2013 NFL Free Agents: Veteran Defenders Who Can Still Make an Impact for Teams

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up before a game with New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Don't forget about the old guys.

While the cream of the free agency crop has already signed, the major trades we'll see this offseason are behind us and the excitement this week will be surrounding the draft, there are still plenty of intriguing free agents available, namely on the defensive side of the ball.

Sure, some of them may be getting up their in years. Sure, their best playing days are behind them. But the three guys below can still make an impact for NFL teams, and an organization looking to add another playmaker for a playoff run this season would be wise to sign one of them.


Brian Urlacher, Linebacker

Brian Urlacher has always been the Chuck Norris of the NFL, and for that reason alone I'm not willing to dismiss his ability to make an impact for NFL teams over another season or two.

Yes, I know he'll be 35 when the season opens. Yes, I know his production has declined over the past five years and he has durability issues. But a healthy Urlacher can still play, as his savvy and experience make up for his declining athleticism.

Plus, he'll add a lot of leadership to a locker room. Urlacher deserves at least a one-year contract on the market.


Dwight Freeney, Defensive End

Ignore the fact that Freeney had just five sacks last year. Part of his decrease in production can be attributed to the fact that the Indianapolis Colts switched to a 3-4 scheme, standing Freeney up in a role he clearly wasn't comfortable playing. 

While the 33-year-old isn't the double-digit sack artist of his youth—he hasn't registered 10 or more sacks since 2010—Freeney is still an excellent speed rusher that would make sense for a team that can spend a little cash for a third-down specialist.

For a playoff contender needing to add a few sacks to the squad, Freeney makes a lot of sense.


John Abraham, Defensive End

Abraham may be 35 when the season starts, but the veteran defensive end is still plenty productive, with 32.5 sacks in the past three seasons, including 10 sacks last year. At this point, he's probably going to have to be a third-down specialist, but he can obviously still get after the quarterback.

And seeing as he's still on the market, he should come at a reasonable price tag as well. 

There are plenty of teams out there that could still use an upgrade on the edge at pass-rusher, especially teams with playoff rosters that are in a position to throw a few dollars at a veteran in pursuit of a Super Bowl.

Expect Abraham to be snatched up in free agency in the next week or so with the NFL draft behind us.


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