2012 Top Free Agents & Franchise Tags

With NFL free agency nearing in (March 13, 2012) Spotrac takes a look at the top players at key positions certain to draw interest this offseason.

Wide Receivers
By far the deepest position as far as top available talent is concerned, these names are just a few of the players certain to be visiting camps this month.
Marques Colston, Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham



Updated: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that Peyton Manning will indeed be released by the Colts this week. This places the focus of the NFL free agency season directly to Manning and teams who can utilize/afford him. 

With the franchise tag of Drew Brees, the available quarterback draw stands to be rather average, with solid veterans who may end up as backups for the upcoming season as the prevalent names. Of course this may change with the decision of Peyton Manning.

Peyton ManningMatt Flynn, Alex Smith, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell

Running Backs
With a deal imminent for Arian Foster, the pick of running backs still remains top-tier, with Green-Ellis certain to draw plenty of interest for his size, durability, and nose for the end zone.
Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Michael Bush


Tight Ends
Much like the quarterback outlook for 2012, the tight end pool is loaded with soon-to-be backups. Ballard and Chandler both showed signs of success, and scoring in 2011, but neither will garner a big contract going forward.
Jake Ballard, Scott Chandler


Defensive End
Pay days are looming for available pass rushers this offseason, as the big money cities are all in the market. Outside of a Peyton Manning release, Mario Williams will remain the big ticket item.
Mario Williams, Jason Jones



The 25 yr old Lofton is a tackling machine, and will be a hot draw for teams looking to shore up their run defense. Spencer will leave a Dallas squad that simply needs to start over, but can contribute nicely in a new system.
Curtis Lofton, Stephen Tulloch. Anthony Spencer (franchised)



Brandon Carr and Carlos Rogers hit the market at the top of their value. Carr should see an offer from the Chiefs to remain prior to 13th, upping the stakes for Finnegan and Rogers.
Cortland Finnegan, Carlos Rogers, Brandon Carr



Who’s been franchise tagged in 2012?

Drew Brees (QB, Saints ) – $15.76 million
DeSean Jackson (RB, Eagles) – $9.5 million
Brent Grimes (CB, Falcons) – $10.4 million
Ray Rice (RB, Ravens) – $7.7 million
Dashon Goldson (S, 49ers ) – $6.2 million
Calais Campbell (DL, Cardinals) – $10.6 million
Mike Nugent (K, Bengals) – $2.7 million
Phil Dawson (K, Browns) – $2.7 million
Fred Davis (TE, Redskins) – $5.4 million
Tyvon Branch (S, Raiders) – $6.2 million
Matt Forte (RB, Bears)  – $7.7 million
Robert Mathis (DE,Colts) – $10.6 million (Signed a 4 year $36 million deal)
Anthony Spencer (LB, Cowboys) – $8.8 million
Wes Welker (WR,Patriots) – $9.443 million
Dwayne Bowe – $9.443 million
Michael Griffin (S, Titans) – $6.2 million
Matt Prater (K, Broncos) – $2.665 million
Steve Weatherford (P, Giants) – $2.665 million
Josh Scobee (K, Jaguars) – $2.665 million
Cliff Avril (DE, Lions) – $10.6 million
Connor Barth (K, Buccaneers) – $2.665 million

Category: NFL Free AgencyNFL Spots


Article by: Michael Ginnitti

Managing Editor of Spotrac