View Full Version : NFL's Top 25 FA

01-29-2008, 08:41 PM
Super 25: Ranking the NFL's top free agents
January 24, 2008

Vinnie Iyer

A big reason the Patriots will be playing to finish a perfect season in Super Bowl 42 is their superior skill at playing the NFL's free-agent market. To remain an elite team throughout the decade, they have mastered the art of letting their own high-priced free agents go and reloading with good-value veterans.

Last year, the Patriots' most significant signing was top linebacker Adalius Thomas from Baltimore, but New England also made an aggressive offer to restricted free agent Wes Welker. Miami chose not to match it, and the Dolphins let their promising young slot receiver go to a division rival.

The Pats made two sneakier marquee moves: They put the franchise tag on cornerback Asante Samuel to keep him from bolting as a free agent. And they acquired wide receiver Randy Moss from Oakland for the bargain price of a fourth-round draft pick and $3 million.

You can bet New England would have suffered a loss somewhere along the line if it had lost Samuel and hadn't gained Moss. They should expect those two players to play major roles in the Super Bowl, but bringing them back for '08 should be much more expensive.

Samuel and Moss easily make the cut for the top half-dozen free agents to-be in '08, but there are several more impact players available. In fact, let's go 19 deeper to unveil the top 25 free agents from what Sporting News calls the Super 99.

The criteria? It's not what you've done for me lately, but what you can do later. Young players with upside are more attractive than established but fading stars.

As for the next 74 best free agents, you'll need to check out SN's Pro Football War Room for the complete rankings:

1. Asante Samuel, CB, Patriots. In addition to being tough and disciplined in coverage, he's the game-changing ballhawk who can reverse the fortunes of an entire secondary.

2. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Titans. The chance for big money motivated him to have his best NFL season. The fact that there are so few young, space-eating, run-stuffing defensive tackles increases his value even more.

3. Alan Faneca, G, Steelers. It will be weird to see Pittsburgh's offensive line without his mean, nasty and mighty presence on the interior. He's 31, but he still has much to contribute as dominant run blocker.

4. Dallas Clark, TE, Colts. The only question was his health, and he answered that with his most durable and productive season (58 catches, 616 yards, 11 TDs). Indy will do everything it can (franchise tag if needed) to lock up this versatile, athletic cog for its offense.

5. Jared Allen, DE, Chiefs. Like Haynesworth and Clark, you can expect Allen's current team to ensure he returns. The NFL's new sack champ (15 1/2) has put his off-field issues behind him to become a premier end.

6. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots. Moss might have found so much career bliss in New England that he just might stay, even if he's offered bigger bucks to go elsewhere.

7. Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys. Expect this young, bruising back to go from restricted to re-upped for the long term, especially with the team unlikely to re-sign backfield mate Julius Jones.

8. Corey Williams, DT, Packers. He's what oft-injured Falcon Rod Coleman used to be three years ago -- a talented interior pass rusher in his prime.

9. Derek Anderson, QB, Browns. He's restricted, so Cleveland can keep him through 2008 by tendering him, which would require other teams to give up first-round and third-round picks to sign him away. The Browns should realize they've found their franchise quarterback and give him the long-term deal he wants.

10. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders. Not many know the name or can pronounce it, but he's a solid young cover corner with rare size (6-2, 210) for the position.

11. Michael Boley, OLB, Falcons. He had a breakout season, and Atlanta should reward him so he can be an integral part of new coach Mike Smith's defense, which featured good linebacker play in Jacksonville.

12. Terrell Suggs, OLB/DE, Ravens. Suggs, along with Baltimore's entire defense, had a bit of a down season, but he still will be highly coveted as a versatile edge rusher.

13. Michael Turner, RB, Chargers. It still isn't known whether the Burner can be successful handling a full load after being a first-rate backup to LT. It would be fun, however, to see him get the chance.

14. Marcus Trufant, CB, Seahawks. In his fifth season, Trufant delivered on the promise he showed as a second-year player, which might prompt Seattle to put the franchise tag on its ace defensive back.

15. Lance Briggs, OLB, Bears. He finally will get his wish to break the bank away from the Bears, but it's buyer beware since his play dropped off in '07.

16. Ken Hamlin, S, Cowboys. Dallas finally found the playmaking coverage safety to complement the hard-hitting, run-supporting Roy Williams. But it will be hard for the Cowboys to keep Hamlin.

17. Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears. Shaky quarterback play has limited his potential as a big-play threat. On the right team with a top passer, he has superstar ability.

18. Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys. It's clear Big D's backfield belongs to Barber, so Jones will hope he ran well enough as a part-timer to get a look as a feature back elsewhere.

19. Ryan Lilja, G, Colts. He's an outstanding all-around blocker in a prolific offense.

20. Clark Haggans, OLB, Steelers. James Harrison emerged as Pittsburgh's latest edge-rushing ace after the departure of Joey Porter; now Haggans will need to move on with LaMarr Woodley ready and waiting.

21. Jordan Gross, OT, Panthers. Carolina struggled offensively in '07, but Gross held up well as the ideal right tackle.

22. Jake Scott, G, Colts. Just like Lilja, he's a strong presence who has flanked center Jeff Saturday.

23. D.J. Hackett, WR, Seahawks. He has shown explosive potential when healthy. The key is how he checks out after having some time to rehab his injured ankle.

24. Justin Smith, DE, Bengals. Just like his team, Smith didn't deliver as much on the pass rush this season. At this point, his size (6-4, 275) and savvy make him a good complementary end to an established sack artist.

25. Max Starks, OT, Steelers. Although he will need to come back from a left knee injury, the left tackle's talent, size (336) and age (26) make him more attractive than older tackles such as the Cowboys' Flozell Adams.

Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at viyer@sportingnews.com (viyer@sportingnews.com).

Some of these are very wierd rankings. Starks at 25? Sure there are better FA guys out there better than him, and Anderson at 9?

Black@Gold Forever32
01-29-2008, 08:45 PM
Ok Clark Haggans is on this list.....I question this dudes ranking big time now....lol Especially at 20.....lol Haggans is done and it showed this year.....He is just a solid backup now.........He isn't a starter at this stage in his career....

01-29-2008, 10:00 PM
Ok Clark Haggans is on this list.....I question this dudes ranking big time now....lol Especially at 20.....lol Haggans is done and it showed this year.....He is just a solid backup now.........He isn't a starter at this stage in his career....

He's still better than some old HGH taking bum in NE that we got rid of a long time ago....:banana:

Black@Gold Forever32
01-29-2008, 10:03 PM
He's still better than some old HGH taking bum in NE that we got rid of a long time ago....:banana:

I'm guessing you're referring to Mike Vrabel? I hate the guy to but he is one hell of a football player and has been a cornerstone in that team winning Super Bowls....I wouldn't mind him playing for the Steelers right now honestly.....

Yea Haggans better then Vrabel.....:lol:

01-29-2008, 10:10 PM
Come on! Vrabel never did anything close to this season.... How else do you explain an all of the sudden explosion in stats???

Black@Gold Forever32
01-29-2008, 10:17 PM
Vrabel had 9.5 sacks back in 2003........He has been a consistent 4-5 sacks a season for most of his career with the Pats....Maybe the fact the Pats signed Adalius Thomas this past off-season lead to Vrabel having a huge year this year sack wise? Ever think of that?

Plus Vrabel has always made big plays in the post-season with the Pats...Thats why I said he was a cornerstone in them winning Super Bowls.....

01-29-2008, 10:43 PM
At his age I got 3 words for ya.....


Black@Gold Forever32
01-29-2008, 10:48 PM
At his age I got 3 words for ya.....


Yea signing an impact defensive player like Thomas did nothing to help the Pats defense or the other players on that D......:scratch:

I guess if I take HGH I can also play LB in the NFL and get 12.5 sacks in a season....

Accusing somebody of using when there is no proof against that player is just ignorant and wrong.....