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It’s never too early to start talking about free agency

The NFL season is coming to an end and the talk about free agency is starting to catch fire.

Though some of the elite players will not reach the point where they will officially become a free agent, the thought of making big money elsewhere is still in their mind.

For those NFL teams that need elite defensive players, this is their off-season to possibly get them. But this off-season, expect to see a lot of big names change teams.

1. Albert Haynesworth, Defensive Tackle: There is no doubt in my mind that Haynesworth is the best defensive player in the NFL, and the best free agent.

If there is any player that is going to get the money that he wants, it is definitely Haynesworth. When judging a player on skill, athleticism, strength and size, Haynesworth rises to the top of my list.

There are not too many defensive linemen I have seen that can lift a guard and toss him like a sack of potatoes. Haynesworth’s skill and strength is too much for most offensive linemen to handle, and there are no linemen that can seriously matchup against him.

The likelihood of Haynesworth going to another team is slim to none. I believe he wants to play in Tennessee and he will choose to play with the Titans if they offer him enough money. If they do not offer him big money, remember this: money
talks, people walk.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback: If you want to talk about a cover cornerback who scares quarterbacks, Asomugha is that player. He is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, though it is hard to tell because of the team he plays for.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am not a stat guy.

But Asomugha’s stats for the 2008 season are undeniably amazing; I am not one to put too much emphasis on interceptions or passes defended, but what I do look at for cornerbacks are the important stats.

The important stats, in my opinion, are how many passes have been thrown in the cornerback’s direction and how many catches he has allowed. In 14 games this season, Asomugha has had 29 passes thrown his way, and he allowed 9 catches and no touchdowns.

Though the strength of the Oakland Raiders is their defense, I believe Asomugha will end up playing for another team. For the past few seasons the Raiders have put a lot of money into their offense, and I believe they will continue to do so and let Asomugha end up elsewhere.

3. Julius Peppers, Defensive End: Peppers is arguably the most athletic defensive end in the NFL, and you cannot deny that he is an impact player. Peppers has a lot of good football left in him if he stays healthy. If teams are looking for an impact defensive end they will get it with Peppers, but I believe the Panthers will give Peppers the money he deserves.

4. Matt Birk, Center: I am an offensive line enthusiast, and when I heard that Birk was a free agent, I knew he was my number one offensive linemen on my list.
Some people may say that left tackle Jordan Gross is the best offensive linemen free agent; I would have to kindly disagree with them. Gross is an overrated player who had a great season, but Birk is the anchor of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. I think that Birk will be re-signed by the Vikings.

5. T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Wide Receiver: When Chad Johnson and Chris Henry started giving the Cincinnati Bengals trouble on the field and off the field, Houshmanzadeh stepped up to the challenge of being their number one receiver, and he delivered.

Though his 2008 season was not as impressive as his 2007 season, it had nothing to do with his performance going downhill; it had more to do with the Bengals’ problems off the field that showed on the field.

I predict that Houshmanzadeh will not re-sign with the Bengals, they seem to be going in different directions. Expect the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks to make a run after Houshmanzadeh.