NFL Free Agency starts Tuesday, March 13th, and teams are far more likely to be active in acquiring new players with a full off-season than they were a year ago.

Here are the top free agency targets by position, with updates as we hear about their signings:


Peyton Manning

Let’s get this out of the way right up front. He’s all anyone seems to want to talk about, and although this is the biggest name to hit free agency in years – possibly EVER – he’s only going to fill one need on one team, and for everyone else, the other options are very important. Likely to end up in Miami, Tennessee or Kansas City

Alex Smith

Unless the 49ers pick up Peyton Manning, he’s staying put in San Francisco. They drafted him, they kept him around all those years, and they’ve finally turned him into the type of QB whom they can win with, and they’re not giving up on their investment now aside from maybe getting a 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame QB. Picking up Randy Moss for a one year deal means that Smith now has an additional weapon to target, and very few excuses. If he can continue to keep his interceptions number low, he’ll lead this team to the playoffs yet again. Were he to go somewhere else, there’s no telling what level of success he would have. Likely to remain in San Francisco

Matt Flynn almost certainly leaving Green Bay

There’s not a lot on Flynn’s resume so where he should be the top QB prospect, but the same could be said a few years ago about Matt Schaub. Despite not having seen a lot, teams like Flynn and I expect him to have at least a medium level of success as a starter somewhere next year. I’d be very surprised if he ends up going to a team where he’s not considered the starting QB going into training camp. Likely landing spots: Cleveland, Seattle, Minnesota or Miami

Jason Campbell

Given the right situation, Jason Campbell puts himself into the running to make the Pro Bowl. He was in position in Washington a few years ago before the wheels fell off of Clinton Portis, and he was in position in Oakland before getting injured. If he can end up in an offense he’s familiar with and is fully healthy, he gives his team a great chance to win in 2012. Likely to remain in Oakland.

Kyle Orton

He’s not an impressive quarterback, but he can put up decent numbers when he has targets in the passing game and he knows how to win games. The most likely scenario is for him to end up as a backup somewhere, which is almost impossible to predict. He could do well in Minnesota or returning to Kansas City.

Caleb Hanie

He showed that he was capable of making some things happen when he got opportunities in Chicago, but at this point he would be seen as a guy who would have to be developed and isn’t capable of taking the reigns of an offense to start training camp. Still, he’s a much better backup than a lot of teams currently have.

Chad Henne

He’s had his ups and downs, but from time to time he puts up really good numbers.

Other Names to Watch:

Kevin O’Connell, Vince Young, Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson

Running Backs

Peyton Hillis

He’s not on my list of elite running backs, but a lot of people would disagree with that and I’ve been known to be wrong in the past. Obviously he wasn’t healthy last season, so I’m not basing my opinion on those statistics alone.  The best case scenario for Hillis would be somewhere like Detroit where he could share time with a small, quick back like Jahvid Best, but unluckily for him, they drafted Mikel LeShoure last year to play that part.

Michael Bush

In his fourth season in the NFL, Bush finally got the opportunity to shine, and it happened at the right time. He scored no fewer than 8 touchdowns in the past two seasons, and a team can sign him to a three year deal which would end right around the time he turns 30. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the top running backs in his conference next season, and I could see the New York Giants bringing him aboard if the Oakland Raiders can’t keep him.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis

The guy doesn’t fumble and he has a knack for finding the end zone, but the Patriots haven’t shown him any love over the past few seasons, signing Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen. He could still have four good seasons left in him, and if he ends up on a decent team, he could have considerable impact next year.

Mike Tolbert

His size (5’9″ / 240) and ability to catch the football out of the backfield makes him a strong option as a third-down back. That said, how much do teams want to pay for a guy who fits into such a narrow role? He’s probably going to stay in San Diego.

Ryan Grant

He was a golden child back in 2008 and 2009, but then came his injury, and he returned to a team where James Starks is now clearly the favorite. Brandon Saine makes Grant expendable, which could be good for Grant, as he might have two strong seasons left in his career before age catches up with him. Though he might not be a significant difference maker, I’d predict he could be a huge sleeper pick up for someone.

Other Names to Watch:

Maurice Morris, Kevin Smith, Jackie Battle, Thomas Jones, Earnest Graham, Tim Hightower

Wide Receiver

Mike Wallace (Restricted)

Wallace is one of the top wide receiver talents in the entire league, and teams shouldn’t shy away at having to give up a 1st round tender, especially if that team is San Francisco or Chicago, both of whom are picking in the later half of the first round and are in desperate need of an answer at receiver.

Marques Colston

I’m getting news that the Saints have re-signed him without letting him hit the market, and you can’t blame him. When healthy, Colston is one of the best receivers in the league, bringing a physical presence to go along with his great hands and solid route running.

Vincent Jackson

When healthy and not suspended, Jackson is a Pro Bowl talent, having eclipsed 1000 yards receiving and at least 7 touchdowns in three of the past four seasons. Some say his attitude is a problem, but how much of that is due to his contract situation? It’s doubtful he stays with the Chargers, but at 29 years old, he’ll want to find a home that is close to winning soon. Carolina might be a great landing spot, or in Tennessee if that’s where Peyton Manning ends up.

Laurent Robinson

He went from being a third wide receiver to looking like he might be someone’s potential option as a #1. There’s very little chance that Dallas is going to be able to pay him while keeping Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, so he’s very likely to leave. Now it just depends who likes his production enough to give him a shot at being the full time guy. With Randy Moss ending up in San Francisco, he might be a good fit there as a #2 option, or possibly Kansas City.

Mario Manningham

Given how he performed in the Super Bowl, teams might over look all the drops and the lack of production he has in 1/3 of the games he plays. He’s telling people he deserves to be a #1 wide receiver option for someone, and while someone might do that, it’s probably not the right decision. Consider Tampa Bay and Cleveland as potential landing spots.

Brandon Lloyd

He has some great years, some lame years, and then back to great. I’m hearing the Patriots are the likely landing spot, and that could be a decent fit for him, but having turned 30 last summer, his clock is running out.

Robert Meachem

A very solid wide receiver who won’t take an offense to the next level, but if he gets put into a situation where there’s already a legit star WR, he adds tons of stability. The Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans should be taking a very close look.

Pierre Garcon

He’s a fast receiver, but he still drops the ball way too frequently for a guy who has been in the league for four seasons. For teams looking at a deep threat, he could be a great option to meeting that need, but if they rely on him as their go-to guy, they’re going to be disappointed.

Reggie Wayne

Wherever Peyton Manning goes, I’d be surprised if Wayne wasn’t far behind.

Other Names To Watch:

Lee Evans, Eddie Royal, Braylon Edwards, Deion Branch, Domenik Hixon, Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward, Mark Clayton, Mike Sims-Walker

Tight End

Jeremy Shockey

With Greg Olsen, the Panthers don’t NEED Jeremy Shockey, but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep him. The Patriots doing a lot with a 2 TE set could entice more teams into trying the same.

Scott Chandler

He had a few great games for Buffalo last season, but he’s still not an excellent player.

John Carlson

He’s coming off of an injury which followed a year where his production wasn’t necessarily at the top of his game anyway. Yet, he could have a lot to offer, especially if a team doesn’t try to fit him into the Superstar Tight End mold.

Bo Scaife

At times he has been a very productive option, but his best years are likely behind him.

Dallas Clark

The Colts are unloading all of their big-money guys, and despite the productivity he has offered over the past few seasons when healthy, the problem is that he wasn’t healthy enough to continue to build around. Clearly he’ll be interested to see where Peyton Manning ends up.

Other Names to Watch:

Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme, Visanthe Shiancoe

Offensive Linemen

Eric Winston – Don’t be surprised if he ends up in Washington, given the blocking techniques they employ and his familiarity with Kyle Shanahan from their days in Houston.

Evan Mathis

Jared Gaither

Chris Meyers

Ben Grubbs

Carl Nicks

Demetrius Bell

Scott Wells