Aug. 01, 2011
Aug. 01, 2011

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Aug. 1, 2011




This is an article from the Aug. 1, 2011 issue

FOR THE FIRST TIME in years, teams will be able to fill one of the game's most important positions through free agency. (The signing period begins at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.) "I haven't seen this many good corners on the market in a long time," one veteran pro personnel man said on Sunday. By my count, nine of the top 50 free agents are cover men, including Nnamdi Asomugha. Look for him to leave the Raiders and get paid $1 million a game by a cornerback-needy team such as the Texans or the Cowboys. Here's where I see the top 50 free agents landing.

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Pos. PlayerOld TeamNew Team
1. CB Nnamdi AsomughaRaidersTexans
Best free-agent corner since Deion Sanders in 1995.
2. RB DeAngelo Williams*PanthersDolphins
Good fit for Miami, which still wants to power-run.
3. DE Cullen JenkinsPackersRedskins
Follow the money: Jenkins wants it; Dan Snyder has it.
4. NT Aubrayo Franklin49ers49ers
Top nosetackle in this class and, at 30, still in his prime.
5. WR Sidney RiceVikingsJaguars
But expect the Rams to go after him very, very hard.
6. DE Jason BabinTitansJaguars
Led all free-agents-to-be with 12½ sacks in 2010.
7. WR Santonio HolmesJetsJets
Has two strikes against him in player discipline.
8. T Matt LightPatriotsSeahawks
Only proven above-average left-tackle starter available.
9. CB Antonio CromartieJetsRaiders
Al Davis? Overpay for a cornerback? Yup. He always does.
10. DE Ray EdwardsVikingsEagles
Rush end to complement the underrated Trent Cole.
11. CB Johnathan Joseph*BengalsSteelers
Good, aggressive Pittsburgh-quality cornerback.
12. QB Matt HasselbeckSeahawksTitans
Tennessee outbids Vikings on best quarterback in crop.
13. G-T Marshal YandaRavensRavens
But beware of Washington, which could break the bank.
14. T Doug FreeCowboysCowboys
Dallas will pony up for rising star who'll protect Tony Romo.
15. RB Ahmad Bradshaw*GiantsBroncos
New York wants to keep him, but not at silly money.
16. FS Eric WeddleChargersJaguars
But he won't get away from San Diego without a fight.
17. DE Charles Johnson*PanthersPanthers
Makes no sense for a team with cap space to lose him.
18. DT Brandon Mebane*SeahawksBroncos
John Fox needs interior-line beef to bolster run defense.
19. G Harvey DahlFalconsDolphins
Miami has to get better up front.
20. LB Barrett RuudBucsBucs
Tackling machine. Tampa Bay has to have him back.
21. CB Ike TaylorSteelersSteelers
Has strengths and weaknesses; Pittsburgh knows both.
22. SS Melvin BullittColtsPatriots
Overshadowed by top safeties, but a solid NFL starter.
23. WR Braylon EdwardsJetsRaiders
Will want too much money. Al will likely give it to him.
24. T Willie Colon*SteelersSteelers
Missed 2010 (Achilles tendon); still best T option for Pitt.
25. WR Malcom FloydChargersChargers
San Diego can't afford to lose Floyd and Vincent Jackson.
26. FS Dashon Goldson49ers49ers
San Francisco has made retaining him a high priority.
27. CB Josh WilsonRavensRavens
Local kid, reasonable cost. And Baltimore needs him.
28. T Ryan HarrisBroncosBroncos
Denver wants to keep its young tackle combo intact.
29. LB Paul PoslusznyBillsJaguars
Perfect MLB for desperate Jags—and he's only 26.
30. CB Carlos RogersRedskinsBengals
Cincinnati is going to have to spend money on someone.
31. WR Steve Breaston*CardinalsCardinals
Arizona has to have an option opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
32. SS Quintin MikellEaglesTexans
Should have been a star by now—and could be in Houston.
33. RB Ronnie BrownDolphinsPatriots
Bill Belichick loves depth and versatility at running back.
34. SS Bernard PollardTexansFalcons
Amazing that this physical playmaker is only 26.
35. RB Cedric BensonBengalsBengals
When not in trouble with law, he's good for 1,000 yards.
36. G Robert GalleryRaidersBears
Chicago must rebuild its line, and he's a decent value.
37. SS Dawan LandryRavensCowboys
Dallas will make a move for either Landry or Abram Elam.
38. CB Richard Marshall*PanthersJets
New York has to sign a corner if it loses Cromartie.
39. CB Kelly Jennings*SeahawksJets
No kidding: Rex Ryan wants four starting-caliber CBs.
40. SS Abram ElamBrownsTexans
Physical upgrade for porous Houston secondary.
41. LB-S Thomas DavisPanthersJets
Coming off two injury-plagued years. Only 28, though.
42. G Davin JosephBucsBucs
Part of Tampa Bay's protection plan for Josh Freeman.
43. TE Kevin Boss*GiantsGiants
Eli Manning would sorely miss one of his favorite targets.
44. T Jermon Bushrod*SaintsSaints
New Orleans will value him more than other teams.
45. LB Kirk MorrisonJaguarsGiants
Expect the Giants to also go after Posluszny.
46. SS Roman Harper*SaintsSaints
Don't expect New Orleans to let this key contributor leave.
47. T Jared Gaither*RavensBills
Enigmatic lineman wore out his welcome in Baltimore.
48. WR James JonesPackersBears
Now this would add some deep-threat spice to rivalry.
49. CB Chris CarrRavensEagles
Good nickel insurance for aging cornerback group.
50. DE Matt RothBrownsPatriots
Rush DE-OLB could flourish in New England's scheme.

*Restricted free agent (current team can match offer or take compensation)

PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (CROMARTIE)Cromartie (31) could become the Raiders' latest high-priced pickup.PHOTODAMON TARVER/CAL SPORT MEDIA (ASOMUGHA)The top prize in a corner-heavy class, Asomugha will draw attention from both Texas teams.