Top Offensive Free Agents For 2012

WR Vincent Jackson, RB Michael Bush and TE John Carlson are set to become UFAs.

The franchise player designations have been dusted off and affixed, and those players still without a contract or tender offer for the 2012 season will qualify for unrestricted free agency starting next Tuesday.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and GM Scott Pioli have said there is nothing holding the Chiefs backs when it comes to wading into the free agency waters. The No. 1 goal of any team is to keep the soon to be UFAs on their own roster and Pioli has yet to get much done there. WR Dwayne Bowe is essentially off the market thanks to the franchise tag. But a host of other players, led by starting right CB Brandon Carr will hit the open market unless Pioli gets their signatures on contracts.

Step No. 2 is to find the best players available on the UFA list from around the league. No one expects the ultra-careful Chiefs to go hog wild in free agency, but they will need to do better than signing players like Bobby Engram and Mike Goff (2009) Thomas Jones (2010) and Le’Ron McClain (2011). There are holes in the roster, at both the top and bottom of the 53-man list and they could use veteran help on the offensive line, running back, defensive line, tight end and quite possibly quarterback.

We’ll start with the offensive side of the ball. We’ll cover the defense later Wednesday. Here are the best free agents available as of Wednesday morning.

Pos Player




QB Peyton Manning



He’ll be available Wednesday after missing last season.

  Jason Campbell



No place for him in Oakland with Carson Palmer around.

RB Michael Bush



Raiders have no cap money for No. 2 big back.

  Michael Tolbert



Bowling ball (5-9, 243 pounds) to compliment Charles.

WR Vincent Jackson



A bit of a diva, but talented catcher at 6-5 with speed.

  Pierre Garcon



Developed into good No. 2 WR behind Reggie Wayne.

TE John Carlson



Torn labrum in shoulder cost him entire ’11 season.

  Kellen Davis



Former 5th-rounder, 18 catches, 5 TDs for the Bears.

C Chris Myers



Led Texans O-line to top NFL running attack.

  Samson Satele



Helped the Raiders run the ball with McFadden and Bush.

LG Carl Nicks



Pro Bowler blocker, but few $ left in N.O.

  Ben Grubbs



No. 1 pick for the Ravens in ’07 and starter at LG.

RT Erik Pears



Started 16 games at RT for Buffalo.

  Brandon Keith



Played in 13 games at RT for Arizona.

*-age on opening day of the 2012 NFL schedule and experience is seasons completed; **-status is as of the end of the 2011 season.


Sometime on Wednesday the Colts are going to announce they are releasing QB Peyton Manning. That news will start continue a wooing dancing that’s been going on for the last two months in the league. Manning and his agent Tom Condon know what teams are interested. How deeply conversations went and pushed the bounds of tampering we’ll never know.

At the quarterback position, it will all start with Manning and the Chiefs should be interested. How deep their interest might be will be a point of discussion later in the week. Every team will have to see evidence that Manning has overcome his neck problems and is able to throw the ball in at least some manner close to what he was before his injury.

If the Chiefs can’t get involved in that chase, then former Redskins/Raiders QB Jason Campbell should become a consideration. We covered the quarterbacks most likely to draw the interest of the Chiefs several weeks ago. Little has changed with the group. San Francisco starter Alex Smith remains available and the Chiefs are the only team that has had the ability to negotiate with Kyle Orton and they’ve not gotten a deal done.

Running Back

Jamaal Charles is rehabbing his torn ACL and is on schedule to be ready to play in the regular-season opener. He will not be 100 percent. Thomas Jones will be 33 years old and based on what he did on the field last year; he should not be back. Jackie Battle will be an unrestricted free agent. Nobody was signed or drafted last year to provide competition.

That can’t be the case this year – Charles needs help, and there are a couple guys right in the AFC West that top the charts of available runners in Michael Bush of the Raiders and Mike Tolbert of the Chargers. The great thing about signing a UFA within the division is the chance to help your team and hurt an opponent.

A number of possibilities have been removed from the market due to new contracts (Marshawn Lynch) or players designated with the franchise player tag (Matt Forte, Ray Rice.)

Wide Receiver

For the second consecutive season, the Chargers did not place the franchise tag on WR Vincent Jackson. They gambled last year and were able to keep him with a one-year deal. That’s not likely to work again. Jackson has passed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yardage in three of the last four seasons, while also catching 28 TDs in that time. He has averaged 17.5 yards a catch over his career. Over his career he’s caught 34 passes for 623 yards and 3 touchdowns in 13 games that he’s played against the Chiefs.

Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson were all taken off the market when they were tagged as franchise players. There’s a wide spectrum of pass catchers led by Jackson, and including guys like Pierre Garcon of Indianapolis, a young catcher who has gotten great experience being part of the Colts offense under Manning.

Speaking of Manning, whatever team he lands with will become the favorite to get Reggie Wayne. He too is a UFA and the 10-year veteran has hinted he’d like to join his quarterback.

Tight End

The pickings are pretty slim at tight end in this year’s free agent class. The best overall player at the position is John Carlson of Seattle, but he missed the entire 2011 season due to a shoulder surgery. If he’s back 100 percent, he’d be a nice addition at 6-5, 251 pounds out of Notre Dame.

Offensive Line

There are a number of veteran centers available, led by Chris Myers from Houston who was the leader of that Texans blocking unit. Green Bay’s Scott Well, Oakland’s Samson Satele and even Manning’s old center Jeff Saturday.

Inside at guard is where the best UFA talent sits right now with Carl Nicks from the Saints and Ben Grubbs out of Baltimore. Both are starters who could come right in and make the Chiefs front five a more solid unit.

At right tackle, there are possibilities as well with Buffalo’s Erik Pears a 16-game starter there with the Bills. Plus, there’s Brandon Keith of the Cardinals and little known Guy Whimper of Jacksonville. Those guys all played on the right side last year. Then, there are a host of other tackles that are not much of a step up from the Chiefs own UFA at that spot, Barry Richardson.

11 Responses to “Top Offensive Free Agents For 2012”

  • March 6, 2012  - Blake says:

    I don’t think LeRon McClain was a bad signing. He is a good guy and sounds like he is a positive locker room guy. McClain is also a much better runner, receiver, and blocker than Mike Cox was.

    I think Bush, Tolbert, Hillis, Green-Ellis are all options at RB. I think they look for a RB in FA and not the draft but I could be wrong.

    TE could go either in the draft or FA but Carson, Bennett, Shiancoe, and Chandler are all options.

    I think the Chiefs will look for a RT in FA. I can’t see them starting a rookie RT even if he is drafted in the first round. I think a guy could get released and signed to be our new starting RT.

  • March 6, 2012  - brainsmasher says:

    Thomas Jones and Le’Ron McClain were nice additions. I still think Thomas Jones has some gas left in the tank. I wouldn’t mind if the Chiefs let him go and picked up either Bush or Hillis. I would go for Hillis.

  • March 6, 2012  - johnfromwichita says:

    Go get Vincent Jackson, with what we have now, and Manning would get excited. Fix the O line and Cassel would even look good.

  • March 7, 2012  - Craig says:

    Good Post Bob. The problem with Cassel is the Chiefs can do things to make him better, but his ability to make us better is limited.

  • March 7, 2012  - mike owens says:

    I will believe Clark Hunt about signing big name free agent(s) when I see it. We’ve heard this song and dance before. It would be nice if the Chiefs were involved in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes (providing he’s healthy). If so then that would show us Hunt is serious about winning now. I think Manning would look at this place and see a chance to win also. We’ll have our answer soon enough.

  • March 7, 2012  - Thomas Salmon says:

    Lordy! Lordy! I hope Clark is waiting outside Peyton’s press conference with his checkbook!

  • March 7, 2012  - Michael says:

    That’s a good list, Bob, but let’s not forget those are some of the very best options. There will be many, many, more players available who could make the team better and also give it more depth. Like mike owens, I’m sick of seeing all these players come free only to see Pioli sit on his hands.

  • March 7, 2012  - David says:

    Absolute must to sign Nicks or Grubbs. A no-brainer.

  • March 7, 2012  - steven smith says:

    Nicks would be awsome but i think we have a better shot at manning or rg3 than him. reason being i cant see pioli paying a gaurd 8+ mill a season for a gaurd. one tackle fa not mentioned was demetrious bell from buffalo. i live outside of buffalo and that kid came into his own this season before going on ir. profootball focus had him rated top 5 in nfl before he was injured. he would be a great cheap starter. and could move to LT if albert got hurt or not resigned next year(o.0)

  • March 7, 2012  - David says:

    But a Pro-Bowl Guard in the prime of his career is a very, very, very good thing to have. (See: Shields, Will; Waters, Brian.) Even if you have to “overpay”.

  • March 7, 2012  - David says:

    Could be, Steven. But a Pro-Bowl Guard in the prime of his career is a very, very, very good thing to have. (See: Shields, Will; Waters, Brian.) Even if you have to “overpay”.

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