Today is the deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise tag on potential free agents. After the deadline passes, the official list of 2012 free agents will be finalized and teams can determine their player targets. Free agency officially begins on March 13th, and it should be a very interesting few weeks with the amount of quality players available. Here is a quick rundown of some of the best free agents out there by position:
Matt Flynn, Green Bay: Flynn is riding the momentum of a superb performance in a meaningless late season game to become a hot free agent. He has been backing up one of the best quarterbacks in the league and may be ready to lead his own offense.
Alex Smith, San Francisco: Smith is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and would like to remain in the bay area.
Kyle Orton, Kansas City: He is available, but Orton has proven he is nothing more than a stop-gap at this point of his career.
Jason Campbell, Oakland: Another quarterback who doesn’t necessarily get the fans excited, but he may be the best quarterback of the first 4 mentioned on this list.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis: It isn’t official yet that Manning and the Colts will be parting ways, but all signs are pointing in that direction. If Manning hits the open market he will be one of the most expensive players out there, but he will automatically turn his new team into a contender.
Mike Tolbert, San Diego: Tolbert looked great during his part-time duty in San Diego during the 2011 season and is one of the best FA backs available.
Michael Bush, Oakland: Another talented back who serves primarily as a backup, he looks primed to get more action in a starting lineup somewhere.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati: Benson is aging and will be best served as a member of a time-share.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England: Great short-yardage guy who would be a great addition for teams looking for RB depth.
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland: Not many players have seen their stock fallen as far as Hillis’ did in 2011.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego: Jackson leads an impressive class of FA receivers and should be able to make more on the open market than A.J. Smith is willing to pay him.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis: A great receiver who is nearing the end of his career.
Marques Colston, New Orleans: A big, physical receiver who is tough to match up against.
Brandon Lloyd, Saint Louis: Lloyd is coming off the best years of his career and has been rumored to be headed to New England to reunite with Josh McDaniels.
Mario Manningham, New York Giants: Manningham may be able to parlay a huge play during the Super Bowl into a big contract.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh: It’s no secret that Pittsburgh is going to do everything in their power to keep the talented Wallace.
Mario Williams, Houston: Quite possibly the biggest name in free agency (outside of Peyton Manning), Williams has the potential to transform a defense and should get a huge contract somewhere.
Jason Jones, Tennessee: A defensive tackle with quickness and good pass rushing skills.
John Abraham, Atlanta: Abraham is getting older but is still a force on the edge. He would be a nice addition to a team who needs some more depth at DE.
Antonio Garay, San Diego: Another big name in San Diego who might be leaving town. Garay is a beast in the middle and is probably the best DT available.
Carl Nicks, New Orleans: One of the best guards available, Nicks will likely be too expensive for the Saints.
Jared Gaither, San Diego: Played well in a handful of games for the Chargers after being picked up from the Chiefs. San Diego all of a sudden has some issues on their O-line, so Gaither might get a good deal to stay.
Chris Myers, Houston: Myers has played well for Houston and is a good fit for their system. It sounds like he will likely stay in Texas.
Evan Mathis, Philadelphia: Mathis had an impressive season in 2011 so he is in line to get a nice contract.
Demetrius Bell, Buffalo: Bell is coming off a major injury but is a solid player and should generate some interest.
Stephen Tulloch, Detroit: Tulloch has been a good player for many years and it sounds like the Lions are going to work hard to re-sign him.
Curtis Lofton, Atlanta: Probably the best linebacker available, Lofton is looking to get elite money.
London Fletcher, Washington: Fletcher is getting up there in age but is still playing at a high level.
Brandon Carr, Kansas City: Carr has made quite a name for himself around the league and is one of the top corners available.
Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville: Mathis is aging and coming off an injury, so he should be relatively cheap compared to some of these names.
Carlos Rogers, San Francisco: Rogers had a revival in 2011 and should finally get the long term deal he is looking for.
Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee: Has a bad reputation for being a dirty player, but he is still a talented player who could be a difference maker.
LaRon Landry, Washington: If he can prove he’s healthy, Landry will get a ton of interest.
So who do you want the Denver Broncos to target once free agency begins?