2011 NFL free-agent tracker, by position
With free agency set to formally begin Friday, here’s our rating of the top 100 players available. The list does not include players who were franchised, such as Peyton Manning(notes), Logan Mankins(notes) or Vincent Jackson(notes).
AGREED TO TERMS 2. CB Antonio Cromartie(notes) – He got a four-year deal to stay with the Jets. When you draw up what a corner is supposed to look like, Cromartie is what you see. However, he has issues and he’s tough for coaches to handle.
AGREED TO TERMS 3. CB Johnathan Joseph(notes) – The Texans bolstered their suspect defense with his pending signing. He’s more consistent and trustworthy than Cromartie, but he has also missed 12 games over the past three seasons because of injuries and he’s only 5-foot-11.
AGREED TO TERMS 13. CB Carlos Rogers(notes) – The cornerback agreed to a one-year deal with the Niners. He has never quite become the great player that so many people expected, but he’s still very good, much like Taylor.
AGREED TO TERMS 31. CB Eric Wright(notes) – He’ll take a one-year deal with the Lions. Seemed on his way to great things until taking a detour this year. He was so bad at times that he got death threats – not that such fan behavior is acceptable. Then again, CBs get a lot of lives in the NFL.
AGREED TO TERMS 44. CB Brent Grimes – He took a one-year deal to stay in Atlanta. Quick but undersized ballhawk who has come up with 11 interceptions the past two seasons.
AGREED TO TERMS 46. CB Richard Marshall – He got a one-year deal with the Cardinals. The skinny from Stats Inc.: The fifth-year player started all 32 games with the Panthers the past two seasons. Marshall has never missed a game in his NFL career.
AGREED TO TERMS 65. CB Drayton Florence(notes) – He’s staying in Buffalo after successfully rehabbing his reputation after a disasterous 2008 in Jacksonville. Corners can play forever in this league if they’re decent.
AGREED TO TERMS 70. CB Fabian Washington(notes) – After three seasons in Baltimore, Washington is taking a one-year deal with the Saints. He can run all day, but he’s practically guaranteed to get hurt and miss at least a few games. Beyond that, he hasn’t had an interception since 2008.
AGREED TO TERMS 12. DE Charles Johnson(notes) – Johnson picked a good time to a have a breakout season with 12 sacks, even if they did come for a hopelessly bad Carolina team. Pass rushers get paid as the Panthers are forking over a $72 million deal.
AGREED TO TERMS 14. DT Cullen Jenkins(notes) – Another big defensive acquisition for the Eagles. Has missed 17 games in the past three seasons because of injuries and injury bug was a knock even before that. However, when he plays, he’s a force.
AGREED TO TERMS 17. DE Ray Edwards(notes) – He’s heading to Atlanta. Even in a bad season for the Vikings, Edwards had eight sacks. He’s not a superb talent, but a wonderful complementary player in the right system.
AGREED TO TERMS 28. NT Aubrayo Franklin(notes) – He’s reportedly reached a one-year deal with the Saints. Won’t put up a lot of stats and won’t wow anybody with physical ability, but he’s a terrific nose man in a 3-4 scheme and that’s valuable.
AGREED TO TERMS 48. DT Brandon Mebane(notes) – He’s staying in Seattle. The key is he’s still young (26). The problem is that he’s quickly losing the bit of pass-rush skill he had early in his career. In danger of being a two-down guy.
AGREED TO TERMS 60. DL Anthony Hargrove(notes) – Left New Orleans for a one-year deal in Philadelphia. The most important thing is that it appears Hargrove has handled his drug issues. When he’s straight and healthy, he has great tackle/end versatility.
AGREED TO TERMS 61. DL Marcus Spears(notes) – He got a five-year deal from the Cowboys for $19.2 million. For the first time, Spears didn’t play in every game. The problem is that he’s an average player, a classic underachiever.
AGREED TO TERMS 63. DE Jacob Ford(notes) – He agreed to a one-year deal with the Titans. In 2008, playing next to a motivated Albert Haynesworth(notes), Ford had seven sacks. Since Haynesworth left, Ford has 8½ sacks over the past two seasons.
AGREED TO TERMS 64. DL Tony McDaniel(notes) – He got a two-year deal to stay in Miami. At 6-7, 305 pounds, McDaniel looks the part, but he’s just not very motivated. Flashed some pass-rush ability last season.
AGREED TO TERMS 66. DE/LB Jason Taylor(notes) – He’s returning to the Dolphins. He has to be used carefully because age (36) and injury are catching up, but he still has a little something left in the tank if he wants to play.
AGREED TO TERMS 77. DT Ron Edwards(notes) – Agreed to a three-year, $8.25 million deal with the Panthers. He’s a poor man’s version of a part-time defensive tackle (yeah, he’s seriously limited). He can fill out a rotation, but he’ll never crack the regular lineup.
AGREED TO TERMS 96. DE Jason Babin – Got a five-year deal with the Eagles after posting a career-high 13 sacks last season with the Titans.
AGREED TO TERMS 23. LB Paul Posluszny(notes) – Jacksonville landed this rankings’ top linebacker. In three of his four seasons, he has at least 110 tackles, including 151 last season. In three of his four seasons, he has also missed at least two games.
AGREED TO TERMS 24. LB Barrett Ruud(notes) – He’s leaving Tampa after six seasons for a one-year deal in Tennessee. Not as physically gifted at Posluszny, but has been healthier throughout his career and that can’t be understated.
AGREED TO TERMS 25. LB/DE Manny Lawson(notes) – Turned down the 49ers in favor of a one-year deal with the Bengals. Hasn’t become the kind of pass rusher the 49ers expected, but is also asked to do more things in coverage in the 3-4 scheme they have run until now.
AGREED TO TERMS 50. LB Stewart Bradley(notes) – At one time, he was an up-and-coming standout at MLB. After missing 20 games in the past two seasons, the Cardinals’ newest linebacker is working on just getting on the field consistently.
AGREED TO TERMS 72. LB Justin Durant(notes) – Left Jacksonville for Detroit after getting a two-year deal. He should be way better than he really is, but he gets hurt every year and his instincts are just average.
AGREED TO TERMS 87. Stephen Tulloch – After five seasons with the Titans, Tulloch took a one-year deal from the Lions. He’s undersized, but extremely productive in the mold of London Fletcher.
AGREED TO TERMS 27. S Eric Weddle(notes) – If Weddle had better players in front of him with San Diego, he might be considered one of the best in the league. For now, he’s simply really good and the Chargers will pay him like an elite player.
AGREED TO TERMS 32. S Melvin Bullitt(notes) – Missed 12 games last season because of injury, but has become one of the better all-around safeties in the game. Indy needed him and is better after re-signing him.
AGREED TO TERMS 49. S Donte Whitner(notes) – He took a two-year deal with the 49ers. Somebody will look at his 140 tackles last year and think, “Whitner must have been awesome.” The reality is that the Bills were that bad.
AGREED TO TERMS 55. S Dawan Landry(notes) – He has been overshadowed by Ed Reed(notes) for years, but Landry has become one of the more consistent tacklers in the league. Plays the run very well. Good victory for the Jaguars.
AGREED TO TERMS 58. S Quintin Mikell(notes) – Put Landry, Goldson and Mikell side-by-side in football gear and you’d have a hard time picking them apart. Mikell (30), who is going to St. Louis, is just the oldest of the three.
AGREED TO TERMS 74. S Roman Harper(notes) – Got a four-year deal worth $28.5 million to stay in New Orleans. Pretty much your typical safety. He will consistently make the tackle, but he doesn’t do enough other stuff to be in high demand.
AGREED TO TERMS 4. WR Sidney Rice(notes) – He won’t be sticking around Minnesota to be Donovan McNabb’s primary target; instead he’s heading to Seattle. Missed first 10 games of 2010, so this is a projection based on his great 2009 season. But he is the prototype deep threat, big receiver when he’s healthy.
AGREED TO TERMS 6. WR Braylon Edwards(notes) – Forced to take a one-year deal with the Niners. Posted his best yards-after-catch average (5.7) since his rookie season. Would be better with a better passing attack. Could use a dose of humility.
*10. WR Steve Smith (Giants) – Microfracture surgery is no joke and Smith had that on his left knee in December. If he was healthy, he’d be the top wide receiver on this list.
AGREED TO TERMS 29. WR Mike Sims-Walker(notes) – He’s heading to the Rams. Took a step backward in his development last season with the Jaguars, but is still a good No. 2. Not exactly explosive, but he’s better than your typical possession guy.
33. WR Randy Moss(notes) – He says he’s retiring, although there are reasons to be skeptical. Moss is at his best when everybody thinks he’s done. He may not have much time left, but he’s worth a low-cost flyer at this point.
AGREED TO TERMS 45. WR Lance Moore(notes) – Announced via Twitter that he’s staying in New Orleans. There are some people who believe that Moore’s flaws would’ve been exposed if he played with another team.
AGREED TO TERMS 52. WR Malcom Floyd(notes) – The wideout took a two-year deal to stay in San Diego. He’s not fast, but he uses his 6-5 frame very well, which is why he has averaged an impressive 17.3 yards per catch for his career.
AGREED TO TERMS 56. WR Plaxico Burress – After two years away from the game, the newest Jets receiver will have questions about his conditioning. However, his red-zone receiving skills also raise concerns.
AGREED TO TERMS *68. WR Mark Clayton(notes) – Took a deal with the Giants. It’s the same old story with Clayton, who is coming off a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that cost him 11 games. He flashed some talent last season and then got hurt.
AGREED TO TERMS 69. Steve Breaston(notes) – The wideout will take a five-year deal in Kansas City. He’s a tough guy, but he’s also a little small (189 pounds). He missed three games because of a knee injury early and wore out in the second half of the season.
AGREED TO TERMS 84. WR James Jones(notes) – He agreed to stay in Green Bay with a three-year deal. This dude has all the talent in the world to be great. But when you drop two potential TD passes in the postseason, including one in the Super Bowl, people wonder.
AGREED TO TERMS 30. RB Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) – He reportedly got a four-year deal valued at $18 million to stay with the Giants. He’s one tough nut, but he probably runs too hard for his own good and for his size (5-foot-9, 198 pounds). Chances of him having a long career are remote, at best.
AGREED TO TERMS 36. RB Cedric Benson(notes) – He’ll return to Cincinnati with a one-year deal. Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons are pretty nice work for a guy who was once considered a washout. Benson isn’t electric, but he’s a workhorse.
37. RB Michael Bush(notes) – Really good power runner, but has never been the bell cow runner (his 158 carries last season was a career-high). He tends to tire quickly, perhaps limiting himself to small role.
AGREED TO TERMS 51. RB Ronnie Brown(notes) – Another high-profile free agent for the Eagles. In six years, he has cracked 1,000 just once and barely at that (1,008 in 2006). Good guy, but everything about him screams mediocrity.
AGREED TO TERMS 71. RB Joseph Addai(notes) – Re-signed with the Colts. Under the heading of “Disposable Running Backs,” you will see a picture of Addai. He has been plagued by injuries the last three seasons.
AGREED TO TERMS 100. RB Brandon Jackson(notes) – He’ll sign a two-year deal with the Browns for $4.5 million. He had yet another chance this season to become the starting running back with the Packers and let it slip out of his hands. Pretty decent as a third-down guy.
AGREED TO TERMS 8. TE Zach Miller (Raiders) – He’s leaving the Raiders for the Seahawks. In a great era for receiving tight ends, Miller is underrated. He has performed very well while having no support from the wide receiver or quarterback spots.
AGREED TO TERMS 41. TE Bo Scaife(notes) – Scaife took a one-year deal with the Bengals. He makes just enough plays every year for people to think he’s interesting, but the final production is just never really there.
AGREED TO TERMS 43. TE Kevin Boss(notes) – He’ll fill the void in Oakland that Zach Miller left. Boss is the opposite of Scaife, a guy who doesn’t flash much talent, but ends up being very productive. He has never averaged less than 11 yards a catch per season.
AGREED TO TERMS 15. QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes) – If the world is right, Hasselbeck finishes his career in Seattle as the greatest QB in the history of the organization (not that there is much competition). But it isn’t, and Hasselbeck is off to Tennessee.
AGREED TO TERMS 75. QB Alex Smith – Considering the goofiness of the past six years in San Francisco, Smith has actually been OK. He’ll get a fresh start with new Niners coach Jim Harbaugh, at least for one season.
AGREED TO TERMS 19. LT Jermon Bushrod(notes) – Unheralded former fourth-round pick has turned himself into an above average left tackle in a pass-oriented offense. What else needs to be said? He’s staying in New Orleans.
AGREED TO TERMS 20. LT Charlie Johnson(notes) – He’s leaving the Colts for the Vikings. Hasn’t been as consistent as Bushrod, but is more experienced. Don’t think for a second that the Colts really wanted to let him go.
AGREED TO TERMS 21. LT Jeremy Trueblood(notes) – He’s staying in Tampa. Again, it’s not often that capable offensive tackles get to free agency. Like Bushrod and Johnson, Trueblood isn’t an All-Pro, but he’s a good pro.
AGREED TO TERMS 22. G Davin Joseph(notes) – Hasn’t quite achieved everything expected of him, but he has been a solid player and he’s still young (27). On the offensive line, that’s enough, a reason Tampa re-signed him.
AGREED TO TERMS 26. LT Doug Free(notes) – Like Bushrod, Free is a former fourth-round pick who has turned himself into a solid left tackle, even if he’s simply not that good an athlete for the spot. The Cowboys will re-sign him to a four-year, $32 million deal.
AGREED TO TERMS 39. LT Matt Light(notes) – He got a two-year deal to stay in New England. Has it really been 10 years of watching Light use his middling skills to become one of the most consistent left tackles in the game? Yes, and he has a few more in him.
AGREED TO TERMS 42. G Robert Gallery(notes) – After failing at left tackle, Gallery has become a solid guard. He’s heading to Seattle. Gallery was the best OL the Raiders had the past two years, which is damning with faint praise.
AGREED TO TERMS 53. LT Jared Gaither(notes) – The talent is there for the future Raider to be better than guys like Bushrod and Trueblood, but a combination of injuries and attitude have gotten in the way.
AGREED TO TERMS 59. OL Marshal Yanda(notes) – Yanda is staying in Baltimore after getting a five-year, $32 million deal. He has played most of his career at guard, where he’s pretty good. He has also played right tackle, which makes him valuable.
AGREED TO TERMS 62. G Daryn Colledge(notes) – Any way you look at Colledge, he’s a limited player. He can only play guard and some people think he’s not that good. But he’s experienced and headed to the desert. .
AGREED TO TERMS *85. OT Willie Colon(notes) – I’m not sure what it is about this guy that the Steelers like so much, but they do as they’ll sign him to a five-year, $29 million deal. He missed all of 2010 with a torn Achilles’ tendon.
AGREED TO TERMS 86. G Deuce Lutui(notes) – He got a two-year deal with the Bengals, but failed his physical and is back with the Cardinals. If he could keep his weight under control, Lutui could be a great player. However, he’s constantly pushing 400 pounds.
AGREED TO TERMS 81. K Ryan Longwell(notes) – The consistent kicker is staying in Minnesota, agreeing to a four-year deal. Over the past two years, Longwell is 43 of 46 on field goals and has moved into ninth all-time in accuracy. He’s also 36 and spent the past five years inside.
AGREED TO TERMS 82. K Olindo Mare(notes) – Has strung together three straight good years in Seattle after a downward trend. Still has great leg strength on kickoffs that’ll help Carolina, but he is 38.
* – Denotes player who is recovering from significant injury or surgery.