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Reggie Bush (MIA)
– After several tumultuous years in the NFL, Reggie Bush will again be at the top of his class-in free agency. Though a stretch from the elite back many thought he'd become, Bush has developed into the best offensive weapon for the Dolphins as a runner that has now shown the capabilities of running between the tackles and adding tremendous value as an outlet out of the backfield. There has no knowledge of extension talks between the two sides, so the expected plays in the offseason will be for Reggie to attempt to test the market and the Dolphins considering the franchise tag.
Greg Jennings (GB)
-In the final year of the 4-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2009, Jennings will look to nearly double that on his next contract after seeing Vincent Jackson go 5 for $55 million. With consistency and humility, Jennings would be on a great asset to a quarterback that plays with timing and accuracy. With extensions on the horizon for Rodgers, Matthews, and Raji, it's very possible that the Packers can afford to his carry his loss with depth more-so than at the other positions. Though his heart still seems in Green Bay, Jennings has publicly stated he understands the situation and the likelihood that this is his final year with the only franchise he's played for so far.
Mike Wallace (PIT)
- After a noisy offseason of threats and 9-digit contract talks, Mike Wallace backed down and returned to the field just in time for the regular season. Despite the distraction, he has caught touchdowns in each of his first two games. After paying Antonio Brown, it's uncertain if the Steelers will be willing and able to reach a compromise with Wallace or if they'll continue to play him year-to-year before trading him, as they did with former #1 receiver Santonio Holmes.
Dwayne Bowe (KC)
- One subpar season aside, Dwayne Bowe has emerged into the number one receiver the offense needs. He's a big body and a good route runner with a large catching radius. His body of work around the goal line speaks for itself. After missing much of the offseason with a holdout, Bowe eventually caved and signed his tag, guaranteeing $9.5 million for himself. As he heads into his second consecutive offseason without a contract, he may be more likely to hold himself out if a long-term deal can't be reached. Remember that in New England, General Manager Scott Pioli (and Bill Belichick) never overvalued their receivers.
Wes Welker (NE)
Josh Cribbs (CLE)
Danny Amendola (STL)
- With quickness and sure hands, Amendola is as good as any working the slots and the chains. For Sam Bradford, he's been the only consistent target when healthy, so it would be surprising to see St. Louis not put the best offer on the table.
Fred Davis (WAS)
Jared Cook (TEN)
- With elite athleticism, the Titans have looked to increase Jared Cook's snaps each and every season. Capable of making big plays from the position, the Titans should look to keep their receiving corps intact and build on it to help quarterback Jake Locker succeed. 4 years into his career, this is a pivotal year for Cook if he expects to break bank this offseason.
Heath Miller (PIT)
- A terrific blocker and a valuable receiver in the short and intermediate passing game, Heath Miller is a perfect fit for what the Steelers look for in a tight end. The player-team fit nearly ensures that the Steelers will throw the best offer on the table and hammer out a deal.
Delanie Walker (SF)
- While teams are focused on Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker has been a great multi-faceted tool for the 49ers on offense and special teams for his entire career. His blocking, pass-catching, and athletic ability allow the Niners to run a base 2-tight end offense, which is perfect for Harbaugh's hard-nosed brand. Surely teams will look to pry away Walker from the 49ers, but with the locker room and success Harbaugh has brought to the organization, it will be a difficult play.
Jake Long (MIA) - OT
- A year ago, Joe Thomas set a new standard for offensive tackles with a 7-year, $84 million contract. The Dolphins are not expected to allow one of the best tackles in the league walk, but with a franchise tag number 120% of his cap number this year, $15.4 million will give Jake Long some leverage in negotiations.
Ryan Clady (DEN) - OT
- After several seasons as one of the better left tackles in the league, Clady's is on his expiring rookie contract. After turning down a 5-year, $50 million offer from the Broncos prior to this season, there is some indication that he's looking for something more in the Joe Thomas ballpark. It's unlikely the Broncos, or any other team, will be willing to go that high, but if his demands persist, it brings the franchise tag into play.
Branden Albert (KC) - OT
Sebastian Vollmer (NE) - OT
Brandon Moore (NYJ) - OG
Andy Levitre (BUF) - OG
Andre Smith (CIN) - OT
Sam Baker (ATL) - OT
- Over the last year or two, Sam Baker has been battling a chronic injury and Will Svitek for a starting job. At full health, Baker has been an effective left tackle for the Falcons. At less than full health, he's been a borderline liability. Baker is an example of the type of player every year where his own team has the best injury read on him. If the Falcons can trust his health, they will trust signing him to a solid second contract.
Dwight Freeney (IND) - DE
Henry Melton (CHI) - DT
Cliff Avril (DET) - DE
Terrance Knighton (JAC) - NT
Randy Starks (MIA) - DT
- Starks has played everywhere from DE to NT for the Dolphins effectively over the past few seasons. Even at 29, Miami will approach Randy Starks about signing an extension and keeping their run-stopping base of Starks and Paul Soliai together. Along with Cameron Wake, these are the three pieces around which their stout defense is built.
Osi Umenyiora (NYG) - DE
Michael Johnson (CIN) - DE
- As 6'7, 270 pound with terrific athleticism, the first round talent fell to the 3rd round due to rawness and questions about his motor. Making improvements in technique and putting to rest those concerns that caused him to drop as a collegiate prospect, he provided valuable pass-rushing snaps for the Bengals off the edge. 3 games into his 2012 season, his 4 sacks leave him a pair shy of his 2011 career-high. As a player on the rise with significant upside, Johnson will have the opportunity to make tens of millions dollars down the road depending on his performance this year.
Glenn Dorsey (KC) - DE/DT
- The former 5th overall selection in 2008 hasn't been nearly as dominant as the Chiefs may have expected, but he has been a mainstay on the defensive line. At, 6'1, 297, Dorsey is strong and plays with natural leverage, allowing him to hold the point. He has great short-area quickness and is deft with his hands to shed blocks and locate the ball down the line of scrimmage.
Israel Idonije (CHI) - DT
Brian Urlacher (CHI) - MLB
Shaun Phillips (SD) - OLB
- Phillips will be 32 heading into next year and with plenty of depth at outside linebacker, the Chargers could look to let him free if Melvin Ingram emerges into a stud down the stretch. Still, this scenario seems unlikely for a speed rusher on the wrong side of 30 who will command less than top dollar. However, to describe Phillips as just a speed rusher to the Chargers would be a falsehood. For many years, Shaun Phillips has been among the most underrated outside backers in the league and San Diego should recognize this better than anyone.
Anthony Spencer (DAL) - OLB
Connor Barwin (HOU) - OLB
- After locking up Matt Schaub midseason, the Texans are in good position to use the franchise tag on Barwin should they be unable to reach an extension. On a defense predicated around the pass rush, Barwin is one of many remarkably-talented athletes to develop into very solid football players.
Daryl Smith (JAC) - OLB
Rey Maualuga (CIN) - MLB
Brent Grimes (ATL)
- After a couple of All-Pro caliber seasons under his belt, Grimes was unable to reach a long-term extension with the Falcons. A season-ending injury such as this often gives merit to camp holdouts, but with an increased importance at the position and diminishing number of true top flight corners, Grimes should still hold value this offseason. His contract situation with the Falcons may depend on the team’s season unfolds and Grimes’ contract ballpark may depend on how fast he heals.
Tracy Porter (DEN)
- After being unable to find a long-term home for himself, Porter accepted a 1 year, $4 million deal to start opposite a waning Champ Bailey on the other side. Through the early stretch of the season, Porter has played well. If only he can stay healthy, an issue that haunted him in New Orleans, Porter should be able to cash in after a successful “prove it” season.
Sean Smith (MIA)
- After trading another up-and-coming corner and former first round pick in Vontae Davis, the Dolphins showed confidence and placed a lot of stock in their long corner Sean Smith. If there's anything his career has shown so far, it's been inconsistency. If Smith gets everything to click for an entire season, he surely has Pro Bowl capability. Miami seems almost a lock to retain Smith, but the quality and consistency of his 2012 season will go a long way in determining the size and length of his contract.
Quentin Jammer (SD)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (PHI)
Derek Cox (JAC)
- Though struggling to stay over a full 16-game schedule, Cox has been a strong starter when on the field. Averaging just 6.4 YPA against him over the past two years, allowing completions against him less than 50% of the time, the Jaguars will definitely look to re-sign him to maintain continuity in a middling, but improving defense.
Aqib Talib (TB)
Ed Reed (BAL)
- Will he re-sign with Baltimore or will he retire? Even a 35 year old Ed Reed will excite the Ravens organization if he chooses to continue his professional career. Though he's agentless, Reed's mentioned to the media in the past that his heart is entirely in the Ravens organization and he's looking to play beyond this year. The odds of him suiting up in a different jersey next year is minimal.
William Moore (ATL)
Dashon Goldson (SF)
LaRon Landry (WAS)
- Signing a 1 year, $3.5 million deal with the Jets coming off an Achilles injury, Landry received the quintessential "prove it" contract. Now losing Darrelle Revis to injury, the Jets safeties will again be truly tested and Landry will have to help hold the secondary together. If he can make it through the year in the good graces of the team, he'll be in position to earn a bigger payday. Still, with his history of injury and inconsistency, another long-term lucrative payday does not appear to be forthcoming from New York or anywhere else.
Jairus Byrd (BUF)
- After a rookie season littered with fortunate passes thrown directly his way, Byrd's interception totals have normalized. Whereas the interceptions are no longer coming in bunches, Byrd has improved his game in other areas to become one of the league's better safeties. With great range and anticipatory skills in center field, Byrd is reliable free safety capable of forcing quarterbacks to hold the ball and double check his position on the field before throwing the deep ball. In a pass-heavy league, one of the best young safeties in the game should be high on the Bills' priority list this season.
Louis Delmas (DET)
- Though Delmas has never broken free into the top tier of safeties, his absence has left the Lions reeling and pining for his return to the field where his reliability and hard-hitting ability has helped minimize the bleeding in the secondary. As the Lions look to find areas where they can improve, the secondary will be at the top of their list and within that priority list, retaining their own starting safety will be high up.