Predicting human behavior is a bit harder than predicting the weather, mainly because warm and cold fronts don’t have agents. Nevertheless, NFL free agent season is soon be upon us and this is the way that Flip Stricland (your friendly neighborhood Professional Football Meteorologist) sees it.
Best Bet for 2013: Baltimore Ravens
I really don’t see Baltimore having any other choice than pony up (yes, that indeed was a poorly crafted Colts reference) and pay Flacco what he wants to stay a Raven. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has all the leverage and his representation will do all it can to generate interest from other clubs to drive the price as high as possible. In the end Flacco resigns with Baltimore a very rich man.
Second Guess: Arizona Cardinals
Never under-estimate what very rich and very desperate men will do. There are high school quarterbacks in Texas who are more NFL ready than the troupe the Cardinals put on the field. Somewhere, someone will think that Arians can turn Flacco into Peyton Manning and entertain the thought of spending a whole bunch of money to make that happen.
Best Bet for 2013: New England Patriots
New England continues to long for a down field threat and has the blueprint in turning a malcontent wide receiver into a model citizen. Bowe stretches the field and gives Brady a reliable deep ball option Lloyd failed to provide. Bowe also makes the departure of Wes Welker easier to swallow.
Second Guess: Miami Dolphins
Miami adds some talent to a rather under-whelming corps of receivers. While I feel Miami has other free agents wide receivers at the top of their list, it could happen.
Best Bet for 2013: Pittsburgh Steelers
Make no mistake, there are still hard feelings between Wallace and the Steelers front office but money has an amazing way of healing old wounds. Pittsburgh needs Wallace more than Wallace needs Pittsburgh in my opinion but a deal gets done to keep #17 a Steeler.
Second Guess: Oakland Raiders
Yes, Al Davis is dead and so is Davis’s well documented blind love of speed. Nonetheless, the Raiders need more talent at the position to keep opposing defenses from stacking the line on McFadden.
Best Bet for 2013: Miami Dolphins
Jennings takes his talents to South Beach and reunites with Joe Philben. Miami needs to upgrade the WR position and Jennings is looking to get paid. The best deals are those when both sides walk away happy.
Second Guess: Detroit Lions
Detroit cut ties with mercurial Titus Young which means they are in the hunt for a #2 receiver. Calvin Johnson could use some help and who better than from a divisional rival.
Best Bet for 2013: Dallas Cowboys
In Tony we trust – for at least another year. The rationale here is that Dallas goes all out and lands Welker to take advantage of the underneath route with Bryant and Austin on the outside.
Second Guess: San Francisco 49ers
Welker knows a good thing when he sees it and jumps to the left coast to give the Niners an added scoring threat. Just think of all the fun things Harbaugh can do with him and that offense.
Best Bet for 2013: Cincinnati Bengals
The addition of Jackson gives the Bengals the offensive balance they lacked in 2012. Jackson’s injury history is a concern but this hard nosed running style would create a nice change of pace for a Bengals offense too reliant on the pass.
Second Guess: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals could benefit from a run game….and pass game……and at any position not played by Patrick Peterson. We see what Arians did with Vic Ballard. He could do more with Jackson.
Best Best for 2013: Denver Broncos
Denver is close, very close. Amendola offers a nice compliment to Thomas’s deep threat and is the type of player who would thrive catching the ball from Manning. He won’t command the money Welker will want and serves as a nice upgrade from the departing Stokley.
Second Guess: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is close, very close. As such they too are in the market for an affordable receiver to add talent to the position. Amendola would command the attention opening up room for Wilson to use his legs as well as his arm.
Best Bet in 2013: Tennessee Titans
Jared Cook is a free agent and Tennessee will need to find someone of comparable talent. Bennett fits this bill and more creating match up problems and gives Locker the check down option he needs.
Second Guess: Chicago Bears
The Bears have been unable to fill the void created by the trade of Greg Olsen to Carolina and quite literally have no talent at the position. Signing Bennett allows the Bears to use the draft to concentrate needs other than the TE position.
Best Bet in 2013: Green Bay Packers
The Packers tried their luck with Cedric Benson in 2012 and has some success prior to his season ending injury. Green Bay rolls the dice again, this time on Bradshaw who has his own history of injuries. Bradshaw, when healthy, gives the Packers the run game that has been their fatal flaw for far too long.
Second Guess: Cincinnati Bengals
The logic here is the same as above with Jackson. Cincinnati needs to improve the running game and Bradshaw can provide the run-pass balance that was absent last season.
Best Bet in 2013: Washington Redskins
Washington has a bona-fide playmaker at QB and needs to give him all the tools he needs to succeed AND stay healthy. Keller, who has health issues of his own, is a legit red zone target who had success with Sanchez under center. Keller’s size and athleticism could make him an attractive option for the Redskins.
Second Guess: New York Giants
If Bennett leaves, Manning and the G men will be on the market for a suitable replacement. Insert Keller who takes the short walk across the concourse to the Giants locker room.
Best Bet in 2013: Arizona Cardinals
This is the third time I’ve referenced the genius of Bruce Arians and I very well could be giving the man more credit than he deserves. Nonetheless, Bush has crazy athleticism and could be a crazy fun option to improve the Cardinals run game. Arians skill is with QBs not RBs – regardless Bush is an upgrade at a position that needs talent.
Second Guess: Green Bay Packers
The Packers used Randall Cobb in the backfield last season and benefit from the mismatch his athleticism created. Bush could provide a similar benefit in both the pass and run game.
Best Bet in 2013: Buffalo Bills
Hartline stays in the AFC East and moves north to join the Bills to compliment Johnson. Buffalo has an emerging offense and Hartline provides Fitzgerald a reliable alternative to Johnson.
Second Guess: St. Louis Rams
With Amendola gone, Hartline serves as a nice, although unspectacular, replacement. St. Louis needs talent at the WR position and will need to replace the production lost with Amendola moving on. Hartline isn’t much of a free agent splash but I’m not sure the Rams are seeking one this off season.