NFL’s best remaining free agents: Kerry Rhodes, Brandon Lloyd still available
The NFL’s free-agent frenzy for 2013 is a distant memory, with teams now sorting their rosters in training camp and the preseason. Despite that, a boatload of recognizable names remain on the market, hoping to land an opportunity in August or September.
Who are the best remaining free agents at each position? Here’s a look: (Note: These lists will be updated as players are signed/released.)
1. Tyler Thigpen
2. JaMarcus Russell
3. Trent Edwards
Others of note: Matt Leinart, Byron Leftwich
Not much left to see here, other than if Russell winds up getting a chance to revive his career somewhere. Every other QB listed has No. 1 QB experience, but only Leftwich started a game last year. He lost that one, a 13-10 game at Baltimore, dropping him to 0-6 as a starter since the 2007 season.
1. Willis McGahee
2. Michael Turner
3. Beanie Wells
Others of note: Cedric Benson, Kevin Smith, Brandon Jacobs, Javon Ringer, Tim Hightower
Injuries, age, ineffectiveness … take your pick. There are ample reasons why these running backs remain unsigned. McGahee’s atop the list because he was en route to a second straight 1,000-yard season before a devastating leg injury. If he can get all the way back, there’s still some juice left in the tank.
1. Brandon Lloyd
2. Laurent Robinson
3. Deion Branch
Others of note: Donald Jones, Brandon Stokley, Randy Moss
Lloyd reportedly caused some headaches in the New England locker room, but he also caught 74 balls last year and 70 the season prior. Concussion issues sidetracked Robinson following a breakout 2011 with the Cowboys. Teams in need might prefer the 25-year-old Jones over a 34-year-old Branch.
1. Dallas Clark
2. Randy McMichael
3. Todd Heap
Others of note: Evan Moore, Daniel Graham, David Thomas, Will Heller
This once constituted a really productive group. Not so much anymore. Clark did have 47 catches for Tampa Bay last season, so he should be able to help if he lands in the right situation. Heap’s time in Arizona was an unmitigated disaster. There is not a lot of upside with any of the tight ends still available.
1. Jammal Brown
2. Winston Justice
3. Sean Lockler
Others of note: Jared Gaither, Wayne Hunter, Frank Omiyale
A six of one, half-dozen of the other for the remaining tackles — they can start in a pinch but asking anything beyond that would be a mistake. Players like Justice or Omiyale could slide inside and pick up some snaps at guard, too. Talent-wise, Gaither is the best tackle still on the market. He left the Chargers hanging out to dry last season, though, so it’s hard to say if he even wants to sign anywhere.
1. Cooper Carlisle
2. Travelle Wharton
3. Deuce Lutui
Others of note: Bobbie Williams
Teams in need of impact guards at this point probably are out of luck. Brandon Moore really was the last guy who possibly fell in that category, and he opted to retire hours after agreeing to a deal with the Cowboys. There’s minimal distinction between the remaining guards on the list.
1. Mark Anderson
2. Trevor Scott
3. Juqua Parker
Others of note: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Dave Tollefson
Anderson was a surprise cut in July, following a truly disappointing and injury-plagued 2012 with the Bills. If a team wants a straight pass-rusher, Anderson would fit the bill — he had 10 sacks for New England in 2011. Scott’s an under-the-radar talent, at 28 years of age and with 16.5 career sacks.
1. Richard Seymour
2. Justin Bannan
3. Sione Po’uha
Others of note: Rocky Bernard, Corey Williams
Is the 33-year-old Seymour ready to call it a career? If not, he’s more than capable of filling at least a rotational role somewhere. Bannan started 45 games over the past three seasons, with stops in Denver and St. Louis. Po’uha did yeoman’s work as a nose tackle in the Jets’ 3-4, but he continues to struggle with the back injury that sidelined him for six games in 2012.
1. Thomas Howard
2. Rocky McIntosh
3. Mike Peterson
Others of note: Michael Boley, Leroy Hill, Chris Gocong, Scott Shanle
The two best outside linebackers listed probably are Boley and Hill. Both are facing potential NFL suspensions — Boley for an arrest on child abuse charges, Hill on account of a January domestic violence incident. Howard, McIntosh and Peterson all could chip in on a 4-3 defense; Gocong may be the top 3-4 OLB option available.
1. Bart Scott
2. Bradie James
3. Paris Lenon
Others of note: Takeo Spikes, Barrett Ruud, Tavares Gooden
Scott needed toe surgery in January, though he should be 100 percent for the start of the regular season. It would be surprising if he does not land a job sometime between now and then. James started 14 games for Houston last season, while Lenon started every Cardinals game from 2010-12. Likewise, Spikes has not missed a contest since 2009.
1. Eric Wright
2. Sheldon Brown
3. Cedric Griffin
Others of note: Rashean Mathis, Jason Allen, Stanford Routt
Wright was arrested and then failed a physical after an attempted trade to San Francisco. Suffice it to say, his stock is not sky high. If he can get in shape, he’s still a veteran corner capable of helping out a secondary. Brown, 34, had a really solid 2012 for Cleveland. Griffin reportedly was arrested in early August on a DWI charge, possibly the nail in the coffin on his career.
1. Kerry Rhodes
2. Quintin Mikell
3. Madieu Williams
Others of note: Atari Bigby, Jordan Babineaux
How is Rhodes still a free agent? Sure, he’s turning 32 in August and Rex Ryan previously ripped the former Jets’ attitude. But Rhodes still played his tail off in 2012, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best safety in the NFL. Mikell has started at least 15 games each of the past five seasons.