Aside from DeSean Jackson, little talent remains on NFL free-agent market
That's not to say that the leftover free agents are without merit. Audibles takes a look at who is still out there:
Pretty slim pickings for the teams still hoping to add veteran help. The remaining market is more or less limited to veterans who could help in a pinch, but who should not be starting. Flynn more or less filled that role last year while stepping in for an injured Aaron Rodgers -- his results were not exactly glowing.
Freeman has the highest upside, if you can call it that following his train wreck in Minnesota. Though he may not be capable of pushing for a No. 1 gig, he has the most obvious physical abilities of the QBs left.
The real focus for teams now may be on a draft that does feature some intriguing prospects, even beyond the top tier.
A healthy Brown can be a punishing, goal-line back. Of course, Brown has rarely been healthy over the past two seasons, so any projections are pretty speculative at this point. He did average 5.3 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns back in 2012 for the Giants.
As with the quarterback position, the remaining list of running backs pretty much fills the Plan B criteria for teams. Jones, Bush, Ronnie Brown, Phillip Tanner and Willis McGahee probably do not have any 1,500-yard seasons stashed in their back pockets. Rather, the upside here may be what Jones and Bush did in Pittsburgh and Chicago, respectively, last season: 50-60 carries, a few receptions and some help a little deeper down the depth chart.
If there is one position still holding onto a potential impact player for 2014, this is it. Unfortunately, taking a shot on any of the players still looking for deals here -- up to and including the explosive DeSean Jackson -- will require the signing team to inherit a great deal of risk.
Austin has some proven NFL success. He's also held together by duct tape and staples at this point. Holmes is breaking down, too.
Finley's injury history is the only factor -- granted, a major one -- keeping teams from drooling over him. The ex-Packer is a do-everything tight end, capable of hanging in to block or stepping out and catching 60-plus passes over a season. The last report on him, however, stated that he may not be ready to sign for months, which puts his availability for 2014 in serious jeopardy.
Elsewhere, we're talking about TEs that can fill out a two-deep. Dickson had a shot to be the go-to guy in Baltimore last year, only to fall flat.
The decision on the remaining O-linemen comes down to this: How much do teams value experience? Because, for the most part, that's the main selling point for guys like Winston (16 starts last season), Harris, Charles Brown, Tyson Clabo and others. Waters can make that argument, as well, though the 37-year-old guard stepped in and played well for Dallas last season prior to landing on injured reserve.
Certainly a few guys who can help. Now that the price tags have come down a bit, the rest of the defensive line guys should find homes relatively soon.
Spencer might even be a starter somewhere if he can tap into his 2012 performance. (Doing so without DeMarcus Ware drawing attention on the other side of the line might be tough.) Ware's former running partner missed almost all of '13 with an injury. Ayers pitched in 5.5 sacks last year. That's probably the ceiling for him and any other edge rushers out there.
The big names are gone, yet a good five or 10 free-agent linebackers could play key roles on the right team. All three listed here have starting experience and have performed well in flashes. Especially when talking about interior LBs, the draft is a little thin. That's good news for this group, even if the players here have to sit tight a bit longer.
The cornerback market plays out pretty much the same way every year. Teams throw the kitchen sink at the top talent , those that miss out then settle for the second-tier ... and a few declining vets wait around until training camp or an injury issue somewhere.
Three or four years ago, there would have been some legit buzz for the current free-agent corners. Today, it's pretty ho-hum.
Considering how desperate teams are for safety help, don't expect any quality veterans here to stay homeless. That statement does not apply to Kerry Rhodes, apparently, as he continues to be blacklisted by the NFL for whatever reason.