2013 NFL Offensive Free Agency Preview

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Players that will get big money and deserve it:

Jake Long
Position: Left Offensive Tackle
Age: 27
Possible Suitors: St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals
Expected Contract: $50 million/ 5 years

The first overall pick from the 2008 draft, Jake Long has made it to 4 pro bowls in his first 5 seasons in the league.  He was injured in 2012, which hurts his value slightly, but he’s a proven player and will help any offensive line he goes to.

Jermon Bushrod
Position: Left Tackle
Age: 28
Team: Chicago Bears
Contract: $36 million/5 years

Louis Vasquez
Position: Guard
Age: 25
Team: Denver Broncos
Contract: $24 million/4 years

Andy Levitre
Position: Guard
Age: 26
Team: Tennessee Titans
Contract: $39 million/ 5 years

 

Players that will get big money but do not deserve it

Mike Wallace
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 26
Team: Miami Dolphins
Contract: $65 million /5 years

His speed isn’t in question, but Wallace was the most explosive receiver in the league only 3 years ago.  Over the last season and a half he hasn’t made the plays he once did, and his hands have become less automatic.  Wallace will be paid like a top 10 receiver, and it’ll probably be more surprising if he lived up to the money than not.

Reggie Bush
Position: Running Back
Age: 28
Possible Suitors: Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions
Expected Contract:  $12 million/3 years

Bush will be looked at one of maybe two possible free agent running backs that can carry a full load for an offense.  He’s still effective, but for what he’ll cost teams would be better off signing one of the few veterans on the market, or looking into the draft.  $4.5 million a year might not sound like much, but for a running back on the decline that’s way too much.

Jared Cook
Position: Tight End
Age: 25
Team: St Louis Rams
Contract:

Cook has physical ability but hasn’t proven much of anything in Tennessee.  He should be a poor man’s Jermichael Finley, and that’s saying something.  But a team will take a chance with him and he’ll make a lot more than the other Tight Ends available that probably deserve a little more.

Andre Smith
Position: Tackle
Age: 26
Possible Suitors: Cincinnati Bangles, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals
Expected Contract: $36 million/5 years

The 2009 first round pick put it all together in 2012 but it could have just been a fluke.  If he performs like he did early on he’ll be a huge disappointment for any team.

 

Victor Cruz
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 26
Possible Suitors: New York Giants, Cincinnati Bangles, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers
Expected Contract: $40 million/5 years

The Giants placed a first round tender on Cruz, which means he’ll most likely be a Giant again next season.  But if a team does decide to give up a first round pick for Cruz, they’ll have to give him a big contract, and that’ll be a mistake.  As an undersized slot receiver Cruz has taken a beating over his first two seasons and there’s a question about his longevity.  He also has struggled a bit as a top receiver when Hakeem Nicks was injured last season. Cruz will only thrive in a system as a second or third receiver, where there is already an established deep threat.  But even then, you might only get two or three good years out of him.

Players that deserve to get paid big money but won’t

Greg Jennings
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 29
Possible Suitors: Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bangles, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings
Expected Contract: $37 million/4 years

Injuries over the last two seasons have diminished Jennings’ value.  Even though his yards, touchdowns, and targets have all been on the decline since 2010, he’s still a great talent.  The only other concern is that he’s on the shorter side, and many teams won’t take a monetary risk on a slot receiver.  But if he can put together another 16 game season he should catch something like 75 passes for 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns.  That’ll make anyone happy.

Wes Welker
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 31
Possible Suitors: New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Expected Contract: $22 million/3 years

There’s no doubting Welker’s talent and since he’s been with New England he’s led the league in receptions.  But his specific skill set, injury history, and age might make getting the long-term contract he deserves difficult.  It’s unknown if he’ll be able to thrive in a system outside of New England, and the consensus has him returning to the patriots for the next season.

Sebastian Vollmer
Position: Tackle
Age: 28
Possible Suitors: New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bangles, Miami Dolphins,
Expected Contract:  $29 million/5 years

He can play on the left or right side of the line but concerns about his knee will cost him some money.

Dustin Keller
Position: Tight End
Age: 28
Possible Suitors: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills
Expected Contract: $4 million/ 2 years

Keller has been an effective receiving tight end over the last few seasons for the Jets, but was hurt in 2012 and his contract will suffer because of it.

Veteran Running Backs

Steven Jackson
Position: Running Back
Age: 29
Possible Suitors: Green Bay Packers
Expected Contract: $9.5 million/3 years

Probably the only veteran back with enough left in the tank to make a major impact for a team.  Yes his numbers were down, but inserted into an already productive offense he could once again reach 1000-yard mark.

Michael Turner
Position: Running Back
Age: 31
Possible Suitors: Cincinnati Bangles,
Expected Contract: $2.5 million/ 2 years

His production took a huge hit in Atlanta, and he lost his job to the underwhelming Jacquizz Rodgers.  He’ll be a backup wherever he goes, but should see the field regularly.

Rashard Mendenhall
Position: Running Back
Age: 25
Possible Suitors: Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bangles, Atlanta Falcons
Expected Contract: 7.5 million/ 3 years

There’s a chance a team out there will take a risk with Mendenhall, who’s still only 25 and has had success in the past.  The last two seasons with the Steelers have been upsetting, more likely due to the decline of their offensive line than Mendenhall losing a step.  He’ll get a team-friendly contract and could be the difference for a team with an already developed line.

Ahmad Bradshaw
Position: Running Back
Age: 26
Possible Suitors: Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburg Steelers
Expected Contract: 10 million/ 3 years

An experienced back that excels at pass-protection and has playoff experience, Bradshaw could help a team that has running back depth but not a define leader.  He’s always been at least mildly effective as a starter, and when healthy should contribute

Secondary Wide Receiver and Tight End Market

 Danny Amendola
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 27
Possible Suitors: New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles
Expected Contract: $4 million/ 1 year

He’s a poor man’s Wes Welker with worse injury concerns and a less flattering resume.  He’s productive when on the field, but teams won’t be signing him a long-term contract, at least not right away.

Brandon Gibson
Position:Wide Receiver
Age: 25
Possible Suitors: New York Jets, Buffalo Bills,
Expected Contract: 4 million/ 2 years

Martellus Bennett
Position: Tight End
Age: 26
Team: Chicago Bears
Contract: /4 years

Delanie Walker
Position: Tight End
Age: 28
Team: Tennessee Titans
Contract: $17.5 million/ 4 years

Darrius Heyward-Bey
Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 26
Possible Suitors: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers
Expected Contract: $1.3 million/1 year

He’s still one of the fastest players in the league, and is only 26 years old.  He hasn’t had too much success in the league yet, but he hasn’t been on a team with an established quarterback and has been injured frequently in the past, which have cut down on his opportunities.

 

Helpful Backups

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Position: Quarterback
Age: 30
Possible Suitors: Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans
Expected Contract: $2 million/ 2 years

Fitzpatrick will get a similar deal to Kyle Orton’s from last season, except Orton is a much better player.  Fitzpatrick will give a team an experienced backup, which could be useful for a team like Detroit or San Francisco.  He could also be a flyer for a team needing a QB like Arizona, St. Louis, or Cleveland.

Shonn Greene
Position: Running Back
Age: 27
Possible Suitors: Pittsburg Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Expected Contract:  $2 million/2 years

Greene is extremely unexciting as a starter but can carry the load if he’s needed to.  He’ll probably get a lot of carries in the closing minutes of games if his team has a lead.

Chase Daniel
Position: Quarterback
Age: 26
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Contract:

Mike Goodson
Position: Running back
Age: 25
Possible Suitors: Cincinnati Bangles, New York Jets
Expected Contract: $3 million/2 years

Goodson most likely won’t be looked at as a starting back, but could be a nice backup for a team with an aging lead back.

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