2013 NFL Free Agents: Players Who Can Make Huge Difference For Playoff Teams
We're about as far from the regular season beginning in September as we are from when NFL free agency began in March, yet there are still plenty of talented players without a team.
The tendency may be to think that if a guy hasn't been signed yet, he simply isn't good enough to play. However there are a quite a few players who can make a significant contribution if given the chance.
Below are four free agents who have the potential to help not just any team, but playoff contenders looking to make a deep postseason run.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back
How is a 27-year-old running back who has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in the past three years still unsigned? Injuries. The former New York Giant has missed six games in the last two seasons and played less than 100 percent in many other games, due to a nagging foot problem.
Still, teams should be willing to put up with the injury concerns for a guy who has averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry in five of his six seasons. The Indianapolis Colts appear willing to do so and are close to signing Bradshaw, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:
Update on a situation from the weekend: I'm told #Colts still in "heavy negotiations" with RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Easy to see how he'd help them— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 10, 2013
In fact, the Colts are so interested, owner Jim Irsay reached out to Drew Rosenhaus, Bradshaw's agent, on Twitter to let him know the team is willing to pay for the running back:
Hey Drew..I'm upside down,after this Hip Replacement Surgery,but the right hand can still scoop a pile of SERIOUS Coin,from Ft Knox-Let's GO— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) June 11, 2013
No matter how much he signs for, Bradshaw could certainly help the Colts' 22nd-ranked rushing attack and take some of the load off of quarterback Andrew Luck's shoulders.
Brandon Lloyd, Wide Receiver
Brandon Lloyd led the league with 1,448 receiving yards in 2010. He followed that up with two respectable 900-plus yard seasons. But no one wants to take a chance on the 31-year-old veteran.
The New York Post's Brian Costello reported that even the New York Jets, who were 30th in passing last season, don't want him:
I have gotten some questions on Brandon Lloyd. A source told me a few days ago the Jets have shown no interest in him. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) June 6, 2013
However, there seems to be at least one true contender where Lloyd could fit in: the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. According to John Eisenberg of baltimoreravens.com, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, "we could use a veteran receiver."
Baltimore traded one veteran receiver, Anquan Boldin, this offseason and could use a replacement. Lloyd could partner with Torrey Smith to provide Joe Flacco two legitimate deep threats.
Eric Winston, Right Tackle
There are two reasons Eric Winston is still a free agent. The first is that he is not very versatile. As Rotoworld's Evan Silva said, Winston plays solely right tackle and only in a zone-blocking scheme.
The other reason is money.
Winston looks like a good fit for the Washington Redskins, where he could team up with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as he did previously with the Houston Texans. According to The Washington Post's Mike Jones, though, the Redskins don't agree with Winston's asking price.
Even a month later, Redskins blogger Rich Tandler reaffirmed Washington's stance. When asked if the Redskins would take a look at Winston now with his price tag likely decreased, Tandler replied:
@Steveohhhh9 Possibly but I'd be surprised. Didn't go after him last year when they had the cap space to do it. Don't think there's interest— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) June 11, 2013
If Winston is still unable to find a team willing to take him, he will have to lower his asking price. Eventually, the Redskins may be interested enough to take a chance on the 29-year-old in order to protect their prized jewel, Robert Griffin III.
John Abraham, Defensive End
There are two important numbers to look at when evaluating John Abraham: 32.5 and 35. The first number is his cumulative sack total over the past three seasons. The second number is his age.
Abraham has certainly produced on the field, but how much longer can it last? According to The Denver Post's Jeff Legwold, Abraham wants to play 60 percent of the snaps on defense, a goal he fell short of last season with the Atlanta Falcons.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport tweeted that Abraham was in talks with the Tennessee Titans, but progress has slowed:
One thing from yesterday I hadn't mentioned yet: Talks between John Abraham & #Titans are in a "stall." Not dead. No one moving quickly— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 4, 2013
The Titans haven't been much of a playoff contender up to this point, but one team with playoff potential that should consider Abraham is the New York Giants. According to ESPN's Tim Kavanaugh, the Giants could go after the 13-year veteran.
Abraham would help the Giants' lack of depth due to the departure of Osi Umenyiora and the injury to Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants also ranked just 22nd in the NFL last year in sacks and could use Abraham in short spurts as part of their rotation, which is a likely role for the aging defensive end.
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