2012 top NFL free agents
A look at the top 58 NFL free agents this offseason. Unrestricted free agents can start to negotiate new contracts with other teams starting March 13.
Position: Defensive end
Status: Unrestricted free agent
2012 team: Atlanta Falcons
2012 stats: 10 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 7 passes defensed
Career stats: 122 saces, 43 forced fumbles
UPDATED: Babineaux re-signed with Titans for a two-year contract
2011 stats: 93 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT
2011 contract: $810,000
On Oct. 2, 2011, against the Cleveland Browns, Babineaux returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown.
UPDATED: The Giants tender Ballard.
Tight end, Giants
2011 stats: 38 catches, 604 yards, 4 TDs
2011 contract: $405,000
Ballard signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State and was effective at filling the shoes of Kevin Boss. During the Giants’ miracle playoff run, Boss, a restricted free agent, caught five balls for 43 yards, but tore his ACL against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
UPDATED: Bennett has reportedly signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Giants.
Tight end, Cowboys
2011 stats: 17 receptions, 144 yards, 0 TDs
2011 contract: $771,250
Bennett, a second-round draft pick in 2008, has played behind Jason Witten the last four seasons. Witten, who has had three 1,000-yard seasons with Dallas, has shown no signs of letting up and Bennett is ready to be a starter elsewhere.
Running back, Bengals
2011 stats: 273 carries, 1,067 yards, 6 TDs
2011 contract: $5 million
Benson, 29, recorded his third straight 1,000-yard season in 2011. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden made comments recently that the Bengals might use one of their two first-round picks to draft a running back. Trent Richardson of Alabama and Lamar Miller of Miami are two possibilities sitting on top of the 2012 draft class. The Bengals still have Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, and Cedric Peerman under contract to replace Benson at running back.
UPDATED: The Buccaneers offered tender to Blount.
Running back, Buccaneers
2011 stats: 184 carries, 781 yards, 5 TDs
2011 contract: $405,000
The undrafted running back out of Oregon is a restricted free agent who is coming off a down year. In 2010, he rushed for 1,007 yards, proving to be a nice surprise for the Bucs. The 247-pound running back has to show that 2010 was not a fluke year.
UPDATED: Chiefs place the franchise tag on Bowe, who will make $9.5 million in 2012.
Wide receiver, Chiefs
2011 stats: 81 receptions, 1,159 yards, 5 TDs
2011 contract: $3.045 million
Bowe, 27, had another solid season despite never having quarterback consistency the whole season. It was his third season of 1,000-plus receiving yards and fourth season catching at least 70 passes.
UPDATED: The Raiders placed the franchise tag on Branch, guaranteeing him about $6.2 million for 2012.
2011 stats: 109 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT
2011 contract: $683,956
Branch played in all 16 games this season and led the Raiders defense in tackles with 109. Against the Jets, Branch caught LaDanian Tomlinson at the 1-yard line after his 74 reception.
UPDATED: The Saints placed the franchise tag on Brees.
2011 stats: 5,476 passing yards, 46 TDs, 14 INTs
2011 salary: $11,693,500
Brees had a record-breaking 2011 season throwing for 5,476, the most ever in a single season. He also averaged 342 yards per game to break Dan Fouts’ record of 320 in a strike-shortened 1982 season. Brees, 33, had career-highs in completions (468), quarterback rating (110.6), completion percentage (71.2), touchdowns and yards.
Defensive tackle, Broncos
2011 stats: 43 tackles
2011 contract: $1.285 million
After suffering ligament and nerve damage to his left elbow in 2010, he showed no ill effects in 2011 when he came over from the Eagles in a trade. The former first-round pick is 28 years old and an above average run-stuffer.
Wide receiver, Jets
2011 stats: 45 receptions, 612 yards, 8 TDs
2011 contract: $3.017 million
After a two-year absence from the game, Burress returned to the NFL and posted respectable numbers for a 35-year-old who spent the previous two years in jail. He was a huge target for quarterback Mark Sanchez in the red zone with eight touchdown catches, but only three during the final nine games of the season. He has expressed interest in playing for the Eagles.
Running back, Raiders
2011 stats: 256 carries, 977 yards, 7 TDs
2011 contract: $2.6 million
With Darren McFadden only appearing in seven games in 2011 due to injuries, Bush stepped up for the Raiders and had the best season of his young career. Against the Chargers, Bush rushed for 157 yards on 30 carries in a 24-17 win. McFadden is entering the fourth year of a $60 million contract and will remain the starting running back, leaving Bush, 27, as the back-up.
UPDATED: The Cardinals placed the franchise tag on Campbell.
Defensive end, Cardinals
2011 stats: 72 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
2011 contract: $855,000
Campbell, 25, continues to improve, setting career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. He also recorded his first interception in 2011 along with three blocked field-goal attempts.
UPDATED: The Saints and Colston agree to a five-year deal.
Wide receiver, Saints
2011 stats: 80 receptions, 1,143 yards, 8 TDs
2011 contract: $4,666,667
Colston, a seventh-round draft pick out of Hofstra in 2006, enjoyed his fifth 1,000-yard season with Saints, a feat he’s accomplished every year of his career except 2008 when he only played in 11 games. Drew Brees will obviously be the Saints’ main priority in the offseason, but they also have to decide whether or not to bring back offenseive lineman Carl Nicks.
UPDATED: The Redskins placed the franchise tag on Davis.
Tight end, Redskins
2011 stats: 59 receptions, 796 yards, 3 TDs
2011 contract: $900,500
Davis, 26, had his best season with career highs in catches and yards even though he missed four games for violating the NFL's drug policy.
UPDATED: Flynn and the Seahawks have agreed on a three-year contract.
2011 stats: 518 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs
2011 salary: $555,000
Flynn has been the backup quarterback behind Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay the last four seasons, making only one start prior to the 2011 season. Flynn made headlines in Week 17 last season as the Packers rested Rodgers for the playoffs. He threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a start against the Lions — both franchise records. Are those gaudy numbers enough to catapult him to a starting job somewhere in 2012?
UPDATED: The Jets re-signed Folk. The terms of the deal were not immediately released.
2011 stats: 19-for-25, longest FG: 51 yards
2011 contract: $552,280
On Sunday Night Football during the opening weekend of the 2011-12 season, Folk kicked a 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left to give the Jets a 27-24 victory over his former team, the Dallas Cowboys.
UPDATED: According to reports, Foster and the Texans have agreed to a five-year deal.
Running back, Texans
2011 stats: 278 carries, 1,224 yards, 10 TDs
2011 contract: $525,000
Foster, a restricted free agent, followed up his 1,616 yards in 2010 with 1,224 yards (fifth in the NFL) in 2011, proving he is one of the elite running backs in the NFL. In only 13 regular-season games, Foster rushed for 100 yards or more seven times, plus another two times in the postseason (153 yards vs. Bengals; 132 yards vs. Ravens). Foster, 25, also had 617 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
UPDATED: Garcon signed with the Redskins for $42 million contract over five years
Wide receiver, Colts
2011 stats: 70 receptions, 947 yards, 6 TDs
2011 contract: $577,750
Garcon had career highs in receptions and yards, proving he’s not just benefiting from having Peyton Manning as his quarterback. Reports surfaced at the end of February that he turned down a five-year, $35 million contract.
Running back, Patriots
2011 stats: 181 carries, 667 yards, 11 TDs
2011 contract: $1.835 million
Green-Ellis, 27, took a step back in 2011 as his rushing yards went from 1,008 in 2010 to 667 in 2011. His yards per carry also slumped to 3.7 compared to the 4.4 in 2010. On the plus side, Green-Ellis doesn’t fumble — ever. At least not in his first 537 touches as a pro.
Running back, Packers
2011 stats: 134 carries, 559 yards, 2 TDs
2011 contract: $4.74 million
Following season-ending ankle surgery in 2010, Grant returned in 2011 and split the bulk of the load with James Starks. In 15 games, the undrafted running back out of Notre Dame, averaged 4.2 yards per carry in a pass-happy offense. The Packers' rushing game ranked 27th in the league in yards — and 26th in attempts.
2011 stats: 49 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT
2011 contract: $2.61 million
A sore right knee kept Grimes out five of the last six games for Atlanta, including the postseason.
UPDATED: Grossman agrees to a one-year deal to remain with the Redskins.
2011 stats: 3,151 yards, 16 TDs, 20 INTs
2011 contract: $1.15 million
Grossman was benched as the Redskins’ starter after four interceptions against the Eagles during Week 5. He returned as the starter four weeks later, but only won two of his next eight games. The Redskins finished 5-11 including two wins over the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants.
UPDATED: It is reported the New Orleans Saints are "making a push" to sign Grubbs after the loss of Carl Nicks
2011 stats: 10 games
2011 contract: $3.715 million
The first-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2007 missed six games in 2011 with turf toe. Before the injury, Grubbs, 27, appeared in every game since his rookie season and is one of the top guards on the market.
2011 stats: 115 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 INTs
2011 contract: $1.7 million
Hawthorne was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks in 2008. Former fellow Seahawks linebacker, Lofa Tatupu gave him the nickname “Heater” for his all-action, physical displays. Such qualities have led the linebacker to make 350 tackles in his four years in the NFL.
2011 stats: 110 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
2011 contract: $6.7 million
After suffering a brutal leg injury in 2010, Henderson was selected to the 2011 Pro Bowl.
UPDATED: Henne signed a two-year deal worth nearly $6.75 million with the Jaguars.
2011 stats: 868 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs
2011 contract: $771,500
During his four seasons with the Dolphins, Henne has lost and won the starting job multiple times because of either injury or poor play. In Week 4, Henne separated his shoulder and spent the remainder of the season on IR. Matt Moore replaced Henne and led the Dolphins to a 6-6 record the rest of the season with 18 TDs, nine INTs and 2,487 yards.
UPDATED: Jackson has agreed to a five-year deal to remain with the Eagles.
Wide receiver, Eagles
2011 stats: 58 receptions, 961 yards, 4 TDs
2011 contract: $893,250
From 2009-10, Jackson averaged 55 catches, 1,112 yards and 20.2 yards per catch. Those numbers were slightly down in 2011 as Jackson only had 961 receiving yards (16.6 ypc). He’s still a deep-threat at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.
UPDATED: Jackson has agreed to a five-year, $55.5 million contract with the Buccaneers.
Wide receiver, Chargers
2011 stats: 60 receptions, 1,106 yards, 9 TDs
2011 contract: $11.4 million
After having the franchise tag placed on him last year, he responded with his third 1,000-yard season and tied a career high with nine touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the league with 18.4 yards per catch. Jackson missed 10 games in 2010 because of a nasty contract dispute. The 6-foot-5 receiver comes with baggage as he has had his share of trouble off the field with two DUIs.
UPDATED: Johnson signed a five-year, $36.25 million contract with the Bills.
Wide receiver, Bills
2011 stats: 76 receptions, 1,004 yards, 7 TDs
2011 contract: $1,213,507
Johnson led the Bills in receiving the past two seasons. He became the first in franchise history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Johnson, 25, is known for excessive celebrations and was flagged for it three times in the last two seasons.
UPDATED: Landry has agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Jets.
2011 stats: 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
2011 contract: $5,648,333
Due to a strained hamstring, Landry made his 2011 debut in Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys. A groin injury and Achilles injury limited Landry to eight games in the last season of his rookie contract.
UPDATED: Lloyd signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract with the Patriots.
Wide receiver, Rams
2011 stats: 70 receptions, 966 yards, 5 TDs
2011 contract: $1.045 million
Lloyd is two seasons removed from his breakout season when he caught 77 passes and led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards for the Broncos. In October, the Broncos traded him to the Rams for a draft pick. Lloyd has been vocal about his desire to be paired with Josh McDaniels, who coached him in Denver and again as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis. McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator in New England.
UPDATED: Lynch signed a four-year, $31 million deal with the Seahawks
Running back, Seahawks
2011 stats: 285 carries, 1,204 yards, 12 TDs
2011 contract: $1.74 million
Lynch, a former first-round draft pick, is coming off his best season of his six-year career. He set career highs in carries, yards and touchdowns. He became the Seahawks' first 1,000-yard rusher since Shaun Alexander in 2005.
UPDATED: Manning has informed the Broncos he would like to play for them in 2012, according to a report.
2011 stats: Did not play
2011 contract: $18 million
It's going to be hard to imagine Manning not in a Colts jersey, but that is a reality as the future Hall of Famer was released from his contract, making him the biggest free agent of the offseason. He missed the 2011 season because of neck problems that required four surgeries in the past two years. Manning, who will be 36 by the time the 2012 season in underway, is the active leader in passing yards (54,828), touchdowns (399) and completions (4,682).
UPDATED: Manningham signed a two-year deal with the 49ers.
Wide receiver, Giants
2011 stats: 39 receptions, 523 yards, 4 TDs
2011 contract: $1,554,250
Throw out Manningham’s 39 catches during the regular season because they all pale in comparison to his 38-yard catch during the final minutes of Super Bowl XLVI that set up the game-winning score. Manningham was hampered in 2011 due to nagging knee injuries only allowing him to appear in 12 games. His 2010 numbers (60 catches, 944 yards, 9 TDs) are probably a better barometer of what he can do in 2012.
UPDATED: Mathis has agreed to a five-year deal to remain with the Eagles.
2011 stats: 15 games
2011 contract: $735,000
Mathias helped running back LeSean McCoy rush for 1,309 yards, which ranked fourth in the league.
UPDATED: Mathis resigned with the Colts for a $36 million, four year contract on March 5
Defensive end, Colts
2011 stats: 43 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
2011 contract: $5.030 million
Mathis, 31, has been a force for the Colts during his nine-year career. He’s recorded 9.5 or more sacks in seven seasons and has 83.5 sacks in 135 career games. New Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has expressed interest in keeping Mathis as he plans to switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4.
2011 stats: 16 games, 1 fumble recovery
2011 contract: $6.085 million
McKenzie has been a stalwart for the Giants since coming over from the Jets prior to the 2005 season. He has started 16 games in four of his seven seasons and never less than 12.
UPDATED: Meachem signed with the Chargers, replacing Vincent Jackson
Wide receiver, Saints
2011 stats: 40 receptions, 620 yards, 6 TDs
2011 contract: $1.46 million
The former first-round draft pick hasn’t produced extravagant numbers in his brief four-year career, but he has been consistent and durable. Teammate Marques Colston could potentially be hit with the franchise tag, leaving Meachem to play the free agent market. However, it’s still very possible he comes back to New Orleans.
UPDATED: Myers has agreed to a four-year, $25 million dollar contract to remain with the Texans.
2011 stats: 16 games, 1 forced fumble
2011 contract: $3.5 million
Myers is at the end of a four-year, $11-million contract that he originally signed with the Broncos before they traded him to the Texans in 2008. Myers, 30, was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
UPDATED: According to reports, Nicks has agreed to a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Buccaneers
2011 stats: 16 games
2011 contract: $2.61 million
The two-time Pro Bowler is considered by many the top offensive lineman on the market. He has appeared in every Saints game since he was drafted in 2008 and has started all except three. Nicks has already stated that he does not want the franchise tag from the Saints.
UPDATED: Orton has agreed to a three-year deal with the Cowboys.
2011 stats: 1,758 yards, 9 TDs, 9 INTs
2011 contract: $8.879 million
Orton lost the starting job to Tim Tebow as was waived by the Broncos after five games. Orton joined the Chiefs and played in four games, culminating in a thrilling 19-14 win over the Packers to end their perfect season. Orton was 23-for-31 with 299 yards in the win over the Packers. Orton is credited with turning the Chiefs’ season around by winning two of the three games he started.
UPDATED: The Jets and Pouha have agreed on a three-year deal.
Defensive tackle, Jets
2011 stats: 58 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries
2011 contract: $2.45 million
The 33-year-old had a solid 2011 season in Rex Ryan’s defensive system. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound tackle is a fantastic run-stuffer.
UPDATED: The Broncos place the franchise tag on Prater.
2011 stats: 19-for-25, longest FG: 59 yards
2011 contract: $1.8 million
On Dec. 11, 2011, against the Chicago Bears, Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to tie the score. He then followed up by kicking a 51-yard field goal to win the game in overtime, 13-10. Prater is the most accurate kicker in NFL history of field goals of 50 or more yards, having hit 12 of 16.
2011 stats: 32-for-38, longest FG: 54 yards
2011 contract: $2.15 million
Rackers hit 32 of 38 field goals in his second season in Houston and has said he wants to remain with the Texans.
UPDATED: Robinson has agreed to a five-year, $32.5-million contract with the Jaguars.
Wide receiver, Cowboys
2011 stats: 54 receptions, 858 yards, 11 TDs
2011 contract: $685,000
Robinson was a big contributor to the Cowboys in 2011, especially when Miles Austin went down with an injury. In his first season with the Cowboys he had a team-high 11 TDs and 858 yards, which are also career highs. Robinson, 26, has expressed a strong interest in remaning with Dallas.
UPDATED: The 49ers re-signed Rogers for a four year, $31.3 million contract
2011 stats: 44 tackles, 6 INTs
2011 contract: $2.125 million
On Aug. 2, 2011, Rogers signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. He went on to lead the team with six interceptions and was named a Pro Bowl starter for the NFC as well as a second-team All-Pro.
UPDATED: Ross has agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $15.3 million with the Jaguars, according to reports.
2011 stats: 60 tackles, 4 INTs
2011 contract: $1.477 million
When teammate Terrell Thomas was placed on injured reserve prior to the 2011 season, Ross became the starter at right cornerback. He had 12 passes defensed in the regular and thre during the Giants’ Super Bowl run.
UPDATED: The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Scobee.
2011 stats: 23-for-25, longest FG: 55 yards
2011 contract: $2 million
In Week 7, Josh Scobee kicked four field goals to lead Jacksonville to a 12-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Three of Scobee's field goals were more than 50 yards, including two 54-yarders, which tied five other kickers for the NFL record for most 50-plus yard field goals in a game.
2011 stats: 3,144 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs
2011 contract: $4.9 million
The former first-round pick (2005) had his best season, setting career highs in completions (273), attempts (445), completion percentage (61.3), quarterback rating (90.7) and yards. Smith threw for 299 yards in the divisional round of the playoffs and shocked the Saints before losing to the Giants in the NFC Championship.