We are going to look at the top 10 free agents in the AFC West.
This is tricky for several reasons, beginning with the fact that we don’t know exactly who’ll be unrestricted or restricted once the new CBA is hammered out. These players are all potential unrestricted free agents. The list doesn’t include franchised players Vincent Jackson, Tamba Hali or Kamerion Wimbley nor does it include players who avoided free agency by recently signing long-term deals such as Richard Seymour, Champ Bailey and Stanford Routt.
In the end, this list may change dramatically, but here it is as we now stand:
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback, Oakland: Asomugha is the top free-agent prize in the NFL. After Oakland’s spending spree, it may be difficult for Asomugha to stick around. I always thought Oakland would get a deal done with him, but now I’m starting to wonder. He’d last mere minutes on the open market.
2. Zach Miller, tight end, Oakland: The Raiders took a risk by not franchising Miller. They are banking on him being a restricted free agent. The team is also trying to give him a long-term deal. If he hits the open market, he’ll be very popular.
3. Eric Weddle, safety, San Diego: The Chargers plan to keep him through restricted free agency. They’d also like to give him a long-term deal. If for some reason, he is becomes free, he’ll be a top commodity.
4. Malcom Floyd, receiver, San Diego: The same goes for Floyd. The team is hoping he’ll be restricted. If not, he could be snapped up. He’s fast and he has great hands.
5. Brandon Carr, cornerback, Kansas City: The Chiefs are hoping he will be restricted. He is an underrated player. He’d command as much as Routt (who signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Raiders) if he hit the unrestricted free agency.
6. Michael Bush, running back, Oakland: Like Miller, Oakland is banking on Bush being a restricted free agent. He hasn’t shown he can be a true No. 1 option, but he has good skills.
7. Michael Huff, safety, Oakland: He’s unrestricted and open to coming back to Oakland. If the Raiders don’t keep Asomugha, Huff could be on his way back. He’s good, not great, but he’ll find a good deal.
8. Kevin Burnett, linebacker, San Diego: A solid player. He would attract some interest in free agency. He is one of three inside linebackers in San Diego who is a free agent, joining Stephen Cooper and Brandon Siler. The Chargers like all three but probably will let at least one go and look at the position in the draft.
9. Robert Gallery, guard, Oakland: Along with San Diego tackle Jeromey Clary and Denver tackle Ryan Harris, Gallery is a quality offensive lineman who will attract interest in free agency. I chose Gallery over the other two because his current team needs him more than the other two teams need Clary and Harris, respectively.
10. Wallace Gilberry, defensive end, Kansas City: He is an under-the-radar player. But he has upside. He had seven sacks in 2010 and outshined 2009 No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson. Gilberry is 26. Young players with pass-rushing ability get paid on the open market.