The Best Available Free Agent for Every NFL Team Entering Training Camps
NFL training camps are set to begin and rookies have already reported for some teams. This doesn't mean that 53-man rosters are anywhere near set. You are going to see a tremendous amount of battles take place in the coming weeks.
You are also going to see some solid veterans added to camps throughout the NFL preseason. The reason for this is because there are still a ton of solid players remaining on the free-agent market.
This article is going to focus on the top remaining free agents from each NFL team. You are going to see former Pro Bowl performers, washed-up veterans and marginal players on this list.
That being said, the pick of the litter here is still rather solid.
Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Keith, Offensive Tackle
Brandon Keith has started 20 games at both tackle positions for the Arizona Cardinals over the course of the last two seasons. He is definitely a liability in pass protection, but is solid in the run game.
A team looking for a backup along the exterior of the offensive line would get someone with experience here. While Keith isn't starter caliber, he will add to the depth aspect of the game.
Keith last worked out with the New England Patriots at the end of May and hasn't been seen on the free-agent circuit since.
Atlanta Falcons: Ovie Mughelli, Fullback
Ovie Mughelli had been one of the best lead blockers in the National Football League for the last six seasons prior to tearing his MCL towards the end of October last season. He helped Michael Turner morph into one of the most productive running backs in the league.
At the age of 32 and coming off a devastating injury, interest has been scarce thus far this summer. That being said, the St. Louis Rams did have the fullback in for visit in May.
A team looking for someone to help out in the run game will definitely look in the direction of Mughelli during training camp as long as he is healthy.
Baltimore Ravens: Andre Gurode, Center/Guard
Not often do you see a five-time Pro Bowl performer on a list like this so close to the start of the preseason. Andre Gurode has been one of the best centers in the National Football League since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft.
Gurode played guard for the Baltimore Ravens last season, which should help his chances of catching on with a team as a flexible player. It just won't be with the Ravens, who are deep at every interior line position.
Buffalo Bills: Andra Davis, Linebacker
Andra Davis has been a damn good starting inside linebacker in the National Football League since joining the league in 2002. He started 83 games in seven seasons for the Cleveland Browns, recording triple-digit tackles a total of three times.
That being said, Davis has seen his game drop off a great deal since the start of the 2010 season when he joined the Buffalo Bills. He has struggled a great deal against the run and appears to have lost a step.
Expect Davis to be a late training-camp addition by a team looking to upgrade in terms of depth.
Carolina Panthers: Jeremy Shockey, Tight End
Jeremy Shockey is still a solid veteran option at the tight-end position, though his reception numbers have decreased in each of the last six seasons.
The former first-round pick will not be a consistent threat in the passing game. Rather, he will be brought in to make plays on occasion as a primary backup.
We haven't heard much news about the enigmatic tight end in recent months. The Charlotte Observer indicated back in March that the Carolina Panthers weren't closing the door on Shockey, but it's more likely he signs elsewhere.
Chicago Bears: Roy Williams, Wide Receiver
I am not too entirely sure what Roy Williams can bring to a team in 2012.
He was quite literally nowhere to be found over the course of the last two seasons, racking up just 1,000 total yards between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
A steep fall from grace for someone selected in the top 10 less than a decade ago.
Some receiver-needy team such as the Miami Dolphins or Cleveland Browns might come calling, but interest just hasn't been there for Williams.
Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Benson, Running Back
Cedric Benson has been one of the most productive running backs in the National Football League since the start of the 2009 season. Over the course of the last three seasons he has accumulated a total of over 3,800 yards and 20 touchdowns.
As with most running backs, Benson started slowing down in his late 20s, which indicates his days as a featured back are over.
He still can, however, make an impact as a rotational guy.
I predicted that Benson would go to the Green Bay Packers in a previous article last month. There are now reports that Green Bay has joined the Oakland Raiders as top suitors for the enigmatic running back.
Cleveland Browns: Eric Steinbach, Guard
Just a few seasons ago, it would have been hard to imagine that Eric Steinbach, then one of the best run-blocking guards in the league, would be without a team this late in the offseason.
How a few years changes things.
From 2003 to 2010 Steinbach started a total of 124 games between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.
A serious spinal cord injury cost the veteran guard the entire 2011 season and teams have been playing it close to the vest in regards to contacting him. Despite this, Steinbach estimates that he is "85 percent recovered."
Teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, who are in need of a veteran interior lineman, might show interest.
Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Kosier, Guard
As one of the most unheralded offensive linemen since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers, it is hard to imagine that Kyle Kosier is currently without a team.
He can play all offensive-line positions outside of center and has been a solid force in the run game in three NFL stops.
Despite this, the Dallas Cowboys cut ties with Kosier earlier in the offseason.
Kosier, who did struggle to an extent last season, has drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins.
Denver Broncos: Andre' Goodman, Cornerback
Andre' Goodman has been a solid, not spectacular performer, as a cornerback in the NFL over the course of the last few seasons. He became a starter, by default, with both the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos.
Goodman's best season came in 2007 with Miami when he started all 16 games and recorded 19 passes defended.
Teams around the league can still rely on Goodman to be a solid nickel or No. 4 corner, adding depth to the defensive secondary. That being said, he just isn't a starter for an above-average secondary.
Goodman drew interest from the Tennessee Titans back in May.
Detroit Lions: Chris Harris, Safety
Chris Harris might be a major liability in coverage, in fact he has failed to record double-digit passes defended in any of his seven seasons.
This is one of the primary reasons that the natural strong safety is still on the market right now.
Still, Harris brings experience and a strong ability to stop the run in the box. He will be signed at some point prior to the start of the season in September.
Interest in Harris has been nonexistent at this point.
Green Bay Packers: Ryan Grant, Running Back
In terms of workload, Ryan Grant isn't that old. In fact, the former Green Bay Packers starter has rushed the ball 500 times less in his career than Adrian Peterson.
He still does have that one thing bringing him down in the free-agent market: age. He will turn 30 towards the end of the 2012 season.
However, it is important to note that Grant did have consecutive 1,200-yard seasons for the Packers in 2008 and 2009. He is going to be a valuable addition to a team looking for a third-down type of guy.
Houston Texans: Jake Delhomme, Quarterback
Not much to see here. Most of the Houston Texans free agents have either signed elsewhere or agreed to a new contract with their current franchise.
Jake Delhomme is four years removed from being anywhere near a reliable quarterback option in the National Football League. He caught on with the Texans last season after both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down to season-ending injuries.
A veteran third-string quarterback at best right now, Delhomme has indicated that he is likely to retire.
Indianapolis Colts: Gary Brackett, Linebacker
Gary Brackett has been one of the most unheralded linebackers in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts since entering the league in 2003.
He served as a defensive captain and started a total of 86 games in nine seasons with that franchise. Now that the Colts are prepared to move on, it is time for the veteran linebacker to find new home.
Brackett, who suffered a torn rotator cuff early in the 2011 season, was medically cleared to play back in May. Despite this, interest has been scarce.
You can expect teams that utilize a 4-3 defensive scheme to show interest in Brackett during training camp; it just wont be the Colts.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Roth, Defensive End/Linebacker
Matt Roth might not have elite pass-rush skills, but he can still be a valuable player in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes.
The former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins has been a versatile performer for multiple teams since entering the league in 2006.
He has recorded at least 3.5 sacks in each of the last six seasons and would be a great rotational addition to any team in the league.
Roth last met with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in May. Pure conjecture here, but the Baltimore Ravens might show interest if they fail to see enough from the three outside linebackers pegged to challenge for the spot left by the injured Terrell Suggs.
Kansas City Chiefs: Kelly Gregg, Defensive Tackle
Kelly Gregg was a solid run-stuffing force for the Baltimore Ravens in their 3-4 defense, starting 124 games from 2001 to 2010.
Despite being a little long in the tooth, Gregg was stout for the Kansas City Chiefs in that role last season.
The addition of Dontari Poe in the first round of April's draft pretty much disables Gregg's ability to return to the Chiefs for this upcoming season.
Gregg, who hasn't drawn a great deal of interest around the league, is apparently contemplating retirement.
Miami Dolphins: Vernon Carey, Defensive Line
Vernon Carey has been a consistent force along the Miami Dolphins offensive line since entering the league in 2004. He has started 107 games, mostly at right tackle, during that span.
Miami attempted to upgrade at this position by selecting Jonathan Martin in the second round of April's draft.
Now there appears to be no room for Carey on the roster.
Carey, who probably isn't looking at a starting job in the league, should draw interest as a primary backup during camp once chips fall and players get injured.
Minnesota Vikings: E.J. Henderson, Linebacker
I am not quite sure what to make of E.J. Henderson.
About five years ago he was considered an up-and-coming inside linebacker around the NFL. After struggling through injuries and issues against the run, Henderson finds himself without a job.
According to NFL sources, Henderson is 100 percent healthy and ready to return to action in 2012.
That being said, there just hasn't been much interest in his services despite recording triple-digit tackles in each of the last two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
New England Patriots: Andre Carter, Defensive End
Andre Carter was a pleasant surprise for the New England Patriots last season, recording 10 sacks as a pass-rush specialist. This was Carter's best season since he piled up 11 sacks for the Washington Redskins in 2009.
That being said, there are numerous concerns about Carter. He just turned 33 and is coming off a devastating injury last year.
Reports also indicate that Carter is looking for a long-term contract extension, something that probably surprised a few teams around the league.
It is all but a forgone conclusion that Carter will remain with the Patriots for the upcoming season.
New Orleans Saints: John Gilmore, Tight End
Oh jeez, John Gilmore slide here. I actually never thought that sentence would vibrate from my knuckles, onto the keyboard and into your laptop.
But, that is the situation we are in right now. Gilmore, a backup tight end, is the New Orleans Saints top free agent left on the market.
Let's not continue much further here. Gilmore has recorded a total of 55 receptions in 10 NFL seasons, primarily as a blocking tight end.
Not much more to say.
New York Giants: Kareem McKenzie, Offensive Tackle
Kareem McKenzie was downright dreadful last season for the New York Giants after being a mainstay on their offensive line for the previous six seasons.
Overall, he just couldn't handle the speed rush from the outside and left Eli Manning out in the cold far too often.
That being said, McKenzie does bring the experience of 153 NFL starts to the free-agent market.
He can still be a valuable tackle in the league, but will have to be put in the right situation to succeed.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, McKenzie hasn't drawn any interest on the open market and may be forced into retirement.
New York Jets: Plaxico Burress, Wide Receiver
Plaxico Burress was an enigma of sorts for the New York Jets last season.
While the veteran receiver did record eight touchdowns, he proved to be ineffective as a consistent threat outside of the red zone. In all, Burress caught less than three passes per outing.
There hasn't been a great deal of interest in the receiver. He is apparently interested in the Carolina Panthers, but that feeling doesn't seem to be mutual.
There will, however, be a team that does show interest in Burress as a legit red-zone threat. It is just a matter of time before he is signed.
Oakland Raiders: John Henderson, Defensive Tackle
John Henderson is just two years removed from being a stout defensive tackle in the NFL. His last two years with the Oakland Raiders have been mired by inconsistency and injuries.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle appears to be on his last legs as he looks to catch on with another team heading into training camp.
Henderson, who was released by Oakland early in the offseason due to a failed physical, has drawn little interest on the open market and hasn't been seriously linked to any team.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jamaal Jackson, Center
Jamaal Jackson started 71 consecutive games for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2005 to 2009 before being struck with the injury bug. When healthy, Jackson is one of the most consistent centers in the NFL.
It's now all about him actually proving that he can stay on the football field.
Jackson met with New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin during minicamp earlier in the offseason and has drawn interest from the Tennessee Titans.
Look for him to catch on with a team at some point in the near future.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Bryant McFadden, Cornerback
Bryant McFadden is an enigma of sorts at cornerback. While he possesses the talent to be a starter in the league, McFadden has failed to live up to expectations.
He started just two games and recorded one pass defended for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011. Overall, the former second-round pick has been wildly inconsistent in his playing career.
There hasn't been much news in regards to McFadden since the Steelers released him for salary-cap space back in February.
He could catch on as a nickel back prior to the start of the regular season. However, no team should rely on the veteran for consistent production.
San Diego Chargers: Marcus McNeill, Offensive Tackle
When actually suited up and on the football field, Marcus McNeill is one of the best pass-protecting offensive tackles in the entire league.
The issue with the talented tackle is his inability to remain healthy. He has missed 12 games over the course of the last two seasons due an injured back. This has kept McNeill from receiving anything more than tepid interest around the league.
If McNeill can prove he is healthy, he will be a solid addition for a team in need of an upgrade at offensive tackle.
San Francisco 49ers: Braylon Edwards, Wide Receiver
The San Francisco 49ers brought Braylon Edwards in on the cheap last season, but even then, he couldn't live up to somewhat mild expectations.
He was released after catching just 15 passes in nine games. Considering that the 49ers were extremely weak at the wide receiver position, this has to be alarming.
That being said, Edwards is just one season removed from a 900-yard, seven touchdown performance with the New York Jets.
Interest has been mild at this point. The New York Post is reporting that Edwards' former team, the Jets, have "ruled out" a possible return.
While the Cincinnati Bengals have gone on record about their lack of interest in acquiring Edwards, it was reported back in May that the Houston Texans are in the market for a veteran. They seem like a logical fit.
As it is, some team will take a chance on the talented, but enigmatic receiver.
Seattle Seahawks: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver
The Seattle Seahawks made an emphatic statement about their receiving corps when they released Mike Williams earlier this month. The former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions struggled a great deal in 2011 after a breakout campaign the prior season.
He caught just 18 passes in 12 games and consistently struggled catching the ball cleanly on the outside. This is something that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks' brass had to take into account when they released the veteran.
There is definitely going to be some strong interest in Williams moving forward. He still seems to possess the necessary talent to be a strong contributor.
St. Louis Rams: Jason Brown, Offensive Line
Jason Brown has started double-digit games at either center or guard every season since the start of 2006. While he has been serviceable in both NFL stops, Brown really isn't at the point of his career where he is going to anchor or dominate along the interior of the offensive line.
What he will bring is experience, depth and versatility heading into the 2012 season.
The San Francisco 49ers, who have a need for a veteran lineman, had Brown in for a visit earlier this offseason. They would seem like a logical fit.
In addition to the 49ers, Brown is drawing interest from the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Earnest Graham, Running Back
Simply put, there really isn't much competition here as it relates to current free agents from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Earnest Graham is two years removed from actually making an impact in the league and has probably played his last NFL game.
Not much more to see here.
Tennessee Titans: Jake Scott, Guard
Jake Scott has started 121 consecutive games since midway through the 2004 season with the Indianapolis Colts. In the process, Scott has been one of the most reliable at his position in the National Football League.
This has to make you wonder why he is still without a team heading into training camp.
Scott has had visits with the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens so far this offseason.
You can definitely expect him to catch on with a team and add a valuable veteran presence. In fact, there is no reason to believe that Scott can't come right in and start.
Washington Redskins: Phillip Buchanon, Cornerback
Again, not much to see here. Phillip Buchanon isn't much more than a depth player at this point.
The former first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, largely considered a bust, hasn't done much in recent years.
He played in just one game with the Washington Redskins last season and just doesn't excite me for any team outside of pure depth as a No. 4 or No. 5 corner.
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