Free agency opens on March 12 and there is no doubt that the action is going to be crazy around the league. There are many difference makers at every position and teams must act quick if they want to convince the right players to join the teams. We take a look at the top players that will make a difference wherever they land.
Safety Dashon Goldson is the top safety in free agency. Goldson, a Pro Bowl player, brings a huge level of physicality that a ton of teams could use to increase toughness on the defensive side. The 28 year old Free Safety is expected to cash in around $7 million a year and several teams are already showing interest. A playmaker like Goldson certainly improves any team in many aspects, instantly making the defense tougher.
Sebastian Vollmer has been one of Tom Brady’s biggest protectors since he came into the league. Throughout the years the Patriots have been known to have the best Offensive line in the league, and Brady putting up record numbers sure proves it. Vollmer might be a 3 year player but the Patriots need to keep him, he is simply to valuable for Tom Bredy’s protection. If the Patriots let him go, obtaining a great young Tackle should be a priority for quite a few teams.
The curious thing about Long is which player you are going to get. Will you get the best left tackle in the game from 2 years ago, or the new injury prone Long. The level of play from Long has decreased incredibly because of multiple injuries, but even when he felt healthy his play left much to wish for. Whichever team takes the chance on Long, it’ll have to keep an eye on him, hopefully they get the old Pro Bowler.
Talib made a huge difference for the Patriots after they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some say it was because of his injury against the Ravens that the Patriots lost a chance at going to the SuperBowl for the 2nd straight year. Talib has eyes for the ball, and once he gets it, he is really dangerous with it. There are a few cornerbacks available this free agency but the biggest play maker in my mind is Talib, and if the Patriots decide to let him go, then the market should go crazy for him.
The only player in NFL history to have 5 season with 100 or more catches has to be a big player for any team. Whether Brady was the reason he could do it, the fact of the matter is he did post huge numbers all across the board and he is one of the most reliable receivers in the league. The Patriots should definitely be looking to sign him again, but if they let him go, top teams with elite quarterbacks should be looking to sign the 8 years veteran receiver.
When you talk about playmakers, you think of Bush for sure. He might not be the greatest running back in between the tackles, but get him running on the outside and watch out! Bush has certainly improved since leaving the Saints. He ran for over 1000 yards 2 years ago, and posted 986 yards last year even with multiple injuries. Whether it is the Lions or the Cardinals, Bush will get the chance to make some big plays, even if he doesn’t have a good year.
Smith is a big player. He finally had a great season last year to live up to his potential, but at the same time, he has some issues that need to be resolved. Smith will demand a big payout and might not work as hard or be as determine as his contract will end up making him out to be. Teams around the league know that Smith comes with baggage but someone will have to take a shot at signing him and expect that Smith gets his mind right and focuses on playing his heart out.
A veteran wide receiver, with superbowl experience, and a great clutch mentality? Sign him up. Greg Jennings has been a top wide receiver for the last few years, and if he would not have gotten injured, he would probably still be in the conversation for top wide receivers in the league.
Teams might have to overpay a litte to get Avril, but getting Avril could prove to be a great asset. Avril’s pass rushing ability improved tremendously over a year, though his run defense is still average at best. Avril showed great hustle and determination pressuring quarterbacks all of last year, and his work ethic should be enough to will teams into paying a few extra bucks for his services.
Wallace is by far the biggest playmaker and superstar this year. His speed and agility allow him to easily get separation between his defenders at any place on the field. He is looking for close to $12 million a year and multiple teams are ready to make him that offer. Wallace’s ability to turn any short pass into a long touchdown is what teams wants, and Wallace, even if he is paid more money than he deserve, will be worth the money.