Best Remaining 2014 NFL Free Agents at Every Position
We have reached a real lull in NFL free agency. The initial frenzy cooled to a simmer and now we have a trickle of free-agent signings on a weekly basis.
The frenzy claimed most of the best free agents who hit the market, naturally, but there is still a host of available players itching to sign new contracts.
Which players are the best of the rest at each position? Click through to find out.
You know that chalky aftertaste antacids leave in your mouth? That was the quarterback position before free agency started. Now look at it.
The former first-round pick has bounced around the league as a backup over the years, and he is looking for a new landing spot this offseason.
There should be a market for a veteran quarterback who has taken his team to the Super Bowl as a starter. Then again, this is Rex Grossman we are talking about.
Grossman could provide some veteran leadership in a backup role for a new team.
This list is like being forced to eat a week-old rhubarb cake with cauliflower frosting. Enough!
(Note: No offense intended for rhubarb-cauliflower aficionados.)
The running back market has been the worst, by far. No running back has gotten a significant deal, and the market's best running back—25-year-old Ben Tate—got a mere $6.2 million over two years to sign in Cleveland.
Chris Johnson is about to experience disappointment.
The 28-year-old veteran was recently dumped into the market when the Tennessee Titans cut him after unsuccessfully seeking a trade for their $10 million running back. Johnson still has plenty left in the tank, but the market has spoken—he will be lucky to get a $10 million deal if the past month is any indication.
If only Felix Jones could stay healthy.
At 26 and with a sparkling career rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry, Jones should be in demand, even in a down market. Unfortunately, Jones has had injury issues for most of his career, and his pass protection has always been a liability.
Last season wasn't particularly great for Jones either, when he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry on a Pittsburgh team that needed running back help.
Like Jones, LaRod Stephens Howling wasn't much help to the Steelers last season.
The 26-year-old running back has always been more of a third-down back than anything, but he doesn't offer much in the way of playmaking ability these days.
Michael Robinson has been a productive member of the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks offense in recent years, but it seems as though his time may be up in the Pacific Northwest.
Feel-good story of the Super Bowl, Derrick Coleman—who was diagnosed as deaf at just three years old—is likely the fullback of the future in Seattle, leaving Robinson in free-agent limbo.
Vonta Leach spent much of last offseason trying to find a landing spot before opting to sign with his previous team, the Baltimore Ravens.
The running game floundered and Leach was ultimately cut. The 32-year-old might not find such a soft landing this offseason, but he could be a nice addition for a team that still employs a traditional fullback.
Injuries and poor quarterback play have taken a toll on Santonio Holmes' career over the past couple of seasons. But could he succeed with a little luck and the right situation?
Methinks so, but the clock is ticking for the veteran. Perhaps teams are waiting for the draft before they start signing this second wave of free agents, but it's deep at the receiver position. If Holmes doesn't latch on somewhere before the draft, he could be in for a long summer.
Injuries have taken a toll on Sidney Rice's career. This song sounds familiar.
Rice has played just 39 games over the past four seasons, only once hitting double-digit games played in that span. A myriad of injuries have derailed a once-promising career.
It seems the only team interested in signing the oft-injured receiver is his old team, the Seahawks, per Stephen Cohen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Injuries have—OK, you get the picture.
Danario Alexander has had the worst of it throughout his career, though, with knee troubles plaguing him since before he even got to the NFL. He showed what he can do if healthy when he broke out with the San Diego Chargers in 2012, but more injuries last season shelved him once more.
If speed is what you need at receiver, Kyle Williams could be a cheap substitute.
Williams never quite caught on in San Francisco or Kansas City, his punt-returning foibles foiling Super Bowl aspirations being his biggest transgression. He is little more than a depth guy at this point, but he could surprise opposing defenses with that speed on occasion.
Poor Dustin Keller.
The pass-catcher finally found himself in a functional offense with the Miami Dolphins last offseason, looking like he would become a favorite target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Then rookie D.J. Swearinger went for the knees on a tackle and his career was instantly in jeopardy.
Keller's agent said he would be ready for the regular season, per The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, but will teams be ready to sign him in the meantime?
Speaking of injuries—there certainly appears to be a theme in this slideshow—Jermichael Finley is fortunate to be able to seek employment as a football player at all.
Finley suffered a career- (and perhaps life-) threatening neck injury last season, for which he has gone through months of rehab.
When healthy, Finley has proven to be a dynamic pass-catcher with occasional drop issues. He has drawn some interest in free agency, but it seems that he might be too much of a risk to sign right now.
If Fred Davis can turn his life around, he could be a nice addition for an offense that needs some athleticism at the tight end position.
Of course, Davis is dealing with the latest in a string of off-field problems. He will have to be reinstated by the NFL before being able to help any team after he was arrested for an alleged DUI this past February, per CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson, and subsequently suspended indefinitely.
Tyson Clabo, OT
Last season got off to a horrendous start for Tyson Clabo.
The formerly solid right tackle for the Atlanta Falcons did not deliver for the Miami Dolphins, contributing early and often to Ryan Tannehill's franchise-record 58 sacks.
Clabo quietly turned things around after a few games, however, shoring up his pass protection when regaining his starting gig after being benched.
Eric Winston, OT
What does being elected the president of the NFLPA get you? Not a new contract, if Eric Winston's offseason is any indication.
Winston was a solid right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals, who could use a solid right tackle. Several other teams in the league are in the same boat, but this marks the second consecutive offseason in which Winston has seemingly few suitors.
Perhaps it's because he is in decline. The 30-year-old was among the worst-rated offensive tackles in the league last season over at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), allowing a ton of pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer.
Richie Incognito, OG
If we can set aside the off-field issues—there are plenty, but they have little to do with on-field production—Richie Incognito is certainly one of the best offensive linemen available on the market.
The trouble is, of course, that one cannot simply ignore the whole bullying scandal and ensuing erratic behavior off the field.
If Incognito can get his head on straight over the next few months, a team might be willing to take a chance on him and would be getting a starting-caliber guard at a significant discount. He told Michael Silver of NFL.com last month that if Miami passes on him, he'd be interested in the Raiders because, "I think that would fit my personality the best. It makes so much sense."
Fernando Velasco, OC
Fernando Velasco has had an unremarkably solid career with the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. The 29-year-old center is on the low-end of the starter scale, but he could start for a team that needs center help.
That is, of course, if he can prove he is healthy after suffering an Achilles injury last season.
Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB
It is a bit interesting that Anthony Spencer, a solid outside linebacker who had been slapped with the franchise tag in consecutive seasons, is garnering so little interest on the open market.
Sure, Spencer is 30 years old coming off a season-ending injury, but he had proven himself to be solid on the edge for the Cowboys in recent years. Perhaps the injury is more severe than we know, or teams are simply unwilling to pay much for an edge player who is better against the run than rushing the passer.
Kyle Love, DT
Kyle Love was a solid defensive tackle for the New England Patriots when he came into the league, but his career seemed to grind to a halt after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The Patriots released him, and he couldn't get anything going last season.
Adam Carriker, DE
It has been a long and arduous path back to game form for Adam Carriker, who has been out of action for nearly two seasons. The talented defensive end was on the rise with Washington before a knee injury derailed his career.
Hopefully he can make it back from a torn tendon in his knee, but it seems that he will have to prove himself before a team will take a chance on him with a contract.
Derek Landri, DT
Derek Landri has been a decent backup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that's what he will be with a new team when he finally lands with one.
Jonathan Vilma is a shell of his former outstanding self these days. Injuries and the Bounty Scandal—it seems like ages ago, doesn't it?—have caused Vilma's career to careen off the precipice of relevancy.
He only appeared in one game last season because of injuries, but a healthy Vilma could still contribute on defense. He made an impact for the Saints after returning from his bounty-related suspension in 2012.
Last season wasn't a very good one for Atlanta Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas. Then again, the same can be said about every Falcon.
Nicholas played just 132 snaps (per PFF) in six games last season. The 30-year-old seems to be in decline, but he could help a team in need of an outside linebacker if he can stay healthy.
It has been a tumultuous year for Erin Henderson.
The former longtime Minnesota Viking enjoyed the best statistical season of his career, but football couldn't save him from himself. He enjoyed the nice season despite being suspended for two games stemming from his first arrest for an alleged DUI.
Henderson was arrested again just after the new year for the same thing, prompting the Vikings to cut ties.
The talented linebacker checked into a rehab center and calls himself a "recovering alcoholic," per USA Today's Tom Pelissero. Hopefully he has turned things around, but teams might shy away from him until he proves he has truly stabilized off the field.
There is little but scraps left on the market at cornerback.
Terrell Thomas was knocked out of the NFL for two seasons with knee issues, finally able to return last season with the Giants. Before that, Thomas' arrow was pointing up. Now he's hoping his career hasn't flatlined.
Thomas is 29 and hopefully having a full year under his belt after the long recovery means he will be closer to form.
Another injury, another player languishing on the free-agent market.
Jabari Greer is a decent cornerback who would have likely been signed by now were it not for the knee injury he suffered in the middle of the 2013 season. The fact that he is 32 years old isn't helping his cause.
There is no question that Asante Samuel is a ball hawk, as evidenced by his 51 career interceptions and six touchdowns. He has always been a gambler, however, and his instincts have faded as Father Time has begun to gain on him.
The 33-year-old might be on the last legs of his career.
He might not be starting material anymore, but Aaron Ross could provide some quality depth for a team if he can stay healthy.
Ross was knocked out for the season with a back injury in 2013, and he is getting a bit long in the tooth at 31.
He didn't have a good 2013 season, but Thomas DeCoud was somewhat surprisingly released from the Atlanta Falcons earlier this offseason. DeCoud and William Moore were supposed to be a dynamic tandem at safety but things just haven't worked out that way.
DeCoud was one of the worst safeties in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), so perhaps the release shouldn't have been so surprising. He hasn't drawn too much interest yet, though the 27-year-old could be close to signing with the Carolina Panthers, as ESPN's David Newton intimates.
The New England Patriots have overhauled their secondary, and Steve Gregory was an unfortunate casualty.
Gregory started for the Patriots for the past two seasons, and he has been a solid-yet-unspectacular safety throughout his career. He has rated in the middle of the pack at his position (per PFF) over the past several seasons, and he could be a nice depth signing or even a new starter for a needy team.
Mike Adams has been a decent safety for the Denver Broncos since entering the league. He was an unfortunate victim of Denver's makeover this offseason.
Adams is getting on a bit in years at 33, but he could provide some decent depth and veteran leadership for a new team.
What does having the fifth-best field-goal accuracy in NFL history get you in free agency? Nothing much, it would seem.
Rob Bironas has been quite good for the Tennessee Titans throughout his career—he hit 85.7 percent of his field goals last season, even—but he was getting too rich for their blood. Given that field goals make up a significant amount of scoring in the NFL and quality kickers are sometimes difficult to find, it's a wonder Bironas hasn't landed somewhere yet.
Lawrence Tynes got a raw deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, having to deal with a nasty MRSA infection in his foot.
The former Buccaneer and Giant was shelved for the season with the infection, and the Buccaneers released him at the end of the year.
He has never had a big leg, but he has been a reliable kicker throughout his career. Hopefully that MRSA has cleared up and he can land on his feet.
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