Big-name free agents will go fast
When lockout ends, signings will be bunched
Quarterback Donovan McNabb. (Ronald Martinez, Getty Images / December 19, 2010)
Story: Hampton: Move Idonije inside
By Sam Farmer, Tribune Newspapers 10:23 p.m. CDT, July 24, 2011
When the NFL lockout is officially lifted, a frenzied free agency signing period will soon follow. Here's a look at some of the top free agents.
Kevin Kolb, Eagles: With the resurfacing of Michael Vick, Kolb didn't get much of a chance with the Eagles to prove what he could do as the starter. He could wind up finding his opportunity on the West Coast, as Kolb would be a good fit in Arizona or Seattle, among other places. There are rumblings of the Cardinals striking a deal involving cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Kolb.
Donovan McNabb, Redskins: Much as Mike Shanahan says he loves McNabb, the coach's actions say otherwise. The Redskins could wind up trading him — perhaps to the Vikings? — but they would have to re-work his contract first. McNabb is due for a $10 million bonus if he's still on the roster after Week 1.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: When he's healthy, which isn't often, Hasselbeck is a crafty player who can move the offense. The Seahawks don't seem to be willing to give him anything longer than a one-year deal. Maybe he'll wind up finishing his career with the Titans, helping bring along his Northwest neighbor, Jake Locker.
Carson Palmer, Bengals: Palmer says he isn't going back to the Bengals and will retire if they don't relinquish his rights. From the look of things, Bengals owner Mike Brown plans to call his bluff. Palmer's old coach, Pete Carroll, would love to have him in Seattle.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers: In 2008, the last time he played a full season, Williams ran for 1,515 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. A popular projection has him heading to Denver for a reunion with coach John Fox.
Cedric Benson, Bengals: The Bengals gave Benson a second chance and he made the most of it — until his recent arrest for assault causing bodily injury to a family member, that is. Cincinnati has identified re-signing him as a top priority.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants: Bradshaw was very productive for the Giants last season and has said he'd like to stay. Are the Giants willing to commit the cash to keep both Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs?
Sidney Rice, Vikings: The Vikings would love to keep the 6-foot-4 Rice, who's coming off an injury-shortened season, but he'll have his share of suitors. The Patriots are rumored to be interested.
Jets starters: The Jets can probably keep either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards but will be hard-pressed to hang on to both.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers: Floyd has not been consistent, but the Chargers could be left short-handed if they let the free agent go and Vincent Jackson also finds his way out of town.
Tyson Clabo, Falcons: Clabo, a right tackle who made the Pro Bowl last season, should command top dollar from someone, the Falcons or otherwise.
Doug Free, Cowboys: Free stepped in at left tackle last season for Flozell Adams and made a good case for the Cowboys keeping him.
Matt Light, Patriots: The Patriots already are planning for life after Light, Tom Brady's blind-side protector, drafting Colorado tackle Nate Solder in the first round.
Carl Nicks, Saints: The Saints have the league's top-paid guard in Jhari Evans, and yet many feel Nicks outplayed him last season. The Saints aren't likely to let Nicks go.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders: Asomugha is this offseason's Lotto winner, a shut-down corner sure to trigger a bidding war.
Ike Taylor, Steelers: Taylor says he feels both underrated and underappreciated, and he plans to test the free-agent market.
Antonio Cromartie, Jets: Although the free-agent cornerback doesn't have the reliability of a player such as Asomugha, the play-making Cromartie is among the league's most athletic players at any position.
Dawan Landry, Ravens: The hard-hitting Landry is among the best in an unusually deep collection of free-agent safeties.
LaMarr Woodley, Steelers: It's hard to imagine the Steelers letting Woodley go. He had 10 sacks and three forced fumbles last season.
Tamba Hali, Chiefs: Hali is a defining feature of the Chiefs' defense. He led the AFC in sacks last season with 14 1/2.
Paul Posluszny, Bills: Posluszny had 151 tackles last season, third in the NFL. He won't stick around long if the Bills let him test the market.
Charles Johnson, Panthers: A season after the Panthers let Julius Peppers go, Johnson picked up the slack with 11 1/2 sacks. Anyone who can pressure the passer like that can land a big-money deal.
Ray Edwards, Vikings: How much was Edwards helped by lining up on the other side of Jared Allen? We could find out this season.
Cullen Jenkins, Packers: Although he played in only 11 regular-season games last season, he had a career-high seven sacks. Question is, will the Packers be willing to match the hefty offers he could get from the Bears, Giants and Redskins?
Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune