So your team didn't make the playoffs. The draft is too far away. Ah ... free agency! Because of the likelihood of an uncapped 2010 season, only six-year players with expiring contracts will become unrestricted free agents. (Three-, four- and five-year players on the market will become restricted free agents.) Here are 20 guys to keep an eye on, including Cardinals linebacker Carlos Dansby. Many people mistakenly consider him little more than just a solid linebacker. He's criticized for not doing a lot of spectacular things ... huh? All Dansby does is show up, make 100-or-so tackles, play every snap and force fumbles. Oh, by the way, he's still just 28. The Cardinals likely have priced themselves out of the market by franchising Dansby two consecutive years, so he can be had. And he will be exceptional.
2 of 20SportsAge/Icon SMI
Antonio Bryant, WR
The well-traveled Bryant surely will be on the move again this offseason and probably is the best option at receiver on the market. After all, of other choices, there are at least 20 million reasons you don't want T.O., and Derrick Mason is viable, but 35 and perhaps retiring, again. Bryant, on the other hand, had a down year (39 catches, 600 yards, 4 TDs), but fought a slight knee injury and played for two offensive coordinators. At 29, Bryant could thrive with a new environment and good, proven quarterback.
3 of 20Peter Read Miller/SI
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB
Huh? Yeah, technically, LT is not a free agent yet. But he will be, given that the Chargers will save $4 million if he is not on the roster by March 1. He won't be. Tomlinson's numbers and durability are diminishing, but he still gained 730 yards and scored 12 TDs. Barring retirement, LT is the only hope for those teams searching for running back talent. The only other free-agent choices are the likes of Chris Brown, Ahman Green, Willie Parker and Chester Taylor. If you're ready to invest in any of those guys, you probably still have Enron stock.
4 of 20Rich Kane/Icon SMI
Julius Peppers, DE
So you think it's a no-brainer the Panthers will franchise or extend a player still in the prime of his career at 29 and who's had double-digit sacks in all but two of his eight NFL seasons. Don't be so sure. If the Panthers lay the tag on Peppers, by rule they will owe him a 20 percent increase on the franchise contract he received this year. That's more than $20 million. And if they extend him, the total value of, say, a three-year deal would be near $45 million. Expect Peppers to be signed, then dealt for picks.
5 of 20Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Aaron Kampman, DE
Is Kampman a double-digit sack defensive end trapped in a miscast linebacker's role? That's what it appears to be in Green Bay, where Dom Capers' defensive genius has done everything right but find a place for Kampman. A new environment could unleash the same Kampman who had 27.5 sacks in 2006 and 2007. Or, after ACL surgery, maybe he's out of gas and damaged goods.
6 of 20Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Leigh Bodden, CB
Bodden has had a terrific year with the Patriots, finishing the regular season with five interceptions, 55 tackles and a career-best 18 pass breakups. He's also won for the first time in his career and loves New England. Still, it is a premium position that is thin in this year's market. The suitors will be many.
7 of 20Fred Vuich/SI
Casey Hampton, DT
The Big Snack may well be the best free agent option available, regardless of position. Like most free agents this year, there are questions -- age (33 next year), prominent among them. But Hampton had a Pro Bowl season in 2009 and is a fiercely competitive player who would be good in any locker room. The Steelers are going to try to re-sign him, but realizing this could be the last big payday of his career, Hampton likely will be swayed by the best offer.
8 of 20Bob Rosato/SI
Chad Pennington, QB
Although he's become something of a Human Punchline, Pennington actually could be a great fit for a team that fits the proverbial mold of, "we don't want our quarterback to win games, we just don't want him to lose them." He's taken knocks, but Pennington's good. He's aging (33) and started 16 games just once, but has a career QB rating of 90.1, is a great leader and competes every snap. Are you listening, Titans? If Vince Young implodes again, no fit would be better guiding the Chris Johnson-led offense.
9 of 20Al Tielemans/SI
Bobbie Williams, OG
He is tough, talented, durable, great in the locker room and had the best season of his career. Talk about Pro Bowl snubs -- none were bigger than the 345-pound Williams. So why would the Bengals let him go? They wouldn't. Neither would Williams want to play elsewhere. But 10 years into his career and 33 years old and with interior linemen the strength of this free-agent class, the right money and terms might be too good to pass.
10 of 20Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Chad Clifton, OT
Most often, the high-priced glamour-boy skill players are the epitome of a free agent class. Clifton is one of the players who personifies the 2010 free-agent class. Aging and often-injured, the 33-year-old Clifton could be the perfect fit for a team looking for the final piece. When starting, he is more than effective. It's all about risk-reward and GMs doing their homework.
11 of 20Greg Nelson/SI
Dunta Robinson, CB
Roll the dice. It could come up craps or you'll hit it big. Robinson had a devastating knee injury late in 2007 -- the kind that could end and certainly shortens careers. Yet two seasons later, he was back in the starting lineup and taking on the opponent's best receiver every Sunday. He wasn't the same fearless player, but he was good and getting better at the end of the season. Could another offseason and healthy contract make Dunta the same old Dunta?
12 of 20Bob Rosato/SI
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE
The question potential suitors must answer: Is Vanden Bosch over-rated? Or miscast? There's no doubt that when healthy and flying around one-on-one against some helpless tackle, Vanden Bosch can change games. But without Albert Haynesworth taking up blockers in 2009, Vanden Bosch finished with just three sacks and 44-tackles. He also will be 32 next year. Buyer beware.
13 of 20Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Keith Bulluck, LB
No team figures to suffer more free-agent losses than Tennessee. Even though Bulluck is 32 and suffered a nasty ACL tear in December -- meaning he may not even be ready for the start of the 2010 season -- no loss could be bigger than this one. Bulluck is a game-changer. Of course, lots of medical homework will have to be done, and Bulluck's rehab will have to go well. But he could be an impact player in the right environment. Once again: It's all about risk-reward.
14 of 20Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Vince Wilfork, DT
Keep dreaming. Wilfork is pivotal to all the Patriots defensive success and is due a huge payday. The Pats surely will slap the franchise tag on Wilfork or give him the contract extension he deserves. Then again, it is the Patriots. This is the organization that has made a legend of itself with calculated gambles. Some have backfired. Could they actually be thinking of signing Wilfork, then trading him for an assortment of draft picks?
15 of 20Skip Wiliams/Icon SMI
Eugene Amano, OG
This could be the unheralded steal of the free agency market, presuming the Titans do not extend the 6-3, 310-pounder. Although veteran Kevin Mawae was the headliner on Chris Johnson's offensive line and will be on most free agent lists, he doesn't make this one. Amano does. He is consistent and still just 27 in his sixth NFL season. He is a natural center, too, so his versatility could fit any number of teams. Amano has been the regular starter at left guard for the Titans the past two seasons.
16 of 20Robert Beck/SI
Richard Seymour, DT
Much like Wilfork, it's extremely unlikely Seymour will hit the open market. Even the Raiders are smart enough to lay a franchise tag on him, after trading a first-round pick to get Seymour. They also could sign him to a longer term deal. But none of that means Seymour cannot be had. He clearly is unhappy there, missing the final team meeting at the end of the year. The right trade could land Seymour.
17 of 20Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Ryan Clark, S
Ryan Clark fits the mold of a talented, productive player who simply needs a change of scenery. He picked a good year for it, though. Clark put up more good numbers, but felt the sting of criticism for his pass-coverage skills in an altogether bad year in Pittsburgh. He's a good player and good in the locker room, but showed frustrations and may just be ready to move on. He'll be paid handsomely for it.
18 of 20Tom Berg/Icon SMI
Stephen Neal, OG
Even though his is not the first name that comes to mind when talking Patriots offensive line, much less the Patriots in general, Neal's value is well-known in the organization. They appreciate him and struggled without him. But how much do they appreciate him? The Pats are going to have some interesting financial decisions to make, which could leave the powerful Neal out there for the taking.
19 of 20Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Adewale Ogunleye, DE
Ogunleye is going to make the NFL defense that lands him very happy. He is a pass-rushing fiend who should have at least a couple of sack-happy years left in the tank. The Bears will make an offer, but with a stable of strong defensive linemen, they won't go outrageous on the bidding. Someone will get good value with him. Ogunleye has been durable, tough and consistent.
20 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
Rex Grossman, QB
Two words, when it comes to finding a front-line NFL quarterback in 2010: Draft well. OK, maybe that's a bit harsh on Grossman, who probably is the second-best free-agent QB on the market. But this is not a typo: He could be a real gem. He was often-criticized in Chicago, but did lead the Bears to a Super Bowl. And under a true offensive mind in Houston, Grossman has drawn raves from coaches and teammates. The Texans probably regret giving Dan Orlovsky a three-year deal last offseason, instead of Grossman.<br><br>Send comments to email@example.com
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