PFT’s All-Unemployed Team


UPDATED 12:01 p.m. EST on Sunday, August 11. 

Here is our rundown on the best players still available at each position. We will update the team as events warrant, and the list is subject to change at any time. Players are evaluated on numerous criteria, including age and injury history.

Quarterback: Matt Leinart.

We considered Byron Leftwich, Tyler Thigpen, Trent Edwards and Caleb Hanie, but in the end, we went with the 30-year-old Leinart, who was with Oakland last season. That said, there’s a fall-off from Vince Young to this group, including Leinart, and there really is not much separating this quintet. All could be viable starters for a game or two, but all have their drawbacks. With Leinart, accuracy is a primary concern. He’s also had some injuries. (Durability and mobility are factors when considering the 33-year-old Leftwich, a strong-armed, capable reserve who’s struggled to stay on the field in recent years — a problem for a top backup candidate.)

The positives for Leinart? He has experience in a variety of offensive systems and has 18 career starts to his credit. Moreover, he’s young enough to be a club’s backup for the next several seasons.

For Leinart and the other passers on this list, it now comes down to whether the call comes from a club unhappy with its reserve quarterbacks.

Running back: Willis McGahee.

A proven featured back, the 31-year-old McGahee rushed 1,930 yards in two seasons with Denver. What’s more, he racked up 4.6 yards per carry. The Broncos’ youth approach at running back makes sense, but McGahee can still help another club in 2013.

Fullback: Lawrence Vickers.

The former Cowboys, Browns lead blocker recently got a look from the Giants.

Wide receiver: Brandon Lloyd, Laurent Robinson.

There’s been scant little buzz about Lloyd, who caught 74 passes for 911 yards and four touchdowns for New England in 2012. That said, he’s 32, and he’s played for six NFL teams already, so those factors probably work to limit his market. However, he’s far-and-away the best receiver available. Robinson has received some looks recently, but he suffered multiple concussions in 2012.

Tight end: Dallas Clark.

The best receiving option at his position still left on the market, but he’s 34.

Offensive tackle: Winston Justice, Jared Gaither, Sean Locklear.

One evaluator who saw Justice play in 2012 recently told PFT he liked what he saw from the former Colts right tackle. Gaither may well be the most talented tackle left, but the next NFL team he plays with will be his fourth in a relatively young career. Gaither can play both tackle spots, as can Locklear. Justice is best kept on the right side.

Offensive guard: Travelle Wharton, Cooper Carlisle.

The 32-year-old Wharton missed 2012 with an ACL tear. He’s made 99 career starts. Carlisle has played more than 1,000 snaps in each of the last four seasons, according to Pro Football Focus data. However, he will be 36 at the start of the season.

Center: Geoff Hangartner.

The ex-Panther can play center and guard and has plenty of experience (83 regular-season starts). Moreover, the 31-year-old lineman is good in the locker room, too.

Defensive end: Juqua Parker, Mark Anderson, Kyle Vanden Bosch.

There are some effective role players available at this position. Parker, 35, has recorded at least six sacks in three out of the last four seasons. The 30-year-old Anderson has two double-digit sack seasons to his credit. Vanden Bosch, 34, is widely respected for his approach to the game.

Defensive tackle: Richard Seymour, Casey Hampton.

Seymour has been linked to Atlanta in various free agency reports. He would make a lot of sense for a Falcons defense that needs to bolster its pass rush. He’s the top 4-3 tackle left. Meanwhile, 3-4 defenses looking for a short-term solution at nose guard might turn to Hampton, the long-time Pittsburgh run-stuffing stalwart.

Outside linebacker: Thomas Howard, Chris Gocong.

Both are capable 4-3 outside linebackers if healthy, but Howard suffered an ACL tear in September 2012, while Gocong tore his Achilles last August. On another note, the candidate pool of 3-4 OLBs is quite shallow; were O’Brien Schofield to have made it through waivers, he would have been far-and-away the top option. Instead, the ex-Cardinal joins a strong Seattle defense.

Inside linebacker: Bradie James, Bart Scott.

James, 32, notched 77 tackles in 15 games for Houston a season ago. He would figure to be best in a 3-4 defense. The same can be said for Scott, whom the Jets let go in February. Scott has missed just one game in the last eight seasons.

Cornerback: Eric Wright, Sheldon Brown, Nate Clements.

Wright, 28, has made 81 NFL starts, but his consistency has been an issue, and he’s been through some off-field controversy, too. Clements got snaps at safety and cornerback for Cincinnati in 2012; the ability to back up both positions enhances his value. Brown is a tough, accomplished cornerback who could also be tried at safety should he land elsewhere. He started 14 games for Cleveland in 2012, grading out 21st among all cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus.

Safety: Kerry Rhodes, Quintin Mikell.

Mikell played both free and strong safety for St. Louis in 2012 and notched a career-high 101 tackles. However, he will be 33 in September. Rhodes, 30, intercepted four passes a season ago.

Placekicker: Neil Rackers.

Rackers has hit 80 percent of his field goals in a long NFL career, but he didn’t attempt a regular-season kick in 2012, and kickoffs are not his strength.

Punter: Mat McBriar.

The former Pro Bowler has good leg strength, but his net average has dipped in recent seasons.

Return specialist: Stefan Logan.

Logan can return kicks and punts and can potentially serve as a backup running back and wide receiver. However, he’s 32, and he fumbled six times last season.

100 responses to “PFT’s All-Unemployed Team

  1. What’s the deal with Brandon Lloyd ?
    He seems pretty talented
    But, he seems to wear out his welcome everywhere he goes

    I wonder if he’s another TO

  2. I heard from a friend I have with the Giants that Bradshaw’s foot was not expected to make it through many games.

    Bradshaw is a super guy, I really feel sorry for him. Life can be quite unfair at times.

  3. That’s not a great team, but I bet you could put them on the field and they would be at least as good as Jacksonville or Buffalo.

    Tim Teebow would find a way to win a few games. Maybe 5 – 11?

  4. Oft-injured and old seem to be the common denominators with theses guys, makes you wonder if Urlacher is rethinking his recent decision making as lately he is both.

  5. I never understood why Brandon Lloyd keeps geting cut. He makes some freakish circus catches and always seems to run the right routes. What gives?

  6. I can’t believe Karlos Dansby doesn’t have a job, I think he would have been a better fit for the Ravens than McClain. He’s also ten times better than Ellerbe. Dolphins defense is gunna miss him.

  7. I think Lord Byron sprained an eye reading this post. Starting on the PUP list. Next man up!

  8. I’ll take that group as an expansion team, sign me up! Won’t take me too long to overtake everybody else, just have to be patient and watch all of the others teams make lots of terrible mistakes to bridge the gap!

    Too bad this team couldn’t have formed before FA started to get a few more options to round out the starting foundation. And how come Titus Young is not the #1 WR here? What a perfect opportunity for him to be on top of the heap! This team has no pressure and nothing to lose and Young’s a better choice than Lloyd or Edelman!

  9. lets post this a second time
    heres what the jets should do ready……..
    keep tebow because i have faith he will be good someday… i hope
    sign stephen peterman just to kick his tires if hes good keep him
    sign dwight freeney for cheap he still has a good 2-3 years in him
    sign charles woodson i dont have too much faith in this guy but hes a good pick up
    and last but not least sign brain urlacher to the same deal as stephen peterman
    i know cap space come into play bla bla bla but this can happen if we trade revis, or keep revis and make some of this happen

  10. all the sexy flashy high price names….i’ll stick to guys who want to sign a year deal, and prove their worth

  11. Brendon Ayanbadejo is determined to make sure that any gay member of the All-Unemployed team come out publicly at once!

  12. It surprises me that Jammer (DB) is not signed yet. Between Freeney, Abraham, and Jammer those are really the “class” of this team.

    I would place Brian Urlacher in that group, but he is no longer an every down player in my opinion. He can fill “situational needs”, but that is about it. He should have taken the offer from Chicago and retired a Bear.

  13. Hopefully we won’t know ever what exactly the issue is with Brandon Lloyd. Donte Stallworth and Travis Henry both went through similar changes of scenery that didn’t make sense, given their production. Then we found out why.

    Lloyd was on a typical #1 WR track in San Fran, got to 48-733-5 with four different starting QB’s in his third season, leading the team in catches and yards. Then they let him go, replacing him with (of all people) Antonio Bryant. Lloyd was beyond awful in Washington and Chicago, then the light bulb seemed to go on at age 29 in Denver.

    His 2012 numbers look respectable in isolation, but in the context — 18% of the team’s receptions, 19% of the team’s receiving yards, with an elite QB and the only coach (McDaniels) who’s ever been able to reach him — even ignoring his age, it isn’t that rosy of a picture looking forward.

  14. With most of the free agents signing one year deals. What could it hurt for the Texans to try and get Lloyd on a one year deal.

  15. Instead of “seeing what the market will pay”, seems like a better strategy for these aging players is to ignore their agents, who are trying to get the biggest pay day for you (their job) and, lower your asking price in order to remain gainfully employed.

    It reduces the gamble of being the last one picked and may also give the player more control over where he plays his last few seasons as he may be able to market himself at the vet minimum to a team he prefers.

    This way of thinking runs counter to the usual attitudes one finds in a billion dollar industry (“You deserve to fight for your share!”), but, if you’re 34 years old in the NFL, you’ve certainly earned enough money to never have to work again…unless you’ve blown through it and find yourself desperate to scrape up as much you can before it’s too late…if it isn’t already too late.

    Settle for the league vet minimum and play like there’s no tomorrow.

  16. When playing Madden, get Tebow, switch him to TE, Make him your backup TE, 3rd down RB, and put him on all special teams. For some reason he scores EVERY game.

  17. Clearly about 90% of the available players left are in the twilight of their careers. It makes sense that most of the FA movement is stalled until after the draft. Younger players with upside are much more valuable than one year patches at this point. Once the draft is over, teams that missed on their choices will likely try to grab some of these older players for one year stop gaps.

    Not sure why Steven Hauschka hasn’t been picked up or resigned. He did well for Seattle. He does lack a big leg, but is very consistent in the short-long range kicking game. He won’t get the longest field goal or get the most touchbacks but is a very good kicker. I am hopeful that the Seahawks get him resigned.

  18. Man, Eric Winston couldn’t even make THIS roster? All he wants is $3-4 million.

  19. T.O. And Moss couldnt even make it on this team? How the mighty have fallen.

    Anyways, whens Hard Knocks starting for this team? lol

  20. Urlacher wants too much considering his health and age. If he returns to Earth, he might find a buyer.

    Tebow should never have gone to New York. Sanchez was Rex’s guy and that was well-known. He couldn’t expect to do any better behind Mark, than Seneca did behind Hasselbeck. Now, he doesn’t have enough of a record to induce many to want to sign him.

    Hauschka was the recipient of the skills of Russell Wilson. He didn’t have to kick long FG’s, which is good, because he doesn’t have long range. Any team giving him a tryout would find this out in short order.

  21. “Leftwich struggled to stay healthy” is the understatement of the year! The guy tripped over his own feet and was gone for the season.

  22. Why do people keep saying this team could beat a current NFL roster. The only thing this looks like is the IR list after week 5 of every season. How is this team going to beat the Jaguars when Brady Quinn breaks his pinky after his 6th interception. He’s the only guy in HISTORY to hear the words “I think we’ll go with Derek Anderson/Tim Tebow as we believe they’re a better option”.

  23. Not a bad team. I would like to see DT Richard Seymour and DE John Abraham sign with the Texans to be situational pass rushers on 3rd down.
    Their experience could be an asset in the locker room.

  24. As a Pats fan I only have 2012 to go on concerning LLoyd…He was vilified in the press and by the fans because he would catch balls thrown to him but immediately drop to the ground every time..Even when he was wide open…..Pats like receivers that provide YAC.

  25. Cruz should be the best WR that is unemployed……Edelman is a fantastic receiver/punt and kick off returner and end-around ball carrier who also is a sure tackler on special teams…Problem is he gets hurt all the time…

  26. “Interesting that pft chose to put Edelman and Lloyd as wr on the FA team instead of Cruz.”

    “Cruz should be the best WR that is unemployed”

    er, the reason Victor Cruz isn’t listed here is because he isn’t unemployed…

  27. This was a decent article. I like the idea, showcasing what is still out there. The talent may not be top-tier, but most of these are decent depth talent, with some as part-time starter maybe.

    Either way, I like the format of showing the best talent still out there for the take.

  28. Are all of the people on this site truly this stupid? Cruz isn’t a free agent. He is in his third year of his NFL career. The wee-men won’t let him become a free agent.
    This list of has beens could beat the cowboys and the colts. Leftwich will have a longer career than Luck.


  29. Where’s George Allen when you really need him?
    He would be drooling over these guys.

  30. Tebows a head scratcher for me.
    I don’t think he’ll ever makes it as an NFL QB, but can’t one of these PRO coaches coach him up at another position?
    HB,FB or TE maybe?
    I’m not a big fan of TT, but he proved in Denver he’s a baller and I AM a fan of that.

  31. The Ravens found out what the Vikings knew all along. McKinnie has the talent to be All-Pro every year, but has the dedication and motivation of an Albert Haynesworth, Jamarcus Russell, etc.

  32. There’s a lot of old guys on the list, but the durability and consistency of some of these guys makes me wonder why they haven’t been snapped up. Jammer to OAK makes perfect sense to me. The guy doesn’t miss games, he’s good enough to be on the field in the right system and he knows the division.

    Moore and Peterson are in the same category. Offensive linemen that can stay on the field should be more valuable than this.

  33. Bart Scott saw this list and said: “Can’t wait! To see my name!”

    Sorry Scott, keep waiting for the 3rd string all unemployed team.

  34. If all these players were in their prime this team would be Amazing! I wanna play Madden 08 and put all of them on one team and see just how great they would be rated… I believe the O-Line would be a tad bit weak but the defense would be nasty!

  35. did someone actually mention JaMarcus Russell?? He’s not worthy of the list. What position is he going to play? He could be the teams poster child for how Not To Conduct Yourself.

  36. If Dwight Freeney can suit up on one leg, Derrick Rose needs to re-join the Bulls already.

  37. stillworker:
    You’ll get no argument from me that Leftwich is injury prone. However, that night against the Ravens, Leftwich was a warrior.
    Hurt on the Steelers’ first series of the game — on his 30-yard TD run — Leftwich spent the rest of the ENTIRE game being knocked down … and getting back up.
    Leftwich was visibly injured with two fractured ribs. Tomlin had no business playing an injured QB who couldn’t throw in a winnable game, not when he had a healthy Batch available.

  38. Nick Barnett is the best of this group. Good leader, and still has the most upside out of everyone. Surprised no teams have taken a flyer on him yet. Doesn’t make sense that Rolando McClain is currently the starting MLB on the Ravens and Barnett is somewhere fishing for trout.

  39. I wonder how this team would do if you could enter it into the NFL? NFL needs relagation but it would never happen since it’s a cartel

  40. Brandon Moore and Eric Winston could sure help an o-line somewhere.

    Bradshaw would make a great backup (backup so you wouldn’t need to rely on his health). Brandon Lloyd still has speed.

    Still some good defensive linemen out there. Defensive backs too…and what’s the holdup on Kerry Rhodes?

  41. How is Arizona or ANYONE for that matter not signing Brandon Lloyd? He’s seemingly been a solid character guy and can be a solid #3 receiver or even a #2 on some teams. I say Arizona because the Cardinals could actually use a deep threat to go with Fitz/ And the Notre Dame bust Michael Floyd could EASILY give up his #2 spot to Lloyd.

  42. I’m sure this will not get posted but it’s true. The holdup with Kerry Rhodes is that like it or not, there’s questions about his sexuality. And he’s not that big of a talent to justify what would probably be a LOT of publicity at some point.

  43. the Eagles should have kept both Sheldon Brown and Quintin Mikell. Both tough, solid players who would have been miles better than the clown show they had in the secondary the last 2 years.

  44. If they lowered their asking price to the diminishing talent left in them they still would be team wants to overpay for a player with dying talent.

  45. the entire nfl now knows that vince young is too stupid to run an offense. no one will try to bring him in in august and try to teach him an offense…

    andy tried it, and look what it got him… the fatal ‘dream team’ tag, and absolutely nothing on the field.

  46. One solid name is missing: Brandon Stokley. He, unlike Brandon Lloyd, is a solid teammate and made some spectacular catches last season.

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