Best of the Rest: The All-(Remaining)-Free-Agent Team

| March 29, 2013

It’s been over two weeks since the free agent market officially opened up, and the initial flood of signings has slowed to a trickle of rumors. Still, the river has yet to run dry. Take a look back at our Free Agent Rankings series, and you’ll notice some productive players who are still left unsigned. Some are injury-prone, most are on the backside of their careers, and all have some caveat that has kept them unemployed for this long. However, each of them can make a difference for teams that want to shore up their roster before next month’s draft. Let’s take a look, position-by-position, and reassess the market.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Kevin Kolb (+4.7)

After missing 17 games with various injuries over the past two seasons, the Cardinals couldn’t justify paying Kolb another $11 million this season. But at a reasonable salary, he’s worth a flier. He led Arizona to a 4-2 start in 2012, and his 84.08 PFF Quarterback Rating in the regular season was higher than those of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, and Joe Flacco. Honorable Mention: Rex Grossman

Running Back: Ahmad Bradshaw (+14.2)

Bradshaw is arguably the most complete running back in the league, but chronic foot injuries make him a bigger risk than most other 27-year-old free agents. A reliable pass protector who’s allowed just three quarterback sacks since 2008, Bradshaw has ranked in the top 10 of our running back grades in each of the last three seasons. Honorable Mentions: Michael Turner, Cedric Benson

Fullback: Corey McIntyre (+1.3)

Of the many serviceable full backs still available for a cheap price, Corey McIntyre is the most consistent. Despite limited playing time in the Buffalo Bills’ offense the last two seasons, he has earned a combined +9.5 blocking grade since 2008. Honorable Mention: Mike Cox

Tight End: Fred Davis (+2.0)

Davis is a productive pass-catching tight end in a league that is embracing them, but a marijuana suspension in 2011 and an Achilles tear in 2012 could be scaring some teams off. His 1.94 Yards Per Route Run in the last two seasons is the fourth-highest rate among all tight ends (minimum 50 targets).  Honorable mentions: Kevin Boss, Matthew Mulligan

Wide Receivers: Brandon Lloyd (+12.9) and Domenik Hixon (+8.2)

Lloyd’s value in 2012 was boosted by excellent blocking grades, but he didn’t mesh with Tom Brady enough for the Patriots to bring him back for another year. He’s still just two years removed from leading the league with 1,448 receiving yards and 2.58 Yards Per Route Run (min. 70 targets) in 2010. Hixon was the ultimate complementary receiver for the New York Giants, repeatedly stepping in with productive efforts when other receivers fell to injury. In the past five seasons, he only has four games with a grade worse than -1.0Honorable Mentions: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Randy Moss, David Nelson

Tackles: Andre Smith (+26.9) and Eric Winston (+15.0)

After improving his play to the point where we named him the starting right tackle on our 2012 All-Pro team, Smith may have brought back all of his old red flags when he made the honest mistake of trying to board a plane with a gun. His 2012 regular season grade was the highest we’ve given a right tackle in two years. The Chiefs signed Winston to a four-year contract in 2012 and he rewarded them the ninth-best right tackle grade in the league, but Kansas City somehow found him expendable anyway. Winston has a +19.4 run block grade over the past two seasons, a mark bested by only Joe Staley and Phil Loadholt among offensive tackles. Honorable Mentions: Bryant McKinnie, Jason Smith, Winston Justice

Guards: Brandon Moore (+21.3) and Matt Slauson (+2.5)

Age is not just a number in the NFL. Despite being year in, year out, one of the best right guards in the league, Moore’s demand is sunk by the fact that he turns 33 years old this summer. Any lineman who can do this deserves to have a home by now. As Moore’s complement on the left side, Slauson has earned a positive grade in each of his three seasons as a starter. Honorable Mention: Stephen Peterman

Center: Dan Koppen (+5.0)

This 10-year veteran will turn 34 in early September and has missed time with injuries in the last two seasons. Koppen isn’t as reliable a run-blocker as he was in his Patriot days, but he allowed just one sack last season and ranked third among all centers with a 98.8 Pass Blocking EfficiencyHonorable Mention: none

 

DEFENSE

Interior D-Line: Richard Seymour (+9.5) and Sione Pouha (+1.1)

Seymour (our No. 1 free agent interior lineman) was on his way to another season near the top of our defensive tackle grades before a hamstring injury felled him in Week 9. In his last full campaign in 2011, Seymour’s 40 quarterback pressures were second at his position only to the great Geno Atkins. For those 3-4 defenses in need of a nose tackle, Pouha is only one year removed from a +28.6 grade that led all defensive tackles. Honorable Mentions: Alan Branch, Mike Patterson

Edge Defenders: John Abraham (+30.6) and Dwight Freeney (-0.5)

Abraham is turning 35 years old, but he is one of only two NFL players to grade in the Top 5 at his position in every year since we started tracking players in 2008 (the other is Patrick Willis). He has 165 QB pressures over the past three seasons, the eighth most of any 4-3 defensive end. Freeney has steadily declined over the past three seasons, but his 8.8 Pass Rushing Productivity in 2012 still puts him in The top 20 at his position. Honorable Mentions: James Harrison, Israel Idonije, Juqua Parker

Linebackers: Daryl Smith (+24.9 in 2011) and Nick Barnett (+6.0)

Smith was a PFF favorite in 2011 and we ranked him as our No. 1 free agent linebacker heading into this offseason. His demand is low because he’s turning 31 years old next month and he also lost most of last season to a groin injury. He had 63 defensive stops in 2011, more than any other 4-3 OLB. Barnett has been one of the better 4-3 outside linebackers in the league the last two seasons, but he’s received little interest since the Bills unceremoniously cut him in February. His 62 run stops over the since 2011 is tied for the fourth-highest total at his position. Honorable Mentions: Karlos Dansby, Leroy Hill, Brian Urlacher, Thomas Howard

Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes (+17.2 in 2011) and Antoine Winfield (+25.5)

We ranked Grimes as our top free agent CB, but teams could be wary to devote a big contract to a player who has missed 22 games (including playoffs) in the past two seasons. Grimes surrendered just 0.58 Yards Per Coverage Snap in 2011, the lowest by any cornerback with over 200 coverage snaps. Winfield was our highest-graded cornerback in three of the five seasons we’ve been charting players (including 2012), but that doesn’t seem to erase the fact that he’ll be 36 years old before training camp opens. In addition to his typically solid coverage, his 26 run stops this season were 10 more than any other cornerback — PFF’s Sam Monson examined his unique playHonorable Mention: Nnamdi Asomugha, Sheldon Brown, Terence Newman

Safeties: Kerry Rhodes (+16.0) and Quintin Mikell (+15.3)

Despite being our fourth-highest-graded safety in 2012, Rhodes was cast aside during the Cardinals’ secondary makeover. He particularly shined in coverage, where he notched six passes defensed and allowed just a 64.5 quarterback rating on throws into his coverage. Mikell may no longer be the reliable cover safety that made him our top-graded safety in 2008 and 2010, but he can certainly help a team looking for a thumper to play in the box. His 14 quarterback pressures in 2012 were tied for most among all safeties, and his 21 run stops (when lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage) were second-most. Honorable Mentions: Charles Woodson, Ronde Barber, Jim Leonhard

 

Follow Pete on Twitter @PFF_Pete


  • Ranadicus

    Better call a timeout. Your defense only has 10 men on the field.

    • Loth

      It’s a 4-2 defense. Move Karlos Dansby in as LB and he’s good to go.

  • Johnson

    Patrick Willis is such a boss

  • Rick on the Beach

    Grimes is NOT 36 yrs old! If you’re going to charge for your site, get your facts straight..

    • Luke

      It says Winfield is 36 years old…

    • PFF_Pete

      You might be mistaking Winfield for Grimes. And in case you didn’t notice, this article came free of charge :)

    • Nathan

      Customers of PFF are responsible for their own reading comprehension skills

    • Mack

      If you’re going to pay for the site, please learn to read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priceperhead1 Jake Richards

    I think it is the realistic ideology. The teams need more help in offense and defense and this is the better moment. I think these guys can be the treasure to others.

  • pbskids4000

    I think Karlos Dansby is undeniably the other LB that should be in there. Kind of surprised he didn’t make it above Barnett.

    • PFF_Pete

      You’re absolutely right, it was a close call between Dansby and Barnett, but I believe Barnett will come cheaper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reohays Ron Hays

    Dansby is the best FA LB, but he demands too much everything.