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With free agency right around the corner, here’s a look at some of the big names available on the 13th of March.
The biggest catch of all would be former Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning was released Wednesday by the Colts, one day before his $28 million roster bonus was due. We all know that he was an elite quarterback before his neck issues popped up and there will be a long line of suitors who want him to wear their jersey.
Washington and Tampa Bay both have a good amount of cap room to work with in free agency. Both also had horrendous quarterback play in 2011. Jacksonville and Miami don’t have as much to work with but will be pushing hard to get Manning.
Another team with a good chance to land Peyton is the Arizona Cardinals. They are the front runners in my opinion and here’s why. Manning would already have a Pro Bowl wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald waiting for him. They’re going to release LT Levi Brown and avoid the $17 million cap hit so it would open up cap space. Arizona would also need to do something about QB Kevin Kolb and his $63 million, 5-year deal he signed last season. The Cardinals also play in a dome and the usually-weak NFC West which would help them look more enticing to Manning.
If the Cards cut Kolb and Brown, they should be able to land Manning. Add in the possibility of Reggie Wayne also heading wherever Peyton goes and this would be lucrative from a fantasy standpoint. Arizona would go from a passing fancy to a must-see fantasy destination.
Drew Brees is not a happy camper in New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune. The Saints used their franchise tag on Brees only to prevent him from negotiating with other teams. It also buys time to get a long-term deal inked. Then again, this may take a while given everything else going on with the Saints organization.
Another unhappy player with a franchise tag is Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee. Scobee hit a career-best 92 percent on his field goals (23-of-25) in 2011 but has no intention of signing his tender. Look for him to hold out while a long-term deal gets ironed out. Although he had a great season last year, no team would be willing to give up a pair of first-rounders to try and pry Scobee away from the Jaguars.
I have no idea why teams are lining up for Matt Flynn of the Packers. Here’s a guy who has spent four seasons in the league and has exactly two starts. Sure, they were good games but I think Flynn will be the 2012 version of Kevin Kolb; a still unproven player with a very fat wallet. Whichever teams lose in Manning Madness will likely be hot on Flynn’s trail. Cleveland and Miami look like the early leaders to overspend.
WR Vincent Jackson won’t be a Charger anymore. He proved to be too costly to get the Chargers’ franchise tag at nearly $14 million per year. There’s no doubt about his talent and he will go quickly in free agency. Look for Washington and Chicago to lead the charge for the former Charger.
San Francisco has the cap space available and going up the coast could give the 49ers that extra push to get over the hump. The 49ers were criticized for not having a WR1 last season and V-Jax would be a nice upgrade over Michael Crabtree. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land here.
Other key wide receivers that are up for grabs include: Marques Colston (big target but plenty of knee issues) and Reggie Wayne. Mike Wallace of the Steelers also nets a mention but he is a restricted free agent. It would cost a team a first-rounder to get Wallace out of Pittsburgh. A team like New England or Houston could be Wallace’s new home in 2012. He could be the second-most exciting free agent to follow after Peyton.
The running back position doesn’t offer much suspense after Ray Rice and Matt Forte got tagged while RB Arian Foster re-upped with Houston. Michael Bush will draw some attention because of how well he played while Darren McFadden was hurt last season. LeGarette Blount will get a couple looks and Cedric Benson should expect a couple of calls as well. It’s hard to say where each of them will land.
And if you can figure out where everyone above goes in free agency, it’s impossible to guess who might be able to land DE Mario Williams from the Texans. Houston dodged a bullet by signing RB Arian Foster to a 4-year deal but have left their edge rusher (and former #1 overall draft pick) up for grabs. I think every team would have some interest in a defensive end of his caliber. There won’t be many suitors who can pick up the tab to get him though.
The 2012 free agency season is lining to be one of the most hectic ever. Check back in with us for updated fantasy impacts as players make their moves.