Most avid football bettors are aware that most of the big-name, coveted NFL Free Agents have already been signed, but there are still a number of talented players out there to be had.
Despite all that has transpired so far in the NFL’s Free Agency period, which began on March 10, there are still a handful of talented Free Agents out there holding out for the best offer or holding out for maybe the team they really want to play for in the the NFL’s as the Deadline for restricted Free agents looms two weeks away from today, on Friday, April 24. (The Deadline for prior clubs to exercise their Right of First Refusal to sign Offer Sheets comes, five days later, on April 29, but we’ll cover that, along with my recipe for a fantabulous 705-layer Bean Dip and Lady Gaga’s polka dance interpretation of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” somewhere else down the line around 2022.) Around a week later, on Thursday, April 30, the 2015 NFL Draft will get underway at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, where it will go until Saturday, May 2 (ESPN, NFL-TV).
Here are some of the more high-profile and most desired NFL Free agents still out there as of Thursday, with a team or two that might be a good fit.
Top NFL Free Agents Still Unsigned (As of Thursday, April 9, 2015)
* Brandon Spikes, ILB (Florida; Bills, 6-2, 255, 27)—Best Fits: Packers, 49ers
* Stefan Wisniewski, C (Penn State; Raiders, 6-3, 315, 26)—Best Fit: Seahawks
* Lance Briggs, OLB (Arizona; Bears, 6-1, 244, 34)—Best Fits: Bears, 49ers
* Michael Crabtree, WR (Texas Tech; 49ers, 6-1, 214, 27)—Best Fits: 49ers, Raiders
* Stevie Brown, S (Michigan; Giants, 5-11, 215, 27)—Best Fits: Giants, Patriots
* Tashaun Gipson, DB (Wyoming; Browns, 5-11, 205, 24)—Best Fit: Browns
* Jermaine Gresham, TE (Oklahoma; Bengals, 6-5, 260, 26)—Best Fit: Saints
* Justin Blalock, G (Texas; Falcons, 6-3, 326, 31)—Best Fits: Lions, Titans
* Joe Barksdale, T (LSU; Rams, 6-5, 326, 26)—Best Fit: Titans
* Hakeem Nicks, WR (North Carolina; Colts, 6-1, 208, 27)—Best Fits: Colts, 49ers, Giants
* Wes Welker, WR (Texas Tech; Broncos, 5-9, 185, 33)—Best Fits: Broncos, Patriots, Dolphins
* Chris Myers, C (Miami—Florida; Texans, 6-4, 286, 33)—Best Fits: Seahawks, Steelers
* Dawan Landry, S (Georgia Tech; Jets, 6-1, 212, 32)—Best Fits: Bills, Patriots
* Greg Jennings, WR (Western Michigan; Vikings, 6-0, 195, 31)—Best Fits: Vikings, Dolphins
* Will Hill, DB (Florida; Ravens, 6-1, 2 207, 25)—Best Fit: Ravens, Browns
There are also a number of other big name players out there in Free Agency, but the careers of NFL players are the shortest of all professional sports and names which held a certain luster two or three seasons ago, or players who starred in college but have yet to really establish a foothold in the professional game, often just don’t have the demand as the established OL, DL, LB or DB these days. Some players whose names you know who are still waiting to see where (and if) they go include Michael Vick (QB), Tarvaris Jackson (QB), Steven Jackson (RB), Pierre Thomas (RB), Knowshon Moreno (RB), Chris Johnson (RB), Zach Miller (TE), Reggie Wayne (WR), Jerrel Jernigan (WR), Miles Austin (WR), Donnie Avery (WR), Charles Tillman (CB), Ike Taylor (CB) and Jay Feely (K), among many others.
The remaining QBs and the quality of their play (now) reveals how ultra-thin this position really is at the professional level. And kudos to the Baltimore Ravens (25/1 to win Super Bowl 50, Bovada) for signing veteran QB Matt Schaub (Raiders) to backup starter Joe Flacco. A brilliant signing in my mind. And, for some reason, it seems that the Green Bay Packers (8/1, BetVictor) will eventually come to terms with fan favorite and dependable workhorse FB John Kuhn, just like they recently did with NT BJ Raji, who signed a 1-year, $3.5 million pact to stay with the Cheeseheads. Keeping pivotal team players like Kuhn and Raji and star WR Randall Cobb, who also re-signed with the Packers, is a reason you can expect Green Bay (+450 to win NFC, William Hill) to again end up in the NFC Championship game—likely against the defending conference champs Seattle Seahawks (+275 to win NFC, bet365)—next January. Some things never change. Well, they actually do, but we just like to keep using that expression anyway. Some things never change.
Another big name (and big body) guy still out there is Jake Long, a 29-year-old OT who was released by the St. Louis Rams (50/1 to win Super Bowl, Paddy Power). Long—the #1 Pick in the 2008 NFL Draft—has been to four Pro Bowls and has been named a First-team All-Pro twice, but with knee injuries in 2013 and 2014 and an ACL tear, Long may end up staying in St. Louis or deciding to retire before his knees take any more of a beating. When placing NFL picks, understand that this is a hard and cruel game and 29 often feels like 49 or 59 on your body. Football Years are like Dog Years. One player with some name-brand recognition who would seem to be a decent signing is DL/OLB Osi Umenyiora, but the Troy State star had a so-so season with the New York Giants (40/1 to win Super Bowl 50, Coral) last year, and, at 33, may have little left. But maybe a role player with the G-Men, the Chicago Bears (66/1, Sky Bet) or maybe the San Francisco 49ers (40/1 NFL odds, ToteSport) would be good potential spots for the 6-3, 255-pound Umenyiora. We should see almost all of the players listed above signing with some team in the next two weeks, and these signings could very well have an impact on who gets, and who ultimately doesn’t get to the NFL Playoffs. This is how winning football teams are built.
Underrated Free Agents: WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Wes Welker, FB John Kuhn
NFL Super Bowl 50 Futures Pick: Green Bay Packers +800 (William Hill)