2013 NFL Free Agents: Projecting New Homes for the Best Veterans Available

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2013 NFL Free Agents: Projecting New Homes for the Best Veterans Available
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Charles Woodson still provides the instincts to create turnovers.

Plenty of veteran talent remains available in the NFL free-agency pool.

Experience is one thing that cannot be replaced, which makes every veteran quite marketable.

The next step in that process is gauging the best possible fits. Regardless of a player's established talent, not everyone suits well for every team.

Here, we simply check out the best veterans remaining and predict their new homes. 

Note: Full view of NFL salary cap numbers courtesy of Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Numbers are as of April 23.

 

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off one of his better NFL seasons. After accounting for 1,260 total yards and averaging 4.6 yards per carry, Bradshaw offers the complete skill set to contribute on every down.

Between the tackles, Bradshaw will punish any would-be tackler, not to mention he supplies reliable vision. He's also quick when going off-tackle or cutting back against the grain. Include his dependable pass-blocking, and Bradshaw basically acts as a sixth lineman.

Even better, Bradshaw is only 27 years old and, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, he has received the medical green light:

PFT has learned from a league source that running back Ahmad Bradshaw has received full medical clearance to resume all football activities after having surgery on his troublesome foot earlier in the offseason.

Given the lack of top-heavy depth at running back in the draft, those neglecting to take a back in the early rounds must consider Bradshaw for 2013.

 

Projection: Carolina Panthers

Although Bradshaw was in talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers, they opted for Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell in the draft. Thereafter, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted of the situation:

This opens the door for the Panthers.

He's more explosive and dynamic than Jonathan Stewart, younger than DeAngelo Williams and has postseason experience. Another weapon out of the backfield would be a nice gift for Cam Newton.


John Abraham, DE

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

John Abraham had his best NFL season since 2008 last fall.

He collected 10 sacks, forced six fumbles (tied career high), recorded 35 tackles and defended a career-high seven passes. He was the Atlanta Falcons' pass rush, and Abraham's talent to wreck the backfield did create numerous turnover opportunities.

Even though he's 35 years old, Abraham's full experience and instincts are irreplaceable. Give him a limited snap count and the man will produce at an efficient rate.

 

Projection: Tennessee Titans

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Abraham may join the Titans this week:

This would be an enormous get for Tennessee, because its front seven needs a defensive line pass-rusher. The Titans received strong sack numbers from their linebackers in 2012, so having Abraham up front would enhance their ability to win the line of scrimmage.

Plus, the AFC South is a run-oriented division, and having Abraham would address Tennessee's need for defensive line depth in the short term. 


Brian Urlacher, LB

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Urlacher can still bring the pain at middle linebacker.

Despite turning 35 before the season, his ability to quickly dissect plays and read pre-snap is a competitive advantage. Although 2012 was not his most impressive campaign, Urlacher did defend seven passes and had eight run stuffs.

Provided he suits up for a team with a more explosive pass rush, Urlacher will complement a defense accordingly.

 

Projection: Baltimore Ravens

First, Urlacher was only looking at contending teams in early April, as reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Urlacher won’t imminently be signing with a new team.  He’s talking with a few teams, all of which are contenders. If anything happens, it likely won’t happen for a while.

Second, Baltimore partially addressed its second level during the draft with Kansas State's Arthur Brown. Still needing to complete the front seven, adding Urlacher would solidify the interior for the immediate future.

The pass-rushing impact of Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw would allow Urlacher to simply fill lanes when needed and increases coverage efficiency. He has the ability to produce turnovers for the Baltimore defense. 

Which veteran would you want on your team?

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Charles Woodson, Safety

Charles Woodson remains one of pro football's best playmakers.

The 36-year-old didn't have his best campaign last fall. Woodson appeared in only seven games after suffering a broken collarbone in late October, per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. He finished the season with five defended passes and 38 tackles. 

That said, Woodson's ability to locate the ball and change a game's field position is a rarity in the NFL. Woodson's versatility also helps because he can line up in the slot, blitz the edge, fill running lanes or sit back deep in Cover 1 or 3.

After all, he did account for 37 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles for the Green Bay Packers from 2006 through 2011.

 

Projection: Denver Broncos

During April, the San Francisco 49ers were reportedly interested in Woodson, via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:

Well, the 49ers ended up with LSU safety Eric Reid in Round 1 of the 2013 draft. One team needing a safety, though, is Denver.

The Broncos managed only 16 picks last year, but they did record 52 sacks. Ultimately, fielding Woodson behind that front seven would significantly increase turnovers. I'm sure he wouldn't mind playing with veteran cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

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