By Connor Fulton @ConnorFultonRS on July 28, 2014
It’s training camp season, meaning that teams across the NFL are starting to suffer injuries and looking to the free agency list for a quick fix. The couch is a place where no active NFL player wants to find himself in late July, but a text message would change that. Here are the top 10 free agents still available as training camps plow on, and the teams that could use their services.
Asante Samuel has been picking off passes for more than a decade now, and although he is far from the player he once was in the late 2000s, he is a worth a look for teams in need of a cornerback. After losing starter Captain Munnerlyn over the offseason, the Carolina Panthers may come calling on the veteran to help pick up the slack in the secondary.
A scary head and neck injury ended Jermichael Finley’s 2013 season in Green Bay, but it appears likely that somebody will nab him in the next month. The San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers have been linked with the athletic tight end this summer.
At age 27, LaRod Stephens-Howling is the youngest player on this list, which makes him worth a look. He is a slippery, dangerous ball carrier in the open field, and would upgrade any team’s third down offense. The Indianapolis Colts, who will likely be without Vick Ballard for all of 2014 after he tore his ACL, would be a good match for Stephens-Howling.
Reed Doughty was let go by the Washington Redskins this offseason, as the team instead opted for Ryan Clark at the safety position. The former special teams captain would benefit a team looking for insurance and mentoring in the back end. The Redskins’ NFC East foes Dallas Cowboys come to mind — besides Barry Church, they don’t have a safety with more than three years of NFL experience.
Before suffering a gruesome knee injury that ended his 2013 season with the Miami Dolphins, Dustin Keller was one of the better tight ends in the league. He was consistently productive in five seasons with the New York Jets, and would be an ideal addition for a team that needs a reliable backup tight end. If the undrafted rookie experiment doesn’t pan out in New England, look for the Patriots to scoop up Keller.
The multiple concussions are a concern, but at age 28, Austin Collie still has good football left in him. As a member of the New England Patriots last season, Collie showed that he is dependable in third down situations. He would boost the Jacksonville Jaguars’ young and depleted receiving corps.
You don’t last 11 years in the NFL without being an excellent player, especially at the constantly evolving cornerback position. Although he’s on the downswing of his career, Drayton Florence showed last season that he can still make plays, like his pick-six against the Atlanta Falcons. After releasing Brandon Flowers, the Kansas City Chiefs could consider adding Florence, who would come at a low cost.
It’s really only a matter of time until the Pittsburgh Steelers bring back Brett Keisel. On Monday, GM Kevin Colbert said that he is still considering the possibility of re-signing the veteran pass rusher, who fits the mold of the old-fashioned Steeler defender as well as anybody. It’s not unlikely that the Steelers are simply letting the 35 year old rest up during training camp.
It wasn’t very long ago that Josh Cribbs maintained the title of the NFL’s most dangerous return man. If it wasn't for a shoulder injury that kept him out of the last month of 2013, he most likely would’ve been signed by now. He could find a home in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars ranked dead last in the league last season in punt return average.
Don’t expect the current president of the NFLPA to stay unsigned for much longer. While youth movements are taking place on offensive lines across the league, Eric Winston is appealing because he has started 119 consecutive games and is only 30 years old. The Miami Dolphins would be a reasonable suitor, as they surrendered the most sacks among all teams last season and could still be looking for improvements.
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