2011 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Where will Nnamdi Asomugha land?

Seattle Seahawks Golden Tate (81) can’t hold on to a Matt Hasselbeck pass as Oakland Raiders Nnamdi Asomugha (21) defends in the second quarter at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on October 31, 2010. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 33-3. UPI/Terry Schmitt

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.

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NFL Offseason Notes: Rice, Jacobs, Hillis, Bush & combine QBs

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (40) is stopped by Miami Dolphins Tim Dobbins (51) after a short gain in first half action at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on December 5, 2010. UPI/Michael Bush

What’s the deal with Rice’s hip?
There have been conflicting reports about the status of Viking receiver Sidney Rice’s hip. Said coach Leslie Frazier on Friday: “Our medical staff has assured us that he’s going to be fine…productive for years to come.” He also stressed that Rice is a high priority and the Vikings want to sign him to a long-term deal. But Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman reports that “close friends” of Rice claim that he’s dealing with an arthritic condition in his hip after playing hurt last season. If you’re looking to choose a side in this race, I’d go with the head coach over the beat reporter. But that’s just me.

Shurmur likes the idea of Hillis and Hardesty teaming up
New Browns coach Pat Shurmur told the media on Friday that he likes the idea of a two-back tandem featuring bulldozer Peyton Hillis and second-year back Montario Hardesty. I don’t know why he wouldn’t. Bill Walsh used Roger Craig and Tom Rathman together in his version of the West Coast Offense when the Niners won the 1988 Super Bowl. The book is still out on Hardesty, but Hillis proved to be a one-man wrecking crew at times last year and showed that he can catch the ball out of the backfield, too. Good coaches use the weapons they have and it would be a shame for the Browns not to incorporate some two-back looks with both Hillis and Hardesty lined up in the backfield.

Coughlin admits Jacobs needs to carry the ball more
It’s assumed by many that the Giants will dump running back Brandon Jacobs and his $4.65 million salary this offseason. But after hearing the comments coach Tom Coughlin made on Friday, maybe the G-Men plan to keep Jacobs around next year. “As you look at everything at the end of the year, Brandon was fresher than he’s ever been, healthier than he’s ever been and probably needs to carry the ball a little more,” said Coughlin, who also said that Jacobs has “a lot of gas in the tank.” Considering Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent, Coughlin’s comments are rather interesting.

Bush not expected to be released
Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune doesn’t expect the Saints to release Reggie Bush before the end of the league year on March 4. Triplett writes that the team will probably wait and work on a “possible extension or restructure.” I find it hard to believe that the Saints would pay Bush the $11.8 million he’s owed next season, so he’s going to have to take a dramatic pay cut if he wants to stay in New Orleans. As of right now, it seems like he is willing to do that.

Newton “physically imposing,” Mallett…not so much.
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post is at the scouting combine this week and was there when the quarterbacks weighed in on Friday. Cam Newton checked in at 6-5 and 248 pounds, while Ryan Mallett was nearly 6-7 and 253 pounds. According to Bunting, Newton looked “physically imposing” and has an “impressive” athletic build, while Mallett “had a bad body” and seemed “soft.” For those who have seen photos of Tom Brady at his combine weigh-in, these comments could mean very little. (That’s not a knock on Bunting, who is an excellent draft analyst. I’m just pointing out that Brady didn’t look like an extra from the movie “300” when he was drafted and he’s gone on to win three Super Bowls.)

Sidney Rice to make his 2010 debut on Sunday?

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Vikings apparently have their answer.

Just hours after numbnut Brad Childress reveled that the Vikings threatened receiver Sidney Rice with injured reserve if he didn’t play this week, NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reports that Rice is “almost certain” to lace ‘em up against the Packers on Sunday.

Rice had been stalling about whether or not he would play because he becomes a free agent at the end of the year and doesn’t want to risk further injury. He’s missed the past 10 weeks after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason and if he winds up suffering another injury, it could wind up costing him millions on the open market next year.

But the Vikings need him to play now, which is where the aforementioned threat came in. They’ve been saving a spot on their 53-man roster and they’ve grown impatient wondering whether or not he’ll play. The ball has been in Rice’s court for the past two weeks and per reports, he’s looked healthy in practice.

What this means for the Vikings is simple: Brett Favre now has his deep threat back. But that doesn’t mean Rice will be effective right out of the gates. Don’t forget that he hasn’t played since Minnesota lost to New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game last year. He’s been able to practice, but obviously that’s not the same as playing in a real game. The defenders that he’ll be seeing on Sunday already have nine games under their belts and he still has to get up to game speed. It’s great for the Vikings that he’ll play, but it’s a little unrealistic to think that he’ll be the player he was last year when he hasn’t seen game action in nearly 10 months.

Vikings’ Sidney Rice may not return in 2010

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice celebrates as he walks off the field after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in their NFC Divisional Playoff at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis on January 17, 2010. The Vikings won 34-3. UPI/Brian Kersey

According to Vikings’ beat writers Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there’s a good chance that Sidney Rice won’t play again in 2010.

Rice had offseason hip surgery and decided not to play in Week 10 against the Bears. There’s some belief that Rice and agent Drew Rosenhaus won’t risk further injury in what is quickly becoming a lost season for the Vikings. Rice becomes a free agent after the year and Rosenhaus may want to use his 2009 stats as a selling point, so if the receiver gets hurt again then Rosenhaus loses his leverage.

Brad Childress maintains that it’s up to Rice as to whether or not the receiver will return this season. The Vikings’ roster exemption for Rice ends on November 24, which means he’ll either need to be activated or go on injured reserve. Chances are if he doesn’t play this Sunday, the latter is more likely.

One would think that Rice would be eager to get back on the field to help his team, but if he gets hurt again then he’s going to have to settle for whatever contract a team wants to give him next offseason. It’s easy for fans to say that he should go out and play, but money is a factor here. It’s hard to judge Rice without being in his shoes.

Fantasy implications of Randy Moss to the Vikings

New England Patriots Randy Moss (R) and quarterback Tom Brady (L) sit on the bench in the final minutes of their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Boston Herald is reporting that a Moss-to-Minnesota deal could be finalized by Wednesday.

Wow, this one sure came out of nowhere. Though I suppose we should have seen the writing on the wall given Randy Moss’s preseason griping about the fact that he doesn’t have a long-term contract. While a move away from Tom Brady and the Pats’ pass-happy offense might seem like a hit to Randy’s stock, it isn’t. He was targeted a total of four times in the last two weeks and his goose egg in Week 4 is alarming. In fact, he is #41 amongst WRs in total targets (22, or 5.5 per game), and even with his 3:1 completion to TD ratio, that’s not enough work to justify his first or second round ADP. As a Packer fan, I cringe at the thought of a happy and motivated Moss back in the purple and gold, but as a fantasy owner (in two leagues), I’m happy he’s getting a change of scenery. I’d expect him to get all of Sidney Rice’s targets (7.7 per game, maybe more) as long as Rice as out.

For the Vikings, this is a big bump for the entire offense, save for Visanthe Shiancoe, who probably won’t enjoy quite as many looks now that Brett Favre can chuck it downfield with more confidence. Farve obviously gets a bump, Percy Harvin should have more room to roam, and there should be one less man in the box trying to stop Adrian Peterson.

For the Patriots, I’d expect Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez to pick up most of the slack, but Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski should get a bit of extra work as well. The Patriots are getting less vertical with this move, so it’s going to hurt Tom Brady a little because he’s going to have one less weapon in his arsenal. And it was one of his big weapons, for sure. This could mean the running game will be featured more, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis seems to be coming into his own.

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