As is always the case when we enter July there are a bunch of NFL free agents who haven’t landed on a new team yet, but who still have some rubber left on their tires. Most of them will likely end up somewhere by the time the season starts, but where or when isn’t always clear. Here are 10 guys that seem like potentially useful players in the right spot:
Brian Westbrook, RB – Westbrook hit the magic (as in magically bad) age for running backs of 30 last year, and it was a disaster. He started with a knee injury, and then suffered a concussion, and wound up only carrying the ball 61 times for 274 yards. It was so bad that the Eagles cut him. He’s likely never going to be a full time starter again, but he’s only a year removed from a pretty nice year, he averaged a respectable 4.5 yards per carry in limited action last year, and he has great hands. If LaDainian Tomlinson is worthy of a job then surely someone has a role that Westbrook can be an upgrade in.
Keith Bulluck, LB – Bulluck is 33 and coming off a late season ACL tear, so there are obvious questions. He hadn’t missed a game before that, though, and he’s a player who relies more on instinct than athleticism, so he could plug up the weak side for many teams. He’d be a great addition to a young linebacking corps.
Terrell Owens, WR – He’s obviously a controversial figure, and a lot of teams probably want nothing to do with him. He didn’t have a great year last year, but it’s hard to play well on a team as bad as Buffalo was. He has lost a step or two, but he’s still the smartest guy on the field, and he knows how to get open when he wants to be. He’s clearly not a number one guy, but as a third option on a contender he’d be terrifying for opposing defenses.
Leonard Little, DE – Little will turn 36 this season, and that’s old for a pass rusher. He’s still relevant, though – he started 13 games last year, and recorded 6.5 sacks. He could be a starter for several teams including his former team the Rams, or he could be a great situational option for a contender. After all these years stuck in St. Luis he might be happy to give a good team a discount just to feel what it’s like to win again.
Chester Pitts, G – Pitts, one of the original Texans, has started 114 games. Injuries have kept him out of all but two games last year, and he’s coming back from microfracture surgery on his knee, but he wants to play, and some teams seem to be interested. If he can prove that he’s up to the challenge, then he’s a good depth option on the line. He’s a popular guy who can play a role, and he’s still only 31 so there’s some life left in him yet.
Adewale Ogunleye, DE – Ogunleye became expendable in Chicago when Julius Peppers arrived. He’s lost a step recently, but he’s versatile and reliable, and he’s a great locker room guy as well. Like some other guys on this list, he’s a guy who would be a great depth player for a good team who could step in and start without worries if he had to.
Kevin Mawae, C – Mawae wants to keep playing, and even though he’s 39 he has shown that he’s more than capable of doing so. His stats aren’t what they once were, and he made the Pro Bowl because of his name more than his play, but he’d still be an upgrade for several bad teams, and would seem like a valuable asset to have around to help ease a young quarterback into the league.
Deshea Townsend, CB – Townsend had spent his whole career in Pittsburgh, but they cut him loose this year. He’s 34 and doesn’t have the jump he once did. He’s never really been an explosive speed guy, though, and one of his biggest assets has always been his ability to be in position to avoid major mistakes. I don’t see him as a full time starter at the corner, but as a situational guy or even at free safety I think he still has some usefulness.
Laveranues Coles, WR – Coles didn’t have a great year in Cincinnati last year, but it wasn’t disastrous – he had 514 yards and five TDs as the third option. That wasn’t a great fit for him, but he was productive with the Jets, and he’s only 32, so he could certainly help out a team as a third receiver or a package guy. He doesn’t have great speed anymore, but then he never really did, and it’s not like he has ever been or needs to be a breakaway receiver.
Kevin Curtis, WR – Curtis missed half of 2008 with a hernia and almost all of last year with a knee injury. He seems to be healthy now, though, so the injures could be spun as not a bad thing – it’s a year and a half less wear and tear on his 32 year old legs and body. His problem is that he probably doesn’t have the speed that made him dangerous n Philly anymore. His hands are as reliable as they come, though, so a team could creatively transition him into a possession receiver and likely have some success.