With free agency approaching, something that can get lost in the shuffle is that many teams like to leave enough free cap space available to re-sign players to long term deals well in advance of their contracts expiring. The Eagles, for example, have been able to successfully lock up their most important players to long term deals before they were set to become free agents for years. It’s win-win for both the team and the player. The player gets a huge signing bonus upfront and is “set for life,” never having to worry (financially, at least) if an injury derails their career, while the team winds up paying less than they might if that player makes it to free agency.
With that thought in mind, I thought it would make sense to list the key players for each bEast team that have expiring contracts at the end of the 2011 season:
RB Tashard Choice – I don’t think Jason Garrett trusts Tashard Choice – covered that in more detail here.
TE Martellus Bennett – The Cowboys are probably in no hurry to re-up Bennett. It’ll be interesting to see if Martellus decides to wake up in a contract year. Covered him specifically, too, which can be found here.
OLB Anthony Spencer – Is Spencer the player that played fantastic football the second half of the 2009 season, or is he the disappointment that we’ve seen otherwise? Tough call for the Cowboys here. It’ll be interesting to see what Rob Ryan thinks of him after the first few games this season.
ILB Bradie James – With 2010 2nd round pick Sean Lee and 2011 2nd round pick Bruce Carter in place, Bradie James will likely be playing his final year in Dallas this season.
ILB Keith Brooking – See Bradie James.
CB Orlando Scandrick – If the Cowboys have any sort of cap room (and I don’t think they will), expect them to try to re-up Scandrick with a reasonable Joselio Hanson-like deal before he hits the open market.
P Mat McBriar – McBriar probably isn’t going anywhere. I would think the Cowboys will be easily able to re-up McBriar at the end of the season.
(Eagles, Giants, and Redskins after the jump)…
QB Michael Vick – Vick is already on the hook for just shy of $16 million toward the cap for the 2011 season after signing his franchise tag tender. This is a case where the Eagles will save a significant amonut of money against the cap if they’re able to hammer out a long term deal with Vick. Both sides should be plenty motivated to get something done.
QB Kevin Kolb – Likely to be traded.
WR DeSean Jackson – This is obviously the big one. Jackson’s salary for the 2011 season is $565,000. He’s going to get an enormous raise. Again, both sides should be plenty motivated to work something out. My best guess is that DeSean will make something in the ballpark of $8 mil/year.
OT King Dunlap – This time a year ago, I thought King Dunlap had no shot of making the team, but he did, and actually played pretty well in a reserve role last season. He’s the only backup the Eagles have at OT, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if King is in the Eagles’ long term plans.
C/G Mike McGlynn – McGlynn started most of the season at C last year for the Eagles, and proved that at the very least, he’s a valuable reserve interior lineman. I’m sure the Eagles would like to get something done with McGlynn, but McGlynn might be better served to wait it out and sign somewhere he can start.
DE Juqua Parker – If the Eagles don’t cut him this offseason, he’s almost assuredly a goner in 2012. Covered Juqua’s situation in more depth here.
DT Brodrick Bunkley – It really all depends on how well Bunk plays in Jim Washburn’s wide 9. If he becomes a penetrating force, the Eagles might look to sign him long term, but the smart money here says he’ll probably walk after 2011.
DT Antonio Dixon – Dixon will have only accrued 3 NFL seasons after 2011, so the Eagles can simply slap an RFA tender on Dixon. No rush signing this promising young player.
WR Mario Manningham – Very interesting situation here. What is Steve Smith going to make this season if the Giants re-sign him? If it’s a big number, can they afford to throw big money at Manningham too, knowing that they’re eventually going to have to also pay big money to Hakeem Nicks? This is definitely one to keep an eye on.
OT Kareem McKenzie – Another interesting one here. McKenzie is still a good player (I wrote recently that he and Chris Snee may make up the best ROL tandem in the NFL), but he’ll be 33 in 2012. Tough call.
C Shaun O’Hara – No way.
LB Jonathan Goff – Decent young player. I think the Giants will wait and see how he plays in 2011.
CB Terrell Thomas – OK, here we go. Corey Webster has the following base salaries the next 3 years: $8,000,000, $6,500,000, $7,000,000. Prince Amukamara is also going to get decent money as a 1st round pick, and if you sign Thomas to a big deal, are you planning on Amukamara being your nickle corner for the foreseeable future? That’s not exactly the kind of return on investment you want from a #1 pick. Thomas is going to watch all the corners of the 2011 FA class get paid and will likely think he’s worth big money too. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see the Giants lose Thomas in 2012.
CB Aaron Ross – Disappointment as a #1 pick. Could be a goner.
TE Fred Davis – Chris Cooley just turned 29 on Monday. Expect the Redskins to lock up Davis long term.
OG Will Montgomery – Projected starting OG for the Skins this year. The Skins would love to sign a guard in free agency this year to replace Montgomery.
OG Kory Lichtensteiger – See Will Montgomery.
DE Adam Carriker – Underrated DL player. Expect the Skins to try to lock him up.
DE Vonnie Holliday – Gone.
DE Phillip Daniels – Gone.
DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu – Gone.
ILB London Fletcher – Such a great player, but no long term deals are likely to happen here. It’s probably all up to whether or not London decides to hang em up.
S LaRon Landry – Incredibly tough call. He’ll want a boatload of money, and if he hits free agency, some team out there will give it to him. Landry is such a talented player, but he’s a bozo. Tough spot for the Skins.
S Kareem Moore – No urgency here. The Skins will probably wait until the end of the season to decide on Moore.
S Chris Horton – After a promising rookie season, he fell off. Again, no urgency here.