A Look at the NFL Free Agency Frenzy to Come
by Pat Nicoloff
Free agency is definitely going to be a fast-happening circus once it gets swirling. Teams are going to have to come in with a plan and make decisions quickly. Players don’t want to miss too much camp if they’re switching schemes, especially QB’s. So the news should come flying in fast enough to barely be able to keep track. I’d like to look at some ideal fits for some of the big names on offense that are floating around in limbo.
Matt Hasselbeck: I consider Hasselbeck the safest bet of any QB available through free agency or trade this offseason. He should have his choice between 4 or 5 different teams. I say he obviously chooses a team that is set up to win and where he has assurances that he won’t be handing over the job to a rookie anytime while he’s there. Arizona makes a lot of sense, but they have their sights set pretty firmly on Kevin Kolb it seems. Unless that’s a smokescreen, I think San Francisco might be a good fit. They have a better roster than Seattle and a gaping hole at quarterback. Kaepernick isn’t going to be ready anytime soon, so I say he signs for 2 years and stays in the same division. Forget what Harbaugh says about Alex Smith. He wants someone more in his own mold. Hasselbeck has a similar swagger. Tennessee just doesn’t seem to have a good enough roster to lure Hasselbeck, unless they add some players quickly in free agency.
Soon-to-be Free Agent QB’s:
Donovan McNabb: Life hasn’t been kind to the Syracuse alum as of late and a lot of people are questioning whether he can find any suitable home at all where he can walk in as “the guy.” I say Seattle or Miami are the only sensible fits. Minny’s going to be too much of a running team and they’re looking for Ponder to drop the clipboard shortly. Seattle would probably be the most familiar offense to DMac, so I expect him to lean that way. If Hasselbeck were to return, I’d say Miami would be his choice. And he’d enter a training camp “battle” with Chad Henne.
Vince Young: Vince may be waiting a little longer than most free agents. He’ll need to convince a front office that he won’t be problem and find a team willing to take a risk. I see fits in Minnesota, Seattle, or Washington. The Redskins may offer the best deal money-wise and get him to lead that team for a year. Minnesota and Seattle would probably look for less volatile signal callers.
DeAngelo Williams: A lot of people forget how good this guy is because he plays for an invisible team. If it weren’t for Cam Newton, they might just stop showing Carolina highlights this year. I hear that the Pantehrs want him back, but there’s definitely better fits and I hope their front office isn’t that inept. Look at other positions, you goons. DeAngelo will want to get paid and play for somewhat of a winner. Denver makes sense with John Fox sitting there, but I’m not seeing that as being too appealing for DeAngelo. I say his ideal landing spot would be Tampa. They’ve got truckloads of a cash (that new rules demand they spend) and the ability to form the best 1-2 punch in football. They’re a more serious contender with this guy in pewter.
Cedric Benson: Of course ‘ol Cedric’s summer wouldn’t feel like home unless he got arrested at a nearby a watering hole. He’s got that wrapped up, so now he’s back to toting the pig. The guy is a throwback, animal if you have a decent O-line. Sure he can’t really catch and all that, but he runs hard and keeps defenses honest. On the right team, he could still easily be a Pro Bowler. Where would be a sensible home for this pal of local law enforcement? Gotta be an old school coach that loves pounding the pill. I’m feeling Denver. Laid back folks and John Fox should be enough to lure him. And a ‘lil loot. The Bengals may be going more West Coast with John Gruden’s brother running the O.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams: Hard to believe both these guys will be looking for work. I don’t think it will last long. Ricky makes a lot of a sense as a change of pace team for anybody in contention right now. I think Atlanta would be a good home. He could share the load with Turner the Burner and add some intrigue to a pretty boring looking locker room. He may just outperform the Burner in stretches. As for Ronnie, I think he’ll get even more calls than Ricky. Baltimore would be wise to lock him up quickly if they cut Willis McGahee, as has been reported. They need to take some the load off of Ray Rice and Ronnie gives them a 3-down guy that can do that. I’d expect the Bengals to call him also, and for him to ignore the call. Baltimore needs to load up.
Ahmad Bradshaw: This is the guy I think Cincy will ultimately land. He’s a perfect fit for the West Coast offense and it seems like the Giants aren’t going to be the top bidders. I say Cincy spends big and gets a guy that Gruden can work with. He’ll open up the offense and help usher in a new style with AJ Green and Dalton and crew. Add Tiki Barber a little later in free agency, and that gives the Bungles just the right amount of dysfunction.
Santonio Holmes: I’m surprised he wasn’t franchised. The Jets may be losing out on their biggest playmaker and Mark Sanchez saver. They’ll surely pony up a sizeable deal for Holmes though. Seattle makes a lot of sense. They need a true number 1 and they have plenty of cap space to burn. I say it’s Seattle, Cleveland, and the Jets bidding his price up, with him ultimately deciding upon the West Coast and big dollars. Tampa would be wise to get involved here, too. Ideal fit for that team.
Randy Moss: He’s barely a big name after going into hiding while being a Tennessee Titan. I doubt he’s done yet though. We’ve seen this go his way once before. I’m seeing one last run in Moss. Probably an incentive-laden one year deal with a Super Bowl contender. Sounds like the Saints to me. He’ll make it easy on the gang to move on from Lance Moore. Perfect environment for Moss, too. Established quarterback, rowdy surroundings, and bright lights. May be the kind of place that brings out another 15 touchdown season. Marques Colston is getting a bit wobbly.
James Jones: I have a feeling this is going to be a guy that gets paid big, despite a less than big-time resume. He’s got a lot of potential and who knows what could happen once he gets to be out there for every snap. I say the Jets snatch him up and let him roll with Braylon Edwards.
Santana Moss: Welcome to St. Louis. Finally, a real quarterback for him and finally a real route runner for Sammy Bradford. He won’t cost much and he’ll improve the team. He’ll be the go-to guy if Donnie Avery isn’t right.
Steve Smith (NYG): This guy’s had some great numbers, but microfracture surgery is never good, in any sport. I think he’ll have to bite the bullet and take a one year deal to come to back to New York. They need him there.
Sidney Rice: Before injuries, many looked at Sidney as the best WR in this free agency class. He may get paid that way, but it’ll take some gull. I look for Mike Shanahan to force Washington into the bidding. This is his ideal type of WR. He can’t possibly think he has a #1 on his roster. Minnesota will compete, but probably go a different direction because of the injury history. A guy like Mike Sims-Walker is a sensible replacement in Vikingtown.
Usually so many good players don’t change teams, as I have almost everyone doing here. But this is an odd year, and I think it will only get odder.