2013 NFL Free Agents: Under-the-Radar Players Who Could Make a Big Difference

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2013

Running back Shonn Greene has slipped under the national radar in this year's free agency, but could be a great bruising back for a lot of NFL teams.
Running back Shonn Greene has slipped under the national radar in this year's free agency, but could be a great bruising back for a lot of NFL teams.David Welker/Getty Images

Looking at the 2013 free-agent class, there are a number of big names that teams could add to their roster before the season starts.

Names like Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe really jump off the list of free agents, but there are plenty of others who have gone unnoticed.

However, those names that have slipped through national attention could really pay off for teams looking to build their roster at a smaller cost.


Shonn Greene

With the New York Jets likely to let the running back go, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, Greene will be an interesting pickup to a lot of teams, though he may not be the biggest name.

Greene has a little less than 3,500 yards in his career, and has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his last two seasons.

The fifth-year player had his best statistical season in 2012, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, and scoring eight touchdowns. In addition, Greene has only lost six fumbles in his career.

He definitely isn't a well-known free agent to the average fan, but he could be a great addition to some teams.

Two teams that come to mind are the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers.

Atlanta has let go of running back Michael Turner (h/t ESPN.com), and will need a power back like Greene to share the backfield with Jacquizz Rodgers.

The Packers right now don't have a clear-cut No. 1 running back, especially with Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson both being unrestricted free agents.

These aren't the only teams that could use a new guy in the backfield, and Greene could slip past a lot of teams and end up being one of the steals of free agency.


Osi Umenyiora

Yes, Osi Umenyiora has made a huge name for himself in the league, and almost every football fan has heard of him. However, no one seems to be mentioning him in the free agency discussion.

It seems that his parting with the New York Giants slipped past fans, and he could make a huge difference to any team's defense.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons are interested in both Umenyiora and Dwight Freeney. 

Umenyiora would also fit in well with the Dallas Cowboys, who are switching to a 4-3 defense and would be dangerous with Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware switching in and out of the line.

The 10th-year player, who spent all 10 years with the Giants, has 75 career sacks, and has a history of solid health.

In those 10 seasons, there were only three years that he did not start in every regular-season game.

Umenyiora's name seems to have slipped past the national media, and he would be a great addition to any defensive line.


LaRod Stephens-Howling

The overall running back class isn't particularly strong this season. Reggie Bush and Steven Jackson are the two highlights, but after that the list drops off following Michael Turner, who has been showing his age as of late.

For teams looking to fill a spot role, LaRod Stephens-Howling could be just that. He isn't the biggest name out there, but he would sign for a relatively small contract, and could take on a role similar to what Darren Sproles has in New Orleans.

He certainly doesn't have the best stats, but he has averaged over three yards per carry in the past three seasons.

In 2012, he had a career-high four touchdowns, and accounted for 15 first downs behind a dreadful Arizona Cardinals offensive line.

Stephens-Howling can also catch passes out of the backfield and could be a nice change-of-pace back for a team that already has a bruiser in the backfield.