In every NFL offseason, there are free-agent busts and pleasant free-agent surprises. In part because teams do not invest heavily in pro scouting, but also because teams try to fit square pegs into round holes, it is common to see players fall flat on their faces in new locations.
Such is generally not the case with lower-end free agents who are unheralded. In their case, it is much more common to see teams go after players who fit what they do—or plan to do—on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball.
Hence the reason teams often do better with the unheralded moves than the big, splashy ones.
Here are but a few players—who embody the term “unheralded”—sure to improve their new team in 2013.
CB D.J. Moore, Chicago Bears
It is a mystery as to how Moore fell out of favor with the Bears in 2012 after becoming one of the league’s finest nickel corners. Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that Moore will return to Chicago since the defensive staff is assumed to stay in place under Marc Trestman, who was named Chicago's 14th head coach Wednesday.
Moore is an absolute ball hawk who also excels at pressuring the quarterback from the defensive slot position. In spite of less playing time in 2012, Moore managed two interceptions and six passes defensed as the fourth corner.
If given a chance as the full-time nickel (which in today's NFL should be considered a starting player), he will make at least two huge plays for a defense in 2013.
OG Eben Britton, Jacksonville Jaguars
It's hard to imagine Britton being allowed to leave Jacksonville aside from a view of the sack numbers he's allowed as a starter (he has averaged one for every four games he's played in the past two seasons, which is an improvement over his first two years in the league).
Even worse than the passing game for Jacksonville was the running game, which was supposed to be a strength. Ridding themselves of one of their best linemen wouldn't make a ton of sense.
If he is able to leave, Britton would have little trouble finding a home.
OG/C Antoine Caldwell, Houston Texans
Considering that Houston won a playoff game without him, it is more than conceivable that Antoine Caldwell could leave via free agency. He has played somewhat out of position for the Texans (played center at Alabama) in a zone blocking scheme.
If he were to play center for a team that prefers more of a gap-blocking scheme, he could be highly successful. In 39 games played in his career, he's given up 5.5 sacks.
He epitomizes the square peg/round hole analogy that football analysts love to talk about. Why wouldn't someone give him a chance?
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