Top 10 NFL Free Agents Still On The Market
Who are the Best Players on the NFL Free Agent Market?
As we go through the early weeks of the 2013 NFL season, just like every season, there are going to be players on rosters across the league who are going to get injured or deliver disappointing performances. There's going to be a huge amount of worry from those teams' fans, and to some extent their personnel departments, and rumors will start popping up about players who could re-emerge and help teams out.
Perhaps the most hectic situation like this thus far has been with the New York Giants' running back situation. Last week, starter David Wilson, who was the team's first-rounder in the 2012 NFL Draft, fumbled twice, struggled as a pass-blocker, and was limited to 19 yards on seven carries. Many speculated that the team would look at 31-year-old back Michael Turner to try to give Wilson some help, but the Giants ended up not having interest. They brought in a pair of 31-year-olds in Willis McGahee and Brandon Jacobs for tryouts, and ultimately signed Jacobs.
As more situations like this continue to occur and players need to be replaced, some teams will undoubtedly take chances on established veterans that don't have jobs. Though some teams have philosophies that dictate that the next man up should be a young player off the practice squad, there are plenty of teams that are willing to give an older player a chance. That being said, not too many of these situations have ended up working out. Some higher-profile players who got similar chances last year included Ryan Grant and Plaxico Burress. Grant signed with both the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers at different points during 2012, yet he only racked up two carries for 18 yards. Burress returned to the Steelers in November as they were losing receivers left and right, yet he failed to make a move up the depth chart and finished with just three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Based on those examples and a few other signings of this sort over the past few years, it would seem that the best bet for an out-of-work veteran is to wait for their former team to become desperate for help at their position. This way, it's a win-win situation, as it is a good PR move for the team and also allows the player to play some football, reflect their knowledge upon the team's younger players and spend what will likely be the final days of their career with the team where they made their name.
Here are the 10 best veteran free agents who are still on the market.
10. Barry Richardson, OT
Richardson is a guy that can help out a team who loses a starting tackle during the season. He's by no means an elite player, but he can step in and get the job done. The 27-year-old is a good run blocker, provides some good size at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, and by all accounts is a good teammate. He's also very durable and started all 16 games last year for the St. Louis Rams. He does have some significant pass-blocking issues, which is probably why he doesn't have a job at this point. However, he's still a good enough player to get a chance at some point this year.
9. Lawrence Jackson, DE
Jackson, the Seattle Seahawks' first-rounder in 2008, was a bust, but he can still be a solid role player as a situational pass-rusher. Jackson, who went to camp with the Minnesota Vikings but got cut during August, had 2.5 sacks last year with the Detroit Lions, and has averaged about four sacks a year over the course of his career. Teams seem to be constantly searching for pass rushing help, so it wouldn't be a shock to see someone bring in Jackson later this season.
8. Josh Cribbs, WR/RS
Cribbs is in a tough spot as an aging return man in a league that doesn't really care about kick returns anymore, but he could still contribute if someone is willing to give him a roster spot. He actually had one of his better seasons as a returner last year, averaging 12 yards per punt return and 27.4 yards per kick return. Unfortunately, it seems that he is no longer a viable option as a wide receiver, where he had 518 yards and four touchdowns back in 2011. Teams don't want to give up a roster spot to a guy who does nothing but return kicks, so Cribbs may have difficulty getting a job.
7. Richard Seymour, DE
Seymour, who is one of the best pass rushers of the past decade but will be 34-years old next month, has probably played the last snaps of his 12-year career. If a team becomes desperate enough, however, maybe they will give the 6-foot-6, 317-pound swingman a chance. He is not much of a run defender anymore, but Seymour was still solid as a pass-rushing defensive tackle last year, registering three sacks. Just two years ago, he had one of his best seasons, playing in every game, totaling 29 tackles and six sacks. Perhaps someone will want to see if he has one last go-round in him.
6. Michael Turner, RB
Turner had the worst season of his career in 2012, and quite frankly it's very unlikely that the 31-year-old will ever be a legitimate contributor to an NFL offense again. Last year, he averaged just 3.6 yards over his 222 carries, making it the first time during his Atlanta Falcons career that he had played in 16 games and didn't rush for at least 1,000 yards. Because of his 5-foot-10, 247-pound build and power rushing style, it's possible that some team may take a chance on him as a goal-line specialist, but with more offenses trending towards passing near the end zone, it's unlikely that anyone will find this type of player necessary.
5. Austin Collie, WR
It really is a shame that Collie can't get a job. The 27-year-old had a very good run with the Indianapolis Colts, catching 16 touchdown passes over 42 games and totaling 1,845 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he has major concussion issues, and though Collie is willing to accept responsibility for them, no team seems willing to bite the bullet. The San Francisco 49ers brought him to camp, and he caught five passes for 51 yards but still failed to make the team. It seems unlikely that Collie will make it back, but receivers like Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress have gotten plenty of additional chances, so you never know.
4. Beanie Wells, RB
It's a bit of a surprise that no one has signed Wells and tried to resurrect his career. The former Arizona Cardinals first-rounder has just four years of experience and is 25-years old. He ran for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011 before having an injury-riddled year last season. There are obviously health concerns with Wells, and he's really only had one great season, but it still seems too early to give up on him. He's one of the players on this list who seems more likely to find a job during the season.
3. Willis McGahee, RB
McGahee is a huge unknown at this point. He seemed to be close to done as his tenure with the Baltimore Ravens wound down, seeing as his rushing totals steadily decreased every year that he was there. However, McGahee resurrected himself with the Denver Broncos in 2011 and had his first 1,000-yard rushing season in four years. Last year, he seemed to be on track for another great season before he injured his knee. There still seems to be injury concerns surrounding him at this point, and he was passed over by the New York Giants in favor of Brandon Jacobs following a tryout last week. There's probably not going to be a huge need around the league for running backs over 30, so it may be time for McGahee to hang it up.
2. Brandon Lloyd, WR
Lloyd has been a pretty effective player over his career, but his eccentric personality seems to be preventing him from getting a job. It says something that the receiver-starved New England Patriots cut him this offseason despite the fact that he had 74 catches for 911 yards last year. It's probably not a coincidence that Lloyd has played for six different teams during his 10-year NFL career. There are signs that he may not have much interest in football. Lloyd has reportedly turned down at least six teams who have shown interest in him this offseason. It was recently revealed that he's begun an acting career, and he has long shown interest in beginning a rap career. Lloyd probably is done with his football days and ready to become an entertainer.
1. Kerry Rhodes, S
Rhodes has a controversial case that has been gaining steam as he has continued to go without a job. The 31-year-old had 67 tackles and four interceptions a year ago, and was rated the league's fourth-best safety by Pro Football Focus. The general belief is that teams have avoided Rhodes due to rumors that he is gay, stemming from videos and photos that ended up on the internet this offseason. He has denied those rumors. There's also the issue of him commanding a higher salary due to his veteran status, but that shouldn't be an issue now because we are a few weeks into the regular season and teams can now offer him a pro-rated, non-guaranteed contract. The New York Giants gave Rhodes a tryout on Tuesday, but there are no indications as to whether they plan to sign him.