2012 Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2012.
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Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Age: 25. Franchised by Ravens
I don't need to tell you how great Ray Rice is. For the third year in a row, Rice has tallied at least 1,225 rushing yards, 63 catches and 550 receiving yards. He even scored a career-high 15 touchdowns in 2011. He'll be franchised.
Arian Foster (RFA), RB, Texans. Age: 26. Re-signed with Texans (5 years, $43.5 million)
Arian Foster is one of the top running backs in the NFL. He can do it all, and he proved that his 1,600 rushing yards in 2010 weren't a fluke by totaling 1,224 rushing yards and 53 receptions in 13 games this past season.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears. Age: 26. Franchised by Bears
Matt Forte was having an All-Pro season before suffering an MCL sprain right after Thanksgiving. In just 12 contests, he rushed for 997 yards (4.9 YPC) and caught 52 balls for 490 receiving yards. With no holes in his game, he's one of the top running backs in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Age: 26. Re-signed with Seahawks (4 years, $32 million; $18 million guaranteed)
Marshawn Lynch is a tough one to rank. Based on what he did this year, he deserves 4.5 stars, but his lacking effort for most of 2010 and prior is alarming. Will he slack off after receiving a new contract like Chris Johnson, or will he continue to terrorize defenses with his punishing running ability? Caveat emptor, Seahawks.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders. Age: 28. Signed with Bears (4 years, $14 million)
Michael Bush will be overrated on the market. He wore down as the season went along, and he didn't even start the whole year or anything. That's a big red flag.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers. Age: 26. Signed with Panthers (4 years)
If you play fantasy football, you know about Mike Tolbert. He is a power runner with solid pass-catching ability.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions. Age: 25. Signed with Lions (1 year)
There's no denying that Kevin Smith is really talented, but he's way too injury-prone and unreliable. He's lucky to make it through each week.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers. Age: 29.
Ryan Grant doesn't have much left in the tank. He's a committee back at best going forward.
Kahlil Bell, RB, Bears. Age: 25. Tendered by Bears
I liked what I saw out of Kahlil Bell late in the year. He collects a good number of yards after contact, displays great vision and patience, and picks up his blocking assignments well. He can also catch passes out of the backfield.
Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins. Age: 26. Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
Tim Hightower is a pretty mediocre running back with solid receiving skills, but he's coming off a torn ACL.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Age: 26. Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $3 million)
Peyton Hillis is a tough runner with good pass-catching ability when healthy, but the problem is that he's always banged up. He's just way too unreliable, and his fumbling issues don't help.
Update: Hillis reportedly has thought about quitting football to become a CIA agent. Umm... what? Teams will definitely question his dedication.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals. Age: 29. Signed with Packers
Cedric Benson can be a solid backup running back at this point of his career, but that's about it. Despite playing behind a really good offensive line, he couldn't even rush for four yards per carry.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants. Age: 30. Signed with 49ers (1 year)
Brandon Jacobs had some good games down the stretch, but he averaged 3.8 YPC for the year. He'll be 30 in July, and considering his running style and ineptness in the passing game, he could be close to done.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bengals (3 years)
Steve Slaton, RB, Dolphins. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Dolphins (1 year)
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks. Age: 26. -- Signed with Texans
I can't imagine the Pats trading JG for anything less than a 1st round pick. We're talking about a potential starting/franchise QB here who is game ready, looked great when he had the chance to play. He is probably a better prospect than any QB in this draft class. Given the fact that Brady is 39 and nobody knows for sure how many more years he decides to play, the Pats may want to hang onto him for at least another season while he's still under contract. I can't see the Pats giving him up cheap and I can see teams in need of a QB giving up a mid-late 1st round pick. Considering what some teams have given up just to move up a few spots in the draft for a QB, a 1st round pick seems pretty reasonable.