This post grows from what Blue Eyed Devil proposed in Labor Uncertainty = Excellent Opportunity and starts to look at prospects more in depth. On April 6th a hearing will determine whether or not the Lockout is illegal and a ruling could be made which imposes 2010's rules on the 2011 season. If 2010 rules are imposed, only players with at least 6 seasons of NFL experience would be allowed to be unrestricted free agents. The other free agents would have very little chance of movement due to restricted free agency's requirements. So I did some of digging and came up with this list of possible targets at our positions of greatest need:
Shaun Ellis (NYJ) - Ellis has been a key component of the Jets’ defense for many years now, but this may be his final season there. The team has plenty of free agents, or soon-to-be free agents that will need to be addressed to keep the core components of the team intact. Ellis is still an adequate 5-technique and may have some interest to the Cowboys if the price is right.
Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) - He is 29 and has played plenty of football but something tells me this guy isn't done yet. Think Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey. Front load and back load the deal. Front load to take advantage of the loss of a salary cap in 2010 and back load in case the salary cap comes back. This way years 2, 3 and 4 are not so horrible and he is expendable in years 5, 6, and 7.
Carlos Rodgers (WAS) - He is 29 and about on the level of Newman. Not enough of an upgrade IMO, and I would rather chase a corner in the draft if need be. Terrible hands. Buy low.
Ike Taylor (PIT) - 30 years old but so consistent. He would be a wise choice only if it came at a good price and very short term.
Quintin Mikell (PHI) - I believe he is an excellent option so long as the contract is in the 4 year range and reasonable. He rated well in PFT's assessment of Safeties. He has a lot of tread left on the tires, he was a backup for the first 3 years of his career, but he is 30. As a bonus he provides lots of inside information regarding the Eagles D.
Michael Huff (OAK) - He is right behind Mikell in PFT ranking and is 28. He has played for Ryan and could be hitting his stride. Only downside is that he may be the most expensive of this group.
Brodney Pool (NYJ) - The Jets have to worry about re-signing Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. Pool might be a necessary casualty. He is 26 and it wouldn't be so risky to sign him longer but he could be expensive.
Tyson Clabo (ATL) - Performed excellently over the last 2 years according to PFT rankings and is most likely the highest quality RT on the market. Clabo (29) has been largely overlooked the past few seasons but he's been a tremendous asset to Matt Ryan and helped Michael Turner break through as one of the conference's best backs.
Jamal Brown (WAS) - 29 and too expensive IMO, but he would be much better than Colombo and probably better than any rookie we bring in. Could be a nice backup plan in case the draft comes up dry.
Matt Light (NWE) - Old and experienced. Front load this deal and expect to cut him after 2 years but if we are willing to pay a hefty price we could have a good RT for the next 2 years.
Harvey Dahl (ATL) - A little old at 29 but he only has been a full time starter for 3 years. Would be an upgrade in both age and talent to both Davis and Kosier. If the price is right definitely.
Logan Mankins (NWE) - Excellent, but franchise tagged, no hope.
Evan Mathis (CIN) - Graded out really well the last two years. He is a backup for sure and has potential to start. Should be cheap. 29 with very little game starts.
Sean Locklear (SEA) - He is 29 and a consistent starter at guard. He would be an excellent backup and may even be an upgrade is some respects to Kosier. At least he would be making the team marginally younger and could come at a good price. An excellent depth consideration.
Tongue in Cheek Candidate: TO, he is better than Roy Williams and wouldn't a reunion be dramatic!
All in all the pickings are slim but there are a few quality prospects, especially in the secondary. Asomugha is definitely a prize to be had. Pair him with Jenkins, Scandrick, a Rookie from rounds 3-6, and Ball and you have yourself an above average group of CBs. At Safety there are three quality players, all with the potential to upgrade our secondary for the next 3 to 4 years while we build through the draft. Huff might carry too high a price tag but he far and away has the biggest upside. Personally, I like the prospect of gleaning information off Mikell but Pool and Huff are younger and played under a "Ryan" system. If the boys can't get Huff at around 7 mil a year, they should take whichever comes cheaper among Pool and Mikell.
Clabo and Dahl would be excellent to acquire as well if the price wont handcuff us in the long run. I wouldn't even mind if we paid Dahl reasonably well since it makes Davis expendable (especially in 2012). Clabo would be smart as well, but it be difficult to pay two players generously in one off season because I assume the salary cap would come back eventually. Either way, front loading and back loading the deals could help in a fashion similar to that proposed for Asomugha. In regard to depth Mathis and Locklear could be steals this off season.
Opportunities do not abound with the remainder. The only reason I would recommend a run at Cullen Jenkins would be in the event we miss out on the DB FAs and DL prospects in the draft. Ellis, Jamal Brown, and Light should only be considered if a good deal contract wise is on the table. Ellis and Light would be formidable within one year contracts even if those are expensive.
Thoughts? Did I miss anyone?