2012 NFL Free Agents: Pros and Cons of Top 25 Left on the Market
The free-agent feeding frenzy that has defined the 2012 offseason so far has slowed down to a trickle. Without names like Vincent Jackson, Mario Williams and Peyton Manning still on the board, there are not any players left who can make a big impact on a team's Las Vegas odds to win the Super Bowl.
Players still left on the table, however, can be that one guy who makes the difference between winning and losing a big game, division, playoff matchup or even the Super Bowl.
If there were no potential drawbacks with these players, then they would already be on NFL rosters, but the reason front office executives make big bucks is because they are the ones tasked with taking these calculated risks.
According to CBS Sports, these are the remaining players from the 2012 Top 100 Free Agents. For this slideshow, I have included the pros and cons for each of these players still without a home for next season.
Mike Wallace, WR
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Where to begin with such a talented young receiver? Wallace is one the most feared deep threats in the league and would be a huge addition to any team's offensive arsenal. For a team ready to win immediately, he could be a huge missing link.
The only real con is that it would take a team's first-round draft pick to sign Wallace away from the Steelers (because of Wallace's "restricted" status). Not only would Wallace require a large contract, but teams would also be donating a potential top talent considering the depth of this year's draft class.
Demetrius Bell, OT
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Bell is a legitimate starting left tackle in the NFL, who, at 27 years old, still has productive years left in him. Bell has been toiling in Buffalo recently, but he could be a great addition to any team looking to upgrade at tackle or provide some nice competition for an older, more pricey veteran.
Bell has had some injury concerns in his career, which makes teams wary of how long he will be able to remain on the field. Furthermore, even when Bell is on the field, he has been known to take an exorbitant amount of penalties from time to time.
David Hawthorne, ILB
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One of the more underrated linebackers in the league, Hawthorne has posted over 100 tackles in the past three seasons. With Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton off the market, Hawthorne is clearly the best linebacker remaining and would be a stabilizing presence in the middle of a team's defense.
Hawthorne has made several visits around the league, and in many of them teams decided to pass on him. This has to make other teams wonder if there's something wrong with him. There could be injury concern, or perhaps he just really wants to stay in Seattle.
London Fletcher, ILB
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Fletcher is all about leadership and quickly becomes the heart and soul of whatever defense he is a part of. He is a consistent contributor and is certainly a player that the Redskins would like to have back, but until they make a move, he is on the market.
Almost 37 years of age, Fletcher is pretty old for an NFL linebacker. Even if his numbers hide his age well right now, teams have to wonder when the drop off will occur. It really doesn't make sense to sign Fletcher to a contract past a single season, even with his significant locker-room value.
Lardarius Webb, CB
Webb has emerged as a great turnover man and huge asset in the return game. His size and speed allow him to jump a lot of routes and out-jump most receivers in the league.
Webb can create turnovers but he isn't a lock-down cover corner and needs a lot of support when he guesses wrong. Like Wallace, Webb is restricted and therefore not available to the highest bidder without an additional cost.
Aubrayo Franklin, DT
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Franklin is big and strong up the middle, which helps to eat up blocks and free up linebackers. He could offer a nice value to a team in need of above-average bodies to fill up the middle of the defensive line.
Franklin is not much of a pass-rusher and doesn't generate a lot of pressure up the middle, which is troubling considering the state of the pass-happy NFL. He battled an MCL injury prior to the last season and, at age 31, is well past the prime of his career.
Marcus McNeill, OT
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When he is healthy, McNeill is regarded as one of the strongest tackles in the NFL. He can still start, or be a great depth addition to a team with injury troubles and valuable assets in the backfield that need protecting.
The Chargers cut ties with McNeill because he failed to pass a physical, and his cost was simply too high. According to McNeill's agent, health is not an issue, but it's impossible to know whether or not that is actually true.
Amobi Okoye, DT
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Okoye has a lot of upside and played well last season in Chicago as a "three technique," which is a hot commodity in the NFL. He is on the younger side in terms of defensive tackles, which is very appealing to teams with holes to fill.
Will the team that signs Okoye get the Bears version, or the Texans version that was far less effective?
Cedric Benson, RB
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Benson has one of the most accomplished resumes on the market for a running back, with multiple 1,000-yard rushing campaigns under his belt. He has a tough running style and could complement a speedy back in a new NFL city.
Many years of tough carries are what allowed Benson to build his resume, and there is a prevailing thought that his best days are far behind him. Teams may not want to shell out a lot of money to a player close to completely breaking down.
Andre Carter, DE
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Carter was having a career year on the edge for the Patriots and was getting home with the pass rush on a regular basis last season. His ability to pressure was a huge key for the Pats defense, and if healthy, he may still be able to perform at that level.
Carter is still recovering following surgery, and that is likely the only thing that will keep him from cashing in on his stellar 14-game effort last season prior to his injury.
Derek Landri, DT
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Landri had a great season for a player who didn't start the season on the Eagles roster. He has a decent mix of run-stuffing and pass-rushing ability from the middle of the line.
He is likely no more than a rotational defensive lineman, and had he not been called on due to injury problems, he likely would have spent last season off an NFL roster.
Leroy Hill, OLB
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Hill has a tremendous amount of talent and can be a dominant player on the outside. He is able to get after the quarterback and protect the edges of the field on rush defense.
Hill has had some legal trouble off the field and also battled injury. Last season proved what he can do when he stays healthy, but it was also the first time he played all 16 games.
Jake Scott, OG
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Scott is well regarded as a great pass-blocking guard, which may explain why teams like the Miami Dolphins are interested in upgrading with him. He has been a solid starter for the Titans and rarely misses time due to injury.
Scott is a great pass-blocker but run-of-the-mill in terms of run blocking. He is also getting a little older and has a lot of wear and tear on his body.
Justin Forsett, RB
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Before the resurgence of Marshawn Lynch, Forsett was "the guy" in Seattle. He is still young and can be a real asset out of the backfield for teams that need to upgrade their screen game and outside rushing attack.
Forsett doesn't have a long track record of success in the NFL and is not known to be a strong inside runner. He would likely only fit as a situational back for a team in need.
The Rest of the Top 25
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15. Trevor Laws, DT
Pro: Good value for such a young player.
Con: Not a consistent contributor in Philly last season.
16. E.J. Henderson, ILB
Pro: Prior to injury, he was one of the best.
Con: Injury may have ruined his chance of remaining at that level.
17. Kareem McKenzie, OT
Pro: Super Bowl champion on the market.
Con: Giants would not have let him go if he still had a lot left in the tank.
18. Shaun Rogers, DT
Pro: Still a monster of a man in the middle.
Con: Age is catching up and limiting his number of snaps per game.
19. Dan Koppen, C
Pro: Linchpin of a talented offensive line.
Con: Wants more money than his age makes him worth at 33.
20. Luis Castillo, DE
Pro: Possesses decent pass rushing ability.
Con: Missed all of 2011.
21. Dave Tollefson, DE
Pro: Member of the finest defensive front in the NFL with the Giants.
Con: Too undersized to do anything but speed rush.
22. Abram Elam, SS
Pro: Strong run stopper.
Con: Created only one turnover last season.
23. Jerricho Cotchery, WR
Pro: Great hands and route running ability.
Con: Hasn't had a breakout effort in the NFL yet.
24. Channing Crowder, ILB
Pro: Sat out 2011 to get healthy.
Con: He's technically retired.
25. Jerome Simpson, WR
Pro: Extremely fast and athletic.
Con: Checkered past of legal troubles.