Some of the best playmakers in the NFL could be changing uniforms in 2013.
Free agency officially began on March 12, and there has already been a few marquee names on the move. The Baltimore Ravens traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, who they defeated in the Super Bowl. The Minnesota Vikings moved their top wide receiver, sending Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. There are also rumors that the New York Jets will deal Darrelle Revis by the end of the week.
Other than trades, some of the best players at skill positions have been meeting with teams, hoping to sign long-term contracts. Salary cap restrictions could force the league’s top clubs to let one of their top players go elsewhere.
Below are three of the top free agents that could be on the move in the 2013 offseason.
The UMass product has been the New York Giants best wide receiver for the past two years, but there’s a chance he won’t be with the club next season. Cruz is a restricted free agent, and the two sides have been unable to agree on a multi-year contract.
On Monday, owner John Mara announced that the team would apply a tender to Cruz, making him eligible to sign a one-year, $2.879 million contract for 2013. Cruz can sign an offer sheet from another team, and if the Giants don’t choose to match it, his new club would be forced to give their first-round pick to New York as compensation.
Restricted free agents don’t usually change teams in the NFL. Mike Wallace signed a similar deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, and reportedly just signed a $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. However, there are a couple of teams that could throw some money at the receiver.
The St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings both have two picks in the first round, and are in need of a wide out. The Vikings recently lost their top wide receiver, and the Rams didn’t have anyone top the 700-yard mark in 2012.
Few wide receivers have been as productive as Welker in the past few years, averaging 112 catches a season. The New England Patriots are still not close to re-signing the Pro Bowler.
Welker will be a hot commodity on the open market, and he might command a big contract that the Patriots are unwilling to match. He’s older than players like Wallace of Dwayne Bowe, but those receivers got offers of more than $10 million per season.
There have been rumors that the 49ers want to bring in Welker, but the recent acquisition of Boldin could affect the 49ers' level of interest.
The Denver Broncos have emerged as the leading candidate to sign Welker. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the two sides are enaged in "serious talks." Teaming Welker with Peyton Manning would improve the Broncos, who are already one of the favorites in the AFC.
The running back struggled during stretches with the New Orleans Saints due to injury and a crowded backfield, but Bush’s last two years in Miami have made him a highly sought after free agent. He has rushed for more than 2,000 yards combined in the past two seasons and is looking to secure a feature-back role.
With the Dolphins, Bush was forced to share carries with the likes of Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. It appears he won’t be returning to Miami, and is headed to a team that will give him even more opportunities to make plays.
According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Detroit Lions are offering Bush a chance to be their No.1 running back with a four-year deal. The USC product has met with Detroit, who reportedly has told him held be a full-time player.
The Lions seem to be in the lead to sign Bush, but the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals are also possible destinations for the rusher. The Redskins might intrigue Bush, who is the only team of the three to make the playoffs in 2012.