With NFL free agency set to begin, sportsnet.ca takes a look at the top ten free agents.
Andy Levitre is the anchor of the Buffalo Bills offensive line, and is their top priority of the offseason. Levitre is pivotal to the Bills’ passing game, but also anchors one of the league’s running tandems in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. As one of the best guards in the game, Levitre would be an asset to any team.
The speedy Steelers wide receiver posted a 64-catch, 836-yard season with seven touchdowns last year, and may be the best breakaway threat in the league. Wallace possesses elite acceleration, and would improve any team’s vertical passing game. Many have pegged Wallace to end up in Miami, although he will have many suitors.
Talib was acquired by New England mid-season from Tampa Bay, after the Buccaneers had enough with the cornerback’s frequent off-the-field antics. The 27-year-old is an elite shutdown corner, but after wearing out his welcome in Tampa, may leave some teams skeptical of his maturity.
Wes Welker is one of the top free agents available in the 2013 class.
The first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long has met the lofty expectations that come with being the top selection. Grantland’s Bill Barnwell went as far to say that he is “about to enter the prime of a Hall of Fame–caliber career.” Tackles like Long are a rare breed, as he is an outstanding run and pass blocker, and made the Pro Bowl from 2008-11. Long will be pursued by many teams if he hits the open market.
New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz expects to play in the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. (AP/Julio Cortez)
After Ray Lewis retired, Dannell Ellerbe was expected to become the heir apparent to the Ravens’ linebacker throne.
Freeney is in decline, recording a mere five sacks last season. However, Freeney provides veteran leadership, and is still a great speed rusher. Freeney has recorded 107.5 career sacks throughout his career, and will be an excellent player to use in pass rushing situations.
Osi Umenyiora had a below-average year for his standards, recording only six sacks in 2012. Nonetheless, Umenyiora has proved to be a nightmare for offensive lines in year’s past, and should still be a capable pass rusher at his age. Umenyiora has recorded 75 career sacks, and when he’s on his game, few are as adept at getting to the pass rusher.
Andre Smith has performed very well for the Cincinnati Bengals, after being selected sixth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. At 6’4, and weighing 335 pounds, Smith is a formidable force and can play either left or right tackle. At 26, Smith could anchor a line for years, and will be pursued by teams seeking help on the offensive line.