Friday March 20, 2015
This post is also available in NFL Free Agency
My Ten Best Remaining Free Agents
- Stevie Brown, Free Safety, New York Giants
Brown is coming off a down year following a devastating knee injury that he wasn’t quite able to get over until late in the season. Still, his play down the stretch in 2014 was solid, and though it was two years ago, he snagged 8 interceptions in one season for the Giants.
Intriguing ability mixed with a prime age (he’ll turn 28 in July) will cause a team to give Brown a call eventually. It also helps that the draft is weak on safeties.
Interested Teams: N.Y. Giants
Prediction: Re-sign with the Giants, the team that got the best out of him will hope to do so again. They’d better too, Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe are the only other safeties under contract for the G-men.
- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Bradshaw has always had an injury problem. He’s also always been great when healthy. He’s a high effort runner with great burst, runs with surprising strength and can play all three downs as a running back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and rush it up the middle, on counters or on pitches.
He’s got a little more left in the tank then similar free agent Pierre Thomas and probably with a smaller price tag. Whoever grabs Bradshaw will likely get a bargain for how much he can contribute (He had 8 tds last year in limited time). Especially considering his recent citation for marijuana possession.
Interested Teams: None
Prediction: New England Patriots- He and LeGarrette Blount can hang out. It’ll be great.
- Anthony Spencer, OLB, Dallas Cowboys
The way he played in the last few games of the season and into the playoffs for the Cowboys, you’d think the guy was a pro bowler. That’s what Spencer is at the height of his potential. The book on Spencer is that he’s injury prone, but teams could get a potential steal in Spencer if he can manage to stay healthy.
He’s still a legitimate threat to rush the passer, despite continuing to age. Because of the injury, there’s not as much tread on the tires despite being on the wrong side of 30. He’s excellent at setting the edge of a defense and can drop and cover screens in limited space. He’s a very strong form tackler as well.
Interested Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Other unreported teams (according to multiple sources, Spencer had interest from multiple teams early in free agency, he could be pricing himself out of their range though)
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks- He would fit right in as a very similar pickup to Michael Bennett a few years ago (who had also been a disappointment) The possibility of playing for a Super Bowl team could cause Spencer to jump ship, especially with the Cowboys throwing all their money at Hardy.
- Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
He’s just a couple years removed from being one of the hottest names in fantasy. He’s not too shabby on the field either. When healthy, Ridley is an all-around back with a bit of a fumbling problem. Reminds me a lot of Mendenhall leaving Pittsburgh a few years ago.
Basically what that means is, buyers, curb your enthusiasm. He could return to pro bowl-esque form, but he could also retire young. Buy low on this kid and you may well just get a huge bargain. He’s only 26. Best of all, no real off-field issues and his injury problem isn’t recurring.
Interested teams: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys- At the right price, I love the fit, Ridley would absolutely thrive behind that offensive line and provide solid insurance in case McFadden were to do what McFadden does best (spend game days on the stationary bicycle) Oh yeah, and the fumbling problems will remind Cowboys of the dearly departed DeMarco Murray.
- Mason Foster, MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There was a time where Foster and LaVonte David made up one of the most fearsome young linebacker duos in the NFL, ah 2012 was a funny time. And Bountygate, hilarious. The spell has worn off and Foster is merely a middling starter at middle linebacker who no longer fits in Tampa Bay’s plans.
In the right system, maybe as a 3-4 ILB, Foster could thrive as he is solid against the pass and strong in run support. However, there’s not too much excitement on a guy that already seems to be declining in just his fifth professional season. Still, as price continues to go down and the market settles, his skill-set should be coveted as a bargain find. He’s a plug and play option.
Interested Teams: Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers- They really can’t afford to not bring him in, at least for a look. Chris Borland is gone, Patrick Willis is gone. The cupboard is pretty much empty and the 49ers have to patch holes in their sinking ship somehow.
- Michael Crabtree
This guy needs an attitude adjustment. Coming out of Texas Tech, I lauded this prospect. He finally proved me right in 2012 with an excellent breakout campaign. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone so well since. Injuries, inconsistency in the locker room and effort have all dropped Crabtree’s stock.
Believe it or not, though, I think this guy could help a team in need of a receiver, and in the right situation, with enough patience, I really think he has all the skills to thrive as a solid WR1 option. Of course he could just as easily bust out of the league.
Interested Teams: Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins
Prediction: New England Patriots- How about none of the above? If anybody can handle this guy, it’s Belichick. And if anybody can maximize his skill set, it’s Tom Brady. I think Crabtree would love being in a consistent winning atmosphere with a hall of fame quarterback. And the Patriots need to upgrade from Brandon LaFell, a middling WR2 at best.
- Rolando McClain
The former top 10 selection finally put it all together last season. He was instinctive and tenacious against the run, he was a natural clogging throwing lanes down the seam. He made plays from sideline-to-sideline and made the worst defense in the league play like they were somewhat competent.
McClain really was the glue that held it all together on the field, the same way Marinelli was that off the field for the Cowboys defense. The only reason McClain isn’t cashing in big this off-season is because he’s never worked out anywhere else, also he had some nagging hamstring issues last season. As long as he doesn’t decide he’d rather spend his days fishing on a lake, McClain would be an excellent bargain find for any team in need of help in the middle.
Interested Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys- The Cowboys know what he brings to the table, they know what his value is, and no other team is going to pay more. His market is likely shot for concerns about his desire to play and a substance abuse citation in February.
- Joe Barksdale
He was probably the most solid and consistent member of a shaky Rams offensive line last year. He was especially excellent in the run-game as a right tackle. His blocking is one of the main reasons Tre Mason had so much room to maneuver last season when he came on late.
Barksdale wasn’t as strong against the pass rush, surrendering seven sacks, but part of that could have been the revolving door at quarterback, and teams could scheme around that weakness. Barksdale’s best fit is in a run-heavy offense a la Seattle or Dallas, unfortunately neither team has a glaring need at tackle. He’s only 27 so the phone should be ringing soon, now that the market has thinned out a bit.
Interested Teams: Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams
Prediction: Tennessee Titans- Whether they stick with Mettenberger or draft Mariota, it’s not gonna matter if they spend 90% of their time on their backs this season. Last year’s draft pick Bishop Sankey is also in line for more carries, so the Titans get it done with Barksdale, and probably overpay just a little.
- Brandon Spikes
What’s the deal with Brandon Spikes? Just a few years ago, he was a premiere defender for the New England Patriots, now he’s struggling to find a market for his services. He’d be an excellent find for 1 years, 3 million and can start and help almost any defense immediately.
He’s excellent as a run-stuffer and he’s still really young, just 27. Any off-field issues there once were haven’t cropped up in a while and it seems like he just wants to play for a winner. Buffalo didn’t give him the time of day last year, any team would be wise to this year.
Interested teams: San Francisco 49ers
Prediction: Green Bay Packers- At this point, the 9ers already snagged Foster, probably for too much money (Thanks Trent Baalke) so they’re out on competing for Spikes. He doesn’t fit there either. Here’s where he does fit though: Dom Capers asks his inside linebackers to hold up strong in run support. That’s what Spikes does. He immediately makes that defense better, and since Ted Thompson is a good GM, he will probably come at a huge bargain.
- Stefen Wisniewski
How has this guy not been picked up yet? He’s 25, he’s an excellent center, he was the best player on the Oakland Raiders line after Jared Veldheer left. He gave Derek Carr the ability to step up in the pocket last year in spite of the talent around him. And yet, he can’t find at least one team to way overpay for his services.
Wisniewski would be wise to follow the winners instead of the money, he’ll make more money later that way, since he likely hasn’t yet entered his prime. The book on Wisniewski is he’s a better pass protector than run-blocker. In this pass-heavy league, he shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a home once he gets his market figured out.
Interested teams: Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos
Prediction: St. Louis Rams- They need to think about protecting Nick Foles, who prefers to play from the pocket (which is probably why he said he didn’t like it in Philly), and they have holes all over the line. Wisniewski was projected to be able to slide to guard if needed but his best fit is at center. The Rams need a replacement for Scott (Old man) Wells.
Who do you want for your team? Difference of opinion on these guys? Drop your slant in the comments section.