Below is a breakdown of some of the biggest offensive names that will be free agents at the end of the 2007 season. Bearsgab.com Site Editor Russell Loede breaks down the top 15. Here are numbers eight though 15, with 1 through 7 being posted yesterday.
8. Vernand Morency Packers RB: New Deal – This former Oklahoma State standout has proved nothing at the professional level. As a collegiate player he was a big threat to break a game wide open, in the NFL Morency is nothing more than a scatback. If he does not improve and start all 16 games for Green Bay, they will not keep him for next year.
Worth after ’07 – Morency will get outplayed by a rookie again (Lundy in Houston during ’06) and will be unsigned and will only be brought in as a third-down back at best. So far in his career he has been an insurance option and that will not cut it if he wants a big deal and starting job.
9. L.J. Smith Eagles TE: New Deal – This pass-catching TE is a reliable target for Donovan McNabb. He will put up another solid year and stay healthy, making him a must sign in the off-season.
Worth after ’07 – Look for Smith to be re-upped just like Cooley and stay an Eagle for a while. A former Scarlet Knight and big red zone option for Andy Reid’s offense, Smith will be a mainstay in Philly like Keith Jackson was.
10. Rex Grossman Bears QB: New Deal – After last year’s inconsistent, mistake-filled performance, Rex will have to wait for a new contract in the off-season. There is no way the Bears re-sign him becomes he is unreliable. The Bears will give him a new deal only if he helps lead them to an 11-12-win season along with at least a playoff win. Expect him to move a step up and reach the next level because there is too many weapons and talent around him.
Worth after ’07 – Make or break year for Grossman, so his worth will either be valuable or nothing of worth for the Chicago Bears. I expect him too improve a lot and have big year or fall flat on his face. He is an all or nothing, go for broke, go all the way type of a QB. #8 will stay with the Bears for another 2-3 years at least, and if not, he will find work elsewhere as a backup.
11. Bernard Berrian Bears WR: New Deal – The Bears have other players to dish out contract extensions to. (Harris and Tillman) Berrian will have to wait patiently for a new deal next year and will get the money he wants. Berrian improved tremendously, as he stepped up to the role of being the Bears best WR and deep threat. He is speedy and has good hands.
Worth after ’07 – He will sign for a decent-sized contract with the Bears and might be better off going elsewhere for more money and an expanded role. Berrian will go for 1,000 yards in ’07 and earn a long-term to stay in Chicago. He is the key to the Bears offense; stretching defenses and forcing secondaries to stay honest, preventing the eight-man front, keeping d-backs out of the box, back into coverage to defend the deep ball.
12. D.J. Hackett Seahaws WR: New Deal – This one is a no-brainer for Holmgren and Co. Hackett is a young, up and coming WR that has good size, deceptive speed, and good hands to become the #1 target for Hasselbeck. He will never be a Top 10 WR or open your eyes with the spectacular play like a Berrian does. He is more of a possession receiver and a nice pass catcher.
Worth after ’07 – Seattle’s receivers are few and productive after Branch and Hackett, so expect D.J. to get a big deal he might not deserve just yet. He is very young but has a promising future as a Seahawk, I expect Seattle to protect this WR, paying him top dollar next year as he develops into an every-down option for Hasselbeck.
13. Byron Leftwich Jaguars QB: New Deal – Exect Jacksonville to lay off the contract talks unless Leftwich outperforms the likes of Manning, Brees, Brady, Bulger, McNabb, Palmer, or other elite QB’s. He is still too injury-prone and the Jags might take a chance on another QB in the Draft of ’08 or go with Garrard at a cheaper price. He will be the most interesting of the FA’s this year if the Jags choose not to sign him. They expect a lot out of him as a former Top 10 pick out of Marshall. Someone will take a chance on him, (not necessarily as a big investment) putting a solid offense line around him, and surrounding him with good WR’s, envisioning him as the top notch QB Jacksonville once thought he was.
Worth after ’07- Leftwich, no matter what team he signs with, the uniform should not change because he has too much talent and leadership ability to be that QB who gets tossed around from team to team his whole career. He will develop into a franchise QB and soon prove his critics wrong and Jacksonville, if they let him go. The Top 5 QB potential is still there and may be tapped into once he’s let go by the Jags.
14. Devery Henderson Saints WR: New Deal – This LSU product, drafted as a 2nd round draft WR in â€˜04 averaged over 23 yards per catch in ’07! Henderson is a big-play WR with loads of potential ready to be realized. He is capable of becoming the starter opposite of Marques Colston for years to come. Look for Henderson to produce better #s, having more impact then Colston this season, while showing the Saints why he’s worth a big deal. Soon, Henderson might be the Saints new #1 WR, shocking the NFL world like Colston in 2006.
Worth after ’07 – Henderson will be considered a top priority of New Orleans after DE Will Smith’s contract is done in 2008. He is a speedy deep threat like Bernard Berrian and will get big $ from the Saints or another NFL team. He is a worthy #2 WR and is valuable to the Saints offense.
15. Drew Carter Panthers WR: New Deal – This young, unproven, former Ohio State WR has big-play potential also and can become the #2 WR Carolina has been looking for – opposite of All-Pro Steve Smith. Carter has to put up decent stats and have a good year scoring 5-7 touchdowns and catching 40-50 passes in ’07.
Worth after ’07 – Carter will not get top dollars like other WR’s but will get re-signed by the Panthers if he has even a subpar year. If you look past Smith and Jarrett, Carolina has no one ready to contribute every week and be there for QB Jake Delhomme. Carter is a player ready to break through and make sure teams don’t single cover him anymore week in and week out.