NFL Free Agency Predictions: Top Players On the Board
by Trevor Whenham - 7/19/2011
I hardly want to say it in case I jinx it, but it seems like we are now just a couple of days away from the end of this NFL Lockout madness. It seemed like this day would never come. Soon after the lockout ends we will be plunging into what could be a crazy free agency period — a short time frame, massive team needs, and some very solid players available. I’m obviously no GM, but if I were these are the eight players that stand out as ones that I would like to have on my team if the money made sense. Let’s go with some NFL free agency predictions in anticipation of the end of the Lockout:
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB - The Raiders corner is the obvious first guy on this list because he is the clear class of this free agent group, and he is on the verge of a very massive payday. This is a deep group of secondary players, but Asomugha is solidly positioned as the best. I wish his interception numbers had been better recently, but he is unquestionably a shutdown player, and he will thrive outside of the insanity that has been Oakland the last few years. He’ll be overpaid for sure, but he’s not going to be a bust. All reports are that he is a very good guy in the locker room as well, so he’ll provide a boost there, too.
Eric Weddle, S - The Chargers are going to empty their wallets trying to keep him in town, but if he resists that then he’ll be a big target for a lot of teams. Safety is a position that often takes some time to grow into and Weddle is only 26, so he has his best play ahead of him. He’s a ball hawk with great instincts, and he is very explosive if he gets his hands on the ball. He’s a star already, but I think he has a whole lot more ahead of him.
DeAngelo Williams, RB - A draft short of great runners is followed by a free agent class without a lot of star power at the position, so there are going to be some very hungry teams out there. Williams is the real deal — he offers a very nice combination of quickness and power, and he is very solid in the passing game as well. There are some concerns with the fact that Williams missed a lot of time last year with a foot injury, but that doesn’t seem like a major issue, and it means he’ll be a little cheaper than he might otherwise have been.
Braylon Edwards, WR — I’m a huge Michigan guy, so I am probably a little biased here, but if I was looking for a big time receiver this year there is no guy I would rather have. He’s a bit of a head case, but name a top-level receiver other than Larry Fitzgerald who isn’t a little crazy. New York probably wasn’t the best city for him — either because of the distractions or the system the Jets used. In the right system with the right coach and QB Edwards can access his world-class skills and be a truly elite guy in this league.
Ike Taylor, CB — He’s not going to draw as much attention as he should because he is 31. I’d take him in a heartbeat, though. For starters, he’s a leader that commands the secondary well. More significantly, though, he’s an absolute giant for his position. He has a very nice combination of size and speed, and that makes him a potent force back there. He also knows a thing or two about winning, and that would be a huge boost for a lot of teams.
Santonio Holmes, WR — If Edwards is too much of a risk for you, then the other Jets’ receiver could be a nice alternative. He doesn’t have the top end that Edwards does, but he is a very nice player who really shines in the postseason — and he has a Super Bowl MVP trophy to prove it.
Josh Wilson, CB — If you can’t afford Asomugha and Taylor is too old, then Wilson is the guy who is certainly worth a look. He’s a bit small, but he makes up for it with ridiculous speed. He’s great in coverage, and was basically born to be a nickel back. He showed glimpses of how good he can be in Baltimore last year, and I think a team could stick him in the secondary and forget about him for years.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB — I see absolutely no downside to signing Hasselbeck. He’s a guy that still has some life left in his tires, and he seems like he’s still hungry enough to win some games. He’s also a very good guy who could work very well as a mentor for a young player. He’s not a long-term solution, but there are at least 10 teams that would be very well served by bringing him in for two years. I think he’d sign for a very reasonable price for the chance to play for a contender.
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