The season came to a close and the players and fans turned their attention to the Pro Bowl game. However, instead of watching the worlds best players compete, everyone was watching the interviews to get any hint they could as to where the big Free Agents would be going this year.
Interviews with Ray Lewis, Kurt Wanrer, and Anquan Boldin, all were useless as no player disclosed much information on what their plans were for this off season.
So to ease your troubled minds on his fine February morn, I have created my list of the top 5 FA's going into this off season, and their potential suitors.
1.) Ray Lewis - Baltimore Ravens - ILB
Ray is one those players every coach dreams about. A motor that runs 24/7, 365, a great locker room presence and a dynamic force on the field. Ray had a great 2008 campaign, 117 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 picks. Now, I know some will call him a product of a extremley good defensive system, and to a point that is very true. However, Ray has been around for long enough he knows how to adjust, especially to a new defensive system. Ray is nearing the end of career, but still has enough left in his tank to be very effective on any team. I dont expect him to give Baltimore a hometown discount...fact of the matter is, Ray is going to cash in his final contract.
Signs with - Baltimore Ravens
Other Suitors - Dallas, Green Bay, New York Jets
2.) Albert Hayensworth - Tennessee Titans - DT
Many will put Hayensworth number one ahead of Ray, but I still question his work ethic and his locker room presence. The simple fact that Ray is a leader makes him more appealing to me. Yet, that shouldn't take anything away from Hayensworth, he is one big, mean, and bad DT. Hayensworth destroyed offensive lines in his 2008 season racking up 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks. What is really impressive about Hayensworth is he is so quick even with his 300+ frame, which makes him near impossible to block. Hayensworth's ability to stuff the run and the rush the QB makes him the premier D-lineman on the market...Hayensworth makes a case to be the highest paid defensive player ever.
Signs with - Tennesse Titans
Other Suitors - Green Bay, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay
3.) Julius Peppers - Carolina Panthers - DE, OLB
Peppers has states he is going to sign with a 3-4 defense, so immediatley that takes many of the teams pursuing him out of the picture. Still, Peppers is a great DE/OLB, he can fit into either position because of his quickness and ability to speed rush. 14.5 sacks and 51 tackles was a huge rebound after a horrible 2007 season. That rebound really showed me he still has the potential to be one of the top 5 pass rushers as well as the will to make adjustments to a new system and new team. He will be a great fit into any system and team.
Signs with - Green Bay Packers
Other Suitors - Kansas City, San Francisco, New England, New Orleans, Arizona, Buffalo
4.) Mike Goff - San Diego Chargers - OT
Goff has been known to be one of the most straight forward player in the league. He just handles business day in and day out. He has made LT and Sprioles look better than they actually are because he is one of the best run blockers in the league. I believe Goff could play either Left or Right making him even more appealing to teams looking for a tackle.
Signs with - Jacksonville Jaguars
Other Suitors - Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New York, Miami, Oakland, San Diego
5.) T.J. Houshmandzadeh - Cincinnati Bengals
Housh may actually be the best reciever in Cincy right now. He can go inside with the backers but also spread it across the whole field with pretty good speed. I think re-signing with the Bengals is nearly out of the equation at this point, as he doesnt want to be part of one of the most disfunctional teams in the history of the NFL. Housh is the premier player on the offensive side of the ball this off season, and should cash in accordingly.
Signs with - Philidelphia Eagles
Other Suitors - Miami, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee, Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore, New York (both), Seattle, San Francisco
This is very good class of FA's many are left off the list like Nmadi, Matt Birk, Kurt Warner, because this is such a good off season. But it should be an interesting time for every team.