NFL Free Agency: Best of the Rest

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Most of the top FAs have been picked up by teams like Tampa Bay. But who’s left?

NFL Free Agency is quickly coming to a close. All the top names were signed weeks ago and even the “second wave” players are quickly being welcomed to new homes. The issues remains, many teams have holes, and almost all teams could use depth at just about every position. So now, I quickly look at the best remaining FAs as we head into the draft, and the most likely scenario for each of them.

Offense:

QB

Josh Freeman, Vikings

Ah Josh, once considered a promising franchise QB for the Tampa Buccaneers, he’s practically reached rock bottom after failing in his lone game of the season for the Vikes last year (a game in which he got $3M for). Regardless, he’s talented. Plus, there is a legit argument he was one of the many players ruined by Schiano and Dominik. He deserves another chance to compete.

Most Likely Scenario: Detroit Lions (1 year, $1.5M)

The Lions assistant HC and TE coach, Ron Price, was Freeman’s HC back at Kansas State where he put together a nice career. Also, he played a big role in recruiting him, son they have good chemistry. The Lions lost their esteemed backup Shaun Hill to the Rams, so expect them to bring in Freeman to battle it out with Orlovsky and Kellen Moore for a backup job. Because of his starting potential, it’d be nice to have him push Stafford as well.

Matt Flynn, Packers

He has sucked everywhere except in Green Bay, so expect them to re-sign him where he’d be a nice backup for Rodgers once again. One year for the minimum (715k) is all that’s needed.

Running Back

Chris Johnson, Titans

The soon to be released CJ2K should be highly coveted. He’s not the same 2K rusher he once was, but the reality is he’s rushed for 1,000+ yards in every single year of his career. He averaged 3.9 ypc last season (lowest of his career), but he still has plenty to offer. He’s just not worth $8M anymore, especially with the way RBs are getting paid now.

Most Likely Scenario: New York Jets

For reasons I don’t understand, the Chris Ivory to NYJ move was very over-hyped and people felt he’d be a great RB for them. For a multitude of reasons, he showed he simply isn’t accountable to be an RB1. CJ2K could help out with that however. The speedy, yet pounding back would certainly provide talent, to a talent needy offensive unit. Mike  Goodson should be as good as done, so a core of Johnson, Ivory, and Powell will provide balance and will be an upgrade over last year’s group.

Andre Brown, Giants

I am truly baffled on how Brown is being so forgotten in the midst of FA. The man has been a good RB for the Giants thus far in his career and even proved he’s capable of starting at times last year. However, he’s an injury prone 27 year old back, so that plays a big part.

Most Likely scenario: New England Patriots, (1 year, $1M)

One would think the Giants should have re-signed him, but they opted to go for Rashad Jennings and re-sign Madden 12 cover star Peyton Hillis. Expect the smart and savvy Patriots to scoop Brown up cheaply here. The Patriots were unable to retain Blount (albeit trying), so they decided to go for MJD before he went home. They are clearly in the market for a power back to take Blount’s spot and Brown is the best option.

Wide Receiver

Miles Austin, Cowboys

Austin was a complete non factor last season (11 games, 24 rec, 244 yards, 0 TDs), but he posted a 66/943/6 stat line the year prior. Austin has his injury issues, but is still an experienced veteran who runs good routes and brings something to the table. He’s no longer the dynamic WR he once was, but he’s a good option to have.

Most likely scenario: San Francisco 49ers  (1 year, min.)

On the Niners, there is only one position of need more desperate than WR, and that is CB, which they look to address early in the draft. Harbaugh stated he will use more wide sets this year, and Austin’s experience could help with that. Expect the Niners to sign him to a cheap deal for the minimum and see if he can battle for a job in camp and pre-season.

Sidney Rice, Seahawks

Rice has actually been garnering some interest from the Jets and Saints. Also, the Seahawks are exploring the idea of bringing him back. Rice has battled injuries ever since joining the Seahawks, including a torn ACL last season. In his three seasons as a Hawk, he’s only had a total of 97 catches for 1463 yards, 12 TDs in 33 games. When healthy, he’s an effective player. In 2012, he played 901 snaps in 16 games and hauled in 50 catches for 748 yards and 7 TDs. His size (6’4/202) allows him to make some tough grabs and he’s good for jump balls, making him a weapon in the red-zone (30 career TDs). In that season, he finished with a +13.3 PFF rating, while grading positively in every aspect.

Most Likely Scenario: Seattle Seahawks (1 year, min.)

Expect the Hawks to make the smart move here and bring him back cheaply. With the loss of Golden Tate, the Hawks have a hole at WR. Bringing in Rice and hoping he stays healthy, could re-create the duo we say with Percy Harvin in Minnesota. The two of them have been good friends since Harvin entered the league. Both of them were injured last year, but if they can both stay healthy, they’d be a good duo with Doug Baldwin and Kearse also in the mix. Rice’s best year was in 2009 where he grabbed 83 passes for 1312 yards and 8 TDs. That was also Harvin’s rookie year where he grabbed 60 balls for 790 yards and 6 TDs in his own right, while also getting an additional two TDs in the return game. In Seattle’s system, the two could thrive again, as Rice is still only 27.

Santonio Holmes, Jets

Holmes was a great WR for the Steelers, so the Jets traded for him and handed him a big contract. Similar to the Sidney Rice situation, he hasn’t been what they hoped for. He also just turned 30 years old, which doesn’t help. The talented WR had a good first year for the Jets, with 746 yards in just 12 games to go along with 8 TD grabs, but things went downhill from there. Like Miles Austin, there is still assets he brings to a team in the receiving game.

Most likely scenario: Arizona Cardinals, (1 year, min.)

The Cardinals only have 3 viable players at WR right now. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and Ted Ginn. That’s a nice trio, but they could add another guy to the mix, an experienced guy. Reuniting Holmes with his old OC from his golden Pitt days in Bruce Arians, could be a big help as he tries to show he has something left after battling through injuries.

Tight End

Not much to say about this unit, so I’ll just do a quick write up.

Jermichael Finley, Packers

He’s big, athletic, and a weapon in the passing game. Expect him to sign a one year deal with the Seahawks for the minimum once he’s all healed up.

Fred Davis, Redskins

David had all the potential to be a pro bowl TE in this league, but nagging injuries and attitude issues have killed him. He was also suspended for substance abuse and charged with a DUI all last season. At 28 years old, its unclear whether that potential we saw in 2011 (59 catches, 796 yards), I think he’s done.

Kellen Winslow Jr. and Dustin Keller, Jets and Dolphins

Grouped these guys up b/c of similar sounding names. Keller is done because his knee got destroyed last year. He tore his ACL, MCL and PCL in a preseason game, and if that wasn’t enough, he also dislocated his knee. Winslow is done because he’s facing possession of synthetic marijuana charges, he has balky knees, and he was also reportedly caught masturbating in his vehicle at Target. Winslow will turn 31 this summer and didn’t make an on-field impact last season with the Jets.

OL

Tyson Clabo, RT, Dolphins

The soon to be 33 year old was a great RT for the Falcons. But after some injury issues leading to his release, he was picked up by the Dolphins and played awful at first. With that being said, he played well as the season went on. I expect him to get a flier.

Most Likely Scenario: Washington Redskins, (one year, min.)

Redskins are in the market for a RT. They tried to make a play for Donald Penn to man the position but the Raiders were able to snatch him as their LT. Skins get some cheap competition and a stop gap here.

Eric Winston, RT, Cardinals

He was one of the best Zone Blocking RTs in the league on Gary Kubiak’s Texans squad. But was released by the Chiefs one year after signing a big contract and struggled as the Cardinals RT last season.

Most Likely Scenario: Baltimore Ravens (one year, min.)

Expect him to reunite with his old coach and compete for  the starting RT spot with Rick Wagner. He’s a good scheme fit too.

Richie Incognito, OG, Dolphins

Do I really need to get in depth here? We all know the issues. With that being said, Richie is one of the best power blocking OGs in the league. He was a pro bowler in 2012 and was off to another good season before the whole dilemma went down. He deserves a second chance in my opinion. I don’t believe it was his intention to ruin Jonathan Martin’s emotions.

Most likely scenario: Oakland Raiders, (one year, min.)

I believe there is mutual interest between the two sides. Incognito has publicly voiced he wants to be a Raider, and Mark Davis said it’s something to explore. Reggie McKenzie recently said two key things in an interview:

1) He wants to continue to beef up the OL

2) He wants to bring in guys who simply want to be Raiders

Incognito completes both of those things. The Raiders have brought in three OL already in Austin Howard (RG/RT), Kevin Boothe (G/C/RT), and Donald Penn (LT), but bringing in Richie would still be a nice upgrade. A line of

Penn-Incognito-Wisniewski-Howard-Watson could be downright nasty. With Kevin Boothe and Khalif Barnes also in there as versatile backups this unit would be the league’s most improved for sure. If Incognito shows any problems, he’ll be cut without penalty.

Uche Nwaneri, OG, Jaguars

Nwaneri is a staring caliber OG, so it’s surprising to see him still on the market. He was released as a cap casualty but would be a good pickup on the cheap. He recently turned 30, but is still a decent stopgap and great depth.

Most likely scenario: Carolina Panthers, (one year, $1M.)

All of the Panthers OL are retiring. Including their top FAs in LT Jordan Gross and OG Travelle Wharton. With these guys gone, Carolina needs to do everything in their power to keep Cam upright as currently the Panthers have the worst WR and OL core in the league.

Brian De La Puente, C, Saints

De La Puente is one of the few top FAs left in my opinion. The 29 year old has been one of the best centers in the league and I’m confused to how he’s still on the market. He finished with a +6.1 PFF grade throughout the year, and was their 16th ranked center at season’s end.

Most likely scenario: New Orleans Saints (multi-year deal)

It’s hard to project the financials here, but perhaps it could be similar to what the Broncos offered Will Montgomery. I am sure Drew Brees would appreciate it if his team could bring his well trusted center back.

Jonathan Goodwin, C, 49ers

Goodwin is nearing 36 years old hasn’t been receiving much interest thus  far. With that being said, Goodwin is a longtime NFL starter who has earned pro bowl honors. A contending team would be smart to snag him.

Most likely scenario: Pakcers (one year, $800k)

The Packers recently lost their high praised center in Evan D. Smith, a loss that QB Aaron Rodgers was not happy with. Perhaps bringing in the successful experienced vet in for a year will help cheer him up.

Defense:

Edge Rushers

Anthony Spencer, Cowboys

This dude was a beast OLB for the Cowboys. He’s a great pass rusher and stout against the run as well. Sadly, he missed all of last season with injury. There is still some concerns, so expect him to get a job once he’s healed up.

Most Likely scenario: Dallas Cowboys, (one year, $3.5M)

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team is open to re-signing free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (knee) if he is able to recover from his knee injury. Spencer has been working out at the team’s facility this offseason. The team would be smart to do so. His skill set means he can play well in that 4-3, and after losing Ware, I’m sure they’d want to keep him.

Will Smith, Saints

Smith had some good years as a quality 4-3 DE for the Saints, but he was a complete non-fit for the team in the new 3-4 as they tried to put him at OLB, yet he wasn’t even able to play because of injury. He has 67 career sacks and brings attributes to the table.

Most likely scenario: New England Patriots, (one year, $2M)

This would be a typical Patriot move bringing in the seasoned vet to play a situational role. He met with the Pats a few days ago, so if the meeting went well, maybe they could snag him.

Interior DL

Kevin Williams, Vikings

He’s had a good year, but like James Harrison, I think he’s done. I am only mentioning him because I’m seeing his name being thrown around a lot.

Yep, there really isn’t any DL left. Look to the draft for that.

LB

James Anderson, OLB, Bears

Anderson has racked up 100+ tackles in 3 of the last 4 years (only played 12 games in 2012), playing for both the Panthers and Bears. He’s a good coverage LB, but the downside is he’s pretty bad against the run. The 30 year old does express good leadership quality however.

Most likely scenario: Chicago Bears (one year, min.)

I think he gets re-signed honestly, he’s good in coverage which is valued by DC Mel Tucker for LBs. He’s a good rotational guy to have.

Erin Henderson, OLB, Vikings

I am somewhat surprised how the talented 27 year old LB is still available. He’s not a great player or anything but he’s a good two down backer who can stuff the run. He was cut as a cap casualty and faced two DUIs in November. He was forced to play out of his position at the “Mike” linebacker spot, where he is really best suited at “Will” or even “Sam”.

Most likely scenario: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (one year, min.)

I do think Leslie Frazer has faith in Henderson. He originally awarded him with a starting job in 2011 at the WLB spot, and he defended him when needed. I could see the Buccs bringing him in cheaply to provide depth at LB where he can work with his old HC again, as Frazer is currently the DC of TB. The Buccs could actually use some LB help outside of Lavonte David so maybe Henderson could even win himself a starting spot.

Pat Angerer, ILB, Colts

Pat was once a young and promising LB. Injuries have killed him throughout his career and he was forced to be put on IR last season, for a second year in a row. He’s still 27 years old and talented, so maybe if he stays healthy he’ll show more promise.

Most likely scenario: Jacksonville Jaguars, (one year, $1M)

Chris Polian was the GM of the Colts who drafted Pat Angerer in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s seen and knows what Pat is capable of. Perhaps he could go to the Jags, where Polian is currently the director of pro personnel and compete for an LB spot there.

Desmond Bishop, ILB, Vikings

The once quality starting LB for the Packers, Bishop now has had more season-ending surgeries (two) than starts (one) over the last two seasons. The latter surgery was to repair a torn ACL, something 30-year-old players often struggle to return from. In 2012, he faced a torn hamstring. He signed a cheap one year deal last season and did nothing. He’ll have to prove himself in camp this season.

Most likely scenario: Green Bay Packers (one year, min.)

This would make sense. He has chemistry with all the players and coaches, and GB could use some LB help. Perhaps he could have a bounce back year.

DB

Josh Wilson, Redskins

Wilson had an awful year as the Redskins starting CB opposite of Deangelo Hall. He gave up 5 TDs and when QBs threw on him, they had a 119 QB Rating. He’s best  as depth.

Most likely scenario: Baltimore Ravens, (one year, min.)

Wilson was actually a very good CB for the Ravens. He also went to Maryland so he has ties to both the city and team. It’s quite possible he returns to  the team that drafted him, and would be a good depth secondary signing by Ozzie.

Jabari Greer, Saints

Greer has been the Saints top CB for some time now. He’s no longer staring caliber however. The physical CB is again best in a depth role. He was released by the Saints as a cap casualty and is currently rehabbing a torn ACL.

Most likely scenario: Rams, (1 yr, min.)

Gregg Williams is currently the DC of the Rams. He was the DC for the Saints from 2009-2011 where Greer had his best years. Perhaps he could reunite with him in St. Louis, as they need CB help after cutting Finnegan and experiencing awful coverage play last season.

Terrell Thomas, Giants

A lot of people thought the talented CB’s career was over after two ACL tears. He came back for NYG and played well at both the Nickel and safety. His versatility is a nice and he’s somewhat of a jack-of-all trades guy who can cover, blitz, and help in the run game. He showed a glimpse of his efficient 101 tackle 2010 season with 67 tackles in limited snaps in 2013.

Most likely scenario: Carolina Panthers, (1 yr, min.)

The Panthers met with him earlier in FA but I still think it’s the best fit. He’s a good fit in Ron Rivera’s defense and the Panthers really need secondary help. Starters Mike Mitchell, Drayton Florence, and Quintin Mikell are either on the Steelers (Mitchell) or just done.

Asante Samuel, Falcons

I am only  mentioning Samuel because of name recognition. Like Ed Reed, he’s done. He’s lost his speed and coverage ability.