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The Top NFL Free Agents On The Scrap Heap And Where They Might Go: Part Two

NFL News And RumorsAnalyst IJune 3, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 28:  Wide receiver Chad Johnson #85 (R) is congratulated by offensive tackle Levi Jones #76 of the Cincinnati Bengals after Johnson scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 28, 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 58-48. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In part two of my series, I will be examining the top available tigh ends, and offensive linemen. The list gets smaller and less impressive than before but there could be some gems and valuable pieces scattered about.

Absent from the lists are big names like Warrick Dunn, Plaxico Burress, and Marvin Harrison. They are replaced by guys who spell success for most teams, the underappreciated offensive lineman. It's in the trenches that champions are built.

Lets break down the best of the rest on the scrap heap.

Tight Ends

Ben Troupe

The former second-round pick is an injury prone tight end who recently got released from the Oakland Raiders. His best season came in 2005 when he hauled in 55 catches for 530 yards, and four touchdowns. He has proven to be a reliable tight end in the past put his production has dropped off lately. Maybe a team craving a tight end, like the Cleveland Browns, could pick him up as a potential starter. However, he would be nothing more then a backup for the team who signs him.

Plausible Destination: Kansas City Chiefs

After trading Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonazalez, the cupboard is bare with Brad Cottam atop the depth chart. Troupe would give them another potential look and possibly a basement bargain at the latter stages of free agency. Adding insurance will only benefit new franchise quarterback Matt Cassel.

 

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Mark Bruener

Surprised a 15-year-old veteran made the list, huh? Bruener is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. He has an abundance of experience and his leadership-type qualities would only benefit whichever locker room he goes to. With the majority of teams carrying at least one blocking specialist tight end, you cannot go wrong getting a savvy veteran who is one of the best at it.

Plausible Destination: Miami Dolphins

Adding a superb run-blocking tight end would mesh well with the Dolphins power run ning game and would give a good complement to No. 1 tight end Anthony Fasano. With a mismatch offense that features the wildcat, plugging Bruener in there to disguise the pass would be a great misdirection.

 

Daniel Wilcox

Wilcox has played as a backup to Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap who  has been a marginal roster filler throughout his career. Wilcox won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, and his most productive season came in 2005 when he grabbed 25  receptions for 219 yards and one touchdown. Any team who is looking to round out their tight end position could take a look at him when training camp looms closer.

Plausible Destination: Cleveland Browns

With the trade of Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow, the Browns are left with promising, unproven tight end Martin Rucker. Throwing someone else into the mix would not hurt considering the Browns overall lack of depth in the aerial attack.

 

Offensive Tackle

 

Jonas Jennings

He is a proven starter, but his knack for the injury bug got him cut by the 49ers in favor of Marvel Smith. Someone is going to give this guy a shot and if he can stay healthy, he can be a reliable starter on almost any offensive line.

Plausible Destination:  Seattle Seahawks

Maybe it is just my fan-hood, or the Levi Jones rumors, but something has me thinking the Seahawks are not quite done in free agency. They already plucked two starters from the scrap heap and with each team being awarded an additional $5 million for the salary cap, they could scratch their itch of adding some more depth to the offensive line. Jennings would not have the pressure on him to start every game and that could give him some time to recover from his various nagging injuries. He would be one heck of a sub.The offensive line would not lose a step with him giving someone a breather.

 

Levi Jones

The former Bengal is basically a clone of the aforementioned Jennings as an oft-injured former starter. He will be picked up by training camp and will be in the mix for a starting spot wherever he winds up. There were already rumors of a potential signing with the Seattle Seahawks. He has already garnered some interest and is the best option amongst the remaining offensive linemen.

Plausible Destination: Green Bay Packers

With an aging Chad Clifton, and the potential of losing T Mark Tauscher to free agency, the Packers could use a reliable veteran like Jones. He could step right in and give them a solid presence on the offensive line. His athletic ability would mesh well with the Packers young, progressing offensive line. His addition would give them additional time to develop their players

 

Kwame Harris

Now for all of you doubting my snub of Tauscher, I'm just not positive he can return and be healthy enough to be a difference maker in 2009. Harris is no stranger to the injury bug himself but he is a younger option and has more potential upside for the team that signs him. He came from a putrid Raiders program so perhaps a breath of fresh air would make for a positive change. He would give teams solid depth at the tackle position.

Plausible Destination: Pittsburgh Steelers

If there is a weak spot on the Super Bowl champions roster, it is the Offensive Llne. After guard Alan Faneca walked in free agency last year, the champs saw their rushing yards drop to 23rd in the league. Picking up Harris would give them an insurance policy for the underwhelming offensive line and would enable additional flexibility.

Guards and Centers

 

Melvin Fowler

Fowler has been the starting C for the Bills and was purged along with high priced G Derrick Dockery. In his college career at the University of Maryland, he did not allow a sack. He is the most attractive option left for the interior and could land a starting spot if given the opportunity.

Plausible Destination: Minnesota Vikings

Losing center Matt Birk was a blow and he is a tough guy to replace. Tabbing a reliable starter for his vacant spot would be an upgrade over the unproven John Sullivan. With the Vikings depending on the run they need the offensive line to be the best it can be. With a superior left side they could not go wrong further supplementing the right side with a proven veteran.

 

Kendall Simmons

A former starter on the Steelers Superbowl XL team, Simmons was cut after he tore his Achilles tendon in 2008. He could be signed at a bargain price and could be a pleasant surprise for some teams if he manages to bounce back from his devastating injury

Plausible Destination: San Diego Chargers

After letting veteran Mike Goff go to the Chiefs, Simmons would offer them some depth and could be a potential starter if his injury situation pans out for the better. He mixes well with the Chargers power based offensive line.

 

Pete Kendall

The aging veteran was let go by the Redskins in favor of bringing back former guard Derrick Dockery. He is a savvy veteran who will find somewhere to play unless he decides to retire at the age of 35. His experience would be a valuable contribution in a mentor capacity to younger offensive linemen. He is not known for being a “locker room” guy but he is no Terrell Owens either.

Plausible Destination: Houston Texans

The Texans are a young team and their offensive line continues to get better. Another veteran presence would benefit promising youngster's Chris Myers and Dan Stevenson. After the departure of Ephriam Salaam he would give them additional depth to the offensive line.

In part three, I will examine defensive tackles, defensive ends, and offensive linebackers.

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