Best fits for top NFL free agents

Where Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Peyton Manning, others could land

Updated: March 13, 2012, 12:52 PM ET
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Mario Williams/Vincent JacksonAP Photo/Getty ImagesMario Williams and Vincent Jackson should be highly desired free agents.

Insider free agency preview:

Top 50 free agents | Best fits for top FAs | Riskiest FAs | Best values | Five teams for Mario Williams | Vincent Jackson | Six teams in danger in FA

We're just a few days away from the start of NFL free agency. It won't be as fast and furious as last year, but some quality big-name players will be changing teams. We're spending a lot of time trying to figure out who will end up where, so Football Outsiders decided to take some time to figure out who should end up where.

There are many considerations in figuring out the best fit for a free agent. It needs to be a team with a hole at the position; it needs to be a team where the player fits the scheme; it needs to be a team with some cap space; and most free agents would certainly prefer, all other things (i.e., money) being equal, to sign with a team that's a playoff contender.

It was hard to pick the top free agents, and we know that some good players, such as DeSean Jackson and Paul Soliai, were left off our list. We didn't consider players who were franchised or re-signed by their current teams, such as Matt Forte, Drew Brees and Wes Welker. We also left out restricted free agents, although it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see a few teams willing to lose a first-round pick in order to bring in Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace.

One other thing to remember: Neither the Giants nor the Patriots spent money on one of the top free agents of the 2011 offseason. They filled holes with cheaper players such as David Baas and Andre Carter. So you don't need to sign one of these guys to make it to Super Bowl XLVII.


DE Mario Williams: Tennessee Titans


To see the best fits for top NFL free agents such as Mario Williams, Peyton Manning and Stevie Johnson, sign up for ESPN Insider.