Buying or Selling These 55 NFL Free Agents as Over the Hill Commodities
As most football players learn eventually, the NFL is a business. That point has been driven home throughout the brief 2013 offseason when we see NFL teams say goodbye to players such as Charles Woodson, Osi Umenyiora, Kyle Vanden Bosch, John Abraham and Dwight Freeney.
With free agency set to begin on March 12, we wanted to look at a number of NFL veterans that could be deemed as "over the hill" type of players and determine if they still have enough gas left in the tank to be relevant additions for a new team.
George Allen, ex-head coach of the Washington Redskins, used to enjoy picking up players past their prime, as his "Over the Hill Gang" had success despite their advanced age.
We have selected 55 players for this presentation. Why 55 players you ask? There are 55 days until the 2013 NFL Draft. That is as good a reason as any.
The players in question have to be at least 30-years-old to qualify and have to be a free agent as of March 1.
You have to wonder how much longer each of these 55 free agents will continue to play. There is no doubt that NFL players take better care of their bodies due to the help of nutritionists, staying in shape year-round and the advancements in medicine.
We will look at the recent performance of every player and rate them according to what they have demonstrated, as opposed to automatically writing them off once they hit 35.
These 55 free agents are listed in alphabetical order, and we will conclude with either a verdict of BUYING for players we want to sign to a new deal or a verdict of SELLING for players we prefer to see walk away and start their second career.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com
DE John Abraham
Defensive end John Abraham was a salary-cap casualty of the Atlanta Falcons this week. The Falcons must have hated to pull the plug on Abraham, as he led the team with 10 sacks in 2012. He further proved his value by generating six forced fumbles in 2012, to go along with seven pass deflections.
Abraham graded out as the No. 5 overall 4-3 defensive end for the 2012 season at Pro Football Focus. Abraham has led the Falcons in sacks for each of the past three years.
In his 12-year NFL career, Abraham has logged double-digit sacks seven different times. With 122.5 career sacks, Abraham is one of the elite pass-rushers that is available in the free-agent market. Even though he is 34 years old, Abraham is still proving that he is worth the investment.
DB Will Allen
Defensive back Will Allen is 34 years old, and his future in the NFL is in serious doubt.
Allen tried to play in 2012 with the New England Patriots, but the team placed him on IR before the season ever began. Allen met with a similar fate in 2010. So with advanced age and a body that continues to break down, it is difficult to show any optimism for Allen to still be an effective player.
DB Ronde Barber
Like Charles Woodson, Ronde Barber made the move from cornerback to safety. In his debut as a safety in 2012, Barber proved that not only could he play at safety, he actually excelled at the position. Pro Football Focus gave him their No. 10 ranking for all safeties in 2012.
With 15 years of NFL experience, and at 37 years old, Barber is a unique athlete. He takes great care of himself and is a great example of why you have to look past the age of the player and look at what he does on the field.
As of now, Barber isn't sure if he will play in 2013 or if he will call it a career. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a young team and could use some positive veterans in the locker room. We should find out over the next month what Barber decides to do. If he wants to continue to play, then my decision is easy.
QB Charlie Batch
Quarterback Charlie Batch has seen more than his fair share of NFL games over his long career. Now 38-years-old, Batch was able to notch a 23-20 win as the starting quarterback against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 last year. Batch threw for 276 yards in the game, surprising many football fans as to how effective he was.
Batch has 55 career starts, but only nine of them have come since 2003.
In his 14-year career in the NFL, Batch has 61 touchdown passes compared to 52 interceptions. For 2013, it appears that the Steelers are turning the page on Batch and looking to bring in a younger backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
LB Nick Barnett
LB Nick Barnett led the Buffalo Bills in tackles for each of the last two years. For his efforts, Barnett was rewarded with his walking papers during the 2013 offseason.
Barnett had an injury-plagued 2010 season with Green Bay, who parted ways with him after the season. Barnett played in all 16 games both years with Buffalo, proving that he is healthy enough to suit up all year.
Pro Football Focus gave Barnett a positive grade on run-support and pass-coverage skills in 2012. He was ranked as the No. 9 4-3 outside linebacker in the league for 2012. The only negative grade he received was for rushing the passer.
Barnett proved his effectiveness last year, so he still has something to give a new employer.
RB Cedric Benson
Free-agent running back Cedric Benson was only able to play in five games for the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 season. Once again, Benson finished the year with a rushing average less than the league standard of 4.0 yards per rush (3.5).
In fact, Benson has only topped 4.0 yards per rush for an entire season just one time out of the last six seasons. With the emergence of running backs drafted late in the draft (see Alfred Morris), it doesn't make sense for NFL teams to trot out an underperforming 30-year-old Benson.
K Rob Bironas
Kicker Rob Bironas is now 35 years old, but shows no signs of slowing down. The Tennessee Titans think highly of Bironas, as they would like to sign him to a long-term deal, despite his advancing age.
Bironas converted on 25-of-31 field goals in 2012. He was perfect on every kick up to 39-yards long and made half of his attempts from 40 yards and beyond.
LB Michael Boley
Linebacker MIchael Boley was released by the New York Giants in early February. Boley, now 30 years old, was considered to be in a degree of trouble when the Giants benched him down the stretch run of the 2012 season.
In 2012, Boley wound up as a bottom-four 4-3 linebacker according to the rankings at Pro Football Focus. He received a negative grade in all categories across the board. That pretty much sums it up for me.
LB Keith Brooking
Linebacker Keith Brooking has been able to last in the NFL for a very respectable 14 years. But at 37 years old, the level of effectiveness just isn't there any more.
In 2012, Brooking made 54 tackles to go along with one sack and one forced fumble. The rest of his stat line was empty. That forced fumble was the only he created since 2006, and since that time he only has one interception. There are playmakers, and then there are players like Brooking.
RB Ronnie Brown
San Diego Chargers RB Ronnie Brown is 31 years old now. In 2012, the running back had more receiving yards (371) than rushing yards (220), which tells you everything you need to know about his days being effective running the ball.
Brown still can be an effective third-down back catching passes out of the backfield. But that kind of a reduced role can easily be replaced by a rookie, so Brown may find few suitors in 2013.
WR Plaxico Burress
WR Plaxico Burress came up with three pass receptions in 2012. NFL teams that had needs at wide receiver didn't seem to think that Burress was going to provide much help, so he was largely ignored by the league.
Despite being a great target in the red zone, it appears that this might be the end for the 35-year-old Burress. For 2013, he can only hope that enough receivers get injured, where a team would be forced to give him a chance.
DL Chris Canty
Defensive lineman Chris Canty is another free agent looking for a home, but unlike Plaxico Burress, he has teams that are interested in him. Since being released by the New York Giants, Canty has already had workouts with Kansas City and Tennessee.
Canty is 30 years old. In 2012, Canty graded out as a top-20 defensive tackle at Pro Football Focus. His best skill is stopping the run, which will no doubt be what teams are looking for him to provide in 2013.
QB David Carr
Quarterback David Carr hasn't started a single game in the NFL in the last five years. You would think after all this time of inactivity that he would want to go somewhere where he could challenge for a starting job.
Carr is now 33 years old and is expected back as Eli Manning's clipboard holder for 2013. Apparently this is what Carr is comfortable doing. We should all be so lucky.
DE Andre Carter
Defensive end Andre Carter had a great 2011 campaign going with the New England Patriots until he suffered a injury to his quad. He wound up tied for the sacks lead with the Patriots (along with Mark Anderson) but wasn't able to heal in time for the start of the 2012 season.
Eventually Carter signed with the Oakland Raiders but failed to start a single game. He wound up with 2.5 sacks on the year. His sack totals over the last four years is anything but consistent: 11, 2.5, 10, 2.5. You just aren't sure what you are going to get from Carter one year to the next.
Going off of recent history, Carter is due for a bounce-back year in 2013. Whether or not he is healthy enough to pull it off remains to be seen. This is a tentative verdict, awaiting a medical update.
TE Dallas Clark
Tight end Dallas Clark is now 33 years old and his best days are clearly well behind him. The good news is that Clark played every game in 2012, the first time he has done that in the last three seasons.
It has been three years since Clark had his stellar 2009 season, when he came up with 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns. The totals from the last three years combined basically matches what Clark did in 2009 alone.
If you accept that Clark has a reduced role going forward as a role-playing tight end, then the verdict is buying. If you are looking for a top-tier tight end, the verdict is selling.
DB Nate Clements
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Nate Clements is 33 years old. He has already played 11 years in the NFL, where he has amassed 36 interceptions and 23 forced fumbles over the years.
In 2012, Clements played at both cornerback and safety. His performance though has been slipping over the years, and in 2012, Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 91 corner in the league, out of a total of 113 players. Not in the bottom 20, but extremely close. So close that it is hard to give Clements a thumbs up for 2013.
TE Chris Cooley
Washington Redskins TE Chris Cooley is now 30 years old. He has played his entire career with the Redskins. Over the past three years, Cooley has seen his number of starts gradually reduce from 16 games, to five games and then just two starts in 2012.
His production was so limited in 2012 that he only had one reception for the season. That doesn't bode well for Cooley's ability to be an effective player going forward.
Assuming that Cooley isn't coming back to the Redskins this year, another option would be to retire so that he could say he played for just one team in his career.
K Billy Cundiff
Ever since kicker Billy Cundiff missed the clutch kick in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots, he has been bouncing around the league trying to find a more permanent home.
Now 32, Cundiff is a free agent coming into the new season. He appeared with Washington and San Francisco in 2012.
During the past three years, Cundiff's field-goal accuracy has been steadily dropping from 89.7 percent to 75.7 and then to 58.3 percent last year. That just doesn't cut it in the NFL.
K Phil Dawson
Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson is a free agent in 2013, after the Browns stuck him with the franchise tag in each of the last two seasons.
At 38 years old, you would think that Dawson's powerful leg would begin to lose some of the power, but that is far from the case.
In 2012, Dawson was an incredible 13-of-13 in field-goal attempts from 40 yards or longer. He was 6-of-6 from 40-49 yards and an amazing 7-of-7 from 50 yards or longer.
Forget the age, look at the results. When Dawson hits free agency, he will be in demand.
OL Derrick Dockery
Guard Derrick Dockery is a 32-years-old free agent coming into the 2013 offseason. Dockery has played for Washington, Dallas and Buffalo over his 10-year career in the NFL.
He has started 115 games to date in those 10 years. For the past three years however, Dockery hasn't started any more than two games in any of those campaigns.
At this juncture of his career, Dockery is purely there for depth along the offensive line.
DL Ron Edwards
Carolina Panthers nose tackle Ron Edwards is a free agent now that he was released this week.
The release shouldn't have come as a huge surprise to Panthers fans, since Edwards was only able to play in just 11 out of the last 32 games since he joined the team.
This might be the end of the road for Edwards.
LB Larry Foote
Pittsburgh Steelers LB Larry Foote is 32 years old and has played 10 years for Pittsburgh and one year for the Detroit Lions.
Foote is trying to sign a new deal to go back to Pittsburgh to extend his career, but we suspect that the money being offered is at a lower figure than he has previously earned.
Pro Football Focus graded Foote as the No. 46 inside linebacker in 2012, out of a total of 53 players. Being in the bottom 10 is a warning sign that Foote is losing effectiveness and that the end isn't far away.
DL Aubrayo Franklin
Defensive lineman Aubrayo Franklin is a free agent in 2013. He has bounced around lately, playing for three different teams in the last three years. Those teams were San Francisco, New Orleans and San Diego.
Franklin is a nose tackle, but don't expect him to put heat on the quarterback. He hasn't had a single sack in the last three years. According to Pro Football Focus, Franklin was the No. 25 nose tackle in football last year in San Diego. He graded out better against the run, so for teams needing somebody to stuff the run, Franklin can still be effective.
DE Dwight Freeney
DE Dwight Freeney is now a free agent since the Indianapolis Colts told him that they would not be bringing him back for 2013. Freeney is a 4-3 defensive end and never really panned out when the Colts made the switch to a 3-4 scheme under Coach Pagano.
At 33 years old, Freeney is still able to rush the quarterback effectively. He may not be the guy you want to play for all three downs, but when a team is looking at third and long, it would be a tremendous asset to turn to Freeney and ask him to put some heat on the quarterback.
Freeney is responsible for 107.5 sacks over his career. The former All-Pro could be the missing piece for a team that is just a player or two away, so expect him to be in demand in free agency.
LB Scott Fujita
Linebacker Scott Fujita is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons and is now 33 years old. Fujita has been dealing with a variety of injuries that have prevented him from appearing in more than 11 games in any of the last four years. He hasn't reached the 60-plateau level in tackles in any of the last four years either.
With health being a struggle and the performance slowly dropping, it is hard to make a case for Fujita at this stage of his career.
QB David Garrard
Quarterback David Garrard sat out the 2012 season due to injuries but is back in 2013 trying to hook on with a NFL team. He had a tryout with the New York Jets this week, and a tweet from Adam Schefter reports that a deal is possible.
On the surface, the Jets needed to improve on the depth at quarterback considering that the other option was Tim Tebow. Whether or not Garrard can truly challenge Mark Sanchez remains to be seen. After all, Garrard hasn't started a game in over two seasons.
Over his career in the NFL, Garrard has only played in all 16 games just twice. Garrard is hardly a model of health, but that should make him more affordable for the Jets to employ.
TE Tony Gonzalez
Atlanta Falcons free-agent tight end Tony Gonzalez hasn't made any formal retirement announcement yet, so he is still in play as a free agent.
Gonzalez will undoubtedly be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he continues to put up amazing numbers. At 37 years old, Gonzalez shows no real signs of slowing down. He caught 93 passes in 2012 for 930 yards. He caught eight touchdown passes and came up with 65 receptions that resulted in a first down.
No wonder the Falcons are trying to put on the full-court press to try to convince Gonzalez to come back for one more year.
K Shayne Graham
Shayne Graham is a free agent kicker looking to extend his career for another year. Graham is 35 years old now. In the last three seasons, he has kicked for the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. That is the very definition of bouncing around.
In 2012, Graham was fine from less than 50 yards for the Houston Texans, but once the attempts were 50 yards or longer, the accuracy faded. Graham made seven of nine from 40-49 yards, but only made four of nine from 50-yards or longer.
Whether or not Houston brings him back in 2013 remains to be seen. Our verdict is based on recent production and what he has done over his career.
NT Casey Hampton
Nose tackle Casey Hampton is 35 years old now. He has played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the team has been in a transition for the last two years in an attempt to get younger.
Hampton didn't have a stellar 2012 season. Pro Football Focus gave him negative grades on stuffing the run. His overall rank was No. 77 out of 85 total defensive tackles.
The bottom-10 rank is a reflection that it is time for Pittsburgh to move on and turn the page.
RB Brandon Jacobs
RB Brandon Jacobs became a free agent during the 2012 season when he was released by the San Francisco 49ers during the season.
2012 was a lost year for Jacobs as his final stats tally reveals that he had five rushes for seven yards. That was it.
That came on the heels of a 2011 season where Jacobs watched in horror as his average gain per rush plunged from 5.6 to 3.8 yards per attempt.
He might be able to catch on as a short-yardage back, but the glory days of being a star are over.
CB Quentin Jammer
Long-time San Diego Chargers corner Quentin Jammer is a free agent coming into the 2013 offseason. Jammer has played 11 years in the league, all with San Diego. He is 33 years old.
Jammer has amassed 21 interceptions and forced seven fumbles in his career. In the last five years, Jammer has only missed one start, which demonstrates great reliability.
It is one thing to play in every game, it is another thing to play every game well. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for Jammer in 2012. Pro Football Focus gave him negative grades in enough areas that he wound up being ranked No. 107 out of a total of 113 corners in the NFL. A bottom-10 ranking is going to result in a selling verdict most of the time.
DL Cullen Jenkins
Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins is a 32-year-old free agent who has nine years of NFL experience under his belt. Jenkins played for the Philadelphia Eagles during the last two years.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jenkins "is scheduled to visit Seahawks on Monday and 49ers on Tuesday." Anybody is free to sign him now, which would allow any team needing a defensive tackle to go in different directions at the draft.
Jenkins was ranked No. 45 rank by Pro Football Focus for all defensive tackles in 2012. He received a positive grade but was found to be lacking in stuffing the run. Whether that was directly on Jenkins or was a result of the underperforming Eagles defense in general is open to debate.
When that many teams line up to meet you, that speaks volumes about what your perceived worth is.
C Dan Koppen
Koppen became Manning's center during the 2012 season and finished the year as the No. 21 center in the NFL, according to the rankings at Pro Football Focus. Due to the retirement of Matt Birk, you could then say that Koppen is now top-20 material.
Guards and tackles are more in demand this offseason than centers, so no word yet on where Koppen will be hiking the ball in 2013.
QB Byron Leftwich
Quarterback Byron Leftwich is a 33-year-old free agent who will be seeking a new team for the 2013 season. It appears that backup quarterback is another position that the Pittsburgh Steelers want to get younger at, as old age has hit the Steelers hard in the last couple seasons.
Leftwich has now been in the NFL for 10 years. During that time, he has started 50 games and has a career record of 24-26. The last time that Leftwich started three games or more in one season was back in 2009, when he started three games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
At this stage of his career, Leftwich is strictly a backup quarterback. Whether or not he catches on with another team as a backup quarterback in 2013 remains to be seen.
DB Jim Leonhard
Defensive back Jim Leonhard is a 30-year-old free agent looking to continue his NFL career. To date, Leonhard has made four stops in the AFC during his playing career, as he has been with Buffalo, Baltimore, New York Jets and Denver.
Leonhard has started 61 games in his career and has made eight interceptions. He has 110 special teams returns in his career (kick returns and punt returns) but has never scored a touchdown on special teams.
He started just one game for Denver in 2012. At this stage of his career, he appears to be better suited for depth purposes.
CB Terrence McGee
Corner Terrence McGee has played his entire career for the Buffalo Bills. From 2004-07, McGee was making anywhere from 13-15 starts per year at corner and returning kickoffs, gaining at least 1,000 yards on returns in all four seasons.
But from 2008 on, the injuries started knocking McGee out of games. He dropped the kickoff return duties but it didn't help. The number of starts keep dwindling: from 15, 13, 10, six, four and then last year he didn't start a single game. Following that evidence, it shouldn't have surprised that many fans to see him receive a pink slip in February from Buffalo.
T Bryant McKinnie
Tackle Bryant McKinnie had a rather strange 2012 season. Strange from the standpoint that he didn't have a single start in the regular season but then started every one of the Ravens playoff games.
McKinnie played so well in the playoffs that the team is hoping to bring him back for the 2013 season, but the Ravens have greater priorities they are dealing with.
At 33 years old, McKinnie may still have something left in the tank, but he will be flying under the radar at the beginning of free agency due to the existence of better free agents on the market.
Somebody might be able to get McKinnie for a song, but they will have to monitor his weight. Verdict is based on not earning a single start in 2012 regular season.
P Brian Moorman
Punter Brian Moorman was the grey beard of the Buffalo Bills entering the 2012 season.
Moorman's performance in the opening weeks of the 2012 season bordered on anemic (32.7 net yards for his first 15 punts), so the Bills decided to release their long-time punter. The Dallas Cowboys picked Moorman up, and he finished the season in Dallas.
Moorman isn't your usual punter, as he is the kind of athlete that competes in Ironman competitions. But even though Moorman stays in great shape, his performance at the age of 37 leads one to believe that it might be time for Moorman to call it a career.
WR Randy Moss
San Francisco 49ers free-agent wide receiver Randy Moss came out of a one-year retirement to play for the 49ers in 2012. Moss clearly wasn't a top option in the offense, but he did serve as a positive role model to the younger players on the unit.
In the 2012 season, Moss came up with 28 receptions for 434 yards. Moss scored three touchdowns and averaged 15.5 yards per catch. He also had seven receptions that went for at least 20-plus yards.
The 28 receptions were the result of 51 targets to Moss last year. If Moss were playing on a team that was void of a true No. 1 wide receiver, we don't really know what kind of numbers he could produce as the focal point of a passing attack. It has been long enough that we have seen Moss excel for an entire season that we aren't really sure of what he truly has left in the tank.
If you want to add Moss as your No. 4 or 5 wide receiver, the verdict is BUYING. If however, you want him to do more than that...
LB Calvin Pace
Linebacker Calvin Pace received a pink slip from the New York Jets this offseason, as the Jets tried to get out of a huge salary cap mess. Pace is now 32 years old and has been playing in the league for 10 years.
Pace has 109 starts over the span of his career, which has resulted in three interceptions and 17 forced fumbles. Creating an average of two turnovers per year isn't the kind of play that will create a buying frenzy for Pace.
In 2012 Pro Football Focus graded Pace as the No. 31 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, out of a possible 34 players. His grades against the pass and rushing the quarterback showed that he hurts his team. He is barely average against the run. Based on those results, the verdict is pretty clear.
G Stephen Peterman
Free-agent guard Stephen Peterman is now 31 years old. The right guard appeared in 48-straight starts for the Lions but is now free to sign with any NFL team since the Lions released him.
Peterman is considered to be better as a run blocker and needs help in pass protection. It will be interesting to see which team he plays for in 2013, but he would be more beneficial to a team with a mobile quarterback.
This verdict is a tribute to his ability to be durable and was somebody the Lions could count on every week.
LB Shaun Phillips
Linebacker Shaun Phillips has apparently played his last game for San Diego. The Chargers salary cap situation is dire enough that Phillips is just one of the veteran free agents that will undoubtedly surface playing for a new team in 2013.
Phillips is now 31 years old. As a 3-4 outside linebacker, Phillips really struggled in 2013. Pro Football Focus graded him out at No. 33 out of 34 players. He received negative grades across the board in stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. He was above average in pass coverage, but these marks say that Phillips is now a liability.
S Ed Reed
Baltimore Ravens free agent safety Ed Reed has his Super Bowl ring, so we will learn soon enough what his priorities are based on how he conducts his next contract.
He could either hold out for the most money, or he could settle for whatever the Ravens can afford and see if they can defend their title as Super Bowl champions.
Reed is now 34 years old, but due to all of the free agents in Baltimore, there is really nothing to report on with regards to a new deal. Due to Joe Flacco reaching a verbal agreement with Baltimore, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the Ravens wind up giving Reed the franchise tag on Monday.
Until then, we have no problem in declaring that Reed is still one of the best safeties in the NFL and that if Baltimore allows him to hit free agency, a number of teams will want to make a run at him.
CB Dunta Robinson
Defensive back Dunta Robinson was released on Friday by the Atlanta Falcons so that they could comply with the salary cap deadline.
Robinson's performance on the field never lived up to the big contract he signed as a free agent, which made his release one of the expected moves the Falcons could make.
Now 30 years old, teams have to figure out if they want Robinson as a starting cornerback or as a slot corner. Based on the results in Atlanta, a slot corner seems to be the best fit for him at this stage of his career.
Whether or not he is willing to accept slot corner money is literally the million dollar question.
LB Bart Scott
Just like fellow linebacker Calvin Pace, Bart Scott was also shown the door by the New York Jets during the 2013 offseason. Scott is 32 years old and healing up from toe surgery, which will put a slight hold on his ability to be scooped up in free agency.
According to the chart guys at Pro Football Focus, Scott only saw action on 582 snaps in 2012, which is a much larger reduced role than most of the middle linebackers in the league. With a ranking of No. 18 for all inside linebackers, Scott is viewed as average to slightly above average in all areas.
While there has been no mention yet of visiting any teams since his release, it is not difficult to imagine Scott following his defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to the Buffalo Bills, since Scott has such a strong base of knowledge about the AFC East division offenses.
WR Donte Stallworth
Wide receiver Donte Stallworth has only managed to come up with 25 receptions over the past four seasons. In 2012, Stallworth made one reception on the year with New England, which went for a 63-yard touchdown. That was great, but Stallworth wound up going on IR as a result and was lost for the year.
Due to injuries or inactivity, it is clear that Stallworth isn't the kind of free agent that will be making an impact on any team going forward.
T Max Starks
Tackle Max Starks is 31 years old as he approaches free agency in 2013.
The Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle had a rough 2012 campaign, as he wound up in the bottom 10 of all tackles at Pro Football Focus.
Starks had the most difficulty in pass protection, and that will hold him back from getting any offers of real significance unless a team wants to add him purely for depth purposes.
WR Brandon Stokley
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley had his own revival party going on in 2012. Now 36 years old, it would have been a reasonable assumption that Stokley's career was basically over coming into the 2012 season.
He only had a grand total of four starts from 2008-2011. But enter old teammate Peyton Manning to the Denver offense in 2012, and Stokley suddenly became relevant again.
Last year Stokley had 45 receptions for 544 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 12.1 yards per catch. Those kind of numbers would be viewed as strong production on some teams around the league.
RB Michael Turner
RB Michael Turner was one of the three Atlanta Falcons that were released from the team on Friday, according to this tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Turner has been the workhorse for the Falcons since joining the team, but he has been playing through some groin injuries which have limited his effectiveness.
Looking at Turner's production, his average yardage per rush dropped almost a full yard during the past year, going from 4.5 to 3.6 yards per carry. Turner can still be part of an effective running back committee but he needs other backs to help carry the load now that he is 31 years old.
Place Turner in the right scenario and he can still be effective.
DL Osi Umenyiora
Free Agent defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora was released by the New York Giants, so now he is free to sign with any team he wants to play for.
Umenyiora is 31 years old so he would appear to still have some years left in him to help a team out with their pass-rush production. While he is probably best suited for situational snaps at this stage, he can still be effective in getting to the quarterback.
In 2012, Umenyiora was only one-half of a sack behind Jason Pierre-Paul for the team lead.
LB Brian Urlacher
LB Brian Urlacher has been the face of the Chicago Bears defense for many years. Now at 34 years old, Urlacher is in the twilight of his career.
Injuries have reduced his effectiveness to a degree, as he was only able to appear in 12 games last season. Urlacher has started in 180 games during his career for the Bears, which demonstrates his durability and longevity.
The number of tackles have been declining over the past three years: 97 to 86 to 53, which is an indication that his body isn't able to react the way we are used to seeing him perform.
2013 could very well be the final hurrah for Urlacher. The Bears want him back, so he will have to be monitored to keep him healthy and to keep his legs as fresh as possible. It has been a great ride for the All-Pro linebacker.
Provided the Bears don't expect him to play every snap in 2013, the verdict is to buy.
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
Free-agent DE Kyle Vanden Bosch is looking for work since he has been released by the Detroit Lions. Vanden Bosch is 34 years old and has been in the NFL for 11 years.
While he has registered 58 sacks in his career, Vanden Bosch has only topped five sacks just once over the last five seasons, when he collected eight sacks for the Lions in 2011.
Vanden Bosch will probably not get any serious offers based on watching film from his play in 2012. Out of a possible 62 defensive ends that played in a 4-3 scheme in 2012, Vanden Bosch was ranked dead last by Pro Football Focus. That says it all.
WR Wes Welker
New England Patriots free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker overcame an unusually rough start to his 2012 season and wound up with typically strong numbers for the year.
For any NFL team that was planning to go after Welker in free agency, they must have cringed when the Patriots announced the restructuring of Tom Brady's contract. That transaction could very well be the move that frees up the cash necessary to keep Welker in New England.
The track record that the 31-years-old Welker has produced ever since he arrived in New England is one of the few easy buy verdicts from this list.
LB Will Witherspoon
Tennessee Titans LB Will Witherspoon is 32 years old. He has played in the NFL for 11 seasons, rotating between inside and outside linebacker over the span of his career.
In 2012, Witherspoon saw his streak of starting at least 10 games for 10-straight years snapped, when he was only allowed to start six games for the Titans.
Being reduced to more of a backup at this stage of his career doesn't bode well for his chances for a major role going forward.
DB Charles Woodson
Last in the alphabet, but clearly not least. Green Bay Packers DB Charles Woodson is now 36 years old, but his services will still be in demand in 2013.
Woodson moved to safety in 2012 and is still a leader in the secondary. He only appeared in seven games during the 2012 season, which limited his impact. But if you are wondering how effective he still is, just look at his 2011 stat line, when he came up with seven interceptions as a 35-year-old to tie for the league lead.
This is another very easy call to make.
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