NFL Free Agency

1 Bargain Free Agent Each Team Should Target

Russell S. BaxterContributor IApril 2, 2014

1 Bargain Free Agent Each Team Should Target

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    Did Sidney Rice just find out where he will be playing in 2014?
    Did Sidney Rice just find out where he will be playing in 2014?Associated Press

    Ever experience a strong case of deja vu?

    A few weeks before the free-agency period began on March 11, we took the opportunity to speculate which unrestricted or “street” free agent each of the 32 NFL teams might target as a bargain acquisition. We defined "bargain" as a player who was looking to start over elsewhere, a one-time well-paid veteran who was looking to hang on a few more years or a performer who never quite lived up to billing.

    Roughly six weeks later, many of those players have found jobs, although not necessarily with the teams predicted here. On the other hand, some have not and may still be a perfect fit for the clubs we forecast. It’s also worth noting that those salary-cap casualties changed the market in late February as well.

    So as the open market and the money begin to dry up, here are 32 more bargains, one for NFL customer.

    A reminder when it comes to this list: While we are very aware that not every team uses free agency equally and prefers to add talent via the draft, we are simply suggesting that every team sign one player. And we feel that the vast majority of these clubs would add these performers at a one-year discount price.

Arizona Cardinals: WR Santonio Holmes (Released by Jets)

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    Bill Kostroun

    Imagine the irony of this move.

    Eight-year veteran wide receiver Santonio Holmes spent the last four seasons with the New York Jets. Injuries the last two years limited him to only 15 games.

    Of course, the speedy wideout began his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. In his third season in the league, he and his team captured Super Bowl XLIII via a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Holmes caught nine passes for 143 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds to play, earning MVP honors.

    Now imagine him as a member of the Cardinals and paired with Larry Fitzgerald, who caught two touchdown passes in that Super Bowl loss.

    It could happen, especially since Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was offensive coordinator for the Steelers for the 2008 season and that Super Bowl run.

Atlanta Falcons: RB Andre Brown (UFA-Giants)

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Via the free-agent additions of defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai, the Atlanta Falcons have addressed one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in recent seasons: stopping the run.

    But has general manager Thomas Dimitroff done enough this offseason to rectify another big problem? No team in the league ran for fewer yards than the Falcons this past season.

    The addition of free-agent guard Jon Asamoah figures to help, but what about adding another body in the backfield to spell both Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers?

    This past season, Andre Brown led the New York Giants with 492 yards on the ground, most of that in place of injured David Wilson. With Tom Coughlin’s club adding Rashad Jennings this offseason, Brown could be a giant pickup for a Falcons team that needs to re-establish some balance on offense.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Dustin Keller (UFA-Dolphins)

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    Chris Covatta

    The Baltimore Ravens have three tight ends on their roster.

    Just about everyone knows Dennis Pitta, who missed the first 12 games of the 2013 season. The others are Matt Furstenburg and Nathan Overbay.

    It stands to reason that John Harbaugh’s club could add another body at the position since it doesn’t appear it will be re-signing Ed Dickson.

    How about former New York Jets/Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller, who played in four fewer games than Pitta this past season? A knee injury suffered in the preseason versus the Houston Texans ended 2013 for Keller, who had signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins. In his five seasons with the Jets, he totaled 241 receptions, 17 for scores.

    Baltimore has bolstered its wide receiving corps via the addition of Steve Smith. However, quarterback Joe Flacco is coming off a turnover-plagued season and could use all the sure-handed help he can get.

Buffalo Bills: WR Miles Austin (Released by Cowboys)

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    Tim Sharp

    It doesn’t seem that long ago that wide receiver Miles Austin was going to back-to-back Pro Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.

    Then again, the numbers he put up in 2009 and 2010 seem like ancient history. And pun intended, he seems to be miles away from the player that he was just five years ago. The Cowboys parted ways with the talented wideout this offseason.

    Injuries have been a factor, but the former undrafted free agent still figures to have some good football left.

    The Buffalo Bills could use some help in the passing game. Veteran tight end Scott Chandler led the team with 55 receptions in 2013, while the team’s wideouts combined for only 11 touchdown grabs this past season.

    Adding another target to second-year quarterback EJ Manuel’s arsenal can only be a positive. 

Carolina Panthers: WR Damian Williams (UFA-Titans)

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    In 2013, the NFC South champions Carolina Panthers were led by quarterback Cam Newton, as well as a defense that allowed the second-fewest yards and second-fewest points in the NFL. That unit, with the exception of free-agent departures such as cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell, remains intact.

    What hasn’t stayed intact is a wide receiving corps that is mostly elsewhere in 2014. Veteran Steve Smith was released and signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Free agents Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon all have new employers.

    The team did sign Jerricho Cotchery (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Tiquan Underwood (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) this offseason, but more help is needed. Could wideout Damian Williams be worth taking a chance on?

    The four-year pro totaled just five touchdown receptions in his career with the Tennessee Titans, all in 2011. This past season, the former third-round pick played in just 10 games and caught only 15 passes for 178 yards and, of course, no scores.

Chicago Bears: OLB Stephen Nicholas (Released by Falcons)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Entering free agency, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery had to make some big decisions on a number of potential defensive free agents in the form of defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Major Wright, linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson, and, of course, cornerback Charles Tillman.

    Melton left for the Dallas Cowboys, while Williams and Tillman returned. Wright and Anderson remain unsigned.

    Perhaps the Bears could use outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas, a seven-year pro with the Atlanta Falcons who was let go by the team back in early February. A 15-game starter in 2012 when he led the Falcons with 97 stops, he racked up 35 tackles in 14 contests this past season but started only four games.

    With a new-look defensive front, the Bears could also use a new-look linebacker on a defense that was dead last in the NFL against the run in 2013.

Cincinnati Bengals: DE Robert Ayers (UFA-Broncos)

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    It has been very quiet in the Queen City this offseason.

    Perhaps that’s a good thing for the defending AFC North champions Cincinnati Bengals, who have been in the playoffs each of the past three seasons but have still yet to win a postseason game since the 1990 season.

    The club has done very little in terms of free-agent pickups thus far. Still, Marvin Lewis and Co. may want to add a little insurance to the defensive line, which lost defensive end Michael Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Could former first-round disappointment Robert Ayers be a good fit with the team? He spent the first five years of his career in Denver after the Broncos made him the 18th overall pick in 2009. This past season, he racked up a career-high 5.5 sacks, but he has totaled only 12 sacks in five seasons.

    Still, the fact that he’s played both defensive end and outside linebacker could intrigue the Bengals as they transition to new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

Cleveland Browns: ILB Patrick Angerer (UFA-Colts)

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The one thing we know about the Cleveland Browns is that they will once again have a new head coach.

    We also know that Mike Pettine knows a thing or two about defense.

    This past season, the team allowed the ninth-fewest yards in the league. However, the Browns were ranked a very mediocre 18th versus the run, something that needs to improve if they plan on making any headway in the AFC North.

    The organization added a pair of productive veterans in inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and strong safety Donte Whitner. Perhaps the addition of a veteran linebacker such as Pat Angerer could be a bargain pickup when it comes to stopping the opposition on the ground.

    While the one-time Indianapolis Colts' second-round pick has had trouble staying on the field the past two seasons, a healthy Angerer could provide an upgrade to Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson. While the three-year pro totaled 85 stops in 2013, he ranked 122 out of 125 inside linebackers this past season, per Pro Football Focus.

Dallas Cowboys: G Daryn Colledge (Released by Cardinals)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    It was something short but tweet by someone who should know:

    @DallCowboyR1: @BryanBroaddus I heard that they would move Free to OG if they selected a OT with the 16th pick.” Possibility.

    — Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) March 30, 2014

    Former Dallas Cowboys front-office executive and scout Bryan Broaddus, as recounted by Pro Football Zone, suggested that the team could move starting right tackle Doug Free to guard and add a tackle in the first round of the upcoming draft.

    In any case, the team appears set to upgrade the interior of its offensive line. Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked just 35 times in 621 pass plays last season, but the Cowboys still ranked near the bottom of the league when it came to running the football.

    How about taking a flier on veteran guard Daryn Colledge, who started 124 out of 128 regular-season games for the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals? The eight-year pro spent the last three seasons in the desert and was released by the club after starting every game for the Cards the last three seasons.

    There could be bigger risks than giving him a try.

Denver Broncos: CB Rashean Mathis (UFA-Lions)

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    Jose Juarez

    The defending AFC champions Denver Broncos will have quite a different look to them in 2014.

    Gone to other teams are Super Bowl XLVIII starters in wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Knowshon Moreno, left guard Zane Beadles, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive end Shaun Phillips. Two other starters in that game, middle linebacker Paris Lenon and free safety Mike Adams, remain unsigned.

    A team that ranked 27th in pass defense in the NFL in 2013 can never have enough quality cornerbacks. Hence, don’t be surprised if the Broncos eventually add 11-year veteran Rashean Mathis, who played for Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Mathis, who suited up for the Detroit Lions last season, led his team with 16 passes defensed but failed to pick off a pass in 2013.

Detroit Lions: T David Stewart (Released by Titans)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It may not hurt for new head coach Jim Caldwell to add a little depth to his offensive front.

    Undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle started the final eight games at right tackle for the Detroit Lions this past season and fared quite well, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Still, the team might benefit by adding some quality competition, especially if veteran David Stewart brings the same savvy that he brought to the Tennessee Titans for 116 starts in eight seasons. Injuries became a factor in recent seasons, and the organization cut loose the former fourth-round pick this offseason.

    What’s interesting is the fact that Caldwell, at one time an assistant and later the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, is more than familiar with Stewart’s resume. And the addition of the hard-nosed blocker could also be a good influence on the team’s young linemen such as left tackle Riley Reiff and right guard Larry Warford.

Green Bay Packers: SS Yeremiah Bell (UFA-Cardinals)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This past season, the Green Bay Packers went through four different starting quarterbacks.

    That paled in comparison to the issues that Mike McCarthy’s team had on defense in 2013. All told, Dom Capers’ struggling unit ranked 25th in total yards allowed, finishing 25th versus the run and 24th versus the pass. It went relatively unnoticed that the NFC North champions allowed more points (428) than they scored (417) in 2013.

    The team has added a little muscle to the front seven this offseason with the addition of outside linebacker/defensive end Julius Peppers and defensive tackle Letroy Guion. Perhaps the secondary could also use a little more of a physical presence in former Pro Bowl strong safety Yeremiah Bell.

    A year ago, the former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets defender finished second on the Arizona Cardinals with 76 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.

Houston Texans: G Uche Nwaneri (Released by Jaguars)

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    David Richard

    Admittedly, the AFC South had a down year in 2013. The four teams in the division combined for a 24-40 record this past season.

    And 14 of those 40 setbacks were courtesy of the Houston Texans.

    Speaking of losses, the team has seen its share of salary-cap departures and free-agent defections, to go along with the trade of quarterback Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders.

    While we’re on the subject of departures, there was a parting of ways this offseason between the Jacksonville Jaguars and longtime guard Uche Nwaneri. The seven-year pro had started 91 out of 95 games played the past six years.

    Via Pro Football Focus, he excelled in pass protection but struggled when it came to the running game in 2013. Still, he could offer the Texans some options in terms of depth at guard and possibly push for a starting job this summer.

Indianapolis Colts: DT Terrence Cody (UFA-Ravens)

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    Duane Burleson

    Under head coach Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts have done a decent job of collecting former Baltimore Ravens defensive linemen. That’s only fitting due to the fact that Pagano was with the Ravens prior to his arrival in Indianapolis.

    In 2012, the Colts added defensive end Cory Redding. This offseason, general manager Ryan Grigson inked defensive end Arthur Jones to a five-year contract.

    Indianapolis is in the midst of attempting to fix a defensive unit that ranked 26th against the run in 2013 and surrendered an additional 384 yards on the ground in two playoff games.

    Could defensive tackle Terrence Cody, a former second-round pick by the Ravens in 2010, be the answer?

    This past season, the 6’4”, 370-pound defender played in just 12 games and totaled just 15 tackles. He has also failed to pick up a sack in 56 career regular-season contests.

    Yes, adding the four-year pro could be risky, given his disappointing play throughout his short career. Still, perhaps Pagano could command a big year out of the massive Cody.

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Sidney Rice (Released by Seahawks)

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Once upon a time in a Twin Cities far, far away, wide receiver Sidney Rice was a star on the rise.

    In 2009, he rolled up 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns with the Minnesota Vikings in 16 regular-season games and then added 10 receptions for 184 yards and four scores in two playoff games. He was named to the Pro Bowl that season.

    However, injuries have derailed the talented wideout's career ever since, at least for the most part. Over the last four seasons, one with the Vikings and the last three with the Seattle Seahawks, Rice has played in only 39 regular-season contests. The seven-year pro has totaled only 114 grabs, with 14 for scores.

    With the uncertainty surrounding the career of wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a nice landing place for Rice. Any team that scores the fewest points in the league (as was the case for Gus Bradley’s team in 2013) could use all the help it can get.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jason Avant (Released by Eagles)

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    Matt Rourke

    This has all the making of one of those inevitable reunions.

    When?

    Now that former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has found a new home in Washington, D.C., per Jackson's Twitter, another one-time member of the Birds is looking for a little brotherly love around the league.

    In eight seasons, wide receiver Jason Avant amassed 297 receptions with the Eagles, while only a dozen resulted in touchdowns. In 2013, he totaled 38 catches for 447 yards and a pair of scores.

    Using the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” theory, Avant should wind up with the Kansas City Chiefs and former head coach Andy Reid. It would be a solid addition and give quarterback Alex Smith a reliable target.

    Frankly, the suspense is all one can take.

Miami Dolphins: T Eric Winston (UFA-Cardinals)

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    Rick Scuteri

    Offensive tackle Eric Winston had no problems getting elected.

    However, he’s had some issues when it comes to getting hired.

    Perhaps the Miami Dolphins would be a terrific fit for the new president of the NFL Players Association. Dan Bickley of USA Today talks about the impact the suddenly well-traveled veteran will make at his new job.

    However, what about a new start at a familiar position for Winston? The Dolphins have added tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith to a team that allowed an NFL-high 58 sacks in 2013.

    Winston, who has played for the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals the last three years, must be getting used to moving around.

    More importantly, the Dolphins could be the big beneficiaries if Winston plays well like a veteran right tackle should.

Minnesota Vikings: TE Dallas Clark (UFA-Ravens)

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    Gene J. Puskar

    New Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has a pair of quarterbacks on his roster in former first-round pick Christian Ponder and journeyman Matt Cassel.

    Could one or both use a little more help when it comes to a target?

    This past season, veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings (68) and 2013 first-rounder Cordarrelle Patterson (45) combined for 113 receptions while leading the team with four touchdown receptions apiece. Jerome Simpson added 48 catches but scored just once. Jarius Wright pulled down 26 catches for 434 yards and three scores in his second season.

    While the Vikings have been very busy making over their defense via free agency this offseason, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner probably wouldn’t mind adding another outlet for his quarterbacks. Former Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph remains the starter, but John Carlson was released this offseason and signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

    Veteran tight end Dallas Clark could be a nice solution, although his better days are behind him. Still, the former Pro Bowler did grab 31 passes for 343 yards and three scores for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013.

New England Patriots: TE Ed Dickson (UFA-Ravens)

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    The words "New England Patriots" and "tight end" are synonymous.

    So could Bill Belichick’s team be getting ready to upgrade the position?

    The return date for oft-injured Rob Gronkowski is still uncertain. The club re-signed Michael Hoomanawanui in March, but he offered little as a pass-catcher in 2013, totaling 12 receptions for 136 yards and one score.

    To date, the Baltimore Ravens have not re-signed unrestricted free agent Ed Dickson, who could be an ideal addition to Tom Brady’s arsenal. This past season, Dickson totaled just 25 receptions and one touchdown. But back in 2011, he caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five scores.

    The former third-round pick does have the downfield ability the New England passing game desires from the position.

New Orleans Saints: C David Baas (Released by Giants)

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    Bill Kostroun

    Giving quarterback Drew Brees the football has worked out pretty well for the New Orleans Saints.

    Exactly who is going to be doing that this season is another story.

    Mike Triplett of ESPN.com caught up with head coach Sean Payton last week at the NFL owners meetings, and the search for a center (or the possible re-signing of starter Brian de la Puente) is in the works.

    “It’s still unfolding, so it’d be premature to say, ‘Hey, here’s our plan today,’” Payton said. “We feel we’ve got some good young linemen in the building, and I’m sure that as we get back to New Orleans and we still continue to look at our boards, I wouldn’t be surprised if there possibly is a player signed.”

    Could that player be nine-year pro David Baas? The one-time San Francisco 49ers performer played the last three seasons with the New York Giants. This past season, injuries limited him to three games, and he was a salary-cap casualty this offseason.

New York Giants: TE Owen Daniels (Released by Texans)

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    Gregory Bull

    The three tight ends on the New York Giants depth chart caught exactly three passes in 2013. All of those were by Larry Donnell.

    Adrien Robinson, the listed starter, has not totaled a reception in two NFL seasons. Daniel Fells has 92 career receptions with three teams but didn’t play football in 2013.

    So in an offseason where the Giants have loaded up at cornerback, perhaps they have a little spare change to address the other side of the ball.

    Former Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels has battled injuries in recent seasons and was released by the Houston Texans this offseason. With Brandon Myers being one-and-done with the Giants in 2013, Daniels (who played in just five games this past season) could be a terrific option. The eight-year pro totaled 385 receptions and scored 29 touchdowns with the Texans.

New York Jets: G Eben Britton (UFA-Bears)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    After being relatively quiet this offseason in terms of acquisitions, the New York Jets opened the free-agent checkbook twice on Tuesday.

    The team added wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford from the Oakland Raiders and also signed cornerback CB Dimitri Patterson, who was released by the Miami Dolphins a few weeks ago. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported both of these signings.

    The Jets appear to have a new right tackle in Breno Giacomini but could also look to add depth to the offensive front overall. Five-year pro Eben Britton, a former second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars who spent 2013 with the Chicago Bears, has started at both guard and tackle in the league and could be a value signing as he looks to revitalize his career.

Oakland Raiders: TE Jermichael Finley (UFA-Packers)

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    For the second straight offseason, the Oakland Raiders have spent the majority of their free-agent focus on the defensive side of the football. The additions of defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, defensive tackle Antonio Smith and cornerback Tarell Brown all intend to help a unit that was much closer to the bottom of the league rankings than the top.

    But it is not like general manager Reggie McKenzie hasn’t addressed the other side of the football. The Raiders traded for quarterback Matt Schaub, added running back Maurice Jones-Drew and signed wide receiver James Jones.

    Still, the tight end position on the team is very young, although second-year pro Mychal Rivera did finish third on the team with 38 receptions, with four of those for touchdowns.

    So why not take chance a bit later than sooner on talented Jermichael Finley, who McKenzie is familiar with from his days in Green Bay? According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Finley still isn’t ready to take the field following last November’s fusion surgery.

    The Raiders are apparently in no rush to add a tight end to the roster. Perhaps when they are ready, Finley may be available to get back on the field.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nate Burleson (Released by Lions)

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    Rick Osentoski

    This offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles had some decisions to make in terms of the wide receiving corps.

    The team opted to re-sign both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, who were slated to become unrestricted free agents.

    When it was all said and done, they also parted ways with both Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson; the latter just agreed to a deal with division rival Washington Redskins.

    With depth being a possible concern at the position (despite the presence of both Brad Smith and Arrelious Benn), head coach Chip Kelly could add a savvy veteran in Nate Burleson. The 11-year pro has totaled 457 receptions and 39 for scores with the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions.

    There’s nothing like a little more firepower for the NFL’s second-ranked offense in 2013.

Pittsburgh Steelers: NT Aubrayo Franklin (UFA-Colts)

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    Darron Cummings

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a lot busier than usual during this free-agency period.

    Traditionally, a team that builds through the draft, the organization has added players such as running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Lance Moore and linebacker Arthur Moats to bolster the roster.

    The Steelers also added veteran defensive lineman Cam Thomas, who lined up at nose tackle for the San Diego Chargers but is expected to be an end in Dick LeBeau’s defense.

    Mike Tomlin’s club still has veteran Steve McLendon in the middle. However, the addition of nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin could give Pittsburgh a few more options on a defensive line in flux.

    The 11-year veteran has bounced around the league, playing for four different teams the last four seasons, but he did start 15 games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2013.

St. Louis Rams: G Davin Joseph (Released by Buccaneers)

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    Stew Milne

    It’s always good to have a backup plan.

    The possibility remains that the St. Louis Rams will bring back veteran guard Harvey Dahl, who was a salary-cap casualty in March.

    But just in case that isn’t the case, could the franchise take a chance on a former two-time Pro Bowler who is looking to return to that form somewhere?

    Guard Davin Joseph was part of the 2014 housecleaning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The eight-year pro missed all of 2012 due to injury but came back this past season to start all 16 games. But as Pro Football Focus indicates, it was not the former standout performer's best year.

    Perhaps a change of scenery, as well as another year removed from injury, could be the combination that gets his career back on track.

San Diego Chargers: ILB Paris Lenon (UFA-Broncos)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The 2014 NFL campaign will mark exactly 20 seasons since the San Diego Chargers made their lone Super Bowl appearance.

    So why not add a player who just got done playing in the Big Game roughly two months ago?

    The Chargers have a pair of young up-and-comers as their starters at inside linebacker in Donald Butler and Manti Te’o. Veteran Paris Lenon, who started at middle linebacker for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, would be a nice veteran pickup who could provide depth and experience to the defense.

    Despite last season’s playoff appearance, the Chargers ranked 23rd in total defense this past season and forced only 17 turnovers in 16 regular-season games.

San Francisco 49ers: ILB Stevenson Sylvester (UFA-Steelers)

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    While the cornerback position seems to be at the top of the concern list for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, there is the matter of their leading tackler for each of the past three seasons.

    So what’s the latest when it comes to Pro Bowl inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman? Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News reports that doctors feel that the rangy linebacker is ahead of schedule when it comes to that hard-to-watch knee injury he suffered in January’s NFC title game.

    “It feels great,” said Bowman Tuesday night. “It’s early, but I'm doing well. I came back and saw (people in) the organization and they’re excited to see how far I am. So, I’ll keep working hard and see where I end up.”

    All of that good news aside, could the Niners still take a chance on Pittsburgh Steelers defender Stevenson Sylvester, who could add a little oomph to special teams?

    The former University of Utah product has started just two games in his four-year career but could add some youth and depth to the league’s fifth-ranked defense in 2013.

    And as far as cornerback, the Niners have six picks in the first three rounds (all in the Top 100) of May’s draft to address that matter quite properly.

Seattle Seahawks: G Garrett Reynolds (Released by Falcons)

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Better hurry.

    If the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks were to add a little competition at the guard position, Garrett Reynolds would not be a bad choice in the least.

    However, Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported Tuesday night that the former Atlanta Falcons starter, who finished 2013 on injured reserve and was released by the club this offseason, was visiting the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, April 2.

    Still, the Seahawks appear to be a team with more pressing issues on the offensive line in terms of guard, especially considering neither primary starters James Carpenter (left guard) nor J.R. Sweezy (right guard) graded out particularly well last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

    If healthy, Reynolds could provide some solid competition indeed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Earl Bennett (Released by Bears)

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    David Richard

    We may have to start calling them the Tampa Bay Bucks.

    Not as in the basketball team, but in reference to the team’s wallet this offseason.

    New general manager Jason Licht and the franchise have been the league’s busiest team during this free-agency period in terms of acquisitions—from Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner and defensive end Michael Johnson to quarterback Josh McCown and offensive linemen Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith.

    So why not one more in terms of some wide receiver help? The Chicago Bears, the former employer of now-Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, recently parted ways with wideout Earl Bennett.

    In six seasons in the Windy City, the former third-round pick totaled just 185 receptions for 2,277 yards and a dozen scores. His familiarity with McCown, as well as Smith, would make him a good addition as a third or fourth receiver.

Tennessee Titans: ILB Larry Foote (Released by Steelers)

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    As the Tennessee Titans adjust to the 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the more experience the better when it comes to this alignment.

    Veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote brings plenty of that, along with familiarity with Horton and head coach Ken Whisenhunt during the trio’s days with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The 12-year pro was released by the Steelers this offseason after missing all but one game in 2013. Foote spent 11 of his dozen seasons with Pittsburgh, spending 2009 with the Detroit Lions.

    Now let’s see if he’s up to doing a little tutoring and adding some depth to Horton’s defensive unit.

Washington Redskins: C Brian de la Puente (UFA-Saints)

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    For numerous reasons the last year or so, the Washington Redskins have been the center of attention.

    And now that wide receiver DeSean Jackson is apparently about to become a member of the team, the organization can center its attention on finding...a center.

    With the offseason release of Will Montgomery, new head coach Jay Gruden must find someone to snap the ball to quarterback Robert Griffin III. Late Tuesday night, Mike Klis of The Denver Post reported that Montgomery had agreed to a one-year contract with the Denver Broncos.

    In other words, when there’s no Will, you have to find a way.

    A few solid centers are still on the market, but the best of the bunch may be Brian de la Puente, late of the New Orleans Saints who has yet to be re-signed by Sean Payton and Co.

    The former University of California product has been a 16-game starter each of the last two seasons, has started 44 of 48 games since 2011 and graded out pretty high by Pro Football Focus in 2013.

    Washington recently added swingman Mike McGlynn, but de la Puente would be a young and solid addition.

     

    Finally, here’s the usual thank you to Spotrac (subscription required) for their free-agent lists and updated salary-cap figures, as well as Ourlads for their depth charts. As for some of the other on-the-field statistics in this piece, we have again enlisted the aid of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

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