NFL: Five Overlooked Free Agents

Russell IvanacSenior Analyst IJuly 14, 2008

Training camp is almost here and plenty of teams are looking to fill the last few holes in their depth charts. Some teams have bigger holes to fill than others, and those teams have to realize that at this point certain risks need to be taken.

So let's dig deep into the depths of what is left of the free agency pool and scrape together five players that could be just the extra push your team needs.

LeCharles Bentley     Center/Offensive Guard     28 years old

It really amazes me that nobody has signed him yet. Yes, Bentley hasn't played in a game since 2005 and his previous staph infection that followed his patella tendon injury raises plenty of flags, but he has been given plenty off time to recover and used to be a premier lineman in the NFL just two years ago.

Here is my advice to any NFL team that isn't 100 percent set at Center and Guard—sign him, take him into camp, and see what he can do.

The worst thing that could happen is that you realize he isn't back to his old form and then you can cut him. The alternative is that he returns to a slightly worse version of his former pro-bowl caliber self. 

By now, he has to realize a big contract isn't coming his way. I expect him to sign soon with a mainly incentive based contract or a one-year deal with little money guaranteed. I could see teams like Detroit, Kansas City, Carolina, and Chicago all benefiting from signing him.


Kevin Jones              Running Back                   25 years old

He is the top available running back on my list. Jones is still young and if he stays healthy he could have quite a few years left in the league as a platoon back. That's just the thing though—Jones can't stay healthy.

I blame it primarily on the fact that he has been in Detroit running with a bad line and no back-up to mention. Jones has drive and can push a pile when running in short yardage situations. He won't be leaving the NFL anytime soon. He is too determined to just fade away.

What team doesn't need another running back? He will be signed as a back-up and that is just what the doctor ordered for Mr. Jones. Being a back-up will take some of the wear and tear of everyday running away from him. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Arizona, and Buffalo could be great fits for Kevin as they each have a set starter, weak back-ups and a better line to run with than he is used to.

Takeo Spikes           Linebacker                       31 years old

Let's get the bad things about him out of the way first. He is past his prime. He is injury prone and one major injury away from retirement. He is four years removed from two straight pro-bowl seasons.

So why take more than one look at him? Experience, leadership, and he can still be a presence on blitzing plays and against runs to the outside. His experience could also help a young line backing corps develop.

An extra linebacker usually isn't a bad thing to have and Spikes still has a few years left in him to be a decent starter or very solid back-up. Detroit, New Orleans, San Francisco, and St. Louis could each use him to help fill their gaping linebacker holes.

Outside of Patrick Willis, the 49ers don't have much and the same goes for Detroit with Ernie Sims and New Orleans with injury prone Jonathan Vilma.

Shaun Alexander     Running Back                   30 years old

He is falling and falling fast. The 2005 MVP caught my attention earlier in the offseason and prompted me to write this article. Not much has changed since then.

The Bengals still have questionable backs in Rudi Johnson and Kenny Watson. If Rudi goes down again, they will have to rely on Watson to be the starter again and that didn't work out great for the Bengals last year.

If Chad Johnson continues to be Chad, then Cincinnati may end up running the ball more and a change of scenery may help reignite what little is left of his once great career.

Chicago is another option simply because they have become desperate for a good running back recently with the departure of Cedric Benson and lack of performance from the other Adrian Peterson.

Denver could be a home for him after losing Travis Henry. He could be a good back-up to Selvin Young and would benefit from Denver's strong running attack like most any other back that has passed through their system.

Kenoy Kennedy       Strong Safety                   30 years old

I'll admit that Kenoy probably shouldn't be a starter in the NFL because of his coverage skills and his occasional bouts with poor play recognition. That said, he can be a good back-up somewhere and still is as physical and hits as hard as he always has.

Special teams immediately comes to mind as a perfect role for him. He is one of the best if not the best defensive back still out there and depth on defense has never been a bad thing to have.

The best situation for him would be to land in Dallas. It's a long shot, but the declining play of their current strong safety, Roy Williams could cause them to go after another safety.

He could give Williams the occasional breather so that the former pro-bowler could possibly regain some of defensive magic. Other teams such as St. Louis and Chicago who need depth at safety could also benefit from giving him a look in training camp.