Projecting the Top Remaining NFL Offensive Free Agents
Free agency in the National Football League is just about a month old. In that four week frenzy of wheeling and dealing, offensive stars such as quarterback Peyton Manning, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and wide receiver Vincent Jackson all found new homes and fat pay days.
However, there are still a number of offensive players remaining who can contribute to an NFL squad. Here's a look at some of the top offensive talent remaining as well as a projected guess on where these players might land once all is said and done.
Andre Gurode (OG/C)
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Offensive lineman Andre Gurode has had a very productive career in the NFL. Although the 34-year-old's best days are behind him, the 318-pound 10-year veteran is a five-time Pro Bowler who visited Honolulu as recently as 2010.
Interest in Gurode's services has been slow to develop. As we near and pass April's draft, some squad looking for depth along the offensive front will almost certainly come calling.
The Tennessee Titans have a significant need at both guard and center and around $20 million in salary cap space remaining. Depending on how the team addresses the offensive line in the draft, Nashville could be a logical landing spot for Gurode.
Cedric Benson (RB)
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Cedric Benson has been a solid if unspectacular running back for the Cincinnati Bengals over the past four seasons. The eight-year pro failed to average four yards per carry in three of his four years in the Queen City.
Though, he did manage to top 1,000 rushing yards the same number of times over that stretch.
Benson is the textbook definition of a plodder as a running back. The arrival of Green-Ellis in Cincinnati likely signals the end of his time with the Bengals.
However, in today's era of backfield committees some squad will probably have interest in Benson's ability to move the chains.
The Cleveland Browns have a glaring hole at running back after the departure of Peyton Hillis to Kansas City. The Browns have already been rumored as a team with a measure of interest in Benson's services.
Braylon Edwards (WR)
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Wide receiver Braylon Edwards struggled through a miserable, injury-marred, drop-filled season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. The 29-year-old managed only 15 receptions for 181 yards in nine games last year.
However, Edwards is still relatively young and has shown the ability to be a somewhat productive wideout in the past. In his best year as a pro, Edwards posted 80 receptions, 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns in 2007.
It's unlikely that Edwards will reach those lofty heights again, but the Jets have a need opposite Santonio Holmes at wide receiver. Head coach Rex Ryan recently told the New York Post that he hasn't ruled out a return to the Big Apple for Edwards.
“Braylon played extremely well the two years he was here,” Ryan said. “I always thought Braylon was a tremendous worker on the practice field, and he only dropped one pass I remember his last year.”
Dallas Clark (TE)
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Dallas Clark was once of the elite players at his position in the National Football League. Injuries have cost the 32-year-old 15 games over the past two seasons, leading some to question whether Clark's playing days might be over.
However, Clark caught 100 passes as recently as 2009. While interest in the nine-year veteran's services has been slow to develop, a team looking for depth at the position and a veteran presence in the locker room could well come calling.
The Arizona Cardinals got only 25 receptions for 210 yards from the tight end position a season ago. Even a limited Clark would provide a boost to the Cardinals passing attack in 2012.
Deuce Lutui (OG)
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At 28, offensive guard Deuce Lutui is in the prime of his career. Given the ability to be a dominant run blocker that he's shown in the past, one would think that demand for his services would have been much higher in free agency.
However, Lutui has also shown a propensity to be dominant at the dinner table. Weight problems are both the reason why the free agent contract Lutui signed with the Cincinnati Bengals last year was nullified and why the market for his services this year has been somewhat soft.
The Arizona Cardinals haven't closed the door on bringing Lutui back. He's also visited the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
If the seven-year pro can show teams that he's in shape, Lutui may well find himself reunited with head coach Pete Carroll in Seattle. The Seahawks have plenty of cap room and a hole at guard after the release of Robert Gallery.