With the lockout in the rearview mirror, NFL fans can now put away their “Lawyer Jargon for Dummies” textbooks and start hitting the rumor mill once again.
Since I’m a fun guy who likes to have some fun and enjoys a little fun, I’ve decided to have a little fun by trying to predict where some of the top free agents will land over the next two weeks. Remember, this is all for fun and is not to be taken too seriously. If you’re the asswipe who reads these things and immediately gets in a tizzy because you disagree, then be aware of my one and only rule when it comes to predictions: Don’t criticize me if you don’t have the stones to leave your own predictions in the comments section.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have some good ol’ fashion family fun! (Have I overused that word yet? Did the joke land? It wasn’t funny in the first place? All right…) Here are 10 free agents and my predictions for where they might land. In the “Hedging my bet with” section, I list an alternative to where I think said free agent may wind up.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has been reported that the 2011 NFL salary cap will (roughly) be around $120 million, which leaves the Bucs with (roughly) $60 million to spend in free agency. Of course, that doesn’t mean that cheapo Malcolm Glazer will open his wallet, but we do know that the new CBA comes with a salary cap floor. Thus, teams like the Bucs will have to spend something in free agency. The Bucs have built a solid, young core centered around quarterback Josh Freeman. With Aqib Talib’s legal situation up in the air, they have a definite need at corner and if teams like the Eagles, Cowboys and Jets feel as though Asomugha’s price tag is too steep, maybe the Bucs will step in and shell out big money to land the top free agent on the market. (And if you’re wondering about whether or not Asomugha is a fit for Raheem Morris’ defensive scheme, don’t worry about it because the man is a fit for every defense.)
Hedging my bet with: New York Jets
DeAngelo Williams, RB: Carolina Panthers
The emergence of Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart make Williams expendable but the Panthers are still the frontrunners to retain him in my eyes. He says he wants to stay in Carolina and while he’d be a fool to not at least test the market, I think he’ll eventually stay put. The Panthers realize they need a good stable of running backs no matter who starts at quarterback this season, so re-signing Williams is still a priority despite expanding rolls for Goodson and Stewart.
Hedging my bet with: New York Giants.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB: New York Giants
If my prediction for DeAngelo Williams comes to fruition, then I don’t see Bradshaw playing for anyone but the Giants this season. He has to realize that his best opportunity to be a feature back remains in New York, even though the Giants have shown a willingness to keep Brandon Jacobs around. If Bradshaw can stay healthy and stop putting the ball on the ground, he should be Tom Coughlin’s primary back.
Hedging my bet with: Miami Dolphins.
Santonio Holmes, WR: Washington Redskins
The Jets will make re-signing Holmes there top priority, but I have a feeling that he’ll go where the money is. Granted, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen make all the decisions now in D.C. But Daniel Snyder still sets the tone and seeing as how desperate the Skins are to add offensive playmakers, this could be a great fit.
Hedging my bet with: New York Jets.
Jonathan Joseph, CB: Detroit Lions
A few months ago I was convinced that the Lions would break the bank for Asomugha. But there have been reports out of Detroit that suggest they won’t pursue the top corner on the market despite their glaring need at the position. Instead, the Lions could “settle” for the 27-year-old Joseph, who is coming off a down year but played exceptionally well in 2009. He’s physical and aggressive, which is exactly what head coach Jim Schwartz desires in a corner. I predict this to be the Lions one biggish (for lack of a better word) signing this summer.
Hedging my bet with: San Francisco 49ers.
Sidney Rice, WR: New England Patriots
There are several potential landing spots for Rice this summer, none bigger than Chicago and Washington. In fact, if my prediction for Holmes falls through, I could definitely see Rice in a Redskins uniform this season. That said, this is where Bill Belichick works his magic. The Patriots don’t necessarily need a true No. 1 to win, but I could see Belichick convincing Rice to sign an incentive-laden deal (because of his injury history) just to play in New England with Tom Brady. Then after he blows it up for a year, the Patriots will give him a new contract and once again cash in on the Vikings’ misery.
Hedging my bet with: Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, and St. Louis Rams.
Cullen Jenkins, DE: Washington Redskins
Jenkins is the top 3-4 defensive end on the market but he’s scheme-diverse in that he could play in a 4-3 as well. Methinks the Redskins and Broncos are his top suitors heading into free agency and Jenkins has already expressed interest in signing with Washington, making D.C. a solid fit for him all around.
Hedging my best with: Denver Broncos.
Ray Edwards, DE: Philadelphia Eagles
I fully admit that I had the Falcons listed after Edwards’ name when I first posted this article, but this report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (which admittedly slipped past me when I took my daily trip around the newspaper world on Monday) has forced me to change my mind. (Don’t worry: I kept one finger on this paragraph just in case, so my editing it is totally legal.) Apparently the Falcons are not interested in Edwards and are content with their current defensive end rotation, making the Eagles the new favorites to land the soon-to-be-former Viking. Like many teams around the league, Philly has a need for a pass rusher and Edwards is one of the top 4-3 defensive ends available (especially after the Panthers re-signed Charles Johnson to a massive deal on Tuesday).
Hedging my bet with: Cleveland Browns.
Vince Young, QB: Buffalo Bills
Young isn’t a free agent yet but he will be once the Titans release him. He won’t draw interest as a starter and while there have been rumors that he wants to play for the Dolphins, I don’t see Miami pursing him. The Bills didn’t draft their quarterback of the future in April and while Ryan Fitzpatrick is certainly capable, Buffalo needs to bring in more competition at the position. Chan Gailey likes mobile quarterbacks so maybe Young could resurrect his career in a city desperate for a winner.
Hedging my bet with: Seattle Seahawks.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB: Tennessee Titans
Mike Munchak has already stated that he wants a veteran quarterback that can come in this season and not only start, but also teach rookie Jake Locker. That sounds like Matt Hasselbeck to me, who is seemingly on the outs in Seattle.
Hedging my best with: Seattle Seahawks.