With over 400 NFL free agents available to the highest bidder as of Friday, February 29, Scout.com has the top 200 ranked in their Free Agent Database.
So who are the top players in this year's free agent class? Well, only four are unrestricted free agents, free to sign anywhere they choose. The other six have had the franchise tag applied to them, severely restricting their potential movement.
1. LB Lance Briggs (Chicago Bears) - Briggs put together his third Pro Bowl season as he played the 2007 season under a one-year franchise tag deal. Briggs will finally hit the open market after amassing 545 career tackles, 5.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 37 passes defensed, 8 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries. Simply put, Briggs is a defensive leader and a playmaker.
2. DE Jared Allen (Kansas City Chiefs) - Allen's wearing the Chiefs' franchise tag, and rightfully so. He posted 15.5 sacks in 2007 and continues to be a pest to quarterbacks, swatting 21 passes incomplete from his defensive end positon over the last two seasons. During his first four seasons in the league, he's only missed three games and has already posted 43 sacks.
3. CB Marcus Trufant (Seattle Seahawks) - With both Trufant and New England's Asante Samuel in the free agent pool together, it took some real hair-splitting to decide which one should be No. 3 versus No. 4. Trufant, who has also been slapped with a franchise tag, earned a slight edge due to his consistency. He's a 5-year starter who's missed just two games and is productive against the running game as well, making 85 tackles in addition to his seven interceptions in 2007.
4. CB Asante Samuel (New England Patriots) - Samuel is just fun to watch. He's established himself as a big-time playmaker with his 16 interceptions over the past two years. Samuel has also been durable, missing just five games in five seasons. While his 235 tackles during his career is about 110 behind Trufant's total, Samuel is a respected defender who most quarterbacks would prefer to avoid.
5. OG Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh Steelers) - Often, teams will shy away from signing 10-year veterans like Faneca, thinking they have too much wear-and-tear on them to have much time left in the league. But Faneca just played in his seventh-straight Pro Bowl and continues to dominate opponents with his field intelligence and his overall strength. Expect Faneca's free agency to be one of the most lively in terms of bidders and visits.
Terrell Suggs rushing the passer.
Matt Stroshane/Getty Images
6. OLB Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens) - The Ravens weren't going to let their premier pass-rusher skip town easily, so they put the franchise tag on Suggs. The two-time Pro Bowler hasn't missed a game in five years, and although his 5.5 sacks this year was a career low for him, he still has 45 over his first five seasons. Suggs also put up a career single-season high of 78 tackles in 2007.
7. WR Randy Moss (New England Patriots) - To say that Moss' debut season in New England was a success would be an understatement. He posted nine 100-yard receiving games, caught 23 touchdown passes and moved the chains 74 times for the Patriots in 2007. But will he stick with the good thing he's got with Tom Brady tossing him perfect passes, even if the Patriots aren't the highest bidder for his services? Or will he decide to grab the money from the highest bidder one last time, perhaps figuring this is his last shot at a huge long-term deal? With Moss as unpredictable as the weather, it may simply boil down to what kind of mood he's in on the day he puts the pen in his hand to sign a contract.
8. DT Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee Titans) - The 6-foot-6, 320-pound defensive tackle has had his ups-and-downs during his first six seasons in the NFL. But he put together one of his best efforts in 2007 — just in time to inflate his value. Tennessee decided not to risk creating another depth chart problem while they try to solve talent problems elsewhere on the roster, so they put the franchise tag on Haynesworth. His six sacks in 2007 was a career-best, while his 44 tackles were second only to his 2005 season when he logged 50.
9. S Ken Hamlin (Dallas Cowboys) - In a move that surprised a number of people, Dallas opted to franchise tag fifth-year veteran Ken Hamlin after he earned his first Pro Bowl invitation. Hamlin's five interceptions drew plenty of attention, but his tackles were down significantly from 96 in 2006 with Seattle to just 62 in his first season in Dallas. That said, Hamlin's developed into a well-balanced safety who is commanding respect from around the league.
10. OT Jordan Gross (Carolina Panthers) - A five-year starter who hasn't missed a game, the versatile Gross has experience at both tackle positions. The former first-round draft pick has been more of a technician than a smash-mouth player, but he gets the job done whether blocking for a runner or protecting his quarterback. His 3 sacks allowed in 2007 was his lowest single-season total since his rookie year.
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