18 Remaining NFL Free Agents Who Could Have An Impact

The draft is over, but teams with needs still have hope. The end of the draft usually kicks off a 2nd wave of free agency featuring players that teams were waiting until after the draft to sign. I did a list like this last year and it included some players that went on to have big impacts in the 2013 season. That list included John Abraham, who signed in July and had 12 sacks for a 10-win Arizona team, Quentin Mikell, who signed in September and started 13 games for a Carolina defense that was one of the best in the NFL, Karlos Dansby, who rehabbed his value in one year in Arizona and signed with the Browns on a 4-year, 22 million dollar deal this off-season, and Daryl Smith, who rehabbed his value on a one year deal in Baltimore and re-signed with the Ravens on a 4-year, 16.1 million dollar deal this off-season. In addition, from that list of 18 players, 8 were starters in 2013. This year’s list isn’t as good, partially because last year’s was so good, partially because the draft was 2 weeks later this year (Anthony Spencer would have definitely made the list, but he signed a week before the draft. Miles Austin also already signed), but there are still a number of guys available who could end up being starters this season.

G Travelle Wharton

Why he’s still available: Wharton is heading into his age 33 season and is considering retirement. More likely, teams just aren’t meeting his asking price as he’s likely asking for a multi-year deal, which could be tough for him to get, even after a strong 2013 season, because of his age and injury history. He missed the entire 2012 season with injury.

What he can still bring to a team: Wharton only started 12 games last season and only played 851 snaps, but after signing on a cheap one-year deal, Wharton proved to be a savior on the offensive line for the Panthers, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked guard.

Who could be interested: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, Carolina

DT Kevin Williams

Why he’s still available: This is another combination of age and asking price. Williams is going into his age 34 season and, after 11 seasons in the NFL as one of the league’s premier defensive tackles, he doesn’t seem willing to play for anything less than his asking price and is willing to retire.

What he can still bring to a team: As I mentioned, Williams has been one of the league’s premier defensive tackles for a long time. He’s graded out above average on Pro Football Focus every season since their origin in 2008. The future Hall-of-Famer was a top-3 defensive tackle in 2008-2010 and didn’t finish below 9th until last year. Even last year, he was 27th. He presumably still has another year or two left in the tank, but the price will have to be right.

Who could be interested: Dallas, Seattle

OT David Stewart

Why he’s still available: Stewart is going into his age 32 season and has shown decline on the field over the past 2 seasons. He’s also missed 8 games over the past 2 seasons. Finally, he’s a pure right tackle, which is a devalued position in the NFL when compared to the left tackle position.

What he can still bring to a team: Even though he’s on the decline, he’s still graded out above average on Pro Football Focus since its origin in 2008. He’s not the 3rd ranked offensive tackle he was in 2008 and 2011, or the 6th ranked offensive tackle he was in 2009, but he can still play. 32 years old isn’t completely over the hill, so, if healthy, he should still have something left in the tank. I think he’s still a starter on the right side somewhere.

Who could be interested: Houston, Baltimore, Arizona, Carolina

S Quintin Mikell

Why he’s still available: Mikell makes this list for the 2nd straight off-season. He was forced to settle for a one-year deal with the Panthers right before last season started and now he’s going into his age 34 season. He could have to settle for a similar deal near or at the veteran’s minimum this off-season.

What he can still bring to a team: Mikell only signed so late last off-season because he had a higher asking price earlier in the off-season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked safety in 2012, excelling against the run and as a blitzer, though struggling in coverage. Upon joining the Panthers, he had a positive impact, grading out above average on 688 snaps for one of the NFL’s best defenses. He should be able to have a similar impact for a team on a deal near the minimum.

Who could be interested: Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Carolina

G Harvey Dahl

Why he’s still available: Dahl is going into his age 33 season and graded out below average on Pro Football Focus for the first time in their history last season. He’s also missed 9 games with injuries over the past 2 seasons, including 7 last season.

What he can still bring to a team: He may have graded out below average last season, but only barely and he’s been a great player in the past. He’s graded out above average every season since 2008, maxing out at 5th in 2010. He’s old, but not quite so old that it would be improbable that he has another season as an average starter left in the tank if he can stay healthy.

Who could be interested: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, Carolina, Seattle

CB Drayton Florence

Why he’s still available: Drayton Florence’s career seemed over when he was part of the Panthers’ final cuts last off-season, after bouncing around from Buffalo to Denver to Detroit during the 2012 season and struggling mightily in 2011 with the Bills. The Panthers re-signed him mid-season in September, but now he’s going into his age 34 season.

What he can still bring to a team: Florence might not have been on a team until September last season, but he randomly had a great season once he was on the field for the Panthers, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 22nd ranked cornerback on 600 snaps, allowing 54.4% completion into his coverage. There’s no guarantee he can repeat that season, after struggling mightily the previous two seasons and going into his age 34 season, especially if he’s without Carolina’ dominant front 7 in front of him, but he could still be a solid addition.

Who could be interested: Washington, Minnesota, Tennessee, Baltimore, San Diego, Carolina, San Francisco

G Brian Waters

Why he’s still available: On a list of old players, Waters is the oldest, going into his age 37 season. He’s played just 7 games and 344 snaps over the past 2 seasons, retiring briefly for the 2012 season and then suffering a season ending injury mid-season in 2013.

What he can still bring to a team: While he’s old, he’s also a potential future Hall-of-Famer and he showed he had something still left in the tank last season, grading out above average on Pro Football Focus. In his last full season in 2011, Waters graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked guard with the Patriots, making the Pro-Bowl, his 8th career Pro-Bowl appearance.

Who could be interested: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, Carolina, Seattle

OT Tyson Clabo

Why he’s still available: Clabo was also on this list last off-season. He signed with the Dolphins towards the end of the off-season and started 15 games for them at right tackle, but he showed noticeable decline. Now going into his age 33 season, he should have a harder time finding work than he did last off-season, when he signed a 1-year, 3 million dollar deal.

What he can still bring to a team: While Clabo did show decline last off-season, he still graded out about average on Pro Football Focus. Before last year, he had graded out well above average on Pro Football Focus since 2008 and he’s been incredibly durable. He’s not over the hill year in football years and he could conceivably have at least a year left in him as an average starter. He struggled mightily early in the season, but turned it on down the stretch, even though he was miscast in a zone blocking scheme in Miami. I think he can still be a starter in a power blocking scheme.

Who could be interested: Houston, Baltimore, Arizona, Carolina

G Uche Nwaneri

Why he’s still available: Nwaneri was cut by the Jaguars earlier this off-season because they didn’t think he was worth his salary, going into his age 30 season. He hasn’t had a shortage of visits since he’s been released, visiting with the Titans and Bengals and drawing interest from a few other teams reportedly, so it’s possible his asking price is too high after being scheduled to make about 5 million dollars in 2014 originally.

What he can still bring to a team: Nwaneri is actually one of the younger players on this list and graded out about average on Pro Football Focus last season, as he does in most seasons. He’s also missed just 1 game in the last 4 seasons. Unless he has a steep drop off in level of play at age 30, Nwaneri should still be a solid starting guard somewhere in the NFL, at the right price of course.

Who could be interested: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, Carolina, Seattle

MLB Erin Henderson

Why he’s still available: Henderson was cut by the Vikings and has since found a cold market after being arrested for DUI twice in a three month span towards the end of last season. He was benched for the first one and released for the second one. There’s a chance any team that signs him will be without his services for the first few games of the season as he could be facing suspension.

What he can still bring to a team: Off-the-field aside, Henderson is only going into his age 28 season and he graded out about average on 868 snaps last season. Henderson’s best season as a pro was in 2011, when he dominated as a two-down outside linebacker, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker against the run, but he struggled when moved to three down work in the middle in 2012, eventually getting benched and moved back to two-down work, where he wasn’t the same. He was given another shot as an every down middle linebacker in 2013 though and seemed to be a much more complete player, though still not as dominant as he was against the run in 2011. That was before the off-the-field problems. If he can keep his head right, he could be a solid starter at middle linebacker.

Who could be interested: Houston, Miami, Kansas City, Denver

S Mike Adams

Why he’s still available: Adams is going into his age 33 season and was benched for unproven former undrafted free agent Duke Ihenacho before the start of last season.

What he can still bring to a team: While he was benched to start the season, he eventually became a starter again when injuries struck in the Broncos’ secondary. He graded out above average on Pro Football Focus, something he had done in 2011 and 2012 as well, with the Browns and Broncos respectively. He has versatility to play both safety and slot cornerback. His age is an issue, but he deserves to be on a team competing for a role in the secondary somewhere.

Who could be interested: Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Carolina

TE Dustin Keller

Why he’s still available: Keller has caught just 28 passes in 8 games over the last 2 seasons combined, missing 24 with a variety of injuries, including all 16 games last season with a devastating knee injury suffered in the pre-season. He tore 3 ligaments and dislocated the kneecap, causing some nerve damage that made many wonder if he’d ever play again. A once promising once tight end now goes into his age 30 season with major injury questions.

What he can still bring to a team: That being said, Keller is still relatively young by this list’s standards and the former first round pick of the Jets is just 2 seasons removed from catching 65 passes for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns despite having Mark Sanchez under center. He’s a great natural passing catching tight end and, if relatively healthy, could be a solid addition to a team as a #2 move tight end.

Who could be interested: Oakland, Buffalo, NY Giants, Green Bay, New England

TE Jermichael Finley

Why he’s still available: Like Dustin Keller, Finley is coming back from a serious injury, suffering a neck injury last season and undergoing spinal fusion surgery that made many wonder if he’d ever play again. Finley has missed a combined 26 games in his 6 year NFL career and has never surpassed 55 catches for 767 yards and 8 touchdowns despite playing with Aaron Rodgers throughout his career, struggling with drops primarily.

What he can still bring to a team: Finley is only going into his age 27 season, making him the youngest player on this list, and he’s still a starting caliber type end when healthy. Like Keller, he could be a solid addition to a team as a #2 move tight end and I could definitely see Green Bay bringing him back in some form on a cheap one year deal.

Who could be interested: Oakland, Buffalo, NY Giants, Green Bay, New England

C Jonathan Goodwin

Why he’s still available: Goodwin is one of the oldest players on this list, going into his age 36 season and he’s shown noticeable decline on the field over the past few seasons. The 49ers replaced him with Mike Martin in the 3rd round of the draft and there aren’t a lot of teams with open spots in the starting lineup at center. Goodwin may not be willing to be a backup or to play for less than a certain amount of money. He’s reportedly considering retirement.

What he can still bring to a team: While he’s shown decline, he still graded out above average as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked center last season, struggling some in pass protection, but continuing to excel as a run blocker. On run blocking alone, he was 7th at his position. Centers tend to have among the longest careers in the NFL and the 6-3 318 pounder would be a great fit for a run heavy, power blocking team, at the right price of course.

Who could be interested: Jacksonville, Green Bay, Cincinnati, New Orleans

TE Fred Davis

Why he’s still available: Like Keller and Finley, Davis is a young, talented tight end with issues, but the difference is his issues go deeper than injuries. Yes, Davis did 9 games with a torn Achilles in 2012 and struggle upon his return in 2013, catching just 7 passes in 10 games, but he’s also a failed drug test away from a season long suspension and he had issues with his coaches after he was benched for rookie Jordan Reed last season. He’s also a below average and, at times, unwilling blocker in the run game.

What he can still bring to a team: Davis is only going into his age 28 season and caught 83 passes for 1121 yards and 3 touchdowns over a 19 game stretch from 2011-2012, which is 70 catches for 944 yards and 3 touchdowns over 16 games. He’s another year removed from that injury now and a change of scenery might do him some good. He’d be a good fit somewhere as a move tight end in a strong organization that could handle him.

Who could be interested: Oakland, Buffalo, NY Giants, Green Bay, New England

TE Ben Hartsock

Why he’s still available: Hartsock is going into his age 34 season and has a combined 4 catches since 2009.

What he can still bring to a team: Hartsock is listed at 6-4 265, but might be even bigger. He doesn’t offer anything in the passing game, but he acts as a 6th offensive lineman, holding up in pass protection and excelling as a run blocker. He was Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked tight end last season in terms of run blocking and he would have ranked 8th in 2012 had he played enough snaps to qualify.

Who could be interested: Carolina, New England

OLB James Harrison

Why he’s still available: Harrison is a former Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and could be a Hall-of-Famer after he retires, but he’s going into his age 36 season. He missed 8 games from 2011-2012, leading to his release from the Steelers, and last season ended up in Cincinnati as a two-down run stopping outside linebacker in a 2013, playing just 383 snaps, including just 143 pass rush snaps. His pass rush skills have mostly eroded.

What he can still bring to a team: Harrison may be old, but he showed enough last season as a run stuffer to suggest he could still play a two-down run stuffing role somewhere. He was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker against the run last season, despite his limited snaps and he was a top-3 run stopping 3-4 outside linebacker from 2010-2012 with Pittsburgh. It would have to be at the veteran’s minimum, but I could see either of his former teams, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, signing him for a situational role.

Who could be interested: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

S Kerry Rhodes

Why he’s still available: Rhodes wasn’t in the NFL at all last season. There were some rumors that it was because of the rumors that he was gay, but more likely it had to do with his history of issues with coaches, the bizarre homophobic way he reacted to his the rumors that he was homosexual (which including claiming that he might be the father of ### #######’s baby), and his high asking price. He reportedly turned down a 3 million dollar offer.

What he can still bring to a team: Maybe a year out of the league has lowered his asking price. It’s always risky signing someone who has been out of the league for a year, especially a mercurial player like Rhodes, but he’s only going into his age 32 season and he was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked safety in 2012. I could see a safety needy team bringing him in for a workout and offering him to a minimum deal. It would then be up to him to accept.

Who could be interested: Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Carolina

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s