The Top NFL Free Agents on the Scrap Heap and Where They Might Go: Part One
The NFL offseason is always a time of transition for every NFL squad.
Some teams are stripping down the engine and rebuilding, like the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
Some are merely touching up their Hemis, like the New England Patriots landing players such as CB Shawn Springs, WR Joey Galloway, and RB Fred Taylor.
Relying on the FA market is not always the key to success; there are as many duds as there are success stories.
A prime example of a pair of recent duds is the Jacksonville Jaguars handing WR Jerry Porter and CB Drayton Florence $30 million contracts, only to cut their high-priced additions a year later.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been big players on the open market as of late and have translated this into two Super Bowl titles in the past four years.
Free agency is long past its climax, and though the dust has long been settled, there are still some savvy veteran starters who could be had.
The Seattle Seahawks have already shown that you can still find quality starting-caliber players on the market.
Soon after the draft, they grabbed veteran CB Ken Lucas and FB Justin Griffith off the scrap heap for a modest $3 million. Getting those two gave them a starting CB, allowed them to round out their CB unit nicely, and gave them a starting FB.
I have compiled a list of the top three players at each position still on the market and where they should go.
In this article, the QB, RB, and WR positions will be examined.
Just like his former team the Buffalo Bills, he has suffered from mediocrity over the last several seasons. He was a former first round pick who never quite panned out.
Interesting observation—in the one season he did start 16 games in 2006, he threw for 3,051 yards, 19 TDs, and 14 INTs and posted an 84.9 rating—not too shabby. He also posted that decent stat line while being pounded for 47 sacks.
Someone should take a flyer on him; he is only 28 years old and would not probably hinder anyone’s salary cap situation.
Plausible Destination: San Francisco 49ers
It would not hurt the 49ers to bring someone else in for some QB competition between the underwhelming Shaun Hill and first overall pick dud Alex Smith. If they gave J.T. O’Sullivan the starting job, they should be willing to take a shot on a guy who has at least shown he can play.
My favorite word for this guy is inconsistency.
Despite what anyone says about him, he has been to the Super Bowl and has shown flashes of brilliance. His OT drive against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2006 NFC Divisional playoffs was the reason the Bears even had a shot at the title in 2006.
Plausible Destination: Seattle Seahawks
Someone is going to pick him up by training camp, and it is not going to be for a starting job.
I firmly believe Losman could be the starting QB for the 49ers if he proved himself with a worthy training camp. On the other hand I do not believe Grossman has the same potential. One team looking for some QB depth is the Seattle Seahawks, who recently let third string QB Charlie Frye walk in FA.
Another option could be the New York Jets after trading third string QB Erik Ainge to the Cleveland Browns in a draft day trade. Despite reality, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers always seem open to taking on more than an ample load of QBs.
(Update, Rex Grossman has signed a contract with the Houston Texans to be their No. 2 QB after they traded backup/spot starter Sage Rosenfels to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this off-season. Fellow FA import Dan Orlovsky will be the No. 3 QB, but the two will battle in camp for the No. 2 position by all means. I just think Grossman has it nailed down.)
Frye was ineffective as a starting QB with the Browns, which led to him being the first ever week one starter to be traded by week two in a season. The Browns were actually trying to push Pro Bowl QB Derek Anderson on Seattle, but the Seahawks wanted Frye—looks like they dropped the ball on that one.
After his trade to Seattle, the Seahawks were hoping they might possibly have found a second QB so they could utilize the dynamic Seneca Wallace. Frye's release after just two seasons should show that idea never really played out.
Plausible Destination: New England Patriots
To put it in even more of a pathetic view, on the FA market Frye could be viewed as a poor man's Rex Grossman.
All the aforementioned teams who are looking for depth could be possible landing spots. The Oakland Raiders showed interest, but nothing came to fruition.
I could honestly see a team like the New England Patriots taking a flyer on him. They need a backup QB after trading Matt Cassel, and taking a chance on Frye would not be out of the question.
(Update, the Oakland Raiders have ended up signing Frye after they dismissed the notion several weeks ago.)
James is a proven veteran RB who could be a nice complement/change of pace running back for some teams. He is the current league leader in rushing and still has some gas left in the tank.
He would not command the $7.5 million salary he earned with the Cardinals last season. His performance in the postseason—he put the Arizona rushing game on life support with a 3.95 YPC average—shows he is not quite done.
Plausible Destination: Chicago Bears
New Orleans has been talked about, and I'm surprised it has not happened. James would be a nice complement to the speedy Reggie Bush and would fill the void from cutting Deuce McAllister.
The Bears already have Matt Forte as a feature back, and adding James would give them a nice complement.
After the Bengals decided on Cedric Benson being their starting RB, the disappointing Perry got the ax. He has a very mediocre 3.4 YPC average for his career. He should find his way onto an NFL roster by training camp because he is still moderately young (27) and could thrive in the proper scheme.
Plausible Destination: New Orleans Saints
Passing on James makes sense for the Saints because he is just a retread of Deuce McAllister. Perry, on the other hand, is younger and offers more potential upside. Being surrounded by an explosive offense would benefit him greatly.
Perry has size at 230 lbs. and would give the Saints a good change of pace back for Reggie Bush's lightning.
He had a productive season for Tampa Bay, rushing for 786 yards and posting a 4.2 YPC. He was just one of the victims of a massive veteran purging. Even at the age of 34 he has proven he can produce, and along with most of the players on this list would be a nice complement for a team with its pieces already in place.
Plausible Destination: Seattle Seahawks
Not just because of my fanhood, but I actually could see Dunn winding up in Seattle. With T.J. Duckett and Griffith already in the fold, Dunn would bring another familiar face for new head coach Jim Mora.
With Maurice Morris gone to Detroit, the Seahawks have not yet truly replaced the void. They say they are content with Duckett and Julius Jones as the feature backs, but I feel they could use all the help they can get after a 4-12 season.
It is not uncommon for new coaches to bring some former players along with them.
Now all they need is Michael Vick to recreate that vaunted Atlanta rushing attack.
He is a legit No. 1 WR, and if it were not for his legal troubles, he would not even have hit the open market. Whichever team eventually decides to pick him up will have to protect itself from the potential prison sentence that might come about.
He can step right in and be a No. 2 WR on virtually any team and could be the No. 1 on many teams, such as the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, etc.
Plausible Destination: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They have purged their defense, and for that reason I doubt they will be in playoff contention in 2009. On the flip side, they have done a good job retooling their offense with the additions of TE Kellen Winslow, RB Derrick Ward, and the drafting of the QB of the future in Josh Freeman.
With lots of cap room at their disposal, adding Burress would give them a formidable one-two punch along with Antonio Bryant, and he would be a more then ample replacement for Joey Galloway.
Age has caught up to him, and in a league where youth is more of a premium, he finds himself out of a job still. The league leader in receptions will find his way onto an NFL roster, and I still believe he can be a capable No. 2 WR if given the proper chance.
Plausible Destination: St Louis Rams
The purging of WR Torry Holt was as much of a cap cut as it was a youth movement. With the additional release of FA bust WR Drew Bennett, the pickings are slim at WR for the Rams.
Harrison could come in and give veteran QB Marc Bulger a reliable target and could serve as a mentor to promising second-year WR Donnie Avery.
After enjoying some success in Seattle, Hackett departed for the Carolina Panthers and flopped. In 2008 he only recorded 13 catches for 181 yards. He has shown he can be an adequate No. 3 WR in the past, and it would not hurt some WR-starved team to take a flyer on him
Plausible Destination: Cleveland Browns
With Donte' Stallworth's career in limbo, combined with the release of reliable veteran Joe Jurevicius, this is definitely a possible landing pad. Hackett would complement No. 1 WR Braylon Edwards nicely and allow them to round out their WR unit with Josh Cribbs and Syndric Steptoe.
Not the most overwhelming unit, but Hackett would be a welcome addition.
In part two I will examine the top available TEs, OTs, and interior OL still on the market.
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