Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Feb 2012

Top 50 Free Agents

Pete Prisco, who's one of those writers who actually watches games, put together a list of the top 50 free agents that I think is pretty sensible. Pro tip: if you're putting a list like this together and Brandon Carr isn't towards the top, you probably need to revise your list.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 09 Feb 2012

36 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2012, 9:48am by JMM*


by tuluse :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 4:38pm

Looks like a good crop of receivers and d-linemen.

Also, I didn't realize the Chiefs two best players were free agents. That could hurt my prediction of them as surprise contenders.

by Independent George :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:48pm

And, as usual, there is a shortage of offensive linemen, which means a team looking for an upgrade will either have to overpay, or wait for the draft.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 10:26am

I think Mike Brisiel's a little hard done by not to be on that list. He's not a superstar, but he'd be a significant upgrade for quite a lot of teams. Washington seems like a fairly probable destination.

by Dean :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:22pm

That doesn't seem like Washington's style. They don't typically go for "under the radar" guys. They go for splash. Even when they sign linemen, they fall in the category of "guys you've heard of before."

by smutsboy :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:10pm

I don't know. I'm a cynical R*dskins fan, but they had some under the radar (or at the radar?) the signings last year like Bowen and Cofield.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 02/12/2012 - 1:35pm

I guess it would be a small test of who's calling the shots. Shanahan the Younger has coached him, and he knows the system - I'd be surprised if the coaching staff weren't keen to have him.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 6:20pm

I'd argue that Tamba Hali is their best player, and that Dwayne Bowe is good but overrated (as #1 receivers on offenses with few other options tend to be).

Also, remember that the Chiefs will benefit from the return of Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki, and Eric Berry (and the lack of Todd Haley), no matter what happens to Carr and Bowe.

by Eddo :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 4:44pm

It's indeed a pretty good list, but DeSean Jackson at #5? Ahead of Vincent Jackson and Dwayne Bowe? I'm not seeing it.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:13pm

Maybe it is down to Desean having only turned 25 in January. They are all headcases of varying types and degrees so I am not sure how you can that helps decide. He has had issues with concussions (IRC) but adds value as a punt returner - something as Bears fans we probably ignore, which along with the head issues are the reasons I don't want the Bears to sign him.

by Marko :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:28pm

In addition to the above reasons why the Bears are very unlikely to be interested in him, he doesn't address the Bears' biggest issue at WR: The need for a big, physical receiver. With one exception, all of the Bears' WRs are on the small side. While DeSean Jackson undoubtedly is a better receiver than Knox (who obviously is a health question mark), Bennett and Hester, he is probably smaller than all of them. The only receiver the Bears had with any size was Roy Williams, who despite his size plays very small. He simply isn't physical enough. And of course, he also stinks, drops way too many passes and never makes a big play when you need him to. I have no doubt that he will not be on the Bears in 2012.

I think the WRs who make sense for the Bears are V. Jackson, Colston or Bowe. All of them are big and physical. The Bears' small receivers never can get open against physical corners. For example, they really struggle against Green Bay (whose CBs seem to get away with defensive holding and illegal contact quite a bit). Cutler needs to get a Brandon Marshall-type receiver to help him out.

by Independent George :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:19pm

While I agree with everything you've said, the Bears need a line that gives the receivers more than 2.5 seconds to get open more than anything else. Then they need receivers who can get open in 2.5 seconds.

by tuluse :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:34pm

I think the Bears line stays healthy, it will be ok next year.

In the first Packers game this year, they hardly got any pass rush, but Cutler couldn't find anyone open.

by Jimmy :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 9:25am

My ideal signing would be Bowe as he has been very productive playing with scrubs at QB and is rather large for a WR. I wouldn't complain if they signed Colston or Vincent Jackson though.

by Eddo :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:44am

I feel the exact same way.

I'd even be OK with a cheaper deal for Reggie Wayne, if they can't land one of those big (literally) three.

And I don't want DeSean Jackson on the Bears, unless he signs for peanuts. Too small, too injury-prone, and frankly, not that good beyond his big-play ability; and the Bears have several of those guys already.

by Duke :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:17pm

My initial guess is that DeSean's age advantage is causing the difference there. Still, I think I'd rather have Vincent at years 29-33 or Bowe at years 28-32 than DeSean 26-30 (depending on the offense), but I can understand the argument.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:04pm

Do the Chiefs play a man cover defense? Or is Prisco saying that he can man cover?

by tuluse :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:07pm

I saw a strangely high amount of Chiefs games this year, and it looked to me like they had their corners covering receivers without much deep help. It's hard to say if this was man coverage or Cover 3, or just terrible safeties.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 5:17pm

Little of column A, little of column B. They played a lot of man coverage, and their safeties were pretty bad. Remember that Eric Berry was lost for the year in Week 1, and he was replaced by the combination of Jon McGraw, Sabby Piscitelli, and Reshard Langford. That's quite a downgrade.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 6:57pm

This is unrestricted only, right?

by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2012 - 9:48am

That's my assumption since Mike Wallace isn't on the list.

by andrew :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 7:43pm

I don't know if I should be happy or sad that there is not a single viking on the list.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 7:48pm

Ahmad Brooks? I'll be happy if he gets ignored and the niners can snap him up cheap but I would have thought he should be on the list.

by big_jgke :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:23pm

I know there's a school of thought that says running backs are entirely interchangeable, but I'd rather have Ray Rice than any of the pass catchers listed above him on this list. And definitely more than I'd want a premier talent at guard.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:50am

I felt that Prisco decided to drop Rice to #11 just so he could say "One more thing: No backs in the top 10. I just wouldn't pay any of them --- no matter who they are. The value isn't there in a passing league."

I would much rather have Ray Rice than DeSean Jackson. Or Jermichael Finley (???)

by smutsboy :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:12pm

I'm not sure I'd pay Rice what his cost will be on the open market.

by big_jgke :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:25pm

It seems impossible that Beast Mode Lynch is only 26.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:41pm

"Pete Prisco, who's one of those writers who actually watches games"



by big_jgke :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:48pm

He picked the Giants. What's your point?

by NFL Stadiums (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:44am

You put Dwayne Bowe with a Roethlisberger, a Andy Dalton or a Tom Brady and watch the stats he puts up. He has had nothing but backup caliber QBs in Kansas City; Thigpen, Huard, Cassel, Gray.

by smutsboy :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:12pm

True, but he's also benefitted from good-to-great running teams.

by Dean :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 9:53am

Wow. I think that might be the first time I've ever heard anything positive written about Prisco on this site.

I don't hold any particular animosity towards the guy, but I do consider him to be part of the "noise" that I try to avoid. I can't say I've read any of his work in years, but to me anyway, he's always been firmly stuck in the "run to win" camp.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:32pm

His weekly After Further Review column (think that's the title), normally has good nuggets from a number of different games about how players actually played. If he used to be in the "run to win" camp, he's definitely pulled a 180 in that.

I've never listened to him on his radio show.

by lobolafcadio :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:23am

I didn't realize super Mario was going to be a FA. It seems crazy to let a pass-rusher of this quality walk away this young. Peppers moved 2 years older. Is Williams at the end of his first contract ?

by Jimmy :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 3:42pm

Yes he is at the end of his contract. I think the reason he may be let go is that having gotten good pass rush from younger and far cheaper players who might actually be better fits for Phillips' system.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:28pm

Yes, and it was an enormous contract for the time, since he was a #1 overall pick. His franchise tag value would be about $22 million now, which is way too much even for a pass rusher of his calibre.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 02/11/2012 - 10:36am

This. The Texans would love to keep him, but they don't have a lot of cap room, they do have viable in-house replacements, and his tag number would be insane. They also have to do a new deal for Arian Foster, try to re-sign at least one of Myers and Brisiel, if possible extend Barwin . . .