On Tuesday, all of your hard work as an armchair general manager will start to pay off. NFL free agency starts on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, the annual cash orgy that reminds the world just how successful the league's revenue sharing structure really is.
This is a particularly good year for free agent players, even after contract extensions and franchise tags. The trick for teams is finding a player that makes them competitive versus stocking their roster with mercenaries. Last year, the Houston Texans won a big free agent victory with the addition of cornerback Johnathan Joseph. The Eagles went the opposite route and ... well, we saw how that turned out.
Below is a position-by-position list with the top names available this year. The gates open at 4:00 p.m.; consider yourself prepared.
Peyton Manning - The big prize in free agency, teams are already tripping over themselves to court Manning. He could displace Tim Tebow. He is supposedly on track to play this season. The real question with Manning is whether or not he can still lift a team all by himself, or if he will look more like those sad rock bands, still touring long after their shelf-life expired.
Potential destinations: Arizona, Denver, Miami
Matt Flynn - The consolation prize. Flynn will get a pricey contract from a desperate team. Can he run an offense or was being Aaron Rodgers' backup his ceiling?
Potential destinations: Cleveland, Miami
Chad Henne - If the team you root for is signing Henne, you better hope he is only there as a backup. A reunion with Tony Sparano appears to be the favored scenario for Henne, where he will "push" Mark Sanchez.
Likely destination: New York Jets, Kansas City
Vincent Jackson - Jackson is very good, and he can expect stupid money in free agency, something along the lines of $10-11 million per season.
Potential destinations: Buffalo, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Buffalo
Marques Colston - Some team is going to pay Colston top-tier money. Some team is going to be very disappointed with the return on its investment. His success was due in large part to the Saints offense, where he often found himself in single coverage working out of the slot.
Potential destinations: Chicago, New Orleans
Brandon Lloyd - A Boston Globe report over the weekend described Lloyd as a moody, self-centered teammate. It also said that Josh McDaniels was the only one who could coax some value out of him. Lloyd is a long-striding, deep threat who matches a need for the Patriots.
Likely destination: New England
Mario Manningham - Defined by his Super Bowl play, Manningham is looking for starter money on the market. He is more of a secondary receiver than a go-to guy, and he has yet to show much consistency throughout his career. That said, he's still a solid vertical threat.
Potential destinations: Tampa Bay, Washington
Pierre Garcon - Garcon actually had his best season last year, without Peyton Manning. That was mostly due to the fact that he finally played all 16 games. He has the talent, but has never put it all together to produce the kind of results worthy of a big free agent contract.
Potential destinations: Jacksonville, Miami, Indianapolis
Michael Bush - A power back that can also catch the ball as well as most tight ends will draw plenty of interest from teams. Bush probably should be paired with a speed back, but is capable of carrying the bulk of the workload.
Potential destinations: Atlanta, Cincinnati
Peyton Hillis - Free agent? More like secret agent. Hillis has the brand name, but no team is going to pay him the kind of money he wants. Another power back type, he will be forced to settle as the market dwindles.
Potential destinations: Cleveland, New York Jets
Mike Tolbert - This is the year for power backs on the market. Tolbert is a great third-down guy, and someone who can punch it in from the one-yard line.
Potential destinations: Baltimore, Kansas City
Kevin Smith - Health is a question for Smith, but at 25 years old, he should entice some teams with his effort in 2011. He could be a bargain.
Potential destinations: Detroit, Pittsburgh
Carl Nicks - Nicks wants to be the highest paid guard in the league. There is no denying his talent, and he would be an improvement on almost any interior line in the league.
Potential destinations: Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans
Ben Grubbs - This is a good year for free agent guards. Baltimore would really like to have Grubbs back in the fold.
Potential destinations: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas
Jared Gaither - Tackles are very hard to find in free agency. Gaither is a rarity who can play on the left side, but he has serious injury issues that teams will have to account for if they sign him.
Potential destinations: San Diego
Eric Winston - A late addition to the list, Winston was cut by the Texans on Monday. He fits best in a zone blocking scheme.
Potential destinations: Washington
Mario Williams - Peyton Manning will get all the headlines, but Williams is the best free agent to hit the market in a long, long time. Pure pass rushers in the prime of their careers are worth every penny.
Potential destinations: Chicago, Seattle, Tennessee
Paul Soliai - Nose tackles are always a valuable commodity. He upgrades a run defense and has the moves to be disruptive inside.
Potential destinations: Kansas City, San Diego
Jeremy Mincey - The Jaguars defensive end finally found his game last season, totaling eight sacks. Jacksonville would be wise to re-sign him, but Mincey's asking price will not be in line with his career performance.
Potential destinations: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Miami
Jason Jones - Just 26, Jones was quietly one of the best three-technique pass rushers in the game. Then the Titans moved him to the outside in 2011, where his play suffered.
Potential destinations: Philadelphia, St. Louis
Kamerion Wimbley - Oakland could not afford to keep Wimbley around this season. He has 16 sacks in his last two seasons of play, and will likely be the second-highest paid pass rusher in free agency, after Williams.
Potential destinations: Arizona, San Diego, Cleveland
Stephen Tulloch - One of the best middle linebackers in the game, Tulloch could instantly upgrade a team like the Eagles that suffered because of linebacker play last year.
Potential destinations: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
David Hawthorne - This is a deep pool of inside linebacker talent. Hawthorne is limited to a two-down player, but he is quite good in that role, making ball carriers pay with powerful hits.
Potential destinations: Detroit, Philadelphia
Curtis Lofton - Too rich for Atlanta's blood, Lofton is seeking a hefty deal on the market. Tampa Bay is suddenly flush with cap space and a mandated spending floor. They are expected to pursue a middle linebacker and do something else with Mason Foster.
Potential destinations: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
Brandon Carr - A big corner who excels in press coverage, Carr can expect teams to shower him with money. Dallas really needs help at cornerback.
Potential destinations: Dallas, Minnesota
Cortland Finnegan - Another corner due for a big pay day, the Rams and new head coach Jeff Fisher will be interested in a reunion after cutting the team's best cornerback, Ron Bartell, on Monday. Finnegan is capable of playing in the slot as well as on the outside.
Potential destinations: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Dallas
Carols Rogers - Being 31 years old will limit how much Rogers makes this year. Maybe not by much, as teams will be enticed by his six interceptions last year.
Potential destinations: Atlanta, San Francisco, Tennessee
Tracy Porter - Hardly elite, Porter can still be effective in the right system. He might be better working the slot.
Potential destinations: Atlanta, Oakland
LaRon Landry - Comically oversized biceps aside, Landry is a big risk given his injury history. He could also be a big reward for a team willing to take the chance, if they are capable of keeping him on the field.
Potential destinations: Chicago, New York Jets
Dwight Lowery - Jacksonville's secondary is not good enough to lose a free safety with good coverage skills. His limited resume could hold down his asking price.
Potential destinations: Minnesota, New England, New York Jets
Oshiomogho Atogwe - A bloody Monday casualty in Washington, Atogwe has value as a free ranging centerfielder. He was benched late in the year.
Potential destinations: New York Jets, Oakland