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Top 50 NFL free agents

With the NFL free agency period just days away, let's take a look at the top 50 names expected to be on the open market.


The 2013 NFL free agency period kicks off on March 12. There's been plenty of talk and gossip during the legal tampering period over the weekend, but no papers will be signed until Tuesday.

In the meantime, here's a list of the top 50 names expected to hit the open market this week. What this class lacks in top-end talent, it makes up for with quality depth, particularly on the offensive line and secondary. As is typical of Internet lists, there's plenty of room for dissent and debate over this list.

1. Cliff Avril -- With 39.5 sacks in his first five seasons with the Lions, Avril is still only 26 and in the prime of his career. He's expected to get the biggest paycheck out of the entire DE class.

2. Mike Wallace -- Wallace's production dipped in Todd Haley's conservative offense, but the 26-year-old is still a deep threat and expected to cost a small fortune. He would be worth it if the team uses him smartly.

3. Paul Kruger -- Kruger had a breakout year in 2012, racking up nine sacks and becoming a key part of the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Baltimore would have liked to keep him, but he's striking out for a bigger payday. The Colts and Browns are the leading frontrunners for his services.

4. Michael Bennett -- Bennett doesn't quite have the pass-rushing skills of the people listed above him, but he's a force in run defense and still only 27. The Titans are the latest team to show interest in the former Buc.

5. Sebastian Vollmer -- The best OT available in the class, Vollmer has experience playing both RT and LT, and has been stellar at both positions. He's also doesn't turn 29 until July. Teams should be lining up for his services if he fails to re-up with the Patriots.

6. Andre Smith -- It took Smith a couple years to put together, but once he did, he reminded the Bengals why they drafted him No. 6 overall. There are some concerns over him falling back into his old habits after getting paid, which may drive his price down enough for Cincy to re-sign him.

7. Dashon Goldson -- The top safety on the market, teams should be opening up their wallets if they want to pay for the 28-year-old ball hawk.

8. Andy Levitre -- The best interior lineman available. Levitre can play all five positions and hasn't missed a single game in his four-year career with Buffalo. He allowed only one sack all season in 2012.

9. Sean Smith -- Smith wants to be paid like one of the top cornerbacks in the league, but his consistency remains an issue. That said, he has the size and physicality to attract suitors looking to replicate the Seahawks' success of big cover corners.

10. Greg Jennings -- A groin injury wiped out most of Jennings' 2012 season, but he remains a quality playmaker when healthy. He still doesn't turn 30 until September.

11. Gosder Cherilus -- Cherilus put it all together and had a career year in 2012. However, he's also 29 and the Lions have a ready-made replacement in Reilly Reiff, making him expendable. Cherlius should have little trouble finding a new home this week.

12. Jake Long -- If this list was made in 2011, Long would be the easy No. 1. Unfortunately, injuries and sinking production have caused his price tag to drop. He didn't get the mega deal he was hoping for from the Dolphins, and is unlikely to find it on the open market. That said, he could end up being a steal if he regains his former form.

13. Aqib Talib -- Talib was an instant upgrade to the Patriots secondary, and capable of contributing wherever he goes. A string of off-field incidents remains a major concern.

14. Tony Gonzalez -- All signs are pointing to Gonzalez coming back in 2013, and the 37-year-old continues to age like a fine wine. He will have his pick of teams to play for as he chases that elusive Super Bowl ring.

15. Wes Welker -- For the second year in a row, Welker and the Patriots were unable to reach a long-term deal. This time, though, he did not get the franchise tag this time and could hit the market. There's still a non-zero chance he returns to New England.

16. John Abraham -- Abraham is still productive at age 35, but the Falcons didn't feel that was worth his price tag anymore. He's not an every-snap player anymore, but Abraham should be a nice value for teams who miss out on the big names.

17. Adam Jones -- Jones quietly cleaned up his image and had a productive season with the Bengals. His "Pacman" persona is long behind him and he doesn't turn 30 until September.

18. Charles Woodson -- the 36-year-old handled the transition to safety fairly well. He's still capable of producing at his age and will be looking to land with a Super Bowl contender.

19. Desmond Bryant -- Despite the embarrasing mugshot, Bryant is a premium run-stuffer and has been improving in the pass rush. The 27-year-old is somewhat underrated coming out of Oakland.

20. Phil Loadholt -- As incredible as Adrian Peterson's season was, he owes Loadholt a small debt of gratitude. Loadholt is a mean mauler in the run game, and despite struggles in pass protection grades out as a prototypical RT.

21. LaRon Landry -- After struggling with injuries throughout his career, Landry finally played all 16 games and was a bright spot on the Jets defense. He may not see the kind of money he's looking for, but the 28-year-old would be an instant upgrade to several secondary units.

22. Brandon Moore -- Probably best known for his part in the "butt fumble", Moore has started 137 consecutive games for the Jets. He was also a Pro Bowler in 2011. He'll provide reliability to any offensive line he plays with in 2013.

23. Steven Jackson -- For the first time in his career, Jackson will not be wearing a Rams uniform next season. He turns 30 in July and has a lot of tread on his tires, but pair him with a complementary back and he can still produce in the run game.

24. Danny Amendola -- Amendola would be a lot higher on this list if his body wasn't made of glass. A quality slot receiver when healthy, but he hasn't been healthy long enough to command a big price. May have to settle for a cheap "prove it" deal.

25. Jared Cook -- Cook's tenure with the Titans ended over a messy franchise tag dispute (he wanted to be tagged as a WR rather than a TE). Despite injury and consistency concerns, Cook is an athletic talent who could thrive with a better quarterback throwing him the ball.

26. Reggie Bush -- Easily the best change-of-pace back on the market, Bush will never be a feature back, but he still has the shiftiness and speed to be a game-changing playmaker.

27. Connor Barwin -- Barwin is a versatile player, capable of playing both defensive end and outside linebacker. That will make him enticing to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams on the market. There's still a chance Houston re-signs him.

28. Chris Canty -- A cap casualty from the Giants, the 30-year-old is still capable of producing and can play both the 4-3 and 3-4. A nice value signing for teams needing depth.

29. Dwight Freeney -- How much does Freeney have left in the tank? That's the big question hanging over him right now. It's also possible he was just a hilarious misfit as a 3-4 OLB. Moving him back to a 4-3 could do wonders to his production.

30. Sam Baker -- Baker had a much improved season since being pressed back into starting duties. He still has an underwhelming resume prior to 2012, however, and teams may be scared off by his injury history.

31. Richard Seymour -- Seymour had a year to forget, missing half the season with injuries. He still played well when healthy, notching three sacks in eight games. The 33-year-old is looking to move on from a forgettable tenure with the Raiders.

32. Cary Williams -- The Ravens are allowing Williams to test the market. He'll receive interest at 28 years old, but teams should be wary of his tendency to give up big yardage at times.

33. Ahmad Bradshaw -- Bradshaw has always operated out of a timeshare with the Giants. Injury concerns will likely keep him in that boat. He still isn't fully healed from foot surgery, and might miss some preseason workouts as a result.

34. Daryl Smith -- A groin injury cut Smith's playing time significantly in 2012. He's missed 17 games in the past three years, plus he will turn 31 in a few days. Those factors will work against Smith's potential payday.

35. Martellus Bennett -- The Giants remain interested in keeping Bennett, but if he walks he'll have several interested suitors right away. Bennett just turned 26 as is coming off his most productive season in the NFL.

36. Eric Winston -- The Chiefs released him due to "philosophical" issues, according to Winston himself. One of the league's better right tackles, he won't be on the market for long.

37. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- Inconsistency is a word consistently used to describe Rodgers-Cromartie. His age (26) and impressive play prior to his tenure with the Eagles will still make him a highly-coveted free agent.

38. Ed Reed -- Reed will be 35 in September. He doesn't even have an agent at this point. Baltimore wants to retain the veteran safety, but cap space is tight. The Patriots continue to show up in Reed's speculated landing spots.

39. Brent Grimes -- Grimes missed almost the entire 2012 season due to a torn Achilles. Injury concerns will hurt his chances of receiving a lavish, multi-year deal, but Grimes did make the Pro Bowl just a few years ago.

40. James Harrison -- Pittsburgh cut Harrison to save cap space, instantly putting him among the best pass rushers available this offseason. Age and injury concerns limit his value a bit.

41. Rashard Mendenhall -- Another Steeler looking for a new team, Mendenhall did not look impressive after returning from ACL surgery last season. He turns 26 in June, so at least age is on his side. A short contract would be expected.

42. Chris Houston -- Houston looks like he wants to test the market despite the Lions pushing hard to re-sign him. A deep cornerback group could keep him around in Detroit if the right contract isn't offered.

43. Danny Woodhead -- Woodhead operates well out of the no-huddle for the Patriots. If they don't re-sign him, teams will be interested in his versatility, as he was a solid change-of-pace-back for Stevan Ridley.

44. Fred Davis -- Davis landed on injured reserve with an Achilles injury after seven games last year. He's a dangerous weapon for passing games. The Redskins don't appear eager to let him walk.

45. Brian Urlacher -- An offer is in place from Urlacher's agents, so the ball is in Chicago's court. Urlacher is aging (he'll be 35 in May, but he provides a veteran leader to any locker room with a couple years left in the tank.

46. Kenny Phillips -- Phillips has missed significant time in two of his five NFL seasons with the Giants. He's a talented young safety, but injury concerns hurt his value. Still one of the top safeties available.

47. Dustin Keller -- Keller's numbers have been hindered by the poor quarterback play in New York. He's said he would like to return to the Jets, but finding a new team would be more beneficial to his career at this juncture. His receiving talent is wasted with Mark Sanchez throwing to him.

48. Louis Delmas -- After four years with the Lions, Delmas has yet to play all 16 games in a single season. His "injury prone" label will hurt his market value. His production is solid when healthy.

49. Danell Ellerbe -- The linebacker class isn't deep, increasing the interest in Ellerbe. Cleveland will reportedly make a run on him. Baltimore doesn't appear to have enough money to keep him happy.

50. Alan Branch -- The Jaguars look like the front-runner to sign Branch. His play has improved since signing with the Seahawks in 2011. Branch helped Seattle finish with the 10th ranked run defense in 2012.

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