Cedric Benson Among 25 Best NFL Free Agents Still On The Market
While those players memorize playbooks and make the most of their August playing time, there remains a bevy of former All-Pros still looking for work, as well as otherwise once-exceptional players.
Should teams experience a costly injury at a skill position, or see weakness in the position’s depth, expect some phones to be ringing as the dog days of summer wear on.
Listed here are two dozen and one players who could find be finding new homes this August or September should prospective teams fail their self-administered litmus tests.
25. Travis LaBoy (DE/LB) (Opening Day Age: 31; Last Played With: Chargers)
LaBoy struggled in San Diego’s defense last year, with a mere 31 tackles and a sack in fourteen games started. With San Diego firing defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after just that one season, perhaps the onus doesn’t fall on LaBoy, who thrived situationally in Tennessee and San Francisco.
24. Mike Sims-Walker (WR) (Opening Day Age: 27; Last Played With: Jaguars)
2011 was a weird year for the “Chopper City” native, as he jumped to St. Louis, was cut in October, returned to the Jags, ended up a reserve two weeks later, and then was released. Teams needing depth at receiver could use Sims-Walker’s flashes of brilliance in the slot.
23. Melvin Bullitt (S) (Opening Day Age: 27; Last Played With: Colts)
Injury misfortunes made Bullitt a lock to be canned during Indianapolis’ house-cleaning this offseason. Playing only six games over the last two seasons made him expendable, as he ended up on reserve twice with shoulder issues. At his age, if his price is low, he can at least compete for a spot.
22. TJ Houshmandzadeh (WR) (Opening Day Age: 34; Last Played With: Raiders)
“Housh” played only half a season in 2011, making eleven catches for 146 yards and a 40-yard touchdown as he reunited with Carson Palmer in Oakland. Though older and having lost a step, the man who once had 112 catches in a season can contribute in the slot with his sure hands.
21. Brad Maynard (P) (Opening Day Age: 38; Last Played With: Browns)
His average is dipping as he gets older, having posted two consecutive years below 41 yards a punt. The only other year in his long career that he’s done that was 2000, and that average is still above his 2010 and 2011 averages. Still, an injury to one’s punter makes Maynard a priority call.
20. Jim Leonhard (S) (Opening Day Age: 29; Last Played With: Jets)
A torn patellar tendon in his knee ended his season last December, and the Jets made safety upgrades in the offseason that led to him going unsigned. One of the shorter safeties at 5’8”, but is also a handy punt returner if a team needs to solidify a shaky return game.
19. Tommie Harris (DT) (Opening Day Age: 29; Last Played With: Chargers)
Picked up three sacks off the bench for San Diego last season, after serving as one of Chicago’s dependable pass rushers for seven seasons prior. Harris has had a tumultuous offseason, losing his wife Ashley to a stroke in February, leaving Tommie with their two little children.
18. Adam Goldberg (OL) (Opening Day Age: 32; Last Played With: Rams)
Goldberg can be shuffled around the line where needed, but knee injuries and roster turnovers had relegated him to understudy duty by last season. With injuries to Rodger Saffold and others, Goldberg’s versatility was showcased; a skill that can come in handy for other injury-plagued lines.
17. Raheem Brock (DE) (Opening Day Age: 34; Last Played With: Seahawks)
The positives: put up twelve sacks over the last two seasons coming off the bench in pass-rushing situations. The negatives: advancing age, as well as a rash of legal problems, including two DUI’s, and a strange case of an unpaid bar tab, over the past couple years.
16. Nick Collins (S) (Opening Day Age: 29; Last Played With: Packers)
The three-time Pro Bowler would be higher on this list if concerns about his neck weren’t so high. The injury was so severe, that Green Bay opted to cut him, thinking he’d never be the same. In three months, nobody has claimed a man with 21 picks and five defensive touchdowns.
15. Jeff Faine (C) (Opening Day Age: 31; Last Played With: Buccaneers)
New head coach Greg Schiano worked on revamping the offensive line, and saw Faine worth cutting. Faine shouldn’t feel too bad; it was to make room for the beastly Carl Nicks. Despite being the odd-man-out, Faine has made for a consistent, gifted starter when healthy.
14. Visanthe Shiancoe (TE) (Opening Day Age: 32; Last Played With: Vikings)
Could Shiancoe be a victim of circumstance? In 2009, playing with Brett Favre in his final gasp of greatness, Shiancoe had eleven TDs in his best season. His numbers have dipped over the last two seasons, but he could serve well in a backup role in double sets.
13. Dennis Dixon (QB) (Opening Day Age: 27; Last Played With: Steelers)
Maybe this is a tad high, but Dixon’s a young player whose ceiling hasn’t come close to being nicked or scratched. He hasn’t played since Week 2 of 2010 due to injuries and being buried on the depth chart, but he’s at least a reliable backup who can manage games when needed.
12. Ryan Longwell (K) (Opening Day Age: 38; Last Played With: Vikings)
Longwell was cut by Minnesota in March, and replaced with unproven rookie Blair Walsh. Longwell missed six field goals in 2011, going 22 for 28, and having an average below 80 percent for the first time since 2005. Chances are, somebody’s poor performance will lead to his resurfacing.