With Free Agency already underway, here are some of my predictions for where the top free agents will end up – in no particular order.
The Situation-The linebacker who refused to take a hometown discount to stay and his non franchise tagged buddy. While Ray might be getting up there in age, he has been the core of the Ravens D for the decade and would be a great loss if he were to go. While Dallas has been in the winds for a while, I feel it is just smoke being thrown by the three ring circus in Texas and that the interest for the Cowboys isn’t nearly as exciting as it seems.
The Prediction- With Bart Scott heading to the Jets, I find it likely that Lewis returns to Baltimore.Honestly, do you see him anywhere else?
The Situation- While TJ might be leaving his longtime friend and fellow receiver in Chad Johnson. TJ is ready and willing to start his career as the De-Facto number one in another system. IN my opinion the better receiver of the two, TJ might have some trouble getting the number 1 receiver money because he has been playing with Chad all these years but if he can last a full season with a serviceable quarterback, he will be a huge bargain in this market.
The Prediction- With the hometown Bengals out of the question, TJ will most likely head East to play with his next team. While the 49ers and Seahawks both need a receiver out west and will have strong offers, these teams are not up to championship snuff and will be rebuked almost immediately. Instead, The Giants who are left with many questions and a lack of leadership at wideout and the Eagles who have to satisfy Donovan will both aggressively pursue TJ. While the Giants do have good depth at the position, the retirement of Amani Toomer and the questions raised about Plaxico make the Giants credible suitors for the low key high performance receiver. The Eagles on the other hand have a strong deep threat developing in DeSean Jackson but need a receiver with a lot of experience and talent. While I would love to see TJ suit up for the G-Men, i think that the more probable scenario will be that he flies away with the Eagles.
While those combinations represent the upper crust of free agency, here are some other players who can make an impact wherever they land.
Kurt Warner- I was tempted to put him in the top three but the odds are he will either retire or head back to Arizona to end his career
Byron Leftwich- A power armed QB who was a quality Steelers backup in the latter half of the season, expect him to draw interest from the usual QB hunting teams such as Minnesota and the New York Jets and possibly even the Chicago Bears who need a serviceable arm to lead a team to the playoffs and beyond.
Derrick Brooks- The still pro bowl caliber 35 year old would do good to end up in a system similar to Tampa’s in which he can make an impact while he can still play.
Cato June- After floundering around in Tampa having been successful in Indianapolis, watch him possibly return home to be a solid contribution in the new Jim Caldwell Colts or end up with another team running a cover-two system.
Chris Canty- Why would Dallas let go of this gem? Their loss is another team’s gain as any 3-4 defensive team would love to have this game changer.