The 2013 NFL offseason can be described with one word: Surprising. There’s been a flurry of unforeseen cuts, blockbuster trades and shocking free-agent signings over the past few days.
Perhaps most astonishing of all is the sheer amount of quality players still available on the open market. There are plenty of talented veterans that can certainly contribute at a high level just waiting for the right offer to come along.
We’re here to take a look at the cream of that crop, highlighting the three best free agents that are still obtainable.
*OT Jake Long is not included on this list, as the Miami Dolphins or St. Louis Rams are highly likely to sign him in the very near future.
After parting ways with Bernard Pollard, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Ray Lewis, it seems ridiculous that the Baltimore Ravens could lose another defensive starter from their Super Bowl run.
However, superstar safety Ed Reed is testing the waters this March and could end up wearing a new uniform for the 2013 season.
The 12-year veteran has spent his entire career with the organization and earned his first ring just over a month ago, but has already visited the Houston Texans and likely has a long list of suitors as the top available safety.
Over his career, the 34-year-old has appeared in 160 games and recorded 606 tackles, 61 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 10 recovered fumbles and seven touchdowns.
Reed is an absolute game changer at the position and is capable of making big plays all over the field. While he’s getting up there in age, it’s clearly not impacting his performance—as evidenced by his most recent interception in the Super Bowl.
It’s apparently (as per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun) going to cost upwards of $6 million a season to ink Reed to a new contract, but this future Hall of Famer has proven he’s worth every penny.
Despite a down year in 2012, Jennings is still regarded as one of the top wideouts in the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers unrestricted free agent appeared in only eight contests during an injury-plagued campaign, catching 36 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
Regardless, the eight-year veteran has proven to be a legitimate deep threat and reliable No. 1 option in a passing-oriented offense—as evidenced by his career numbers of 425 receptions, 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns.
He put together a string of three straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards from 2008 to 2010 and still seems to have plenty left in the tank at the age of 29.
The former Western Michigan star is currently visiting the Pack’s NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings, as that franchise has a clear need for a prolific WR after trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks.
It’ll be interesting to see if he signs there or winds up going in a different direction when all is said and done.
Pass-rushers are at a premium in the modern NFL, even 33-year-old ones that struggled and changed positions during the 2012 campaign.
Nonetheless, Freeney has totaled 298 tackles, 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles during his incredible 12-year career with the Indianapolis Colts.
He possesses a complete package of speed, power and finesse desired at the position, and can still put gobs of pressure on the QB despite his advanced age.
Freeney is currently visiting New England, a longtime rival, and could be an immense upgrade to the team’s defensive line.