The signing of Connor Barwin by the Giants on Monday reminded us that there are still some talented players sitting out on the free-agent market as training camps open. It’s a strange time for seasoned football fans—a reminder that time flies in this league and that the players who are in-prime free agents one year are savvy bargain moves the next. For the players, too, it’s a strange view from outside the looking glass. For the first time in their lives, camps are going on without them.
Still, there is talent and beyond Barwin there are a few bigger dominoes that will undoubtedly fall in the coming weeks. Here’s a look at who else you might not be thinking about right now, but who could end up being a major factor down the road:
1. Johnathan Hankins, DT, 26: Not even in the post-30 category, the fact that Hankins remains unsigned is truly stunning. As our Andy Benoit noted Monday there aren’t many run defenders with a better pedigree on the market right now. Don’t be surprised if an early camp injury brings the former second-round pick to a practice field near you. Just because the market passed him by in March and April doesn’t mean there’s not still a deal to be had.
2. Kenny Vaccaro, S, 27: The former first-round pick may be in positional limbo but could be a gift from the matchup-specific gods if the right team picks him up. Vaccaro was victim to a slow-moving safety market but now has the chance to wait out the best possible opportunity; the most advantageous scheme, which can showcase his best role in a rapidly specialized modern NFL defense.
3. Eric Reid, S, 26: Let’s be real—we know why Eric Reid isn’t on a team right now.
4. Dez Bryant, WR, 29: In the right situation, Bryant could be a capable red zone threat and slight upgrade at the No. 2 spot for several teams. It might not be the sexy NFC East revenge tour he envisioned, but there are some contenders out there with moderate to poor talent on the outside.
5. Bashaud Breeland, DB, 26: With a few visits under his belt, Breeland has hinted that he’s a man with options. Not a bad move at this juncture, playing a few aspiring defensive coordinators against one another. He will likely be the next name off this list to sign.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer is in Bourbonnais, Ill. (home of Bears’ training camp) for the beginning of the Matt Nagy era … Remembering Tony Sparano … Why Jerry Glanville just can’t give up football.
1. Malcolm Mitchell could be on the move.
2.LeSean McCoywill be at Bills campon Wednesday.
3.This needed to be said about all the fine journalists at the New York Daily News who were laid off on Monday. Football and baseball coverage in the New York area got a lot worse yesterday.
4. The Packers are trying to make it work with a youth movement in their secondary.
5. The Texans are high on their new special teams coordinator as camp opens.
6. Who is better: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota?
7.Josh Gordonwill miss at least a portion of training camp as he continues to battle addiction issues. A reminder that some work is never done, and some people are fighting the battle of a lifetime every day.
8.Jon Harbaughremembers fondly when his players were a little more roughed up coming into camp.
On this day in 1982, the song “Eye of the Tiger” climbed to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts according to the History Channel. Here’s a much better song to listen to.