NFL Free Agency: Our Top 5 Unrestricted Free Agents
Just because Spogo is temporarily offline, doesn’t mean we’ve ceased our coverage of sports. While we plan on covering all matters of sports, we can’t get enough NFL. On March 12, 2013, free agency will begin, phones will be blowing up, and agents won’t sleep for two weeks. As fans, we’re all waiting to see if our team will pick up a missing piece of a Super Bowl puzzle. Let’s look at the gems of this free agency.
1. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco did everything right in the playoffs to earn him a monster deal. 11 touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to a Super Bowl ring, the Ravens will have no choice but to offer him a Drew Brees-type deal if they want to keep him. News from Sports Illustrated is that Flacco’s agent is going to meet with the Ravens this week to discuss a long-term contract. It’s also been reported that he wants more money than Peyton Manning ($19.2 million/yr), and something close (if not the same) to Brees ($20 million/yr). It’s not really a question of whether or not he’s better than Brees, Brady, or Manning. He’s got the hardware to be in the conversation. If the Ravens can’t come to a long-term agreement with Flacco, they will apply the franchise tag on him, which will cost them $20 million next season.
2. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Bowe is one of the best receivers in the NFL, but people who don’t play fantasy football have no idea who he is. Why? He’s played his entire career with QBs like Brady Quinn, Matt Cassel, and Tyler Thigpen. Has that stopped his production? No. Over the last three seasons, he has 3,122 receiving yards, with 23 TDs. Reports from KC are that new head coach, Andy Reid, was a big fan of Bowe coming out of college, it seems like Bowe is going to avoid the franchise tag. Some teams are weary that Bowe will have a decreased effort level if he gets a big deal. Time will tell exactly how worried teams are.
3. Paul Kruger, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Kruger, similar to Flacco, turned it on at the right time. He finished the regular season with 9.0 sacks, but then piled on 4.5 more in the playoffs (including 2.0 in the Super Bowl) on his way to becoming a champion. He is much more of a rushing linebacker, than your standard linebacker. Rumors are that the Browns are targeting Kruger. He would fit extremely well in new Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 hybrid scheme. If the Ravens are forced to use the franchise tag on Flacco, they will have no chance at keeping Kruger.
4. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Arguably the best receiver of the class, Wallace is a deep threat any team could fall in love with. Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero is reporting that Wallace is going to be the top target of the Miami Dolphins, a team with a void when it comes to receiver talent. I mean, Brian Hartline is their number one receiver. Wallace, who is looking for $10-11 million dollars a year, seems like a good fit in Miami, with upcoming QB Ryan Tannehill. He desperately needs some talent to throw to. Well, it appears the front office has heard his cries for help, because not only are they after Mike Wallace, but Greg Jennings as well. Could be quite the tandem of receivers taking their talents to South Beach.
5. Dashon Goldson, FS, San Francisco 49ers
Goldson received a franchise tag last year. Then, he turned in his best season of his career, recording 69 tackles and 3 INTs. He also added 21 tackles in the postseason with a forced fumble. Contract negotiations are underway between Goldson’s people and the 49ers to try to get a deal done. But there is no guarantee that they will use the franchise tag on Goldson again. If tagged, Goldson will be due $7.5 million next season. The deadline to apply a franchise tag is March 4th, so if he’s not tagged, it’s likely they have a deal in place. I can’t see Goldson hitting the open market, but if he does, he’ll be the best defensive back available.