NFL free agency kicks off on March 12, and there are plenty of major names in play, including Victor Cruz, Dwight Freeney, Joe Flacco, Jake Long and Mike Wallace. Of course not all will hit the open market – teams have the three days before free agency to negotiate with free agents-to-be – but those who do will command major contracts. Long, for example, is reportedly looking for $10 million annually, while Flacco is said to be asking for a contract that will rival Drew Brees’ $20 million-per-year deal.
Of course the problem with such massive contracts is their propensity for backfiring. Just in the last few years we’ve seen Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel sign major deals that most would now agree were total mistakes – and those are just the quarterbacks. With that risk in mind, we decided to find the free agents who offer teams the most potential bang for their buck.
These are the low-investment, high-upside players who have shown an ability to compete at an elite level. In a worst-case scenario they take up a roster spot and a miniscule piece of cap space, and at best they emerge as top playmakers at a bargain price. We leaned toward guys coming off injuries or poor seasons, and also included names that might be lost in a sea of talented, available players at their positions.