|Greg Jennings, Reggie Bush and Paul Kruger (from left to right) are three players generating buzz in free agency.|
I loathe the NFL's "legal tampering" period. Everyone is being so careful -- it's boring. We are here to spice it up.
Forget the rumors and the innuendos. We are going to play matchmaker, Schein Nine style, and tell you what should happen. If the players, agents and teams involved have any clue, they will follow my advice.
1) The Detroit Lions should sign Reggie Bush
Do yourself a favor, if possible ... Forget about the majestic collegiate career Bush had at USC that made him the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Forget about all of the expectations.
Reggie Bush is a good, solid running back in the NFL. As it turned out, it was smart for him to leave the New Orleans Saints after winning a Super Bowl with them; he became more of a featured back with the Miami Dolphins.
Bush is not a back built to carry the ball 25 to 30 times a game. But he's more than capable of logging 20 carries per contest and being a legit receiver out of the backfield. Bush also has matured and become a true leader and worker.
The Lions are a bit of a mess, as we documented at the end of last season. With Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the Lions will never be a run-first team. They have bruising back Mikel Leshoure, but they still need help (and variance) at the position. Bush can fill that void while giving Detroit a needed boost in the leadership department.
2) The St. Louis Rams should make an offer to Victor Cruz
Colleague Chris Wesseling astutely pointed out at the end of last week that St. Louis has two first-round picks after last offseason's deal with the Washington Redskins (the Robert Griffin III trade). The Rams can make Cruz, a restricted free agent, a gigantic financial offer while still picking a player in Round 1 of April's draft. St. Louis is desperate for help at receiver to aid Sam Bradford.
For the record, I think Cruz wants to stay with the New York Giants, and I think Big Blue general manager Jerry Reese would match any offer made to the talented pass catcher. But if I'm Rams GM Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher, I'd get involved with Cruz in a big way and give him an offer that makes the Giants pause.
3) Andy Levitre would be great for the Tennessee Titans
When we talked to Chris Johnson on SiriusXM at the Super Bowl, he made it clear he had no use for his offensive line. While it was certainly inappropriate for the running back to make those comments in a public forum, his evaluation was spot on.
4) The Miami Dolphins could use Charles Woodson
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was a longtime assistant for the Green Bay Packers. He understands Woodson is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Yes, at age 36, Woodson is in the twilight of his career, but he is still a big-time playmaker. Philbin also understands -- more than most -- what Woodson brings to the table with his amazing leadership. Think back to "Hard Knocks." Bush, Jake Long and Karlos Dansby were on Philbin's leadership committee. Bush and Long could leave via free agency. And Woodson is much more decorated anyway.
5) Dwight Freeney and the New York Giants: a perfect match
After interviewing Freeney, I'm convinced he really wants to sign with either the Giants or New England Patriots. He grew up in Connecticut. He grew up as a diehard Giants fan. He wants to play for a contender and be back in the Northeast.
Freeney, as we have written before, still has gas left in the tank. He would fill the void likely to be left by Osi Umenyiora as a pass rusher and add some needed accountability to a team that collapsed last season.
6) Dashon Goldson should pick the Arizona Cardinals
Longtime outstanding safety Adrian Wilson was released. It was time. Wilson is an all-time Cardinal, but he's no longer the same player he once was. Arizona will be in on all of the safeties out there, looking for somebody to pair with Kerry Rhodes. Goldson is a big-time player, earning first-team All-Pro honors this past season. (Yes, I voted for him.) He feels disrespected by the San Francisco 49ers, dangling out here without a deal. So he should stick it back to San Francisco by signing with the rival Cardinals, helping to make them a true contender again.
The best and worst free-agent signings of the last five years: AFC. The Associated Press compiled a list of the best and the worst free-agent signings over the past five seasons for each team. Have a look at the AFC teams' best and worst.
7) Dannell Ellerbe fits the Cleveland Browns
Personally, I think the Ravens should re-sign the 27-year-old linebacker, but they have some restraints. Ellerbe is an up-and-coming player. Cleveland has the money. New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton should be an attraction for defenders. I think Ellerbe would make an immediate impact for the new regime in Cleveland.
8) Paul Kruger (or Connor Barwin) to the Indianapolis Colts
I put Kruger on my list of the riskiest free agents for all of the right reasons. But the Colts have the money and the need. Most importantly, Kruger played for Colts head coach Chuck Pagano when he was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator. Pagano knows what Kruger can do and what his limitations are. Kruger can get to the quarterback and provide know-how to a young Colts D. That could be worth the price alone.
When I interviewed Barwin, he made it clear that he wants to play for a winner. Re-upping with the Houston Texans is his first priority, but Barwin stressed that he thought he'd fit in with the Patriots or Colts. I think New England is more likely to go the Mike DeVito or Freeney route. Barwin is a good player coming off of a down year. He can play the 3-4 in Indianapolis.
If I asked you 365 days ago whether Barwin or Kruger was the better player, what would you have said?
9) Greg Jennings belongs with the Miami Dolphins
I read the tea leaves -- and colleague Jeff Darlington's work at NFL.com. I know Mike Wallace likely is headed to the Fins. But as I wrote last week, I think he is a major risk and personally wouldn't touch him.
Meanwhile, I view Jennings as a No. 1 receiver. He played for Philbin in Green Bay. He would add professionalism and class -- stuff Wallace lacks, in my mind.
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.