With the NFL Scouting Combine now in the rearview, attention quickly will shift to free agency, which begins March 13. Several notable players are on the impending free-agent list, but big names don't always equal big bucks. Who are some noteworthy players who will find a soft market for their services?
Peyton Hillis could go from Madden cover boy to someone looking for the kind of deal he thinks he's worth. Teams have struggled to come to terms with giving even the very best backs in this league big money, so for someone coming off a lost season with off-field concerns, finding a lucrative contract will prove tough.
At John Abraham's age, getting the kind of deal befitting his sack totals might be tricky, as well. A few big-money veteran offensive linemen who have yet to be released, but could well be -- Steve Hutchinson and Marcus McNeill -- may have a hard time getting much up-front money due to age and/or injury.
Two of the players who I see being disappointed in the money and interest they will receive are:
» Falcons DE John Abraham. Pass rushers traditionally make money, but Abraham's age (turning 34 in May) and injury history will keep his market down.
There doesn't seem to be a ton of buzz right now for Saints wide receiver Marques Colston. He is a very good and valuable wide receiver, but people have told me that they're not quite sure how good he'd be with another team. There will be a team that will be willing to pay him, but maybe not more than the Saints.
- Jason Smith NFL.com
Hillis, Smith, Jackson and Colston all face hurdles
There will be a tremendously soft market for Peyton Hillis. He may fall through a cloud and onto a stack of cotton balls and toilet paper made out of memory foam. However, I think he could be a steal, since you'd probably be able to get him on the cheap after his public relations nightmare from last season. He has the talent. He's a tough, cold-weather runner who would fit in for either New York team, Pittsburgh, Green Bay or even Cincinnati -- a team that desires more of a 1-2 punch in the backfield going forward.
It'll also be pretty soft for Alex Smith, who will find himself back with San Francisco as both sides realize they're the best fit for each other. No one thinks they're an Alex Smith away from a title except the 49ers, because he's not a QB you can trust to throw the ball and win games by himself. I doubt his agent fields one phone call from outside the 415 area code.
It's also going to be softer than expected for Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston. Both are approaching 30 and have different questions surrounding them. Jackson's best days might be behind him. And with Colston, no one has left New Orleans in the Drew Brees era and lit up the stat sheet. They'll both get paid, but it won't be superstar money.