NFL free-agency shopping guide
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You've talked more hockey in March then you ever expected you would.
Taylor Mays was seemingly recorded at 10 different 40 times at the Combine.
Your wife made you watch The Bachelor and you can't get "On the Wings of Love" out of your damn head.
Well, good news for you. The free-agency period is finally here for NFL fans, albeit with a twist. With no CBA agreement, the quality and quantity of free agents available is not what it was supposed to be. Pro Bowlers such as DeMeco Ryans, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, Vincent Jackson, Shawne Merriman, Braylon Edwards and Antoine Bethea have received high tenders. Same with quarterbacks Matt Moore, Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell.
Expect more trades than ever before in the NFL.
But there are some intriguing names available on the free-agent market.
We examine ...
LB Karlos Dansby: He's an excellent player and thrived on the Cardinals. Dansby is a consistent tackler. He puts pressure on the quarterback and can pick off passes. Dansby has experience playing inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and in the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. Plus, he is a true leader with a knack for making big plays in big spots. That makes him worth every penny. I consider Dansby the best unrestricted free agent on the open market. The Dolphins, Giants, Falcons and Redskins should be in the mix. The best bet is on Miami getting a deal done with Dansby.
LB Gary Brackett: Brackett is a strong tackler with a flair for the moment. He has been the glue and the unquestioned leader of the Colts defense. I think he is going back to the Colts, who can't let him get away.
CB Leigh Bodden: I loved him in Cleveland, and Bodden predictably thrived in New England. He is physical and knows how to create turnovers. I think he's smart enough to know his best chance for success is to remain a Patriot.
RB Thomas Jones: How the Jets cut one of the best backs in the AFC I'll never know. Jones played hurt last season and still totaled over 1,400 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns. Plus, his teammates love him. Damien Woody told me that Jones was the "first guy (in) and the last guy to leave, showing the young players how to be a professional." Jones is a great leader. He'd be a perfect fit in New England (chew on that Jets fans!) or Houston or San Diego.
S Darren Sharper: For the first half of the season, he was the leader for Defensive Player of the Year. Sharper was an opportunistic, difference-making player maker for the Super Bowl champion Saints. I hope he realizes that playing in Gregg Williams aggressive system helped him. And I hope the Saints realize his monetary value. If not, the Eagles, Falcons or Giants could offer more money to make the veteran happy. But no team will offer a long-term deal.
Bring it, but only at right price
S Antrel Rolle: He wants $8 million per season. The Cards absolutely want him back but might have sticker shock. We hear the Giants plan on making a big offer. I like Rolle a lot. He has made the transition very well from corner to safety.
WR Kevin Walter: His work in the slot is impeccable. I am a big Walter fan. The Baltimore Sun reported this week that the Ravens have interest. That makes sense. Houston wants him back. The Bengals might have interest in a reunion. Miami could be in play, too.
RB Darren Sproles: He has great hands, elusive speed and was an instant impact player on offense and special teams for the Chargers. There's a lot to love, though reports circulate now that he will stick around with the Chargers.
RB Chester Taylor: I don't view him as a starter. He backed up
Still worth a deal
LB Keith Bulluck: The linebacker tore his ACL at the end of last season, bad timing for the great player and Titans team leader. But teams shouldn't shy away from Bulluck. He is ahead of schedule in his rehab and will play this year. A Northeast guy, Bulluck would add instant credibility to the Giants and Eagles in the 4-3 defense. And Tennessee shouldn't let the face of the franchise, the locker room leader, get away. Bulluck brings great play and amazing intangibles with his work ethic to a team.
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch: The numbers are down but we are still talking about a do-it-all defensive end. Vanden Bosch stops the run, gets to the quarterback and has a high motor. Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta are interesting spots.
DE/LB Aaron Kampman: I flat-out love Aaron Kampman. He is a ballplayer. Kampman was totally lost as a 3-4 linebacker this past season. But in 2006 he had 15.5 sacks, 12 in 2007, and 9.5 in 2008 as a defensive end. He suffered an ACL injury at the end of last year that could compromise his value. I think Kampman will bring an edge and great play. Chicago is a good fit.
Fills a need
S Ryan Clark: Some team will sign the former Steelers safety and be very happy it did. He is a good, team-oriented veteran.
Take a chance
RB Brian Westbrook: I've called him underrated and a star. But concussions and other injuries forced his termination after a great career in Philly. If he can pass a physical, Westbrook is a low risk/high reward pickup for the Packers or Vikings. And Chicago could be a sleeper here, with Mike Martz's style of offense.
Stay awayDE Julius Peppers: The stats mean nothing to me. Peppers doesn't play hard on every play. He takes plays off. Heck, Peppers took 2007 off! Panther coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney are in boom or bust seasons and are letting the big cat walk. Whatever you pay him, and it's going to be a lot. I guarantee Peppers won't live up.
CB Dunta Robinson: I used to be a huge fan. I argued Robinson deserved Rookie of the Year a few years back. But I don't love his attitude, which includes writing "pay me Rick" on his shoes, begging Texans general manager Rick Smith to give him a big contract. And Robinson is far from a shutdown corner. The contractual holdout effected his play. And it goes noted that the Texans still need cornerback help but appear set on letting Robinson go. He won't come cheap, therefore I will pass.
LB Antonio Pierce: Here's what you need to know. The Giants need linebackers. The Giants cut him. Pierce isn't the same player he once was because of injuries.
WR Antonio Bryant: I don't care about the skills. The attitude is awful. And I don't want to hear that you can change him. Bryant had behavior issues as a college player in Pittsburgh. He drove Bill Parcells, Romeo Crennel and Mike Nolan absolutely batty in prior stops in the pros before landing with the Bucs.
RB Willie Parker: "Fast Willie" just isn't, well, fast anymore and that's why the Steelers have moved on.
WR Terrell Owens: I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends. There's misery. There's losing. There's annoyance. T.O. didn't practice on Fridays in Buffalo. He has his own rules. He is a diva who was once great but Owens' skills have diminished. Baltimore is rumored to have interest. That locker room and organization is filled with winners. Owens is the last player they should bring in. Chad Johnson wants T.O. in Cincy. That's because one sideshow loves the next. If I'm a team that cares about winning, I wouldn't ever consider T.O.
WR Nate Burleson: I happen to like him a lot personally. I love his bubbly persona and his attitude. But fact is he was a bust in Seattle. Burleson has trouble staying healthy and catching the ball. These are bad qualities for a receiver.
WR Derrick Mason: He still has gas left in the tank but isn't remotely as good as he thinks. Mason will end up back in Baltimore once he gets off his demand for a two-year deal.
The RFA exceptionLB Kirk Morrison: Only the Raiders would place a low tender, a measly third-rounder, on the tackling machine. Morrison is the epitome of toughness and would look great in a Giants uniform. A third-round pick is a small price to pay. Only the Raiders.
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