NFL free agency came fast and furious last week. Superstar players like Vincent Jackson, Mario Williams and Peyton Manning have all found new homes. Matt Flynn has elevated himself to a full-time starting quarterback in Seattle, Peyton Hillis will be bulldozing his way in Kansas City and Courtland Finnegan hopes to lead a revamped St. Louis defense. Overall, there were over 600 eligible NFL free agents. Many have signed, but there are still quality players to be had right now.
Mike Wallace is a restricted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have up to a week to match any offer given to Wallace by another team. If they lose him, they will gain a first-round pick from whatever team signs him. There were nine wide receivers who signed before the the third day of free agency.
Wallace is still available maybe because teams don't want to lose a first-round pick or get into a one-week waiting game after signing him to an offer sheet. Wallace is the most productive receiver on the market though. Last season he had over 70 receptions for almost 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns. The year before he had 10 touchdowns and established himself as one of the league's premier deep threats. He is only 25 years old and may just be worth the first-round pick should a team decide to sign him.
Curtis Lofton has been a very productive middle linebacker since he came into the league in 2008. Last season, he finished in the top 10 in tackles while leading the Atlanta Falcons defense.
Who's the best free agent still on the market?
Lofton is still a young player at 25 years old who has shown very good durability. His leadership and consistency would be a great benefit to either a team looking to rebuild a defense or a contender out to fill a hole or upgrade.
A young leader on the defensive side of the football is a premium addition and a team will realize that sooner or later when they sign Lofton.
Running backs more and more seem to be viewed as disposable players teams don't really want to pay. The truth is the position is still as important as ever. So much that a team should be at least two deep if they want to compete for a Super Bowl.
Michael Bush is a durable running back who would work well on any contender or two-back system. The last couple of seasons, he has filled the void for the often injured Darren McFadden in Oakland, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season alone, Bush ran for 977 yards on 256 carries, showing teams he can be a good primary or complementary back.
Bush is still on the market, but likely not for long. Stability at the running back position is a must and Bush will reap the benefits because of that. The team that signs him will as well.
The 49er's unsuccessful pursuit of Peyton Manning seemed by some to be a little bit of a shot at Alex Smith. All he did was guide his team to the NFC Championship Game in his first season with new coach Jim Harbaugh.
How soon people tend to forget Smith had a successful season last year. He threw for 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions while sporting a 90.7 quarterback rating. He also did all that with below-average wide receivers (though he had one of the best tight ends in Vernon Davis).
David Garrard, Chad Henne and Matt Flynn all have new deals on new teams. Even Mark Sanchez got paid by the Jets. None of those players were half as successful as Smith last year. Whether he stays with San Francisco or moves on, somebody needs to realize there is still a quality quarterback on the market.