As the clock ticks down on the NFL’s Free Agency period, there are still a number of fairly well-known names of veteran players out there who are still Free Agents and may help a team's NFL odds.
Although it sort of looks like one of those stand-alone bins at Walmart with all the old CDs that nobody wanted to buy, there are still a number of Unrestricted and Street Free Agents out there here in early June who could end up being crucial pieces to individual teams’ Gridiron Jigsaw Puzzles this coming 2015 NFL season. But, if you’re an NFL team right now, figuring out who you really have and how or if they can fit in when it’s so fresh off the NFL Draft, still in the signing period and with initial workouts just beginning for teams—as well as seeing how you may be able to try to fit one of these remaining Free Agents still available into your Salary Cap realities—making a decision on one of these guys is sort of a gamble. Like, Boom- or Bust-type gamble, brother. Big names are big names in the NFL, but all players’ careers have their respective Arcs and Bodies and Reflex Times get beat up and slow with age. So, in other words, adding a guy like QB Michael Vick, RB Chris Johnson or WR Reggie Wayne to your roster would have been a big thing and team-changing 5 to 7 years ago, but signing them as Free Agents in the 2015 NFL offseason is a completely different animal.
Who’s Still Out There
Although a very sparse list, there are still a fair number of quality guys out there who could really help some teams. LT Jake Long (Rams) is a Street Free Agent (SFA), he is a massive guy (6-7, 332) who starred at the University of Michigan, but NFL teams may fear that the 30-year-old Long may be getting too old to sign with Fear in their Front Office minds wondering how much he’s really recovered from an ACL injury sustained in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) last season. Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) OLB Lance Briggs (Bears) is a 6-1, 244-pounder from the University of Arizona, who, at age 34, was too Old for the direction his long-time team—the Chicago Bears (66/1, William Hill)—and who has reportedly drawn some interest from the Miami Dolphins (33/1, bet365), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (150/1, bet365), Dallas Cowboys (20/1, William Hill) and San Francisco 49ers (40/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365), who he was scheduled to visit and is a team who lost an awful lot Defensively this offseason with the retirements of DE Justin and LBs Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and could really use Briggs. And, LG Justin Blalock (Falcons, SFA), RT Anthony Collins (Buccaneers, SFA), C Chris Myers (Texans, SFA) and C Scott Wells (Rams, SFA) may be the biggest names out there for teams that may still need some help on their Offensive Lines.
On the Defensive side of the football, S LaRon Landry (Colts), NT Barry Cofield (Redskins), OLB Mathias Kiwanuka (Giants, SFA) and DE/DT Red Bryant (Jaguars, UFA) could all help some prospective NFL teams this Fall, but with average $4.25 million to $8.50 million annual salary ranges, taking a chance—even at possibly significantly reduced salaries—on these veterans is something that has to be weighed carefully here in early June. There’s are reasons these players haven’t been signed yet. And for a team like the New York Giants (40/1, Ladbrokes) to potentially lose someone like the 32-year-old Kiwanuka—an Indianapolis native—could really hurt in the NFC East where the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles (25/1, Paddy Power) look to dominate again this season.
Some Skill Position Players Who May Help and Some Who May Not
In my mind, the one, sparkling Free Agent (UFA) still out there who could be the final puzzle piece to a Super Bowl-winning roster is 34-year-old WR Wes Welker (Broncos), who could be the Cherry on Top of the Ultimate Gridiron Sundae should some legitimate Super Bowl (50) contender like Tom Brady and the defending champion New England Patriots (9/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) or Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (8/1, William Hill) decide to sign him in the near future. "I wouldn't be opposed to it," Welker told WBZ-FM of a potential return to the Patriots. "It's a great organization, obviously, and a great team. It wouldn't be the worst situation in the world." Those who place NFL picks know that Welker is the ideal type of Possession Receiver who has the smarts and still has the will to play—the biggest thing in playing at this elite level. Simply being able to consistently catch the football—as future Hall of Famer Welker has shown he can do—and get First Downs is Gold in the NFL. Especially late in key games and late in the season. After playing with legendary QB Peyton Manning for two season with the Denver Broncos (14/1, Sky Bet), look for Welker to be a key piece to some NFL team—although his days as a valuable KR may be done—but after having two concussions in a span of 3 weeks in the 2013 season and being Older (34), Smaller (5-9, 185) and more way more Beat-Up than the average NFL player, Welker and 30-year-old LSU product and former Colts Safety Landry seem like the best prizes with Time ticking away.
And signing guys like QB Michael Vick (New York Jets, SFA), RB Steven Jackson (Falcons, SFA), RB Chris Johnson (Jets, UFA) or RB Pierre Thomas (Saints, UFA)—who the Redskins have reportedly shown interest in—seems like a gamble with Age and the trouble playing QB or RB in the NFL with young, strong and speedy Defenders tackling and hitting you on so many plays. The shelf life of an NFL RB has become very short in recent years and every season seems to be a proving ground for players at that particular position, even in a league that’s skewed toward Passing more so over the last decade. The signing period for Unrestricted Free Agents (to whom a June 1 Tender was made by a previous team) ends on July 22, around a week after the approximate date (July 15) that NFL Training Camps are scheduled to open.
Odds on Teams Who Could Win Super Bowl and Sign Wes Welker:
Green Bay Packers 8/1 NFL odds to win Super Bowl, New England Patriots 9/1 to win Super Bowl (William Hill)