Surveying Remaining NFL Free Agents and Their Best Team Fits
The NFL free-agency period is going on its fourth month as we get deeper into July. There is still a handful of surprisingly talented players available for teams to grab.
With only a little over a week before the Arizona Cardinals take the field for training camp, we could start to see some of these big-name free agents get signed. However, teams could also wait until a few weeks into training to sign free agents so they can truly see what their roster looks like and what holes they still may have to fill.
Either way, it shouldn't be too long before we start seeing these best remaining free agents taken off the market. Today we'll survey those players and decide which team is the best fit for them.
John Abraham, DE
Yes, defensive end John Abraham is already 35 years old, but that doesn't change the fact that he can still be an impact player for a defense.
Last year, Abraham had 10 sacks and was considered the fifth-best 4-3 defensive end, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). There is no doubt that Abraham no longer has a place as an every-down defensive end in this league.
However, he could still make quite the living as a pass-rushing specialist for a team. Abraham still knows how to get after the quarterback, and taking him out of a starting lineup would keep him fresh for when he did come into the game.
With a handful of teams still in need of a player who can get after quarterbacks, look for Abraham to find a home soon. He's the best available free agent on either side of the ball and can still impact games.
Best Team Fits: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans
Vonta Leach, FB
Even though the fullback position is becoming less and less necessary, there are still a handful of fullbacks who make running backs way better. One of those is Vonta Leach, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.
If you look at the success of running backs Ray Rice and Arian Foster while Leach was blocking for them, it's easy to see just how valuable of a player he can be. He's easily still the best blocking fullback in the game.
The Houston Texans make a lot of sense to bring Leach back since they lost their fullback/tight end, James Casey, in the offseason. Leach is familiar with the offense there and could really be a help to Foster.
Best Team Fits: Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Eric Winston, OT
Offensive tackle Eric Winston will likely be playing for his third team in as many years when the 2013 season starts.
Winston's fall from grace has been an interesting one. He's only 29 years old (he'll be 30 come November), and last year, Pro Football Focus graded him as the 26th-best offensive tackle in the league (subscription required).
He's a successful blocker in both the run and pass game. While he isn't the most athletic offensive tackle out there, he's still an experienced starter who can come in right away and improve an offensive line.
With a handful of teams still needing help on their offensive lines, don't be surprised if Winston is brought in rather quickly to help shore up any deficiencies a team may have.
Best Team Fits: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears
Willis McGahee, RB
While running back Willis McGahee is already on the wrong side of 30, that doesn't mean he still can't have some value for an NFL team.
Over the course of his 10-year career, McGahee only has 1,957 career carries. That's an average of less than 200 carries per season, and he's only had more than 300 carries once.
Now, that doesn't mean that McGahee is a fresh running back. It just means he doesn't have the wear-and-tear that you'd expect from a 31-year-old at his position.
One thing that could ultimately be keeping teams away is McGahee's injury history. He's played all 16 games of a season just three times during his career.
Look for him to land with a team that has young running backs and could use a mentor like him.
Best Team Fits: Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions
Richard Seymour, DT
There is no doubt that defensive tackle Richard Seymour is no longer the player he used to be. The 2013 season will be his 13th in the NFL, and he'll be 34 years old early into the season.
However, Seymour still has the ability to make an impact along the defensive line for a team in need. While his pass-rushing skills have diminished over the years, he can still be a force against the run.
In fact, he finished in the top 10 for defensive tackles against the run in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Seymour will also bring loads of experience and leadership to an NFL roster.
Considering his age, it might be a while until Seymour signs somewhere. The Atlanta Falcons seem like the most likely destination since their defensive tackles were rather underwhelming last year.
Best Team Fits: Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Moore, OG
Of all the remaining free agents, offensive guard Brandon Moore might be the most peculiar one. He's not just a good guard, he's one of the best guards in the entire NFL.
Moore finished the 2012 season as the fourth-best guard in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He's successful in both the run and pass game.
He only allowed two sacks and 14 quarterback hurries last season. While the fact that he's 33 years old will scare some teams away, there is no doubt that Moore still has some dominant play left in him.
The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions both have needs across their offensive lines, but don't be surprised if a handful of other teams also make a late play to land Moore.
Best Team Fits: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Lloyd, WR
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd has been the No. 1 receiver for a team for the past handful of seasons. However, entering the 2013 season, that should no longer be the case.
Lloyd simply no longer has the talents to be a team's top option anymore. He still has the ability to make miraculous receptions, but he isn't doing it on a regular basis.
He would be best served to land on a team that has talent at the receiver position so he can get out of the spotlight. In that type of role, Lloyd could have a very successful season year.
An interesting team for Lloyd to consider is his former employer, the New England Patriots. They're currently lacking experience in their receiving corps, so he could actually be a real nice fit back with his old team.
Best Team Fits: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals
Kerry Rhodes, FS
Considering the fact that safety Kerry Rhodes was coming off one of his best seasons in the NFL, it was surprising to see him released by the Arizona Cardinals.
Rhodes is an extremely capable free safety who is consistently successful in coverage. When quarterbacks threw his way last year, they only had an average quarterback rating of 64.5. He only allowed two touchdown receptions while intercepting four passes in 2012.
Rhodes also has the ability to make plays against the run. He finished the season as the No. 6 safety on running plays, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
He's reportedly talking to four teams about a contract for the 2013 season and beyond. The team that makes the most sense for Rhodes to end up with is the Green Bay Packers since they have so many unproven players at free safety on their roster.
Best Team Fits: Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins
Quintin Mikell, SS
As good as free safety Kerry Rhodes was last year, strong safety Quintin Mikell was just as good.
While Rhodes finished fourth amongst all safeties, according to Pro Football Focus, Mikell finished fifth (subscription required). Mikell is better against the run and when asked to rush the quarterback, but he struggles in coverage.
Quarterbacks had an average quarterback rating of 107.9 when throwing his direction and he allowed a whopping 76.6 percent completion percentage when balls where thrown to receivers he was covering. His deficiencies in pass coverage were a big reason why the St. Louis Rams let him go.
However, Mikell's ability against the run gives him plenty of value for an NFL roster. A team like the Carolina Panthers, who lack talent at the safety positions, would be an ideal fit for Mikell.
Best Team Fits: Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills
Brandon Stokley, WR
Even with wide receiver Brandon Stokley turning 37 years old last month, he proved last year that he's still a talented receiver. He finished the year with 45 receptions for 544 yards and five touchdowns.
His greatest strength that he'll bring to a team this year is his football IQ. Stokley simply understands the game and knows how to get open. He won't be a huge weapon for a team this season, but he should provide a quarterback with a smart player who has consistent hands.
While Stokley could ultimately end back up with the Denver Broncos, both the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots could also use depth at the wide receiver position.
It could be late in training camp before we see Stokley signed, but he should ultimately be on a roster making plays during the upcoming season.
Best Team Fits: Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
Dallas Clark, TE
No one would be surprised if you said that tight end Dallas Clark was a little past his prime. However, he was surprisingly solid last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving hope he might have one or two more good years left in him.
What Clark needs to do is find a team where he won't be the top option at tight end. He has plenty of value as a No. 2 or No. 3 tight end, but not as the first tight end on the depth chart.
The New England Patriots make quite a bit of sense considering their current issues with their tight ends. Rob Gronkowski's health is questionable, and Aaron Hernandez was released due to his legal troubles.
Best Team Fits: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
Michael Turner, RB
Much like Willis McGahee, running back Michael Turner is on the wrong side of 30. He too is 31 years old and is entering his 10th season in the NFL.
However, Turner has even less wear-and-tear on his legs than McGahee has. Since Turner didn't become an every-down back until he joined the Atlanta Falcons five years ago, he only has 1,639 career carries.
That doesn't mean he can come in and give a team another 200 or 250 carries this year, but his real value lies in short-yardage situations and near the goal line.
A team that needs a bruising back to pound the ball into the end zone should be looking at a player like Turner.
Best Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars
Nick Barnett, LB
The 2012 season was actually quite a good one for linebacker Nick Barnett. He finished the year with 112 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles.
Even Pro Football Focus recognized his solid season by ranking him as their ninth-best 4-3 outside linebacker (subscription required). While his ability as a three-down linebacker may be regressing, Barnett can still add depth and quality production to a team in need of a linebacker.
Barnett's most valuable asset may be his scheme versatility. He can play either inside or outside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
Best Team Fits: New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs