2011 NFL Free Agency: 5 Vets Looking for Their Last Chance at a Ring
You could argue that nobody’s suffering more from this NFL lockout than the veterans. These guys can only watch as precious time ticks away and the possibility of reaching a championship before their career is over dwindles. All they want is a couple more shots at the prize on a quality team, even if it requires a cut in pay and a less substantial role.
Here’s a list of five guys who will look to make their last run come 2011.
1. Brian Westbrook
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Westbrook displayed a bit of a spark last season after Frank Gore went down against Arizona, running for 136 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. But then again, it was Arizona. He never quite recaptured that magic for the remainder of the season, averaging less than three yards per carry over the next three games before sniffing the 100-yard mark again in the final game of the season.
So Westbrook is a bit washed up, but teams always need a backup running back, especially a tough-minded, quality leader like Westbrook. If one team comes to mind that could use him, it’s the defending champion Green Bay Packers. They were down to their third-stringer James Starks in the Super Bowl.
Plus, Green Bay loves the screen pass, a play that Westbrook made into a highlight reel as a Philadelphia Eagle.
2. Matt Hasselback
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Hasselback’s days as a starter appear to be over. He hasn’t had a decent season since 2007 when he posted a 91.4 quarterback rating. One can blame his recent struggles on the departure of talent in Seattle. But the fact remains, he’s gotten old and the Seahawks likelihood of re-signing him appears slim to none. But Hasselback still has upside as a backup and could likely follow in the footsteps of guys like Jon Kitna on the Cowboys and Mark Brunell on the Jets.
If you're wondering what team could use him, look no further than the New England Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick loves smart quarterbacks and their system of short, intermediate passes suits Hasselback’s strengths as an accurate passer well.
3. Terrell Owens
expect more of this in the future for T.O.
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Another year, another team.
Owens really messed this one up. After struggling mightily to find a place willing to sign him before the Bengals finally coughed up an offer just before the start of the season, Owens looked like he might be done. But Owens proved he could still produce as he racked up nine touchdowns and finished with just under 1,000 receiving yards as a Bengal. It’s just too bad once he proved he could be the old T.O. on the field, he also proved he could be the old T.O. off-the-field.
As the Bengals found ways to lose close games continuously, Owens started blaming the offensive coordinator, as well as other members of the coaching staff for the team’s struggles. You know you’re a cancer when you get injured and your team’s quarterback plays his best of game of the season with a receiver named Jerome Simpson. I seriously doubt any team will be interested in Owens at this point.
This would be his sixth team in nine seasons, and I think it’s safe to say he is what he is, and that should keep him out of the NFL for the rest of his career.
4. Randy Moss
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Moss tried to outdo Owens last season, becoming the first player ever to play for three teams in a single season. We all know Moss still has affection for the New England Patriots, which he displayed in a press conference during the season and reiterated on a radio show in February.
However, I don’t see the Pats taking him back. I also don’t see a quality team out there that really has any use for Moss due to the fact that there’s not an elite team in need of a wide receiver. Only place I can see him going to is the St. Louis Rams, a team years away from making a legitimate Super Bowl run.
5. Takeo Spikes
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At age 34, Spikes played surprisingly well last season for the 49ers, posting 103 tackles. Fellow linebacker Patrick Willis has urged San Francisco to keep him. Despite Willis and Spikes forming one of the league’s best run defenses, San Francisco still struggled in 2010, missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season. The talent on offense is there with running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis and emerging receiver Michael Crabtree.
It’d be in Spikes best interest to stay with the 49ers. For one, they play in the weak NFC West, where the odds of getting in the playoffs are greater and once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. Also, he’s thrived in their system. If new head coach Jim Harbaugh can reign in all of the talent the 49ers have built over the years, this is a team that could give Spikes the best chance at a ring.