8 Available NFL Free Agents Who Won't Sign Until Injuries Strike Training Camp
There are still several prominent veterans left on the NFL free-agent market. However, this group find themselves still available thanks to issues such as age and durability concerns.
That's not to say these players couldn't still be valuable on the right team. However, at this stage, they are only likely to land in a new home if a team suffers injuries at a key position during training camp.
Here are the eight best available NFL free agents who won't be signed until injuries strike training camps.
Matt Roth DE/OLB
Rush end Matt Roth has the scheme versatility and pass-rushing skills that several teams would find useful, if injuries strike along their defensive fronts.
Roth has played both 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end during his eight-year career. At 6'4" and 275 pounds, he has the size to set the edge against the run and the strength to overpower tackles on the pass rush.
If any team loses a key pass-rusher to injury or simply wants to add another pressure threat to their rotation, then Roth should be first choice.
Ryan Grant, RB
Ryan Grant has the experience and versatility to be a productive member of any backfield rotation. After missing all but one game during the 2010 season, Grant returned to make 14 starts in 2011.
He averaged 4.2 yards per rush and also showed his flair for the big play. The 29-year-old scored two touchdowns, a 47-yard run and an 80-yard pass reception.
Grant has recently been linked with the Washington Redskins, according to NFL.com, and he could draw further interest from any team needing experienced help at running back.
Plaxico Burress, WR
Despite his age, 34-year-old Plaxico Burress did enough during the 2011 season to prove he can still be a credible threat in the passing game. The tall flanker hauled in 45 receptions for 612 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
Burress still has a knack for getting open in the red zone, and his size and proficiency across the middle will always make him a tempting target. Given the fact that he is nearing the end of his career, Burress will have to wait a little longer for a team to take a chance on him.
Joseph Addai, RB
Recently released running back Joseph Addai still has the all-round skills to be a useful third-down option for any offense. An inability to stay healthy has plagued Addai in recent seasons and contributed to the New England Patriots' decision to part ways with the former Indianapolis Colt, according to ESPNBoston.com.
However, if Addai can prove his fitness, then a team with a thin running back rotation may be willing to take a gamble. His receiving and pass-blocking skills are valuable in any scheme.
Kelly Gregg, NT
Any 3-4 team looking for experienced cover at the scheme's most valuable position should consider signing veteran nose tackle Kelly Gregg. The 35-year old spent 2011 as the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs and probably has a good season or two left.
A classic 3-4 plugger, Gregg has the powerful, squat frame and natural leverage all true nose tackles need to succeed. He could be a plug-and-play starter on run downs or simply act as a useful rotation player, able to spell an established first-teamer.
Marcus McNeill, OT
Marucs McNeill finds himself waiting for an NFL team to take a chance on a player once regarded as one of the league's premier offensive linemen. Lingering neck injuries have raised legitimate concerns about McNeill's ability to hold up over the course of a season, damaging his standing around the NFL.
However, he remains the most accomplished blindside pass-protector left on the market. Given the tremendous importance of that position, any team suddenly finding themselves short in this area shouldn't hesitate to offer McNeill the chance to prove he can still be a factor.
E.J. Henderson, MLB
A linebacker as savvy and versatile as E.J. Henderson will always be valuable to a defense. The former Minnesota Vikings starter is an active middle 'backer, with the ability to plug either A-gap and stuff the run, as well as being a factor in zone pass coverage.
He has instincts and short-area quickness to play the nickel and the recognition skills and tenacity to handle the middle in base fronts. However, given the rise of nickel and dime fronts on first and second downs, the 31-year-old will only be sought out if injuries deplete an existing linebacker rotation.
Jeremy Shockey, TE
Jeremy Shockey is still the kind of multi-faceted receiving threat most teams now covet at the tight end position. He can work the middle as an in-line target or attack the seams vertically from the slot.
The 31-year-old spent the 2011 campaign as a member of the Carolina Panthers and became a valuable outlet for rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Shockey tallied 37 receptions for 455 yards and added four touchdowns.
At 6'5" and 251 pounds, he can still help out as a blocker and run over defenders in the open field. Given how important tight ends have become in today's offenses, any teams that loses a member of their rotation should waste no time before giving Shockey a call.