How NFL Draft Results Change Potential Landings Spots for Veteran Free Agents
As the old adage goes, defense wins wins championships. If that's true—and if you check out how the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers did on the defensive side of the ball last year, it might—then there is always some room available for veteran leadership.
But as the draft is now in our rear view, some of the biggest defensive names that have been household favorites for the last decade are still waiting for the right team to call to provide that veteran savvy and experience.
So what's next for Dwight Freeney and Brian Urlacher? Read ahead and see what big-name defensive free agents still have a shot at playing in the 2013-14 season.
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After early reports that former Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham was in negotiations with the Denver Broncos in late March, a few other teams have become interested as well. In early April, reports came in that the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins showed interest as well.
Since the draft has ended, however, Abraham has seen little to know interest. But, a source told Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com and USA Today on April 27 that the New England Patriots are "likely to land" the defensive lineman and that "they hope to finish a deal in a couple weeks," via Twitter. I know it takes some scrolling, but yes, this is indeed true.
If Abraham is picked up by the Pats, then it provides a much-needed veteran presence to a younger locker room. Abraham wants to win, and the 35-year-old still has a motor to give New England the pass rushing it needs.
Although his price tag is in the ballpark of $3 million to $4 million, he gave Atlanta 10 sacks and registered 33 tackles in 2012.
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Another pass-rushing defensive end still remains on the free-agent market. Even though Freeney is no longer a three-down lineman, the former Pro Bowler has enough juice to give the right team some pass-rushing ability in passing situations.
It's not like Freeney hasn't gotten interest. Like John Abraham, the Denver Broncos were also in talks with Freeney, as well as former Charger Shaun Phillips.
The problem with Freeney is the asking price. He reportedly went down from $8 million to $6.5 million, saying that he wants a deal similar to the Falcons' Osi Umeniyora's two-year, $8.5 million contract.
The Broncos went in a different direction, signing Phillips for one-year, $1 million.
After signing Phillips, the Broncos still could sign Freeney, but only if he wants less money. Denver only spent one draft pick on a defensive end when they acquired Quanterus Smith from Western Kentucky in Round 4 of the NFL draft. If the price is right, Freeney could be brought in to mentor the young lineman.
For a player who's past his prime and getting older by the day, Freeney needs to bring his price tag down if he wants to play in 2013..
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The veteran cornerback-turned-safety just isn't getting any love on the NFL free-agent market.
Only one team, the San Francisco 49ers,was reportedly interested in the 16-year veteran. After Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson signed with Tampa Bay, the Super Bowl runner-ups needed to fill a hole in the secondary.
As of April 17, Matt Maiocco of csnbayarea.com said that the 49ers remained in talks with Woodson. The possibility of him signing there, however, has decreased since San Fran chose safety Eric Reid out of LSU in the first round of the NFL draft last Thursday.
Woodson would've been perfect in the 49ers' system. He's aggressive, and he made the fluent transition to safety after playing corner two seasons ago. The problem is that Woodson picked the wrong time in his career to miss a few regular-season games.
Call it old age or just plain bad luck, but Woodson missed a lot of games in 2012-13. Last year marked the third time he hasn't played in at least 13 games, the first since 2005 when he was an Oakland Raider.
Woodson can still play, but the outlook doesn't look great for the former Defensive Player of the Year, and injuries late in his career sure do not help his situation.
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Like Freeney and Abraham, former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher simply wants too much money. After he and the Bears couldn't agree to terms for a new contract, Urlacher was sent packing.
The Minnesota Vikings have been the one team that has consistently shown interest in the veteran linebacker. Not only does his signing give the Vikings experience at the position—especially coming out of a 4-3 defense in the Windy City—but it fills a need.
Right now the Vikings need a sure middle linebacker to give them stability on the defensive side of the ball. After Jasper Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals, the position is a question mark for the Purple and Gold.
Even after Minnesota drafted Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti out of Penn State, the Vikings should keep trying to sign Urlacher to give them more leadership.
However, the problem still remains: Urlacher simply wants too much money. He turned down the Bears' offer of one-year, $2 million because he wants a contract worth between $3.5 and $4 million, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer.
The only way the Vikings are going to sign the 14-year veteran is if he comes down on his asking price. Even with that, it's still a possibility that he could end up in Minnesota when all is said and done.