NFL's Best Penny-for-Penny Values Still Available on the Open Market

Scott CarasikContributor IIJuly 23, 2013

NFL's Best Penny-for-Penny Values Still Available on the Open Market

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    Everyone wants value for their dollar, and the NFL is no different. Finding the best values in free agency at this point in the game is tough to do but manageable.

    Sometimes a bargain at the end of free agency is the best way to make that jump from playoff contender to Super Bowl contender. And this is no exception.

    So let's explore some of the best bargains left on the picked-dry market.

Quarterback Byron Leftwich

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, veteran minimum salary benefit 

    2012 Stats: 2 games played, 25-of-53 (47.2 percent), 272 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 1 carry, 31 yards, 1 touchdown

    Need a good veteran backup quarterback? Need a cheap, good veteran backup quarterback? 

    Look no further than Byron Leftwich. While he is best known for his time in Jacksonville, the former Steeler, Falcon and Jag will be excellent for a team's backup situation.

    He not only has starting experience, but he also is still able to get some spot starts in without a huge drop-off from the current starter of any team. He's could also help a younger quarterback like Luck, Griffin or Wilson with valuable guidance at this point in their careers.

    All this for a veteran minimum contract?

    Sign me up.

     

    Others Considered: JaMarcus Russell or Chris Redman at the veteran minimum salary benefit for one season

Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $2.0 million

    2012 Stats: 16 games played, 74 catches, 911 yards, 4 touchdowns

    Wait, couldn't Brandon Lloyd lead an entire offense as the No. 1 receiver? 

    Why, yes, yes he could.

    Not only can he be a No. 1 receiver in an offense, but he's also 32 and can provide some veteran leadership as a 10-year pro. Lloyd is able to work well with almost any quarterback and has been in multiple different styles of offense through his years in the NFL.

    The No. 1 jobs around the league look to be all taken. But if a team could use a great No. 2, they would be stupid to not give Lloyd a chance. Detroit is one team that should definitely take this risk.

     

    Others Considered: Jabar Gaffney or Randy Moss on a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract

Slot Receiver Early Doucet

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $1.0 million

    2012 Stats: 12 games played, 28 catches, 207 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 carries, 9 yards, 1 kick return, 18 yards

    A man who lost his job last year to the numbers game, Early Doucet is more than worthy of a slot receiver role on a team. He's not going to be super expensive, because so many good receivers are out there on the market.

    For a $1.0 million contract, though, he could easily provide around 400-450 receiving yards and 2-3 touchdowns out of the slot. That's a bargain for that kind of production and more than enough for a slot receiver who will normally be the No. 4 option in an offense.

     

    Others Considered: Steve Breaston, Greg Camarillo or Mike Sims-Walker on a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract

Tight End Dallas Clark

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    Projected Contract: 1 years, $1.25 million

    2012 Stats: 16 games played, 47 catches, 435 yards, 4 touchdowns

    Despite being 34 years old and near the end of his career, Dallas Clark still has the ability to be a very good reserve for any team. He's one of the first true H-backs to have a great career in the NFL as both a receiver and a blocker.

    His best value is that he's got 10 years of experience in the NFL. He can take a bunch of talented younger players under his wing and truly teach them the game. Clark will also provide some on-field assistance in short zones and good route running to gain separation.

     

    Others Considered: Leonard Pope or Jeremy Shockey on a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract

Offensive Lineman Eric Winston

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $2.5 million

    2012 Stats: 16 games played, 16 games started at right tackle

    Considering Tyson Clabo got just $3.5 million, it wouldn't be a stretch to see Eric Winston bring in $2.5 million. Winston will do best on the right side of the line, where he has spent every snap in his career and played at a Pro Bowl level.

    However, finding openings for a right tackle job will be tough. His best bet is to wait for an injury in camp, and then interest should skyrocket. He's an instant contributor and is still in the prime of his career.

     

    Others Considered: Leonard Davis on a one-year, $1.25 million contract or Brandon Moore on a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract 

Defensive Tackle Richard Seymour

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $3.5 million

    2012 Stats: 8 games played, 15 tackles, 1.0 tackles for Loss, 3.0 sacks, 2 QB hits, 7 QB hurries, 1 fumble recovered, 1 pass deflection

    If you need an interior pass-rushing presence, it's Richard Seymour. He can play both a 1- and 3-technique 4-3 defensive tackle. He can also play a 3-4 defensive end or one-gap nose tackle as well. He pushes the pocket using his length and strength effectively.

    There are some injury concerns, but in a three-man rotation between both defensive tackle spots in a 4-3, he'd be more than worth the money. And for a guy who can get anywhere from six to 10 sacks on the interior, $3.5 million is a true steal.

     

    Others Considered: Corey Williams on a one-year, $1.25 million contract or Shaun Cody on a one-year, $1.0 million contract

Defensive End John Abraham

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $2.5 million with additional incentives.

    2012 Stats: 16 games played, 35 tackles, 5.0 tackles for Loss, 10.0 sacks, 8 QB hits, 36 QB hurries, 6 fumbles forced, 7 pass deflections

    Teams spend years looking for a guy to come in and get 10 sacks a year for them. John Abraham has been able to do that almost every season since going to Atlanta. A player who was once regarded as one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the league isn't what he once was.

    However, he still provides a ton of value for a team needing a defensive end who can play either the right or the left side of the line. He could easily go to a place like Denver and earn the starting left end job and give them 10 to 12 sacks per season for the measly price of $2.5 million.

     

    Others Considered: Kyle Vanden Bosch or Jamaal Anderson for a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract

Outside Linebacker Thomas Howard

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    Projected Contract: 1 years, $1.0 million with heavy incentives

    2012 Stats: 1 games played, 3 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass deflection

    Thomas Howard could start for almost any team in the NFL at linebacker when he's 100 percent healthy. That leaves the question of why no team has gone after him. His ACL injury sustained during the 2012 season should have healed by now.

    Either way, a team needs to take a shot at him on a one-year, $1 million flyer. Give him incentive levels based on how many tackles he gets. If he's healthy, there's no reason he won't be able to get 70-plus tackles, two or more sacks and an interception or two as a starter.

     

    Others Considered: Quincy Black or Demorrio Williams on a one-year, veteran minimum salary benefit contract

Inside Linebacker Takeo Spikes

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, veteran minimum salary benefit 

    2012 Stats: 16 games played, 78 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, 4 QB hits, 2 QB hurries, 1 fumble forced, 1 pass deflections

    Yeah, Takeo Spikes is old. So what! 

    He had a very good season last year as a two-down linebacker, and there's no reason not to bring him in as at least a good mentor for a young corps that needs solid depth. 

    Spikes is still a tackling machine, and his experience and name recognition make his overall value worth well over that of a minimum contract.

     

    Others Considered: Bart Scott for one year, $1.25 million or Bradie James for one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract.

Cornerback William Middleton

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $1.0 million

    2012 Stats: 10 games played, 20 tackles, 1 pass deflection

    He's not the best cornerback on the market, nor is he in the middle of the pack of the guys left on the market. However, the former Falcons 2009 fifth-round pick still has potential to get better.

    He had earned his way into the starting lineup for the Jaguars and has also played in nickel and dime packages. His experience and ability to play multiple roles for a team make his value much higher than the $1.0 million it would take to sign him.

     

    Others Considered: Sheldon Brown or Stanford Routt for a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract.

Safety Kerry Rhodes

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    Projected Contract: 1 year, $1.5 million

    2012 Stats: 15 games played, 67 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3 QB hurries, 4 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced, 11 pass deflections

    Kerry Rhodes is still a starting-caliber safety in today's NFL. Despite having a down year with the Cardinals, he still produced four interceptions in coverage and has shown his trademark knack for the ball. 

    With Rhodes, a team can get an affordable starter for cheap. A team like Carolina, St. Louis or Dallas would be ideal for the veteran safety. Rhodes is worth at least a two-year, $6.0 million deal. So a team taking a one-year flyer on him would be a great move.

     

    Others Considered: Quintin Mikell on a one-year, $1.25 million contract or Jordan Babineaux on a one-year veteran minimum salary benefit contract

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.