by Chris Wilder, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
Now that the NFL lockout is finally over, the biggest task ahead for every team is signing free agents. Because of the time lost, the free agent signing period has been severely condensed. This year, the 30 teams will only have two weeks to sign hundreds of free agents.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders is the best player available, and you best believe teams will line up to throw deals at him. There are some other good corners out there as well so, everybody looking for one should get one. Wide receivers are widely available as well.
Where players will end up is the biggest question in the fans’ minds right now. So we’re offering some fairly educated guesses – based on really good information – on where the top free agents will end up.
1. CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders Nnamdi is clearly the best player of the available free agents. Any team would want him, but most won’t touch him because of his salary requirements. A likely suitor could be the Tampa Buccaneers. They have lots of money under the cap and could offer him as much as $20 million for next year and still have some change ($30 million or so) to spare.
2. WR Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings Sidney is a big-bodied wide receiver, and that is most coveted by any team looking to boost their scoring average. He was injured and missed the first 10 games of 2010, so everyone is more or less basing his value off of his 2009 season when he had 83 catches for over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. The San Diego Chargers may look to pick him up. He is a deep threat, and their quarterback, Phillip Rivers, loves to throw the ball.
3. CB Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets Although he is extremely fast and talented at the corner, Cromartie is probably best known by marginal football fans for not being able to name all of his children on HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training with the New York Jets” last year. More than likely, he’ll end up on the Philadelphia Eagles. They really want Asomugha, but won’t be able to afford him.
4. CB Johnathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals Joseph is very solid. He does his job on the field, and you can count on that. However, having missed 12 games over the last two seasons, coupled with his height (5-11), may lower his value a little bit. Either way, he will be one of the most sought after free agents. Look for San Francisco to make a move on Johnathan. They need help, and he would start right away. If for some reason, Cromartie and the Eagles don’t work out, Philly may try to pick him up as well.
5. WR Braylon Edwards, New York Jets The Bears are trying to improve an offense that features three receivers who aren’t exactly lighting up SportsCenter every week. The Bears have a lot to spend, and the wide receiver position is definitely the first place they want to shore up – right after they get their offensive line together.
6. WR Santonio Holmes, New York Jets Santonio Holmes should end up back with the Jets. He has already made it clear that he will go wherever the most money is, but the Jets want him back badly. Working against Holmes’ value are his off-field drug problems. Another infraction could sideline him for an entire season. We’ll see how this plays out.
7. RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers The New York Giants need help in the backfield. DeAngelo Williams is the best running back out there right now – when he’s not injured. The missed games (13 over the last two seasons) is a real knock on him. Hopefully, he can stay on the field. The Giants would love it.
8. WR Steve Smith, New York Giants
Smith is perfect in the role the Giants put him in last year. Coming out of the slot, he was poised for a 1,000-yard season before an injury ended it. The Giants are fully expected to re-sign him even though the Kansas City Chiefs will probably come knocking.
9. TE Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders Zach is a great receiving tight end. Last year, despite not having great wide receivers or a good quarterback, he was able to make 60 catches for 685 yards. The Raiders are probably a good fit for him next contract – that is, unless he is concerned with winning some games. If so, he may want to look to Baltimore, where the Ravens will most likely be cutting Todd Heap.
10. CB Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers Ike will sign a big contract with some team. He is not quite at the level of some of the other free agent defensive backs, but many teams have a need at that spot. Steelers Nation isn’t exactly trying to lose him either. Taylor will make his money and more than likely stay at home.