In March, our free agency coverage involved a list of the top-100 available players, nicknamed the “PFT Hot 100.” All but 12 of those free agents are now accounted for. One of them was restricted free agent Mike Wallace, the Steelers’ wide receiver who wants big bucks.
We’ve since reassessed a bit and learned more about the players left on the market. With those reevaluations in mind, here’s our look at the top-ten unrestricted free agents remaining:
1. Running back Cedric Benson — Even as the durable 29-year-old’s yards-per-carry average declines, Benson can be a workhorse back and get what’s blocked. He’s not going to help in the passing game, but would make sense as a No. 2 runner behind a starter who catches well and picks up the blitz. Benson needs to play in a power-running offense.
2. Tackle Marcus McNeill — The Eagles showed interest in McNeill after Jason Peters tore his Achilles’ tendon, but signed Demetress Bell instead. McNeill is unsigned because of chronic back problems, which date back to his college days at Auburn. He is 29 years old and has made a pair of Pro Bowls.
3. Defensive end Matt Roth — The Steelers worked out Roth in early May, though perhaps only to update their free-agent emergency list. Roth missed the final five games in Jacksonville last season with concussion issues. Still an effective and versatile defender when healthy, Roth can play linebacker and end and has 11 sacks in his last 27 games.
4. Defensive end Andre Carter — Carter remains on the market because he’s still recovering from a torn quadriceps muscle. The 33-year-old tallied double-digit sacks in 14 appearances with New England last season.
5. Receiver Braylon Edwards — Like McNeill and Carter, Edwards is unsigned primarily due to medical concerns. He’s coming off knee and shoulder injuries. As of early May, the Bengals were reported to have interest in the 29-year-old. Perhaps they’ll revisit the idea if Mohamed Sanu, Armon Binns, Marvin Jones, and Brandon Tate don’t stand out in training camp.
6. Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin — The Seahawks and Falcons hosted Franklin for free-agent visits in April, but he wasn’t signed. He may be pricing himself out of a job. It was just two years ago that Franklin earned over $7 million while donning the 49ers’ franchise tag. He turns 32 in a couple of months.
7. Tackle Max Starks — Starks anticipates receiving medical clearance from a torn ACL right around the time training camp starts. He’d be a reasonable fallback option for the Steelers if rookie Mike Adams isn’t up to the task of protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side.
8. Safety O.J. Atogwe — The Chiefs, Lions, Jets, and Vikings have all been linked to Atogwe since his March 12 release from the Redskins. Atogwe’s range is diminishing going on age 31, but he’s long been a playmaker on the ball.
9. Linebacker Gary Brackett — The Colts released Brackett on March 9 because he’s old, had a big salary, and wasn’t fully healthy. Brackett recently received medical clearance, though, and has a productive track record as a Tampa-2 middle linebacker.
10. Cornerback Drew Coleman — In something of a surprising move, the Jaguars cut Coleman on May 3, after adding Aaron Ross in free agency and Mike Harris via the draft. Coleman is an effective, playmaking slot corner. He has six sacks, three interceptions, and eight forced fumbles over the past two seasons.