2011 NFL Free Agent Predictions
As former Miami Hurricane linebacker Dwayne Johnson says “Finally, the NFL is back!”. The lockout is over, and the NFL has setup the timeline for free agency and trades. With rumors swirling, where will the stars sign?
Today (Monday), teams can sign undrafted free agents. Tuesday teams can make trades, sign rookies and talk (but not sign) to their own free agents.Friday at 6 P.M ET, teams can officially sign unrestricted free agents. By that time deals for most notable free agents will be agreed to. The only thing left will be to put pen-to-paper and hold a press conference.
That said here is my 2011 free agent prediction list.
Nnamdi Asomugha: Philadelphia Eagles, runner up Houston Texans
While the Houston Texans have been linked the most, they don’t have the cap room for Asomugha. Should they make room then it’s a different story. That said, the Philadelphia Eagles are the front-runners to land his services. Asante Samuel, is the on his own in Philadelphia’s secondary.
Ellis Hobbs and Joselio Hanson were given the opportunity to win the right cornerback spot last season and failed. Now the Eagles will search through the deep cornerback pool in free agency to find their guy. Asomugha, 30, is the best cornerback available and would be the perfect fit to balance Samuel’s ball-hawking skills.
Philadelphia currently stands $13 million under the cap per ESPN’s John Clayton. With a potential Kevin Kolb trade, it could jump to over $20 million. Asomugha is expected to get between $15-18 million per year. Signing Asomugha would make Philadelphia a potential Super Bowl contender.
Santonio Holmes: New York Jets, runner up Washington Redskins
It’s down to Washington and New York. A coin-flip would be just as suitable to pick his destination. Ultimately Holmes will return to the big apple to make another Super Bowl run with Mark Sanchez. It won’t be cheap, and we all know how easily and willing Washington is to throw money at players.
Since Bruce Allan is the general manager, not Dan Snyder, it doesn’t seem like it will be enough to get Holmes to D.C. With John Beck at quarterback, and no supporting cast it’s going to be a tough sell. While the Jets are just over the salary cap, they will find a way to keep their play-making wide out in New York.
Charles Johnson: Carolina Panthers, runner up Atlanta Falcons
A not-so-common name, Charles Johnson filled the void left by Julius Peppers last season. Coming off a 2-14 season Carolina can’t let their young premier pass-rusher walk. Johnson had a career year in 2010 finishing with 62 tackles, 12 more than his 2008 and 2009 season combined.
Atlanta needs a premier defensive end, but Carolina will need to do whatever it takes to keep him. Ron Rivera can do wonders with him if given the opportunity.
Ray Edwards: Philadelphia Eagles, runner up Settle Seahawks
Long thought to be an Atlanta Falcon in 2011 Edwards will instead be signing in Philadelphia. Seattle is still a possibility but according to sources it’s a done deal for Edwards to Philadelphia. It’s doubtful they are able to get Asomugha and Edwards in the same offseason but it’s possible.
With rookie Brandon Graham struggling to fit in, Philly is looking to solidify their defensive line. Edwards, 26, is the perfect bookend for current Eagles’ right end Trent Cole.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports that it’s a done deal, Edwards to Philadelphia. “Ray Edwards is headed elsewhere: The Falcons reportedly have had a change of heart. They are going to focus on retaining their 11 free agents and will not be a player in the Ray Edwards derby. The defensive end is expected to land in Philadelphia.”
Sydney Rice, Tarvaris Jackson combo: Seattle Seahawks
The (somewhat) dynamic duo of Sydney Rice and Tarvaris Jackson could make an appearance in Seattle. Jackson has been linked heavily with Seattle due to the relationship with Darrell Bevell. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll slipped a little bit when asked about having Jackson in Seattle.
While Jackson is a lock to sign in Seattle, Rice isn’t. While Rice is going to receive heavy interest from St.Louis, Minnesota, and Washington it makes the most sense to pair up with his former quarterback in Seattle.
Seattle doesn’t have an elite No.1 receiver on the roster. Mike Williams is a strong, tall wide receiver who would complement him perfectly as a No.2. Deon Butler, Golden Tate and free agent Brandon Stokley would vie for the No.3 slot.
Jonathan Joseph: Detroit Lions, runner up San Francisco 49ers
Detroit has spent the last two seasons moving forward under Jim Schwartz. Free agent will have to be the time where they take their next step. The defensive line is solidified with Suh, Vanden Bosch and now Nick Fairley. Next up is the atrocious secondary.
There was a possibility of (Nnamdi) Asomugha to Detroit but those faded fast with the price tag. Insert Jonathan Joseph. He’s going to have a smaller price tag and still can give you the same if not more of an impact than Asomugha. Over the last two years Joseph has made more interceptions than Asomugha, among others.
Joseph will be a great fit in Jim Schwartz defense, and will lift up a non-existent secondary in Detroit.
DeAngelo Williams: Denver Broncos, runner up Miami Dolphins
The Denver Broncos have Kyle Orton. They don’t want that to be a fact for long. He’s currently being actively shopped by Denver who wants to free up his nine million dollar cap hit. If they can get just enough in return from Minnesota, or someone else they will pull the trigger.
Once they can free up that space look for his former coach to bring him to Denver. John Fox needs another running back to complement Knowshon Moreno and Williams would be a perfect fit.
If Denver can’t find the space in time look for Miami to make a major play for Williams.
Brandon Mebane: Seattle Seahawks, runner up Chicago Bears
Seattle has now $41.9 million free to spend, and that will jump to around $46 million with the release of Stacy Andrews. Seattle needs to do anything and everything possible to retain their young defensive tackle Mebane. He said he wants to stay in Seattle but that he doesn’t feel he’s “in their plans”.
Seattle already has a weak defensive line and taking away Mebane makes it amongst the worst in the league. All indications are that he will test the free agent market, and then return to Seattle on a five or six year contract. Chicago is interested so it could come down to a bidding war between the two teams.
In the end Mebane stays in Seattle.
Braylon Edwards: Washington Redskins, runner up Chicago Bears
The Redskins get their New York wide receiver, expect he’s taller and will cost less. If the Jets retain Santonio Holmes they won’t be able to keep Edwards. Washington is desperate for a legitimate deep threat, amongst other needs. Edwards is a great deep threat and would fit perfect under Kyle Shannahan’s offense.
Chicago could use Edwards but they have other needs that need to be addressed first. Santana Moss, or another mid level wide receiver makes more sense for them.
Matt Hasselbeck: Tennessee Titans, runner up San Francisco 49ers
News broke today from several media outlets that Hasselbeck is officially done in Seattle. The teams interested are now Miami, San Francisco, Tennessee and possibly one more team. Tennessee makes the most sense for Hasselbeck and he would be a great tutor to rookie Jake Locker.
Jim Harbaugh has gone on record saying Alex Smith is the quarterback but if you have a shot to deflate your divisional opponent and help yourself you do it. They tried to do the same with Kurt Warner before he re-signed in Arizona.
Ultimately Matt will end up in Tennessee on a two-year deal.
Other free agent predictions:
Robert Gallery to Seattle. Matt Leinart to Seattle. Donovan McNabb to Minnesota. Kyle Orton (trade) to Miami. Kevin Kolb (trade) to Arizona. Gerald Sensabaugh to Houston.
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