2012 NFL Free Agents: The Biggest Medical Concerns on the Market
The NFL's 2012 free agency is filled with some big names.
Among the QBs is Drew Brees; if you think he's going to be persuaded away from the New Orleans Saints for a bigger market or to team up with some combination of superstars, you're thinking of something that would happen in another league, not the NFL.
With the exception of Brees, there are some intriguing players at every position who could be very beneficial to a team in need. Most of these players are veterans, who may be a little older but can still be very productive. Their current team just likely found a cheaper, younger option.
Then there are the players who are very good on the field, but their problem is they just can't stay healthy. These are the guys that make you continuously proclaim that your team would be so much better if—fill in the blank—was healthy.
Some teams may be tricked into giving a paycheck to the following players with medical concerns.
Saying Marques Colston is a medical concern may be a little bit of a stretch because he has had over 1,000 receiving yards in every season he has played in but one.
Having said that, Colston has missed games throughout his career. During his six years in the league, he has only played a full season twice.
In 2008, he missed five games with a broken thumb, and this season, he broke his collarbone during the season opener.
Colston is going to get a big contract, and we will have to see if he lasts through it.
At 6'2'', 250 pounds, Peyton Hillis is an absolute load. He is a downhill runner who is able to put his head down and break multiple tackles. He is a punishing runner.
The problem is his style of play not only damages opposing defenders but also damages himself.
In Hillis' first season with the Cleveland Browns, he carried the ball 270 times for 1,177 yards.
In his second season, he missed six games with nagging injuries and only carried the ball 161 times for 587 yards.
Hillis could be a good signing for a team who wants to use him as part of a two-running back backfield. But as a lead back and for the kind of money he will be demanding, signing him would be a mistake.
His running style is not made to last long term.
When Jason Jones is on the field, he could be considered a top-10 defensive tackle in the NFL.
He has a quick enough first step to generate a pass-rush from the inside, which not a lot of DTs have.
Jones has added strength and looks to be learning the blocking schemes better every season. He just finished his fourth season and does not look like a finished product yet.
This season, the Tennessee Titans switched Jones to defensive end, which may have slowed his development a bit. For this reason, Jones may want to sign with a team whose scheme best fits his talents.
Whoever looks to sign him better look closely at his injury history. This past season, Jones was out two games due to knee problems and in 2009, he missed nine games with nagging injuries and shoulder problems.
Jones required surgery on his knee and shoulder.
This season, with 9.5 sacks and at 33 years old, John Abraham has proved he can still do what he has done throughout his 12-year career: rush the passer.
Though he has had a healthy run the last five seasons, only missing a total of two games in the past two seasons, he has been bothered by injury since he came into the NFL.
During his 12 seasons, Abraham has only played in the full 16-game schedule six times.
Given his age, it makes you wonder if he is due for an injury.
Abraham may be a steal if he can be had for a one-year deal, but anything more may be playing with fire.
Andre Carter, a similar player to Abraham in age and skill, signed with the New England Patriots this season. He was very productive, recording 10 sacks before tearing his quadriceps in Week 14, placing him on injured reserve.
I can see something similar happening to Abraham. Let's hope not.
Tracy Porter is an above average cornerback in the league. He just hasn't yet proven in his four-year career that he can finish a full season.
This season, in 14 games, he had 52 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles and 10 passes defended.
Last season, in just 12 games, he had 60 tackles, an interception and six passes defended.
In 2009, his best season (only playing 12 games), he had 57 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 12 passes defended.
Porter may just prove to be one of those players who is injury-prone throughout his career, leaving us wondering, what if?
Despite being just 5'8'' and 188 pounds, Jim Leonhard was one of the better safeties in the game in the 2008 and 2009 NFL seasons.
In 2008, his last season with the Baltimore Ravens, Leonhard had 69 tackles, an interception and six passes defended.
He then signed with the New York Jets as a free agent in 2009.
As part of the league's No. 1-ranked Jets defense, Leonhard had his best season, recording 76 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an INT along with six passes defended.
He has not been able to finish the last two seasons, though. In 2010, he broke his tibia, ending his season, only playing in 11 games. Then, this season, he tore a tendon in his knee, ending his season, only playing in 13 games.
It looks like his lack of size has finally caught up to him.
Bob Sanders has been hurt throughout almost his whole eight-year career. He has missed 63 regular season games, only playing in more than 10 games twice.
Even with all of the games he has missed, he was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, when he had 96 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended.
Sanders also proved to be a difference-maker in the Indianapolis Colts' Super Bowl run in 2006.
In the past three seasons, he has played in just eight regular season games.
It would be a surprise if a team gives him a contract, even if he is still only 30.