2012 NFL Free Agents: Unsung Backups Ready for Starting Duty

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Running back Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 10, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's about that time, when every player in the NFL wants to get paid. Free agency kicks off in less than a month, and there are a number of big-name players slated to hit the market.

Drew Brees, Ray Rice, Arian Foster and Carl Nicks are among the top names on the market, but they won't be the only ones who get paid.

The following players are not big names, but these backups are capable of taking over a starting spot in 2012.


Michael Bush, RB, Raiders

The Raiders' backup running back was basically a starter in 2011 because of the injury to Darren McFadden. Bush ran for 977 yards and seven touchdowns and at least gave the Raiders the opportunity to win.

Bush is only 27 years old and has limited tread on his tires. At 6'1", 245 pounds, he's actually a solid all-around running back who can make plays out of the backfield.

There are few teams that use a single rusher in their ground game these days, so Bush is more than capable of being a starter for another team.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08:  Eddie Royal #19 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with his teammates after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile Hig
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images


Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos

The young receiver is super talented but has been rather disappointing since his rookie season. He's flashed the ability to make a lot of catches, but he hasn't made the most of his limited opportunities in Denver.

That said, Royal is still young and a potential starter in the right offense.


Dave Tollefson, DE, Giants

The Giants backup has found a way to make an impact with his limited opportunities. He constantly hustles and he's always in the backfield when actually on the field.

Tollefson's only in his fifth season and has the potential to take over for a team that needs a high-energy guy.