On Football

Buyer’s guide to NFL free agency

Where are the best bargains on the league’s annual open market?

Peyton Manning, center, has become the most sought-after free agent in recent NFL history. Last week he toured the Broncos’ facility with executive vice president of football operations John Elway, left, and coach John Fox.
John Leyba/The Denver Post/AP
Peyton Manning, center, has become the most sought-after free agent in recent NFL history. Last week he toured the Broncos’ facility with executive vice president of football operations John Elway, left, and coach John Fox

The Globe’s Greg A. Bedard takes a look at some of the top free agents available. Teams can begin signing players Tuesday at 4 p.m. Players are listed with age, height, and weight.



Peyton Manning, Colts, 35, 6-5, 230 He’ll turn 36 this month. If he’s healthy, a team is getting a Hall of Famer with four good years left. That never happens.

Alex Smith, 49ers, 27, 6-4, 217 On his way back to San Francisco, where he revived his career under coach Jim Harbaugh.


Matt Flynn, Packers, 26, 6-2, 225 Impressive in two career starts, but so was Kevin Kolb, and Kolb’s current team, the Cardinals, are going after Manning.

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Kyle Orton, Chiefs, 29, 6-4, 225 Has won consistently, he just won’t wow you.

Chad Henne, Dolphins, 26, 6-3, 230 Showed a lot of improvement before being placed on injured reserved.


Cedric Benson, Bengals, 29, 5-11, 227

Since being a bust in Chicago, picked up a lot of miles in Cincinnati behind a poor line.

Peyton Hillis, Browns, 26, 6-2, 250

Had a breakout 2010 season before injuries and possible attitude and contract problems hit.

Michael Bush, Raiders, 27, 6-1, 245


Didn’t look like a No. 1 back last season, but still has speed to be good change of pace.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff
BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be available to other teams as a free agent.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 26, Patriots, 5-11, 215 Solid, dependable and has never fumbled, but not elusive.

Mike Tolbert, Chargers, 26, 5-9, 243, Can play halfback and fullback, but has had problems with drops and fumbles.


Vincent Jackson, Chargers, 29, 6-5, 230 Terrific size and speed combination that is tough to defend.

*Mike Wallace, Steelers, 25, 6-0, 199 Tendered by Steelers Monday. Terrific speed makes him one of the game’s top deep threats. Is he ready to be a No. 1?


Marques Colston, Saints, 28, 6-4, 225 Some think he’s a product of the Saints’ system, and two knee surgeries is a worry.

Josh Morgan, 49ers, 26, 6-1, 215 NFL people know he is one of the most underrated players. About to take next step.

Reggie Wayne, Colts, 33, 6-0, 198 Doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s still an elite player because of smarts.


Joel Dreessen, Texans, 29, 6-4, 245 Caught six touchdown passes in a contract year. Solid all-round but will be 30 in July.

Martellus Bennett, 25, Cowboys, 6-6, 270 A phenomenal athlete who has had focus and maturity issues.

John Carlson, Seahawks, 27, 6-5, 251 An underrated athlete who is coming off shoulder surgery.

Jacob Tamme, Colts, 26, 6-3, 236 Had 67 receptions when Peyton Manning was healthy in 2010. Turns 27 Thursday.

Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings, 31, 6-4, 250 When healthy, has been a solid player but he’ll be 32 in June.


Jared Gaither, Chargers, 25, 6-9, 340 The talent has never been questioned, but his attitude has. When he’s right, he’s really good. He’ll be 26 this month.

Eric Winston, Texans, 28, 6-7, 302 Puzzling that Houston released one of the league’s top right tackles.

Demetrius Bell, Bills, 27, 6-5, 311 Was having a terrific season before injuries took toll last season.

Anthony Collins, Bengals, 26, 6-5, 315 An up-and-coming pass blocker who simply doesn’t have a spot with Bengals.

Jeff Backus, Lions, 34, 6-5, 305 Dependable veteran could find a home when injuries strike in training camp.

Kareem McKenzie, Giants, 32, 6-6, 330 Helped the Giants to two Super Bowls.


Carl Nicks, Saints, 26, 6-5, 343 One of the league’s top guards, should have plenty of suitors.

Chris Myers, Texans, 30, 6-4, 289 Had a terrific season as the focal point of Houston’s terrific running game.

Scott Wells, Packers, 31, 6-2, 300 Rugged veteran who has consistently improved. A little small, but plays with a nasty edge.

Evan Mathis, Eagles, 30, 6-5, 302 Finally given a chance to start last season and he delivered.

Ben Grubbs, Ravens, 28, 6-3, 310 Former first-round pick has not dominated like he was supposed to, but solid.



Red Bryant, Seahawks, 27, 6-4, 323 A really good player that doesn’t get much press. Can also play end.

Jason Jones, Titans, 25, 6-5, 276 Has had durability issues and he has to be in a one-gap system.

Paul Soliai, Dolphins, 28, 6-4, 355 Nose tackle went to the Pro Bowl and is a rugged run stuffer.

Brodrick Bunkley, Broncos, 28, 6-2, 306 Terrific against the run but didn’t play against the pass for Denver.

Antonio Garay, Chargers, 32, 6-4, 320 Boston College product manned the nose well in spurts, and played well against Patriots.


Mario Williams, Texans, 27, 6-6, 283 Former top overall pick is a great athlete that can stand up; he isn’t Julius Peppers.

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Would the Patriots make a run at Mario Williams?

John Abraham, Falcons, 33, 6-4, 263 Age is definitely a factor, but he still one of the top situational pass rushers.

Jeremy Mincey, Jaguars, 28, 6-3, 270 Former Patriots’ sixth-round pick has battled injuries but 13 sacks past two seasons should land him a big contract.

Andre Carter, Patriots, 32, 6-4, 255 Was terrific against run and pass last season. Age, leg surgery might cause teams to tread lightly.

Mark Anderson, Patriots, 28, 6-4, 255 Revived career with 10 sacks in a part-time role. Probably looking to cash in while getting is good.


Stephen Tulloch, Lions, 27, 5-11, 240 Small but active against run and pass. Teams that are playing 4-3 will come running.

David Hawthorne, Seahawks, 26, 6-0, 246 Didn’t quite match his 2010 season. Has played inside and outside.

Curtis Lofton, Falcons, 25, 6-0, 241 Liability against the pass, which is why Atlanta is letting a good player test the market.

London Fletcher, Redskins, 36, 5-10, 245 At some point he’s going to play his age, but hasn’t yet, starting 16 games for 11 straight seasons.

Jameel McClain, Ravens, 26, 6-1, 245 Was a decent player trying to make a name in Ray Lewis’s shadow.


Jarret Johnson, Ravens, 30, 6-3, 260 One of best strong-side backers against run and can also cover. Zero pass rush.

Erin Henderson, Vikings, 25, 6-3, 244 Minnesota is trying to sign this solid player so he doesn’t hit the market.

Leroy Hill, Seahawks, 29, 6-1, 238 Plays a lot of snaps because he is a plus run defender and solid against the pass.

Manny Lawson, Bengals, 27, 6-5, 240 Has played outside in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes in his career, and can also play with hand down.

Wesley Woodyard, Broncos, 25, 6-0, 229 Special teams and coverage standout who isn’t big enough to play every down.


Cortland Finnegan, Titans, 28, 5-10, 188 Tough, physical, can make plays from the nickel, slot position.

*Lardarius Webb, Ravens, 26, 5-10, 182 Has terrific upside, the type of talent that could garner an offer sheet.

Brandon Carr, Chiefs, 25, 6-0, 207 Puzzling why a team with such cap room would let a talented player test the market.

Carlos Rogers, 49ers, 30, 6-0, 192 Finally delivered on his talent last season. Can he do it elsewhere?

Aaron Ross, Giants, 29, 6-0, 190 Former first-round pick improved last season but is still inconsistent.


LaRon Landry, Redskins, 27, 6-0, 220 Former sixth overall pick limited to 17 games past two seasons with injuries.

Reggie Nelson, Bengals, 28, 5-11, 206 Never know what you’re going to get from Jaguars’ former first-round pick. A weak group.

Dwight Lowery, Jaguars, 26, 5-11, 198 Former Jet played well for Jacksonville through injuries.

Brodney Pool, Jets, 27, 6-2, 214 Functioned as third safety for Rex Ryan but could be a starter elsewhere.

Abram Elam, Cowboys, 30, 6-0, 212 Started all 16 games for the Cowboys and was solid yet unspectacular.

* Restricted free agent in which draft pick compensation is required.