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The 15 Riskiest NFL Free Agents Remaining on the Market

Drew KerrContributor IIIAugust 16, 2011

The 15 Riskiest NFL Free Agents Remaining on the Market

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    Week 1 of the preseason is now in the books with the Houston Texans beating Rex Ryan's Jets last night on Monday Night Football by the score of 20-16.

    Some teams showed that they picked up right where they left off, and others showed that they still need a lot of work with a lot of different changes, both in the coaching department and with their personnel.

    Before the season officially starts, there's going to be injuries. It's inevitable for it to happen. Some of the injuries will leave glaring holes on whatever respective team it has to be. As things unfold, some teams' rosters still have a long way to go before cuts and final decisions are made and depth charts are finalized.

    As these teams go through and start downsizing their rosters for the season, this will leave a lot of players without homes. It also means that certain players will be stuck to practice squads, which is free game for others to take. 

    Players similar to Danny Amendola, who initially was a practice squad guy before heading to the Rams, will possibly have a shot with other clubs.

    Each year there are always the guys who stand out as the riskiest free agents. In a normal free-agent market (meaning not a shortened offseason), these players, most of the time, do not get picked up until very late in the preseason and, on some occasions, even during the course of the regular season. Most likely we will see that again this year.

    Some of the veterans will be sitting on their couches waiting for that phone call from their agent as injuries unfold. And some of the other ones will get signed by teams before the regular season begins.

    This slide show will feature 15 veterans that would be considered risky moves by whoever decides to roll the dice on them.

15. Atari Bigby (Defensive Back)

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    Atari Bigby could wind up one of those players that would be a high risk, high reward. Whoever takes a chance on him may have to pay him more than what he has been worth in recent years. However, this player could still have a little juice left at just 29 years of age.

    Since the injury in 2008 while with the Packers, Bigby has had a tough time returning to his previous form.

    It is unclear at this point if the Packers will retain Bigby, or if he will test the market. Time will obviously tell.

    He certainly may not be done as a main contributor, but he doesn't have too much tread left on the tires. A few teams outside of the Packers could have some interest based on previous years in the league playing at a high level.

    He has only played one full season in 2007. In that year, he managed to pick the ball off nine times. A team high that year.

14. Will Blackmon (Defensive Back)

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    Blackmon certainly is not the flashiest player, so some may not think there is too much risk there. However, he is similar to Bigby in that has only played one full year in his five-year career so far.

    Blackmon's most significant contributions have come on special teams. He can be a force and a game changer there, specifically on punt returns.

    The Giants took a gamble on him in 2010 but lost him to injury later in the year as he was placed on injured reserve in January. Not much talk around the league has gone on in regards to Blackmon, but eventually, he could find a home; particularly if a team sustains a major hit to their special teams returner.

    He may be a nice addition to some teams' secondary but not as a primary defender as well.

13. Pat Williams (Defensive Tackle)

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    The "Williams Wall" will probably not stay in tact this season as the Vikings went and renovated in the offseason with the addition of Remi Ayodele, who was part of the Saints' Superbowl team a couple of years ago.

    Williams is 38 years old now, which is not exactly a spring chicken for the National Football League. He has not received much attention, if any at all, in this offseason so far.

    The former Viking will most likely have to wait it out until some sort of injury occurs. 

    Williams is a three-time Pro Bowler that could help teams anchor down the middle under circumstantial situations.

    In 2008, though, both he and teammate Kevin Williams received suspensions for violating the anti-doping policy in using a masking agent for steroids. This will be at the forefront of general manager's minds across the league if any choose to consider Williams.

12. Aaron Maybin (Linebacker)

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    When Buffalo Bills fans refer to a player as Aaron "Maybe," then that certainly cannot bode well for your status. 

    The other day, Maybin was waived by the Bills.

    He will find a team. That I am sure of. Some head coach will see the potential that the Bills saw when they drafted him. And sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery for a player to start having success.

    But the Bills, who have not been great defensively over the time that Maybin was there, got rid of him. And I think that, in and of itself, will scare a lot of teams away.

    However, there may still be something there with Maybin, and I would not go as far as to call him a "bust" just yet. But time will tell.

11. Jake Delhomme (Quarterback)

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    It's really surprising that nobody has taken a flier on Delhomme yet as at least a backup. The Dolphins, and a few other teams, could certainly use his services as a "just in case" type of deal.

    But I believe Delhomme will ultimately be picked up by someone. He's not the worst option in the world as a backup. Although he has played close to the worst option in the world at times in his career. It always depends on what player shows up with him.

    He could be one of the streakiest players in the history of the NFL. At times he's played well and at others just absolutely atrocious.

    He is the last relatively bigger name out there in terms of the quarterback position.

10. Lawyer Milloy (Defensive Back)

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    OK, so he's like 1,000 years old in DB years.

    But that does not necessarily mean he won't be able to contribute. He seemed to have played relatively decent in the playoffs for the Seahawks last year.

    Would he be the worst option in the world as a backup? Probably not. However, his ego will probably get in the way of that happening as he would probably not accept that role. He has been a starter his entire career and sometimes pride gets in the way with accepting your decline as a pro athlete.

    But I believe he will be playing somewhere this year. Even if it means having to wait it out on his couch until some team takes a significant hit at the strong safety position.

9. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Wide Receiver)

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    Outside of being potentially the strangest looking dude in the National Football League, Housh has been a pretty decent player as a pro and at times, has been a huge playmaker.

    In recent years, he has bounced around the league. And there has to be good reason as to why. He has tended to drop a lot of passes in the past few years. More than his fair share.

    This will certainly be a player that teams will look at if they take a hit to the roster at this position. If somebody's No. 1 or No. 2 guy goes down, Houshmenzehdeh will be a guy teams look at.

    I always enjoyed the fantasy football commercials, so I am pulling for him to resurrect all the jokes with his name.

8. Kirk Morrison (Linebacker)

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    When head coach Jack Del Rio brought Morrison over from the Raiders, he thought he was going to get the same production. Low and behold, Morrison's play plummeted as quickly as the current stock market has in the past couple of weeks.

    Now, I still believe that in the right situation, Morrison can produce. He is quite literally a tackling machine. He has a unique skill set and there is a team out there that could use it. There always is.

    Morrison, in my opinion, has been a bit underrated through his career. But whoever takes a chance on him could be taking a big chance. There's no telling if his better days are behind him now.

7. Leonard Weaver (Fullback)

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    When you crack your knee in half, it's not going to be the easiest thing to recover from. OK, I'm exaggerating on the "cracking your knee in half" thing a bit.

    But still.

    Any knee injury is going to be tough to recover from fully. But Weaver still may get a shot somewhere. Fullbacks are becoming a thing of the past. So his value will be limited.

    There are teams out there that rely a lot more on the fullback than others. So there will be teams out there that kick the tires on Weaver.

6. Bryant McKinnie (Offensive Tackle)

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    He showed up to Vikings camp looking like a whale and immediately got cut.

    Too many McDonald's value meals during the offseason will certainly lead to gaining some weight. Unless your name is Chad Ochocinco.

    If it is not motivation enough in being cut for him to lay down the triple bacon cheeseburgers, then I don't know what is. The fact of the matter is that if he is not training hard now to get back in with another team, chances are that nobody will want him.

    However, I believe that McKinnie will pull it together and find a team. He could go to the NFC North to get back at the Vikings for cutting him.

    Maybe Jay Cutler should give him a call and ask him to be his workout partner?

5. Lofa Tatupu (Linebacker)

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    Since his injury in 2009, Tatupu has not been the same player. It was just a torn pectoral muscle, though, and I believe he can eventually regain his Pro Bowl form. He was still solid for the 'Hawks last year. Specifically, in the playoffs.

    But Pete Carroll didn't want him. Let me say that one more time...Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll wants everybody.

    So that should send off some flags.

    But ultimately, some team will take the chance and roll the dice on him. If I were the Bills, I'd be looking in to it. It seems as though "Lights Out" Merriman is going to revive his career this year. Maybe Tatupu could do the same thing there.

4. Flozell Adams (Offensive Tackle)

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    36-year-old tackles don't get too much attention because, well, they are 36.

    But in an emergency situation, Adams' agent may get a phone call.

    If you are a five-time Pro Bowler, you know a thing or two about football and how to block. He may have lost a half step or so, but his technique can make up for it.

    Although he lost, he played in the Superbowl last year. Maybe this year's "Dream Team"—a.k.a the Heat-gles (clever huh?)—could take a flier on him as backup tackle just in case? Don't know. 

    Anyhow, he may be someone to keep an eye on. He's most likely not going to get in there at any point during the preseason, though. Too old for that these days.

3. Ladell Betts (Running Back)

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    Betts can be a big time contributor.

    But it's going to be very hard for an NFL running back to come back from the neck injury he sustained last year. The Saints look like they will be set at the running back position with Thomas, Ingram and possibly Bell, who had a great outing against the 49ers this past weekend.

    He will be a player that teams will look at very cautiously but seriously.

    I doubt he will ever regain his 2006 form when he rushed for over 1,000 yards with four touchdowns, but he could a player to use in a pinch.

2. Terrell Owens (Wide Receiver)

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    Nobody knows much about anything in regards to the injury he sustained in the offseason.

    This will be scary for most teams. But one thing we have learned about T.O. over the years is that his body is not normal. He heals like a freak. I mean, the guy played with a fractured fibula. There is no question about his toughness or desire to win.

    He will be playing for someone this year. But considering all of his antics, a lot of teams will be turned off by the injury. 

    T.O. without injury? OK, maybe the sideshow stuff would be worth dealing with. But now? With the double-whammy...I'm not so sure.

    Regardless, Owens could still have a lot to offer, particularly if he can play as well as he has in Buffalo and Cincinnati the last couple of years.

    He will be one of the highest risk, highest reward-type of players on the free-agent list this year.

1. Tiki Barber (Running Back)

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    Really? A comeback at 36 years old, Tiki? You do realize you are a running back, right? It's not like you were Han Solo and you were frozen for a period of time. You aged. Your body aged.

    OK, so there are freaks. Like I mentioned in reference to Terrell Owens. But he is a running back. A run - ing - back. 

    Anyhow, it's not like he will be a primary back anymore and I think he realizes that. He can still catch the ball out of the backfield, and that would be his best bet as opposed to running up the gut left and right.

    Barber got a workout with the Dolphins but not many other teams want him. He burned his bridges in New York, so they definitely are not an option.

    Just running through the short list as to what team could possibly have any level of interest, it does not seem like there are many.

    Anyhow, it will be interesting to see if he can find work. Running backs come a dime a dozen.

Bonus Player: Brett Favre (Quarterback)

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    He'll get the itch...trust me.

    If a player like Peyton Manning were to not be able to go all year, you really think they are going to go with Curtis Painter? Sorry, Colts fans, but you know it's true.

    He will be crawling in his skin sitting on his couch "watching" everyone else play.

    And we will hear that awful horn when Rich Eisen and NFL Network start "Favre Watch" for the umpteenth year in a row.

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