As teams begin to round out their NFL rosters, talented players are inevitably available for teams to scoop up. Three notable players are now free agents in 2012, and can make and instant and tangible impact to a new team.
Creating a finalized 53-man roster means finding the balance between talent, leadership, experience, coachability and overall team chemistry. Players who have already played multiple seasons in the NFL are attractive last-minute additions; this year is no different.
Plax has taken part in 10 NFL seasons in his career. Although he missed two seasons late in the 2000s, Plax' track record should be enough to get him a veteran contract.
The receiver's finest year occurred in 2007 for the New York Giants. Plax caught 70 passes for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns, all punctuated by a game-winning score in the Super Bowl against the Patriots.
Since his peak, Plaxico's numbers have changed and so has his team. He has been around the league a bit, and effectively worked into three different offensive schemes.
Despite his numbers declining with age, Plaxico is still a touchdown threat because of his length. The 6'5" receiver snagged eight touchdowns as recently as last season.
As he comes to the twilight of his playing abilities, Plax still has a few leaping grabs left in his tank.
Burress started his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, moved on to the Giants and most recently played with the Jets. This year, Plaxico should once again find a new home.
RB Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant simply became too much of a perennial injury concern for the Packers to continue being patient. However, he has proven that a full season's workload yields great individual results.
Grant cracked 1,000 yards rushing in both 2008 and 2009 (1,203 and 1,253) and played in all 16 games. During 2009, Grant added 11 rushing touchdowns to the Packers potent offensive attack.
Since then, Grant's productivity has been limited by injury and better competition at his position in Green Bay. He has only played in 16 total games the last two years and totaled just over 600 yards and two touchdowns.
His lack of recent success is more due to circumstance than lack of talent. Grant has proven he can be a starting running back in the NFL but he does need a new start.
If Grant is given the chance in 2012, his new team will be pleasantly surprised with his running ability.
TE Jeremy Shockey
Forget position depth and youth. Sometimes, all a team needs is a hard-nosed, "been there before" veteran who can drag his team through the trenches.
Jeremy Shockey knows something about grit and toughness. For that reason, the 32-year-old tight end is still an attractive addition as the 2012 season draws nearer.
Shockey has been part of two Super Bowl-winning franchises (2008 Giants and 2010 Saints) and has recorded 37 receiving touchdowns over the course of his career.
Shockey played 15 games for the Panthers and new quarterback Cam Newton in 2011. He hauled in 37 passes for 455 yards and four scores.
Yet, Shockey's numbers are a poor measure of the value he brings to a team. Despite sometimes being surrounded by drama off the field, Shockey brings a warrior mentality to the gridiron that teams around the league would do well to take notice of.