The Top NFL Free Agents on the Scrap Heap and Where They Might Go: Pt. 4

NFL News And RumorsAnalyst IJune 17, 2009

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 05:  Chris McAlister #21 of the Baltimore Ravens makes an interception in front of Chris Henry #15 of the Cincinnati Bengals to preserve a 26-20 Ravens win during the fourth quarter on November 5, 2006 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In my last edition to my five part series we went through the top available Free Agents at the DT, DE, and OLB positions. 

Now we move to the MLB, and secondary positions as we wrap up the position players before glancing at the Special Teams performers. 

If you have not already check out the first three parts to the series, the links will be posted at the end of the article. 

The talent shrinks somewhat but their are still some hidden parts that could be the missing piece for a contender.

Middle Linebacker

Derek Smith 

He is a veteran who has held a significant starting role for 11 years of his productive 13 year NFL career. His moat successful stint came in seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he averaged 101 tackles per season.

He was recently let go by the Miami Dolphins after he only suited up for one game. His size (240) does not mold well with Parcells' preference for a larger defense. He has produced well in the past and at the age of 34 still has a little gas to offer a team as a backup LB/spot starter. 

Plausible Destination: New England Patriots

Why not? He is exactly the type of seasoned veteran whose best years are behind him that fits in perfectly to what they do. Having added guys like WR Joey Galloway and RB Fred Taylor, don't throw them out, especially after losing veteran LB Mike Vrabel. 

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Throwing him in a rotation along with Tedy Bruschi and Jerod Mayo would give the Patriots nice depth in the middle of the LB unit. 

Teddy Lehman

The former Detroit Lion has yet to find his niche so far in the NFL. In his one season as a starter he did post 102 tackles, so he has proven he can produce when given the opportunity.

Since the 2004 season he has been a productive Special Teams player. At the age of 27 he still has a long potential career ahead of him, one chance is all he needs to prove he can be someones starting LB.

Plausible Destination: Baltimore Ravens

With  Bart Scott and Nick Griesen departed the Ravens can use some depth behind All Pro LB Ray Lewis. Taking a flyer on Lehman poses no financial risk and gives them someone who can capably fill in for any injuries that may occur. With a worn down Lewis manning the starting spot it can't hurt to have some additional insurance.

Nate Webster

He is probably the best option if a team is looking to add a potential starter to their roster. As a starter for the Denver Broncos the past two seasons he has averaged 82 tackles in 13 games per season.

He was a victim of a necessary breath of fresh air to a dreadful Denver defense that finished near rock bottom in every statistical category. A change in scenery and a better supporting cast should increase his production. 

Plausible Destination: St Louis Rams

After letting go of leading tackler Piso Tinoisamoa it is unfair to believe that rookie LB James Laurinitis can hold down the LB unit. This would be a good under the radar, low risk-high reward move that would improve a transitioning St Louis Rams team.

Webster still has some productive years ahead of him (31) and would step right into a starting spot. This would be one of his best places to go if he is looking for a starting job. 


Chris McAlister 

A steady three time Pro Bowl veteran who is a product of a tremendous Ravens defense. He was a key contributor to one of the greatest defenses in NFL history in 2000 as the Ravens won the Superbowl.

Over the past two seasons he has only started 13 games and was let go largely because of his inability to stay on the field. If he can stay healthy he could be someones No. 2 CB or could even convert to play a little FS.

Plausible Destination: Seattle Seahawks

They need a replacement for current FS Brian Russell and McAlister would fit well in the Tampa 2 Defense playing as a S. He is much faster and more athletic then Russell and would take care of Seattles only need on defense after a tremendously productive offseason.

Adding him to the mix gives Seattle a starting secondary of Marcus Trufant, Ken Lucas, and Deon Grant, hardly a 32nd ranked secondary. 

If they wanted to they could bump one of their other two CB's, Josh Wilson, or Kelly Jennings' to S and he could become a great nickel back option. 

Mike McKenzie

The 11 year veteran has a lot of tread on the tires but is still a terrific Zone Coverage CB. Going to Green Bay in the third round of the 1999 draft he walked right in and started as a rookie.

More recently he led all New Orleans CB's in INT's with 12 total in his five year stint with the team. He was cut after an injury plagued 2008 campaign in favor of younger CB's such as first round pick Malcolm Jenkins.

Plausible Destination: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An abundance of cap room and a need of some veteran savvy on defense has them fitting the bill perfectly. Adding McKenzie would give them a great option against the slot and he fits the Tampa 2 well.

After purging guys like Derrick Brooks, Cato June, Phillip Buchanon, among others the Buccaneers need to add to their defense if they want to be in the postseason conversation.

Fakhir Brown

I was torn between him and Brian Kelly but Brown ia younger and has more to offer the signing team. When given a starting role Brown has proven he can produce. In his four seasons as a starter he has averaged 51 tackles and 3 INT's, not flashy, but solid No. 3 corner esque stats. He could be a weak No. 2 or solid No. 3 option at CB for somebody

Plausible Destination: Arizona Cardinals

As a division rival I have kept close tabs on their offseason activity. They let go of No. 2 CB Rod Hood and No. 3 CB Eric Green, filling only one void with import Bryant McFadden.

This defense got blown out multiple times in the offseason and after the type of season they had they should be doing more adding then subtracting. Bringing in Brown would give them a solid presence at the Nickel spot and would stabilize a then solid secondary. 


Mike Brown

Entering his 11th NFL season Brown put up solid stats in 2008 for the Chicago Bears compiling 73 tackles, eight pass deflections, and two INT's. He is only 31 and could be a starter for some NFL teams if he can manage to stay healthy. 

Plausible Destination: Houston Texans

Houston is a young talented team that is ready to break through for a franchises first playoff appearance. Their weakest link on defense is S and Brown would be an upgrade over slated starter Nick Ferguson. He is a younger, superior player. Pairing him with Patriots import Eugene Wilson would give the Texans a solid duo at the S position.

Will Allen

Allen has enjoyed a productive NFL career starting since his rookie year averaging 58 tackles, 14 Pass Deflections, and 2 INT's per season. He will likely be signed by training camp and can play the Nickel position for virtually any NFL team. He could fight his way to a No. 2 spot with a superb camp effort. 

Plausible Destination: New York Jets

After trading away Abram Elam in the blockbuster trade for Franchise QB Mark Sanchez bringing in someone to push Eric Smith would not be a bad idea. He has been more productive in his career and could walk in and take the job from Smith, giving star S Kerry Rhodes a proven counterpart.

Lawyer Milloy

He was a part of the resurgent Atlanta Falcons that improved by seven wins in one season and advanced to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. He was badly exposed by Larry Fitzgerald in the Wild Card Game, but that cannot completely diminish his solid stat line in the latter stages of his career.

In his three year tenure with the Falcons he averaged 94 tackles, one INT and five pass deflections while assuming a much needed leadership role in a young Atlanta secondary. Even at 35 I still believe he can start for some teams in the NFL.

He has expressed his desire to play for the Seattle Seahawks but they appear to be content with going forward with Brian Russell.

Plausible Destination: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers need some help in the secondary after finishing 31st in pass defense and Milloy would at least give them some solid veteran depth. Clinton Hart is not the answer and even on the downside of his career Milloy is putting up better numbers then he is. He would certainly push Hart for a starting job and could help stabilize the leaky unit.

In my next series I will examine the top three Kickers, Punters, and Special Teams performers available on the market.

Here are the links to the first three parts of my Free Agency series for additional insight. 





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