Later in the offseason, when we can actually see free agency on the horizon, we’ll have a look at the top free agents slated to hit the open market. In the meantime, here’s an early look at 10 players whose statuses are up in the air as labour strife dominates the NFL landscape.
Note: Not all of these guys are bound to actually become free agents, so be sure to read the fine print.
Note II: They aren’t necessarily ranked in terms of how good they are. I suppose I looked to find a happy medium while weighing talent level and likelihood of the player changing teams.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha
Current team: Raiders
Situation: About to become one of the most highly sought-after unrestricted free agents in league history. The Raiders signed a slew of potential free agents earlier in the offseason, but Asomugha’s price tag might be too high.
2. Peyton Manning
Current team: Colts
Situation: There’s almost no way Manning leaves Indianapolis, but his agent and the team continue to butt heads and No. 18 is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. With the future of the franchise tag up in the air, that’s dangerous.
3. Kevin Kolb
Current team: Eagles
Situation: Apparently the Eagles are entertaining offers for Michael Vick’s backup, and they’ve reportedly already been offered a first-round pick.
4. Carson Palmer
Current team: Bengals
Situation: Palmer has made it loud and clear that he wants out of Cincinnati immediately. Like Kolb, Palmer is still under contract, and Bengals owner Mike Brown is known to be quite stubborn in situations like these. So we’ll see.
5. Kyle Orton
Current team: Broncos
Situation: The team continues to say that Orton is the starter and Tim Tebow is the backup, but a strong offseason from Tebow could be enough to trigger a trade. Of course, it’s also possible that the opposite could happen and Tebow could find himself on the trade market.
6. Johnathan Joseph
Current team: Bengals
Situation: Joseph doesn’t have the fame and fortune that Palmer does, but he’s still one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. And as soon as the next league year gets underway, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
7. Matt Hasselbeck
Current team: Seahawks
Situation: Hasselbeck, too, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. He proved late last year that even at the age of 35 he can be a reliable starting quarterback.
8. Donovan McNabb
Current team: Redskins
Situation: Yet another quarterback. Even though McNabb signed a long-term extension during the 2010 season, he seems to have worn out his welcome in Washington.
9. Braylon Edwards/Santonio Holmes
Current team: Jets
Situation: I put these two together because there’s almost no way the Jets let both walk. But, both are set to become free agents. However, if a lockout is blocked and the league implements 2010 rules, Holmes will only be a restricted free agent. So there’s a good chance Santonio returns and Braylon walks.
10. Reggie Bush
Current team: Saints
Situation: The Saints saw Chris Ivory excel as a rookie and re-signed Pierre Thomas earlier in the offseason, indicating that they are leaning toward release Bush if the former No. 2 overall pick isn’t willing to take a pay cut. He’s scheduled to make $11 million in 2011.