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NFL Free Agency: Top Free Agents Left by Position

Aris TheotokatosCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2011

NFL Free Agency: Top Free Agents Left by Position

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    We've seen the Eagles make a number of high profile moves since the beginning free agency, and Bill Belichick and the Patriots have taken a chance on disgruntled veterans and ex-Pro-Bowlers Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.

    While the action has certainly slowed down since last week, there is still talent left in this year's free agent pool. With teams still filling out their rosters, don't be surprised to see some more big names come off the board in the upcoming days.

    Here's a list by position of the best free agents left. 

Quarterback

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    Marc Bulger is really the only name worth mentioning from the remaining free agent quarterbacks.  There's always a chance he stays in Baltimore backing up Joe Flacco, but if an opportunity arises for him to compete for a starting job, say, in Washington or Miami, I don't see him passing (pardon the pun) that chance up.

    Shout-outs to Kyle Orton and Carson Palmer who are both in very awkward and uncomfortable positions with their respectively (in the Bengals case, not really respected) teams.     

    Other notable free agent QBs: Chad Pennington, Troy Smith

Running Backs

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    1. Ronnie Brown

    2. Ahmad Bradshaw

    3. Ricky Williams

    4. Cadillac Williams

    5. Tiki Barber

    This list is the same as my pre-fantasy-draft board for back-up running backs.

    No doubt, if Ronnie Brown didn't have a problem staying on the field, he would have been the most coveted free agent this year, but unfortunately that's not the path his career has taken.

    Reports are that he's in talks with the St. Louis Rams to help take the load off Steven Jackson's back, and if he can stay healthy, watch out.  The Rams will have one of, if not the best running game in the league. That backfield combination would provide a number of eight-man fronts for Sam Bradford to feast on.

    Ahmad Bradshaw looks like he's going to rejoin the Giants, although contract negotiations have stalled a bit more than expected.

    The Williams backs can both produce as back-ups for established running backs like Michael Turner, or Maurice Jones-Drew.

    And Tiki Barber made this list simply because of his name.  Any team that signs him will likely overpay a little for the brand, rather than the production.

    Other notable backs: Kevin Smith, Mike Bell, Lawrence Maroney, Jerious Norwood, Julius Jones. 

Wide Receiver

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    1. Braylon Edwards

    2. Malcolm Floyd

    3. Randy Moss - recently announced retirement

    4. Terrell Owens

    5. Steve Smith

    There are two Hall-of-Famers on this list in Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, but no team seems too eager to pay them.  Although both are in tremendous shape, they're getting up there in years and they can both potentially stunt a team's offensive growth.

    Malcolm Floyd has the most promise of anyone on this list with his height making him a serious red zone threat, but Braylon Edwards will likely be the first to sign his name on a dotted line.

    The market has shrunk for receivers with the Bears, Rams, and Seahawks appearing to be satisfied with their additions to the position, but with the departure of Steve Breaston, the Cardinals have a huge need opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

    I know there have been rumors of Arizona being interested in Braylon Edwards, but why aren't they talking Randy Moss out of retirement?

    Can you think any other wide receiver in the history of the game who gets more motivated against single coverage than Randy Moss? And with Fitzgerald on the other side, Moss is sure to see his share of single coverage.  He wouldn't even need a playbook, he'd go deep every play.

    And before I get lost in my imaginary world of Randy Moss bombs, perhaps getting lost in this deep receiver pool, is Steve Smith. He was to Eli Manning what Wes Welker is to Tom Brady.

    Other teams in need at the wide receiver position: Panthers, Redskins, Browns, Raiders.

    Notable receivers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Kevin Curtis

Tight Ends

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    1. Zach Miller

    2. Kevin Boss

    3. Bo Scaife

    4. Desmond Clark

    5. Leonard Pope

    The Raiders seem intent on keeping Zach Miller, so he might as well not be on this list.

    Kevin Boss had a couple of productive years with the Giants, and he's a bigger threat in the red zone than anywhere else on the field, and the same goes for Leonard Pope. The fact that he's 6'8 might be the only quality that will find Pope a new NFL team.

    Desmond Clark's best years are behind him, and there's still a chance he stays with the Bears. If he does sign with another team, he's still capable of creating match-up problems for defenses, and he has wide-receiver type hands.

    Bo Scaife was Vince Young's favorite target, but apparently that doesn't count for much in Tennessee these days. 

    It's not the most talented group, but there are still teams who need some depth at tight end, so expect all of these players to find a new home.

Offensive Line

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    1. Chester Pitts

    2. Alan Faneca

    I stopped at two because after Faneca, most of the linemen are interchangeable.  Olin Kreutz would be third, but by the looks of it, he's going to retire a Chicago Bear.

    Faneca makes this list simply because of reputation.  He may or may not have a couple of years in him, but if a team could get him at a decent value, then it would be a low-risk, high-reward signing.

    Pitts can go in and start on a team like the Bears, who gave up 56 sacks last season, but Chicago hasn't made a move on the offensive line since Willie Colon turned them down to return to the Steelers.

    The Bears are the most logical choice for any remaining offensive lineman, but then again, when has logic stood in the way of Bears General Manager, Jerry Angelo?

Defensive Linemen

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    1. Aubrayo Franklin

    2. Kris Jenkins

    3. Tommie Harris

    4. Raheem Brock

    5. Ty Warren

    The best years are likely behind all these players.    

    Ty Warren is the most coveted on this list since he has the chance to be the most productive, although he was cut by the Patriots because he failed his physical.

    It's difficult to predict where these veterans will land.  Franklin was previously expected to leave San Francisco, but he has since gone back to meet the new coaching staff, and Ty Warren is getting interest from the Cowboys and Texans.

    Raheem Brock had a productive year last year, so he might have an easier time finding a team than the often-injured Kris Jenkins.

    Tommie Harris was probably the most dominant defensive tackle in football at one point. Coaches don't know what happened, players don't know what happened, and all of us Chicago Bears fans surely don't know what happened, but if he can get to even 75% of what he used to be, any team in the league would take that bargain.

    Notable D-Linemen: Cliff Avril, Shaun Ellis, Jarvis Green, Mark Anderson.  

Linebackers

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    1. Keith Bulluck

    2. Jason Taylor

    3. Ernie Sims 

    4. Julian Peterson 

    5. Pisa Tinoisamoa

    Obviously, Jason Taylor could have easily been put on the defensive linemen list, but he played linebacker last year in the 3-4 Jets system.

    That being said, Taylor is much better suited in a 4-3 defense.  If he can get on a team with a solid rotation, and he's used mainly in pass rush situations, I have little doubt that he can get at lest eight sacks this season.

    The other four are all veterans.

    Keith Bulluck and Julian Peterson are well past their primes, but they can both provide veteran leadership on a young defense, although Peterson hadn't done much of anything in a Lions uniform. 

    Tinoisamoa is the dark horse on this list.  He was slowed by injury last season, but he lead the Rams in tackles the four seasons prior.  That's not saying much since the Rams were terrible, but when healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with.

    Other notable linebackers: Bobby Carpenter, Antwan Barnes, Omar Gaither

Cornerbacks

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    1. Phillip Buchanon

    2. Ellis Hobbs

    3. Drew Coleman

    4. Tye Hill 

    Nnamdi Asomugha and Antonio Cromartie were the two best corners available, followed closey by Nate Clements and Jonathan Joseph.  All four are gone and there's a huge drop in the talent category from there.

    Buchanon and Hobbs haven't done anything lately, but they would fit in nicely as nickelbacks, or in a limited role.

    Tye Hill was highly touted coming out of college, but never lived up to expectations.  If he can find a coach that will motivate him to put the work in, maybe he can hit the restart button on his career and become a legit corner in this league. I don't see that happening, but there's always a chance.

    Drew Coleman saw very little playing time because of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but we know that Rex Ryan likes corners who can man-up on a receiver and have good cover skills, so we can assume that Coleman has some of these qualities.

    Another cornerback who might be available in the near future: Asante Samuel.  After trading for Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie and signing Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles have three Pro-Bowlers in the secondary, and Asante seems to be the odd man out in terms of playing time.  

    Just sayin'. 

Safeties

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    1. Darren Sharper

    2. Donte Whitner

    3. Deon Grant

    4. Roy Williams

     

    Other than Whitner, all these safeties are OLD.  Ancient.  Grey-hair old.  

    Sharper has been the most consistent throughout his career, and even though he might not be able to play every snap anymore, he's still a valuable asset to any team that signs him.

    Roy Williams and Deon Grant are well past their primes, but both are still big hitters and can help out with run defense.

    There are plenty teams who need depth at the safety position. I hate to play the biased card, but the Chicago Bears are one of them.

    Whitner is still relatively young, and he hasn't exactly reached his full potential as an NFL safety.  He's been average at best in coverage, but he can also lay the boom when he lowers his shoulder.  

Punters/Kickers

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    Just kidding.

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