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NFL Insider Free Agent Wire
Peyton & Wayne to Miami?
As we approach Super Tuesday in the NFL, the day that teams are able to talk to free agents around the league, we see some big names available for the taking. The biggest of those names being Peyton Manning. So far, the Seahawks, Cardinals, Chiefs, Redskins, Dolphins, and Broncos have all contacted Manning's agent to determine mutual interest in playing for their respective club. Miami seems to be the front runner, and could get a package deal with Manning and Reggie Wayne. If they can pull this off, this will make the Dolphins automatic Super Bowl contenders with a young stifling defense and an offense that would boast a Marshall and Wayne duo on the outside with a surging Reggie Bush in the backfield. The same thing could happen in Arizona. Can you see Manning throwing to Fitzgerald and Wayne? That would make for an interesting scenario in the NFC West. But it appears Manning wants to remain in the AFC. Maybe it's because he desires a Super Bowl match up with his brother, or maybe he just feels more comfortable not being in the same conference as Eli. What ever the reasons are, look for Peyton to be wearing teal by the end of next week.
There are several decent running backs available this year, headlined by Michael Bush of the Raiders. Personally, I think the Raiders should do all they can to keep him, but when it comes down to it, they just can't afford him and McFadden. There have been early rumors that the Bengals will be interested in his services since Hue Jackson is over there now and they appear to be letting Cedric Benson hit the open market. I agree with this scenario. It makes the most sense of any other scenario. So where does this leave Benson in all of this? The Steelers are in need of a running back with Mendenhal being injured so if they can't get someone they like in the draft, this may be an option for them.
Mike Tolbert is another very good back that will give a team a lot of diversity at the position. No one needs a back like this more than the Indianapolis Colts. They will have a rookie QB in Andrew Luck and Tolbert will be able to take a lot of pressure off the youngster. He can pound the ball to pick up first downs, he can bounce out and catch swing passes and screens and turn them into big gains, and he can block. This is a perfect fit for the Colts organization.
Green Ellis is a guy that is better than his current career numbers show. If he can go somewhere that doesn't throw the ball fifty times a game and he can get 20 touches, either through ground attack or the air, this guy can be a 1500+ yards from scrimmage back. I think Detroit would be a good fit for him because their current list of backs are pretty fragile, so he is guaranteed to get some work. I can also see him splitting carries with Steven Jackson in St Louis, but this won't happen.
QB's Not Named Manning
Manning is the obvious front runner in free agency that teams are looking at, but who is the next quarterback in line? Most people would say it's Matt Flynn. I'm not sure how sold I am on a team risking too much money and time in a guy that started one game and put up Madden numbers on a horrid secondary in Detroit. He did look good against the Patriots too, but again, another poor defense. I look at Kevin Kolb's lack of success as a starter in Arizona. He has great weapons and still can't consistently get the job done. Whoever gets Flynn can only hope he's the next Matt Schaub. I don't see the Seahawks risking too much on this guy, and the Cardinals aren't going to risk another QB unless it's Peyton Manning, so that leaves us with the Redskins, unless they jump up and take RGIII in the draft. Manning's release is really hurting Flynn's stock, and if Manning does go to the Dolphins, it's going to hurt Flynn's options even more. The Broncos could bring him in to compete with Tebow for the starting job. Outside of that, Flynn's options to start in the NFL are going to be limited.
Jason Campbell looked like he was finding himself in Oakland before suffering a season ending injury that led to the Raiders trading everything for Carson Palmer. Don't look for him to be back in black next season. He may stay in the AFC West however, with the Chiefs and Broncos both needing a back up QB. Speaking of the Chiefs, Kyle Orton is sitting there and wants to start, but will he have the opportunity when Cassell comes back? I think Orton is a better QB, and he will have an opportunity to play somewhere, I just don't know how many starting options are out there for him. I think staying in KC is his best bet and competing in camp for the job.
Vincent Jackson is the clear front runner at his respective position in free agency. I only have two words for his best fit: Da Bears! Cutler has been in dire need of a number one since he arrived in Chicago, and this would be a perfect marriage. Jackson is big and can stretch the field, providing a big target for the QB. Browns GM Heckert already said they don't plan to pursue any big name free agents (which is why they can't get better) so I'll eliminate them from this discussion now.
As I mentioned above, Wayne is going to go wherever Manning goes, but what about Garcon? I don't see a scenario where the Colts don't resign him, but if they drag their feet, look for a lot of other teams to show interest. Marques Colston appears to be a product of the Saints offense. He will leave for more money and some other team will pay it. Like the Lions when they paid Azhir Akim big money to come from "the fastest show on turf" to make plays for them, but he didn't have Kurt Warner throwing him the ball in Detroit. I see a similar scenario playing out with Colston. The Colts may take a look at Colston with losing Reggie Wayne, but I don't see it developing into anything serious. Fisher may try and sign Colston if Brandon Lloyd follows McDaniels to New England. Trading down and signing Justin Blackmon in the draft and obtaining Colston would give Bradford two legitimate targets, and provide Colston with a true number one opposite of him.
I love the Giants but Mario Manningham is going to get paid way too much money next week. He's had injury problems and issues with drops in the past, but that one catch in the Super Bowl is going to make him a lot of money. The Buccaneers have already been in talks with the receiver and will probably get him. They want Manningham to be their number one, but look for him to struggle when he's covered by the defenses top shut down guy on a weekly basis.
Mario Williams is by far the biggest name on the defensive side of the ball that's available to sign. The Patriots, Cowboys, and Chargers have all shown interest in Williams, who's coming off a missed season due to injury. I think the Cowboys are going to sign the guy I'm going to discuss next, so look for the Patriots to land Williams to help rebuild the worst defense in NFL history last season.
Cortland Finnegan is headed to Dallas. That's my prediction anyway. The Cowboys are struggling in the secondary and have been for the past few seasons. With the division rival Giants and Eagles being loaded at the receiver position, they need to sure up that unit, and Finnegan will do just that for them.
London Fletcher and John Abraham are both at the back end of their respective careers so they won't be looking for big money. They will simply fill holes and provide leadership for a team that needs them. Fletcher will most likely stay put in Washington, but Abraham will be fairly cheap and may go to the Patriots. Belichick likes these distinguished guys that can come in and provide leadership and make an instant impact. Just look at what he did for Randy Moss, Corey Dillan, and Andre Carter. He's missed on Joey Galloway, Ochocinco, and Albert Haynesworth, but taking chances in the NFL is what winning is all about, and 50% isn't too bad.