason to believe he can be a successful full-time player. He is mobile and has improved his arm strength. Moreover, he had a valuable apprenticeship behind Aaron Rodgers. The question is: Can Flynn be elite? The team that acquires him will place high expectations on him.


    21. Brent Grimes
    CB | Atlanta Falcons
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Franchise player



    Grimes, who has very good ball skills, has emerged as one of the NFC's better cornerbacks the past three seasons. Despite the high cost, the Falcons decided to use the franchise tag with the goal of working out a long-term deal for the 2010 Pro Bowler.


    22. John Abraham
    DE | Atlanta Falcons
    Age: 34 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With 112 career sacks, including 9 in 2011, Abraham is one of the premier pass rushers of his time. However, his age and the wear and tear sustained over a long career are issues that have to be weighed. The Falcons would like to re-sign him, but at their price, and Abraham likely will test the market.


    23. Marques Colston
    WR | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Colston is a tall, strong, sure-handed possession target who has a notable injury history with microfracture surgeries on each knee the past three years. He caught 80-of-107 passes thrown to him a season ago, an impressive statistic when you consider that his average reception was 11.1 yards downfield. Look for him to draw interest if he's unsigned at the beginning of the league year.


    24. Michael Griffin
    S | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Griffin has special physical traits for the safety position. He has very good range and solid ball skills, too, as evidenced by his 17 career interceptions. However, his play has left something to be desired at times. He seems to get caught in-between on some plays. He draws this ranking on production, but he has the potential to do even more.


    25. Michael Bush
    RB | Oakland Raiders
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    A physical inside runner, Bush has been a capable fill-in for, and complement to, Darren McFadden in Oakland. However, Bush lacks breakaway speed. With McFadden's durability a concern, re-signing Bush would make sense for Oakland. But will Bush be offered a starting job elsewhere? With the franchise tag potentially thinning the UFA RB ranks, Bush could do quite well in free agency.


    26. Lardarius Webb
    CB | Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 26 | FA Type: restricted


    Webb is one of the better restricted free agents available. Tough, quick and instinctive, Webb is capable of baiting quarterbacks into mistakes. He also brings value as a return specialist. It won't be surprising if the Ravens sign him to a multiyear deal.


    27. Fred Davis
    TE | Washington Redskins
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Davis is a candidate to receive the franchise tag. He set career highs in catches (59) and yards (796), and his yards-per-catch average (13.5) highlights his ability to challenge defenses down the field. However, he was suspended for the final four games of the 2011 season after violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.


    28. Paul Soliai
    NT | Miami Dolphins
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Dolphins are moving to a 4-3 scheme, which could open the door for Soliai, who received the franchise tag from Miami in 2011, to go elsewhere. This run-stuffing interior lineman fits best in a 3-4 scheme.


    29. Carlos Rogers
    CB | San Francisco *****
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Rogers starred in his first season in San Francisco, intercepting a career-best six passes for one of the NFL's top defenses. Considering his skill and how well he fit in the secondary as sort of an extra coach on the field, look for San Francisco to work to bring him back.


    30. Reggie Wayne
    WR | Indianapolis Colts
    Age: 33 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Wayne has lost a step, but he still can be an effective starter because of his route running, excellent hands, durability and run-after-catch ability. There's a good chance he could move on from the Colts, a club in transition.


    31. Sione Pouha
    NT | New York Jets
    Age: 33 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The 6-3, 325-pound Pouha comes off his best season. Teams struggled to run up the middle on the Jets in 2011, gaining 2.93 yards per carry on such rushes, according to NFL statistics. While he is on the wrong side of 30, he has been a starter for only three seasons.


    32 Dashon Goldson
    S | San Francisco *****
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    In addition to being a physical presence on the back end of the Niners' secondary, Goldson intercepted a career-high six passes in a breakout season. The ***** are expected to try to re-sign him, and with good reason he's one of the top playmakers at his position.


    33. LaRon Landry
    S | Washington Redskins
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Landry's durability is a major question mark. An Achilles injury suffered in 2010 also bothered him in 2011, and he has played in only 17-of-32 games the past two seasons. When healthy, Landry can be a force in the back of the secondary.


    34. Alex Smith
    QB | San Francisco *****
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Smith took a big step forward in 2011, playing efficiently and taking care of the ball (five interceptions). The 2005 No. 1 overall pick is still relatively young, and his persistence really paid off a season ago. His stock definitely has risen.


    35. Brandon Lloyd
    WR | St. Louis Rams
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Lloyd's last two seasons have been his best. He has proven capable of being a go-to target, but he might be best as a dynamic No. 2 receiver. The athletic Lloyd is capable of the highlight-reel catch, but he can struggle to get separation.


    36. Kyle Orton
    QB | Kansas City Chiefs
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Orton is a starter-caliber player at a valuable position. He is not an elite difference maker he lacks mobility and isn't an especially accurate passer but he can be a winner in the right system with good talent surrounding him.


    37. Pierre Garcon
    WR | Indianapolis Colts
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With good size and speed, Garcon has the tools to be a standout, but he must be more consistent with cutting down on his drops and running better routes two areas of note to be ranked among the game's elite at his position. However, he's coming off his best season (70 catches, 947 yards, six TDs).


    38. Mario Manningham
    WR | New York Giants
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    One of the stars of the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI victory, Manningham boasts starting talent. However, the Giants already have two standout receivers in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The worry about Manningham isn't his ability but his consistency, which has been lacking at times.


    39. London Fletcher
    MLB | Washington Redskins
    Age: 37 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Fletcher continues to play at a high level, and the Redskins are likely to re-sign him. He has had a remarkably productive career. Want to know what consistency looks like in numerical form? Pull up Fletcher's career statistics and look at his games started and tackles recorded each season. Every week, he shows up, and every season, he's a good bet for triple-digit tackles.


    40. Anthony Spencer
    OLB | Dallas Cowboys
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Spencer is stout vs. the run and has shown moderate pass-rush ability he has notched better than 60 tackles and at least five sacks in all three of his seasons as a starter. Will he be back in Dallas, or could he draw interest from other 3-4 clubs?


    41. Tyvon Branch
    S | Oakland Raiders
    Age: 25 | FA Type: Franchise player



    Branch is the Raiders' top priority among their free agents, and he was informed by the team he will be franchised. He has recorded more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons, and he is also solid vs. the pass.


    42. Curtis Lofton
    MLB | Atlanta Falcons
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Falcons are expected to work to retain Lofton, their starting middle linebacker. The franchise tag is an option, but a multiyear deal is more likely. He recorded a career-best 147 tackles in 2011.


    43. Laurent Robinson
    WR | Dallas Cowboys
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Robinson's fifth NFL season (and first with Dallas) was far and away his best. Robinson, signed just before the season after being released by San Diego, set career highs in catches (54), yards (858) and TDs (11). Robinson's playmaking ability and dependability he caught two-thirds of the passes thrown his way are two of his selling points as he enters free agency.


    44. Chris Myers
    C | Houston Texans
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Myers has become one of the game's better players at his position. Undersized but athletic, he's one of the leaders of the Texans' line. He's a very good fit for Houston's zone-blocking scheme.


    45. Jason Jones
    DT | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Jones played defensive end for Tennessee in 2011, but he might be best inside, where his strength and quickness can make him a tough matchup for interior linemen. He has shown significant potential at times and might have upside to develop further.


    46. Robert Meachem
    WR | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Saints wouldn't mind re-signing Meachem, their 2007 first-round pick. The question is: What sort of offers will the speedy former Tennessee star receive in free agency? If another team wants to pay him like a go-to receiver, Meachem could be on the move.


    47. Kendall Langford
    DE | Miami Dolphins
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Solid against the run, the 6-6, 295-pound Langford wasn't as productive in 2011 as he had been in past seasons, but he certainly could hold appeal to clubs employing 3-4 fronts. He might be on the underrated side.


    48. Scott Wells
    C | Green Bay Packers
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    A key part of the Packers' offensive line, Wells has a good rapport with QB Aaron Rodgers and ranks as one of the top interior linemen available. The question is: Will Packers GM Ted Thompson give a multiyear deal to a lineman on the wrong side of 30? Considering Wells' value to the line, there are some who believe that would be a good move.


    49. Eric Wright
    CB | Detroit Lions
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Consistency is the issue with Wright. He will be dependable for stretches but can struggle mightily at times, such as he did in the regular-season loss at New Orleans in December. Overall, though, he played well in his first season in Detroit.


    50. Red Bryant
    DE | Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    A giant defensive end, Bryant is an excellent run stuffer. He is also a difference maker on special teams; note his two blocked field goals at Cleveland in a 6-3 Seattle loss last season. Though he is not much of a pass rusher, he fits Seattle's scheme very well.


    51. Aaron Ross
    CB | New York Giants
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Ross, who has contributed to two Super Bowl-winning Giants teams, could cash in as an Unrestricted free agent. With the CB position so highly valued, do not be surprised if he does very well for himself and signs elsewhere. However, he's more of a complementary player than a shutdown corner.


    52. Stephen Tulloch
    MLB | Detroit Lions
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The quick, instinctive but undersized Tulloch notched 111 tackles in his first season with Detroit in 2011. He's a strong fit it the Lions' 4-3 scheme, and it won't be a surprise if they look to re-sign him.


    53. Antonio Garay
    NT | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Garay has come into his own the past two seasons, starting 28 games for San Diego. The run-stuffing nose tackle recorded a career-best 57 tackles last season. He plays a valuable position well.


    54. Demetrius Bell
    OLT | Buffalo Bills
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    It is possible that Bell, who didn't play football until college and has only 31 NFL games to his credit, still could be developing. Though he played in only seven games a season ago because of injuries, he showed marked improvement when he was in the lineup.


    55. Jeremy Mincey
    DE | Jacksonville Jaguars
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Mincey notched a career-best eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 2011. A late developer, Mincey knows his effort is one of his defining attributes. He does come with some durability concerns, however.


    56. Peyton Hillis
    RB | Cleveland Browns
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Hillis struggled in 2011. A thigh injury cost him five games, and his unhappiness with his contract was a distraction. However, at season's end, he started to play well. Whether that was enough to convince the Browns to try to re-sign him remains to be seen. At his best, he's a power back who is strong enough to run between the tackles and athletic enough to help in the passing game.


    57. Richard Marshall
    CB | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Marshall's experience (55 career starts) and versatility (he can play cornerback or safety) are assets. Moreover, he is still relatively young. The Cardinals would like to re-sign him, but he figures to draw interest from other clubs.


    58. Jared Gaither
    OLT | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Gaither impressed in a late-season stint with the Chargers, who want to re-sign him. He has rare size for the position (6-9, 340 pounds) and has, at times, shown great promise at tackle. However, he missed the entire 2010 season with a back injury, and both Baltimore and Kansas City have given up on him. If he becomes more consistent and can stay healthy, he could be a productive starter for years to come.


    59. David Hawthorne
    MLB | Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Hawthorne has led the Seahawks in tackles in each of the past three seasons. The question is: Will Seattle re-sign him or veteran LB Leroy Hill? There are some questions about Hawthorne's durability.


    60. Tracy Porter
    CB | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Porter, one of the stars of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV win, has good ball skills and 39 career starts to his credit and young, talented cornerbacks like him can do quite well in free agency. However, he has never played in all 16 regular-season games.


    61. John Carlson
    TE | Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Carlson missed the 2011 season with a shoulder injury, but he has been productive when healthy. He could be a nice value signing if he is able to return to his pre-injury form.


    62. Reggie Nelson
    FS | Cincinnati Bengals
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Nelson has jump-started his career in Cincinnati. The former Jaguars No. 1 pick runs well, but he has occasionally struggled with consistency. Were he to depart, the Bengals would have a clear need in the secondary.


    63. Cedric Benson
    RB | Cincinnati Bengals
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Teams have a pretty good idea of what they are going to get from Benson. He's a rugged power back who wants a heavy workload, and he can handle it. However, he lacks long speed, turns 30 years old in December and had ball-security issues late last season (five fumbles combined in Weeks 15-16). It will be interesting to see where he lands and what sort of role he earns.


    64. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    RB | New England Patriots
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Green-Ellis' calling card? His dependability. He has never fumbled, and he has been a productive member of one of the NFL's top offenses the past two seasons. He possesses good vision and balance and fits the Patriots' scheme well.


    65. Nick Hardwick
    C | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Hardwick, who has started all 103 games in which he has played over eight seasons in San Diego, reportedly wants to return to the team. According to STATS LLC, Hardwick didn't allow a single sack in 2011 and was penalized only once. Also, he has a good rapport with QB Philip Rivers.


    66. Evan Mathis
    OG | Philadelphia Eagles
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Mathis played well in his first season in Philadelphia, and there's some belief that he's an underrated player. He equaled his career high with 15 starts in 2011 and didn't allow a sack.


    67. Terrell Thomas
    CB | New York Giants
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Thomas missed the 2011 season with a torn ACL suffered in August. It will be interesting to see how the injury affects his value. Stacking him and teammate Aaron Ross on this list was challenging: There is some sentiment that Thomas he had 31 passes defensed and 10 interceptions in 2009-10 is the better player, but he is coming off a serious injury, which affected his standing in these rankings.


    68. Mark Anderson
    DE | New England Patriots
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The pass-rush specialist had 10 sacks in the regular season and added 2 more in the playoffs, with 1 coming in Super Bowl XLVI. While Anderson isn't an every-down player, he has shown he can get after opposing QBs, which gives him value in a pass-happy league.


    69. Aubrayo Franklin
    NT | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Saints, who have their work cut out for them in free agency, could bring back Franklin, who was decent in his first season in New Orleans, at the right price. He could appeal to clubs looking for a 3-4 nose tackle.


    70. Mike Brisiel
    OG | Houston Texans
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Brisiel is a tough, hardworking interior lineman whose hard-nosed mentality makes him a favorite of the Texans' coaches. The Texans ran well off the right side last season, and he allowed only one sack. However, Brisiel was penalized eight times in 13 games.


    71. Mike Tolbert
    RB | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The 5-9, 243-pound Tolbert brings value as a tough red-zone back, as a receiver out of the backfield and as a strong special-teams performer. He likely fits best as part of a rotation. His versatility is an asset.


    72. Harry Douglas
    WR | Atlanta Falcons
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Douglas, the Falcons' No. 3 receiver, has some big-play ability, with 10 of his 39 catches in 2011 going for 20 yards or more. He would appeal to clubs looking for a quick slot receiver.


    73. Aaron Maybin
    DE-OLB | New York Jets
    Age: 24 | FA Type: Restricted


    As the Bills' 2010 first-round pick, Maybin lasted two dismal seasons in Buffalo before landing with the Jets. Though he was just a part-time player, Maybin flourished in Rex Ryan's system and notched six sacks and four forced fumbles. Considering his youth and pass-rush ability, it will be interesting to see how Maybin's career progresses.


    74. Israel Idonije
    DE | Chicago Bears
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Idonije is a capable starter whose last two seasons playing opposite Julius Peppers have been his best. The Bears are not likely to break the bank to re-sign him, but it will not be a surprise if he returns. He notched a career-high 52 tackles in 2011 and has 13 sacks the past two seasons, including five last season.


    75. E.J. Henderson
    MLB | Minnesota Vikings
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    After a very good nine-year career with the Vikings, Henderson could move on from this rebuilding club in the offseason. Teams looking for a tough, experienced 4-3 middle linebacker could be interested in him.


    76. Jason Campbell
    QB | Oakland Raiders
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With the Raiders making a major commitment to Carson Palmer, Campbell could sign elsewhere. He was having a solid season before suffering a broken collaRBone in October, leading then-head coach Hue Jackson to trade for Palmer. Campbell has thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions in all six NFL seasons in which he has played.


    77. Brodrick Bunkley
    DT | Denver Broncos
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With 65 career starts, the 6-2, 306-pound Bunkley, a 2006 first-round pick by the Eagles, could appeal to clubs that are looking for help up the middle. A serviceable starter, Bunkley notched 43 tackles for Denver a season ago.


    78. Jarret Johnson
    OLB | Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Johnson may be appealing to clubs that are looking for a tough, run-stuffing outside linebacker. He does not provide much of a pass rush, and he would fit best with a club where he could come off the field in obvious passing situations.


    79. Thomas Decoud
    S | Atlanta Falcons
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Falcons would like to bring back DeCoud, a three-year starter, at the right price. He set career highs in tackles (86) and interceptions (four) in 2011.


    80. Vince Young
    QB | Philadelphia Eagles
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Young had some good moments in his first season with the Eagles, most notably in Philadelphia's Week 11 win over the Giants. However, he threw nine interceptions in 114 attempts. His mobility is his greatest asset, but his accuracy remains too scattershot.


    81. Andre Carter
    DE | New England Patriots
    Age: 33 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Carter proved he still can get after the quarterback by notching 10 sacks in 14 games in 2011 his third double-digit sack season in the past five campaigns. The primary questions with Carter are age and health; a leg injury that led to quadriceps surgery ended his '11 campaign in December.


    82. Chad Henne
    QB | Miami Dolphins
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    A shoulder injury ended Henne's 2011 season after four games. The knocks on him are his accuracy and ability to come through in clutch situations. However, he did play well in two of his three full games a season ago, and he could have the upside to develop further. He likely will get a fresh start elsewhere.


    83. Visanthe Shiancoe
    TE | Minnesota Vikings
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Shiancoe is getting up in age, and it would not be surprising if the Vikings allowed him to depart. Minnesota drafted TE Kyle Rudolph in Round Two in the 2011 NFL draft, and he's poised to become the team's top target at the position.


    84. Steve Weatherford
    P | New York Giants
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Weatherford's 2011 season was his best, continuing a pattern of recent improvement. And he was excellent when the Giants needed him most. Three of his four punts in Super Bowl XLVI were downed inside the New England 10. Also, he posted a 40.6-yard net average on 12 punts in difficult conditions in the NFC title game at Candlestick Park.


    85. Michael Bennett
    DE | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Restricted


    The 6-4, 274-pound Bennett started 10 games a season ago, notching 39 tackles and four sacks, and he was mentioned as a restricted free agent who merited inclusion on this list no small feat, considering the depth of this free-agent class.


    86. Jeremy Zuttah
    OG | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Zuttah has been a reliable starter in Tampa Bay, starting 44-of-58 games since entering the NFL. He also can play center. The Buccaneers are said to want to re-sign him.


    87. Eddie Royal
    WR | Denver Broncos
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Royal caught 91 passes as a rookie in 2008, but he has made just 115 catches in three seasons since. Quick but slight, Royal adds value as a returner, too. He developed a good rapport with QB Tim Tebow in 2011.


    88. Ted Ginn Jr.
    WR | San Francisco *****
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Ginn has elite speed and can be a difference maker as a returner, as he showed when he returned a kickoff and a punt for scores vs. Seattle in the 2011 season opener. He also can be a vertical threat on offense.


    89. Matt Prater
    PK | Denver Broncos
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Prater's leg strength is enhanced when playing in Denver's thin mountain air. His range can extend to 60 yards on field goals, and more than two-thirds of his kickoffs were touchbacks in 2011. What's more, he connected on all three of his FG attempts in overtime as Denver won the AFC West.


    90. Mat McBriar
    P | Dallas Cowboys
    Age: 33 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    A two-time Pro Bowler, McBriar had left knee surgery in February to remove a cyst, but he reportedly told ESPN Radio in Dallas that he expects to be ready for the season. When healthy, he's one of the game's better punters.


    91. Jay Feely
    PK | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 36 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Feely has connected on 82 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career, and last season was the first time he had made less than 83 percent of his FG attempts since 2004. Consistent and confident, he's a proven performer at a pressure-packed position.


    92. Jeremy Shockey
    TE | Carolina Panthers
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Though not the dynamic playmaker that he was earlier in his career, Shockey is still a solid contributor who could help a club that's looking to improve its TE corps.


    93. Josh Scobee
    PK | Jacksonville Jaguars
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Scobee comes off his finest season, having connected on 23-of-25 field-goal attempts, with no misses inside 40 yards. He also has a strong leg on kickoffs, with 39 of his 62 kicks going for touchbacks in 2011.


    94. Phil Dawson
    PK | Cleveland Browns
    Age: 37 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Dawson's reliability is his greatest asset. He connected on 24-of-29 field-goal attempts a season ago (82.8 percent). Overall, he has hit 83.1 percent of his FG attempts throughout his 13-year career, all of which has been spent in Cleveland. His ability to kick well in cold weather is an asset.


    95. Martellus Bennett
    TE | Dallas Cowboys
    Age: 25 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Dallas' No. 2 tight end has playmaking ability. Will he earn a bigger role with another club? Finding consistency is a key for him.


    96. Brian Hoyer
    QB | New England Patriots
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Restricted


    Hoyer has shown promise in three seasons in New England, with the bulk of his opportunities coming in the preseason and in relief of QB Tom Brady in a handful of regular-season games. New England is expected to give the backup quarterback a high tender offer. There are some league evaluators who are not sold on him, however.


    97. Michael Robinson
    FB | Seattle Seahawks
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The one-time collegiate quarterback earned Pro Bowl honors as a blocker in 2011. He also is an exceptional special-teams player.


    98. Dimitri Patterson
    CB | Cleveland Browns
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Patterson rebounded in 2011, playing well as the Browns' third cornerback after having struggled in a starting role for Philadelphia. It will be interesting to see if he gets another shot at a first-team role.


    99. Early Doucet
    WR | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Doucet caught a career-best 54 passes for 689 yards and five TDs a season ago. He could be a sleeper of sorts.


    100. Bengals OLB Manny Lawson
    OLB | Cincinnati Bengals
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Lawson, who has starting experience in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, notched 51 tackles and 1 sacks for Cincinnati a season ago. He's shown some pass-rush ability in the past, most notably in 2009 with San Francisco, when he recorded 6 sacks.


  2. #2
    Bar-bq's Avatar
    Bar-bq is online now Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: PFW's Top 100 Free Agents

    Here's my wish list.

    I think that due to cap constraints, we could see four of these guys at the most in a Rams uni next year.

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    PFW’s top 100 free agents

    7. Vincent Jackson
    WR | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted

    Will this be the year that Jackson finally gets to test free agency unfettered? The Chargers gave him the franchise tag a season ago, but such a move would be even more costly this year. Jackson's size and speed can present major problems for secondaries, and he fits Norv Turner's offense well. Will the Chargers ink him to a long-term deal, or will he sign elsewhere? He's clearly one of the top offensive players available in free agency.

    10. Dwayne Bowe
    WR | Kansas City Chiefs
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted

    Strength and physicality define Bowe's game. Concerns about his consistency have subsided a bit after two strong seasons, though dropped passes still can be an issue for him. The Chiefs could give the franchise tag to Bowe, who has exceeded 1,000 yards receiving three times in the past four seasons and has a total of 31 TD catches the past three campaigns. If he hits the market, he figures to draw considerable interest.

    11. Cortland Finnegan
    CB | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted

    Finnegan is one of the game's better players at a position that has become exceedingly valuable with passing on the increase and the stellar play of quarterbacks one of the defining traits of the 2011 season. He is instinctive, competitive and tough, will not back down from opponents and is capable of shutting down quality receivers when he's at his best. He will be very much in demand if Tennessee allows him to test the market.

    16. Stevie Johnson
    WR | Buffalo Bills
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The good: Johnson can hold his own against top-caliber competition, as evidenced by his play against Jets CB Darrelle Revis. Moreover, he has gained more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons. The bad: His endzone antics will not endear him to coaches, and he has dropped multiple passes in key situations.

    18. Brandon Carr
    CB | Kansas City Chiefs
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With the Chiefs signing ex-Raiders CB Stanford Routt to a three-year deal on Feb. 21, Carr might price himself out of Kansas City. A productive starter who has defended 65 passes and grabbed eight interceptions in four NFL seasons, Carr is likely to be in demand when free agency begins.


    19. Ben Grubbs
    OG | Baltimore Ravens
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Grubbs, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011, doesn't make many mistakes and is solid both as a run blocker and as a pass protector. The Ravens would like to keep him. "Ben is a player that we'd love to have back in Baltimore," GM Ozzie Newsome said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

    23. Marques Colston
    WR | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Colston is a tall, strong, sure-handed possession target who has a notable injury history with microfracture surgeries on each knee the past three years. He caught 80-of-107 passes thrown to him a season ago, an impressive statistic when you consider that his average reception was 11.1 yards downfield. Look for him to draw interest if he's unsigned at the beginning of the league year.


    24. Michael Griffin
    S | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Griffin has special physical traits for the safety position. He has very good range and solid ball skills, too, as evidenced by his 17 career interceptions. However, his play has left something to be desired at times. He seems to get caught in-between on some plays. He draws this ranking on production, but he has the potential to do even more.

    33. LaRon Landry
    S | Washington Redskins
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Landry's durability is a major question mark. An Achilles injury suffered in 2010 also bothered him in 2011, and he has played in only 17-of-32 games the past two seasons. When healthy, Landry can be a force in the back of the secondary.

    35. Brandon Lloyd
    WR | St. Louis Rams
    Age: 31 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Lloyd's last two seasons have been his best. He has proven capable of being a go-to target, but he might be best as a dynamic No. 2 receiver. The athletic Lloyd is capable of the highlight-reel catch, but he can struggle to get separation.


    37. Pierre Garcon
    WR | Indianapolis Colts
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With good size and speed, Garcon has the tools to be a standout, but he must be more consistent — with cutting down on his drops and running better routes two areas of note — to be ranked among the game's elite at his position. However, he's coming off his best season (70 catches, 947 yards, six TDs).

    DT | Tennessee Titans
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Jones played defensive end for Tennessee in 2011, but he might be best inside, where his strength and quickness can make him a tough matchup for interior linemen. He has shown significant potential at times and might have upside to develop further.

    57. Richard Marshall
    CB | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Marshall's experience (55 career starts) and versatility (he can play cornerback or safety) are assets. Moreover, he is still relatively young. The Cardinals would like to re-sign him, but he figures to draw interest from other clubs.

    60. Tracy Porter
    CB | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Porter, one of the stars of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV win, has good ball skills and 39 career starts to his credit — and young, talented cornerbacks like him can do quite well in free agency. However, he has never played in all 16 regular-season games.


    64. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    RB | New England Patriots
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Green-Ellis' calling card? His dependability. He has never fumbled, and he has been a productive member of one of the NFL's top offenses the past two seasons. He possesses good vision and balance and fits the Patriots' scheme well.

    69. Aubrayo Franklin
    NT | New Orleans Saints
    Age: 32 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The Saints, who have their work cut out for them in free agency, could bring back Franklin, who was decent in his first season in New Orleans, at the right price. He could appeal to clubs looking for a 3-4 nose tackle.


    70. Mike Brisiel
    OG | Houston Texans
    Age: 29 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Brisiel is a tough, hardworking interior lineman whose hard-nosed mentality makes him a favorite of the Texans' coaches. The Texans ran well off the right side last season, and he allowed only one sack. However, Brisiel was penalized eight times in 13 games.


    71. Mike Tolbert
    RB | San Diego Chargers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    The 5-9, 243-pound Tolbert brings value as a tough red-zone back, as a receiver out of the backfield and as a strong special-teams performer. He likely fits best as part of a rotation. His versatility is an asset.
    73. Aaron Maybin
    DE-OLB | New York Jets
    Age: 24 | FA Type: Restricted


    As the Bills' 2010 first-round pick, Maybin lasted two dismal seasons in Buffalo before landing with the Jets. Though he was just a part-time player, Maybin flourished in Rex Ryan's system and notched six sacks and four forced fumbles. Considering his youth and pass-rush ability, it will be interesting to see how Maybin's career progresses.


    77. Brodrick Bunkley
    DT | Denver Broncos
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    With 65 career starts, the 6-2, 306-pound Bunkley, a 2006 first-round pick by the Eagles, could appeal to clubs that are looking for help up the middle. A serviceable starter, Bunkley notched 43 tackles for Denver a season ago.


    86. Jeremy Zuttah
    OG | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Age: 26 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Zuttah has been a reliable starter in Tampa Bay, starting 44-of-58 games since entering the NFL. He also can play center. The Buccaneers are said to want to re-sign him.

    88. Ted Ginn Jr.
    WR | San Francisco *****
    Age: 27 | FA Type: Unrestricted

    Ginn has elite speed and can be a difference maker as a returner, as he showed when he returned a kickoff and a punt for scores vs. Seattle in the 2011 season opener. He also can be a vertical threat on offense.


    89. Matt Prater
    PK | Denver Broncos
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted

    Prater's leg strength is enhanced when playing in Denver's thin mountain air. His range can extend to 60 yards on field goals, and more than two-thirds of his kickoffs were touchbacks in 2011. What's more, he connected on all three of his FG attempts in overtime as Denver won the AFC West.


    91. Jay Feely
    PK | Arizona Cardinals
    Age: 36 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Feely has connected on 82 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career, and last season was the first time he had made less than 83 percent of his FG attempts since 2004. Consistent and confident, he's a proven performer at a pressure-packed position.



    93. Josh Scobee
    PK | Jacksonville Jaguars
    Age: 30 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Scobee comes off his finest season, having connected on 23-of-25 field-goal attempts, with no misses inside 40 yards. He also has a strong leg on kickoffs, with 39 of his 62 kicks going for touchbacks in 2011.


    94. Phil Dawson
    PK | Cleveland Browns
    Age: 37 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Dawson's reliability is his greatest asset. He connected on 24-of-29 field-goal attempts a season ago (82.8 percent). Overall, he has hit 83.1 percent of his FG attempts throughout his 13-year career, all of which has been spent in Cleveland. His ability to kick well in cold weather is an asset.

    100. Bengals OLB Manny Lawson
    OLB | Cincinnati Bengals
    Age: 28 | FA Type: Unrestricted


    Lawson, who has starting experience in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, notched 51 tackles and 1 sacks for Cincinnati a season ago. He's shown some pass-rush ability in the past, most notably in 2009 with San Francisco, when he recorded 6 sacks.

  3. #3
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
    r8rh8rmike is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: PFW's Top 100 Free Agents

    Thought I'd bump this up as it is an extensive list of FA's.

    Here is a list of the NFL's 2012 franchise tagged players from the list:



    Arizona Cardinals

    Defensive end Calais Campbell


    Atlanta Falcons

    Cornerback Brent Grimes


    Baltimore Ravens

    Running back Ray Rice


    Chicago Bears

    Running back Matt Forte


    Cincinnati Bengals

    Kicker Mike Nugent


    Cleveland Browns

    Kicker Phil Dawson


    Dallas Cowboys

    Linebacker Anthony Spencer


    Denver Broncos

    Kicker Matt Prater


    Detroit Lions

    Defensive end Cliff Avril


    Indianapolis Colts

    Defensive end Robert Mathis


    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Kicker Josh Scobee


    Kansas City Chiefs

    Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe


    New England Patriots

    Wide receiver Wes Walker


    New Orleans Saints

    Quarterback Drew Brees


    New York Giants

    Punter Steve Weatherford


    Oakland Raiders

    Safety Tyvon branch


    Philadelphia Eagles

    Wide receiver DeSean Jackson


    San Francisco *****

    Safety Dashon Goldson


    Tampa Bay Bucanneers

    Kicker Connor Barth


    Tennessee Titans

    Safety Michael Griffin


    Washington Redskins

    Tight end Fred Davis

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