20 Big Names That Still Don't Have Contracts After NFL Minicamps
Now that the calendar has reached July and some NFL veterans still don't have a contract for the 2012 season, you would have to think that there is a certain degree of panic that is starting to set in with them.
In some cases, we are talking about free agents that have only been playing for three or four years, but in other cases, we are talking about players ranging from their early 30's to their late 30's that aren't ready to call it a career just yet.
For the sake of this presentation, we are going to limit our profiles to just the top 20 free-agent players, as there are many other free agents out there looking for work that really don't warrant much attention. We aren't looking to discuss the players that have announced their plans to retire. We are focused on the players that want to play this season.
The top 20 might have set their sights on a couple of personal favorite teams or personally interesting situations, but now, they have to be realistic and broaden their search, hoping that some team will still need them this year.
Visanthe Shiancoe is a nine-year NFL veteran that has played for the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.
In his career, Shiancoe played in 144 games, had 243 catches, gained 2,677 yards, scored 27 touchdowns and averaged 11 yards per reception.
The Minnesota Vikings are pretty loaded now at tight end with John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, so they let Shiancoe test the open market. As of now, he is still testing the market. The only news to date is that the Seattle Seahawks made him an offer in March for $1.2 million on a one-year deal. Shiancoe turned the deal down, thinking he probably could do better.
I wonder if he wishes he would have said yes when he had the chance, because since then, the Seahawks have added Kellen Winslow, Jr., so it is very doubtful that they are still in the market.
Eric Steinbach was a starting guard for the Cleveland Browns. Steinbach had spent the last nine years with the Browns. In a stretch from 2003-2010, Steinbach played in at least 14 games every year for Cleveland. He appeared in 125 games, starting 124 of those.
In the 2011 season, Steinbach didn't appear in a single game due to an injury that affected his spinal cord nerves. Steinbach still isn't all the way back to 100 percent health yet, but is getting closer. He is hoping to get calls from teams when training camp opens up and will participate in some tryouts then.
Another big name still looking to land with a new NFL team is running back Cadillac Williams.
Williams played for the St. Louis Rams in 2011 and is now 30 years old. He has played in the NFL for seven years, during which time he has rushed for 4,038 yards on 1,055 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per rush. Williams has scored 21 rushing touchdowns and also has caught four touchdown passes.
Williams still wants to play, but right now, the market is pretty quiet for his services. The good news is that after five-straight years of averaging less than four yards per carry, Williams averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 2011, which tied his career high set in his rookie campaign with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Ryan Grant has been a running back for the Green Bay Packers from 2007-2011. During those five years, Grant rushed the football 924 times, gaining 4,016 yards, which is an average of 4.3 yards per rush. Very good average.
Grant scored 27 touchdowns, 25 of them rushing and two on receptions. He had two-straight seasons, in 2008 and 2009, where he rushed for over 1,200 plus yards.
Way back in May, the Detroit Lions had expressed interest in bringing Grant in for a look, but Grant decided to cancel the trip. There has been nothing to report since then, so Grant might need a team to lose a key running back starter or his backup to an injury to be able to keep the career going.
Linebacker E.J. Henderson represents our first defensive player in the presentation that is looking for a new team still in 2012.
Henderson had some knee issues with the Minnesota Vikings that prevented him from being able to run as well as he normally did. That was evident when he was in pass coverage. Still, Henderson was second on the Vikings with 109 tackles, including two sacks. He also defended three passes and forced three fumbles.
When the season starts, he will be 32 years old, and that may be a factor in why he is still a free agent. If any key injuries happen to a starting linebacker, Henderson might be in play.
Fresh off winning a Super Bowl ring, New York Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie was told by the team that they were going to go in a different direction and that he should look elsewhere for employment. That was back in the first week of March, and here we are four months later, and McKenzie is still looking.
McKenzie is 33 years old now, so the Giants might have felt it was time to get younger and more athletic on the offensive line. The Giants had the worst rushing attack in the NFL, but it is hard to know how much of that could have been attributed directly to McKenzie.
He has been a durable and reliable player over the years, so that would be one of the reasons that he could still be on the radar of other NFL teams, when injuries start to mount in training camp.
Mark Clayton, most recently a wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams, has been dealing with injuries to both of his knees, and the injuries have robbed him of his ability to play on Sundays. In the 2011 season, Clayton only caught three passes for the year.
Clayton established a career high of 67 receptions with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006. The number of catches has been steadily dropping every year since then (67, 48,41,34, 23 and then just the three last year).
Based on the way his career has gone, Clayton, who is now 30 years old, may need to start lining up a second career.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Matt Roth is another player still looking for a new home.
Roth suffered from concussions in the 2011 season, which cut his season short. During 2012 free agency, Roth visited Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but nothing happened as a result of the visits, so Roth is still looking for work.
At 29 years old, Roth presumably would still have years left to play. In eight NFL seasons, Roth has 23.5 sacks, 296 tackles, forced six fumbles and recovered three fumbles. He is presumed to be cleared and ready to play in 2012.
Jake Scott has been a starting guard in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans. Scott has been starting for Tennessee regularly and hasn't missed a single game out of the last 64 contests.
Despite being reliable and consistent, Scott still finds himself unemployed just weeks before the start of training camp. According to this article by Jim Wyatt from the Nashville Tennessean, Scott had visits with Detroit, Miami and Baltimore in June, but nobody has made an acceptable offer yet.
Tennessee replaced Scott when it signed Steve Hutchinson away from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency.
Jeremy Shockey has been playing in the NFL for 10 years, and it is possible that his final year of his career was to help Cam Newton break in to the NFL.
Since the 2006 season, Shockey's reception totals have been in a state of continual decline (66, 57, 50, 48, 41 and 37). While he has gained at least 400 yards in receptions for every season, there has to be some other reasons behind the scenes why every NFL team has stayed away from Shockey this offseason.
Over his career, Shockey has made 547 receptions for 6,143 yards, 37 touchdowns and an average gain of 11.2 yards per catch. There are quite a few teams that could use steady production out of the tight end position, so why isn't anybody dialing Shockey's agent?
Who knows, maybe with all of the developments at tight end for the New York Giants in the past year, perhaps Shockey will do a full circle and wind up where his career began?
In the 2011 season, Andre Carter was tied with Mark Anderson for the team lead in sacks for the New England Patriots, as both players wound up with 10 sacks. Both wound up becoming free agents after the season. Anderson signed with the Buffalo Bills, while Carter is still a free agent.
Teams have been monitoring Carter, who is trying to finish his rehab from a torn quad muscle suffered last year. The Patriots are said to be interested in bringing Carter back to the team, but they aren't in any rush until they know that Carter is healthy again.
Carter prefers a long-term deal, but at this point of free agency, he really isn't in much of a position to be very picky. Carter is 33 years old now, so he may be looking at playing for just a few more years.
Donovan McNabb still thinks he can play in the NFL, but he might be alone in that belief. McNabb isn't really a spring chicken anymore at 36 years old, so his best days are clearly behind him as a quarterback.
He didn't have a very good start to the 2011 season in Minnesota, so it wasn't much of a surprise that when the Vikings released him, the rest of the league turned their collective backs on McNabb.
Still, McNabb feels that there are a few teams that he could play for in 2012. The only problem is that none of these teams have called him to offer either a tryout or a contract. Until that happens, everything coming out of McNabb's camp appears to either be wishful thinking or hot air.
Max Starks, tackle from the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered a torn ACL in the 2011 season. While Starks hasn't made a 100 percent recovery from the surgery, he is getting closer to being ready.
The Steelers didn't bother to wait around for him, though. They proactively went out and found a replacement by drafting Mike Adams out of Ohio State, and will probably go with Marcus Gilbert on the other side. Starks is only 30 years old, so you would think he still has more years left to play.
With training camp starting later this month, Starks may need to look outside of Pittsburgh if he wants to continue to play. There really hasn't been much talk of any other team expressing interest in bringing Starks in for a visit.
Ever since the 2011 season ended and wide receiver Plaxico Burress became a free agent, he has been openly talking about specific teams that he considers to be a good fit in 2012. Those teams have ranged from the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. But none of those teams have been able to demonstrate mutual interest, so Burress remains a free agent.
Burress caught 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. His average of 13.6 yards per catch is nothing to sneeze at. But Burress is 34 years old now, and it was evident that he isn't the same player as he was back in 2008.
With some of the NFL teams still hurting at wide receiver, maybe Burress will still latch on with a club during training camp. If a starter gets injured, you would think that somebody would be willing to give Burress a shot.
Montrae Holland was a free agent in 2011, so the Dallas Cowboys signed him midseason to come in and play to upgrade the offensive line. Holland was respectable for the 10 games he played for Dallas until he partially tore his pectoral muscle in December, ending his season by going on I.R.
Now in 2012, Holland is presumed to be healthy, but once again finds himself unemployed to start another season. The 32-year-old Holland has 60 NFL starts under his belt and has appeared in a total of 99 games.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth split the 2011 season with the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Haynesworth appeared in 13 games in the season, registering 23 tackles, no sacks, no forced fumbles or recoveries and two passes deflected.
At 31 years old now, it seems likely that his career is nearing an end, as he has washed out with the last three teams that employed him; the Redskins, Patriots and Bucs.
There was some thought that he could reunite with Jeff Fisher, but so far, his old coach hasn't felt the need to work with him again. If some key defensive tackles go down with an injury, maybe he gets a look. Then again, we have no reports of what kind of shape Haynesworth is in, which would be a major key towards getting hired again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham has played in Tampa Bay for the past eight seasons. In 2012, he is a free agent, and as of now, the phone has not been ringing with any new job offers.
In 2011, Graham gained 206 yards on just 37 rushes for an outstanding average gain of 5.6 yards per rush. In 2010, Graham averaged 5.0 yards per rush, so if this winds up being the last we have seen of him, Graham can say he had two straight seasons averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry.
Graham had an Achilles tendon injury that has limited his availability, and he is getting up there in age at 32 years old.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards pretty much fell off the NFL grid in 2011, as he wound up with only 15 receptions for the San Francisco 49ers for the entire season.
That was the second time in his career that Edwards failed to score a touchdown in a season and also the second time that he failed to gain more than 200 yards in receptions in one season.
It is not a major surprise that Edwards hasn't received many calls. He has only been able to play in all 16 games just once in the last four years, so the reliability factor and ability to show up and be counted on every week is something that seems to be beyond what he is capable of doing these days.
For any NFL team that is still looking for help at the tackle position, there is a two-time NFL Pro Bowl tackle that is still looking for a team. He is Marcus McNeill of the San Diego Chargers.
McNeill made the Pro Bowl team in 2006 and 2007. He has played in 82 career games in the NFL and has started every one of them. One factor going against McNeill is that he has only been able to play all 16 games just once in the last four seasons, so that is a red flag for teams considering adding any tackle help.
A back injury has been hampering McNeill, and it is that same back injury that leaves teams uncertain about how good McNeill could be in 2012. He might need some major injuries to happen to other top tackles before he gets the call he has been waiting for.
Out of the various free agents that are included in this presentation, perhaps none of these players are getting as much headlines or attention as running back Cedric Benson is receiving right now.
Benson seems to be on the Oakland Raiders radar screen as a wise backup choice to Darren McFadden, who has been injured often enough in his career that finding a quality backup makes tremendous sense.
At this stage of his career, Benson should be fine with the concept of backing up McFadden. He can prolong his career that way, as he has been carrying the main work load in Cincinnati for the past four years. Benson is coming off of his third-straight 1,000-plus yard rushing season, so he really has proven that he can still be a major contributor.