|Paul Spinelli / Associated Press|
|Cullen Jenkins helped the Pack win a title, but he's one of many vets who could change addresses this offseason.|
Whenever football resumes, there will be a flurry of player activity as teams that didn't acquire what they needed in the draft -- or simply don't trust a rookie to fill a void -- will broker trades and speed date through free agency. Although we don't know the rules and can't presume what players will be able to test the open market, there will be plenty of movement.
One of the best moves a team can make is retaining its own talent. Depending on the salary cap, some teams could find that hard. The Packers would love to keep defensive end Cullen Jenkins, one of the most underrated players in the NFL. With 3-4 defensive linemen in demand, his price tag in free agency could get too high, though, and he could be wearing different colors.
That is where we'll start in listing 10 deals that need to be made before the 2011 season.
Redskins should pony up for Jenkins
Okay, so he plays the same position as Albert Haynesworth -- but he actually plays the position, willingly and well. Jenkins is a man, who, at the five-technique end, swallows tackles and tight ends and any other form of double teams. His disruptive nature against the pass is hard to match as well.
The Redskins need to find the right personnel for their 3-4 front and they've got two outside linebackers in Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan who could develop into a problematic tandem. Jenkins could help their growth and impact. Remember, he's a guy who occupied blockers so Clay Matthews could do his thing in Green Bay.
Arizona needs to deal for Kevin Kolb
By not drafting a quarterback, the Cardinals tipped their hand that they'll be in the trade market for Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton. However, Kolb should be the guy. Sure, they'll have to probably give up a first- or second-round pick and sign him to a fairly sizeable contract, but Kolb has more Matt Schaub to him than A.J. Feely.
While there's talk about the Cardinals looking to move for Marc Bulger, he's at the end of his career (sure, we thought the same thing about Kurt Warner but lightening striking twice?). Though Kolb is unproven, he's a leader and his teammates in Philadelphia followed him and respected him. That's what Arizona needs from its quarterback more than anything.
Bucs should add veterans on defense
Tampa Bay has built a good, young roster but it needs some veteran muscle. Backing up the Brink's truck to pay Nnamdi Asomugha could be worthy. The Saints have multiple dangerous receivers and the Falcons just added Julio Jones to torment defenses with Roddy White. With Aqib Talib's career in legal/professional peril and Ronde Barber possible playing his last season, Asomugha would be a strong investment.
Even though Nick Barnett is still under contract with the Packers and might need to be acquired in a trade, Green Bay has committed to A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop at inside linebacker, making Barnett the odd man out. Whether he's cut and hits the free-agent market or can only be had in a trade, the Bucs should make a move. Longtime MLB Barrett Ruud is an excellent player, but Barnett provides a tad more nastiness at the point of attack and a fresh approach behind a young defensive line.
Broncos turn to familiar faces for help
If the Bucs don't re-sign Ruud, who's wanted a new deal for years, he could be a nice fit in Denver alongside rookie outside linebacker Von Miller. Ruud is a tackling machine that can pursue sideline to sideline. Coach John Fox has coached against him enough to know how much Ruud could help the Broncos.
As for familiarity, Fox almost certainly has to be toying with the notion of signing Carolina free-agent running back DeAngelo Williams. I have spoken to enough people to know that Denver will be adding a running back and Williams would be a rugged complement to Knowshon Moreno.
Sproles spells relief in St. Louis
Steven Jackson has been the workhorse in St. Louis for years. Soon, the wear and tear is going to catch up. Signing running back Darren Sproles could take some of the pounding off Jackson and give the Rams some needed big-play punch out of the backfield and the return game. Sproles averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season in San Diego -- 1.5 yards more per carry than Jackson. He also caught 59 passes and is a major threat in the return game. His big-play ability, especially on special teams, could shorten the field for an offense that will be changing identities under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. If the Rams bypass Sproles, free agent Jerious Norwood could be a much cheaper option.
Monster comes to the Midway
It's unlikely that Atlanta would let offensive tackle Tyson Clabo escape, but if his price tag gets too rich, it could happen. Chicago should be one of the teams to push Clabo's price up to where it's the only team left in the hunt. Though Clabo is a right tackle and isn't the greatest pass blocker, he is a mauler who is known as one of the nastiest players in the NFL. His merciless attitude permeates and adding that type of toughness to a unit in dire need of it might keep the Bears in the thick of things.
Vikings need to re-sign Rice
Though Sidney Rice has had his share of injury woes, Minnesota can't mess around. It needs to bring him back. The big-bodied wide receiver is a difference-maker that a young quarterback like Christian Ponder needs. Sure, the Vikings have Percy Harvin, but his history of migraine headaches could limit him from time to time. What else is there on the edge? Plus, Harvin works much better in the slot. With Rice out, the offense became forced and predictable last season. If the Vikings let Rice walk, they better be ready for the Bears or some other rival to scoop him up and give their so-so secondary fits.
Harper could be Jags' safety net
The last image we have of Saints safety Roman Harper isn't good. He got torched in a playoff loss to Seattle. That had to be one of the worst games he ever played, though, and it's far from the norm. While Harper isn't great in coverage, he's usually pretty good. He is a sound tackler and a monster when allowed to blitz. That's just what Jacksonville needs. The opportunity to possibly sign a player who is solid in most aspects of the game and an enforcer in the open field could be too sweet to overlook.
If it's close, Jets should re-sign Holmes
New York has a lot of salaries to pay and it might not have enough coin to bring back wide receivers Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith and Santonio Holmes. Edwards delivered more yards per catch last season and is a very good player, but Holmes is a tad more versatile and seems to make tough catch after tough catch. It's hard to ever forget what he did as Super Bowl XLIII MVP with the Steelers. Holmes also could come at a reduced price compared to Edwards.
Benson and J.J. back to the 'Nati
It's all but a foregone conclusion that the Bengals will re-sign running back Cedric Benson. That would be wise -- if they plan to let him pound the ball consistently behind an offensive line built to grind. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph is an ideal player in Mike Zimmer's scheme and he'd be very hard to replace. Cincy can't afford to lose a top-notch cornerback in a division that's pretty stacked at receiver.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.