Top free agents left on the market

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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.

31 responses to “Top free agents left on the market

  1. Tiki Barber is flabbergasted that he did not make this list.

    McNabb,also upset, will appear on ESPN radio later today to blame Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin, Andy Reid, and the entire Syracuse athletic department for his exclusion from the list.

    I would do a TO one too, but he’s starting to become sad, rather than funny, and after being cut by an IFL team this week, he doesn’t deserve anyone else ragging on him.

  2. i wish my panthers had the money for otogwe..

    .. he will instantly upgrade our weak @$$ defense

  3. Anthony Gonzalez is a FA now.

    And Andre Carter is a FA because he’s still healing from his injury last year. He’ll likely sign when he’s ready to play.

  4. Cedric Benson is really #1? That guy is the definition of mediorce. In all honesty Tiki wouldn’t be that far behind from a talent perspective.

  5. Steelers need to resign Starks he has done well protecting Ben’s backside the past few years. Hopefully the Co-eds are still watching their backsides, Pig Ben is about due for another “incident”.

  6. Can’t imagine that Mike Adams won’t be up to the task in Pittsburgh. But if Starks is in shape and cleared from his ACL injury–and we can afford the $$ and the roster spot–I wouldn’t mind signing him as a backup before the season starts. I’d like him to learn Haley’s offense in case he’s needed to sub for an injured player. We’ve struggled a lot with o-line injuries late in the season. Better to have someone on board who knows the offense and is prepared to step in.

  7. They should make a team of free agents and they can play in L.A. Even though those fruitcakes out there dont deserve football. Bunch of Mary Anne’s. They could hire like al pacino to be the coach and he can act like he knows what hes talking about. Just think if the game dont go right they can a re take….after all it is Hollywood.

  8. realnflmaster says:Jun 2, 2012 4:44 PM

    Bunch of bums. Maybe good for as low caliber team like Miami or the Eagles. But not for the mighty JETS


  9. Don’t really see any one of these guys getting contracts, unless the need arises. as for the Jets……They are an accident waiting to happen. Anything Ryan touches is trouble.

  10. Aubrayo Franklin was 1 of the best 2 down DTs in the NFL b4 last year. He is what the Broncos need I hope they take a look.

  11. If I need to sign a wide receiver to a 1 year deal, I am still taking Terrell Owens over Braylon Edwards. Talent wise, Terrell Owens is still a better player so lets stop talking about his personal issues especially when the idiots talking about Terrell Owens issues have their own set of issues. Plus, if you cannot help Terrell with his issues it would probably be best that you do not talk about his issues. The only difference is Terrell has let his be known. You are hoping no one finds out about yours.

  12. Attogwe should come back to STL…we can still use him as a rotation player at safety…his best years was when he was on STL so why not come back bome

  13. 3 straight seasons with 1000+ rushing, someone will need Benson’s service this year. I get that he’s had off the field issues and hasn’t been useful in the passing game but I still think hes being overlooked and written off by some fans and media members. Teams are waiting to see how their injuries shake out and will then give him a call. Hell Pittsburgh was starting Isaac Redman and Detroit had to go hunt down Kevin Smith last year.

  14. Ryan Grant? Also it would be more interesting if you would name their last teams.

  15. Ced Benson is still capable of being a top 10 rusher. He’s had a couple years where his ypc went down. But it’s more to do with the way he was being used. GO back to what Cincy did with him in 2009 and he’s a top RB again. Ced is a punishing runner. As long as he can quit getting suspended for parts of the season.

  16. FYI- a torn quad muscle, most people recover from this 100% and are able to return to normal activity after only 6 months. Being the athlete Carter is, guessing he’s healed. I hope he takes one of these other deals the other 2 teams are offering and puts it in the patriots face. The numbers he gave off last year prior to his injury shows he’s still got play in him.

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