Capable pass rushers still available as second week of free agency begins
With one week of free agency now in the books, here are the top remaining unsigned/untagged unrestricted free agents left in PFT’s rankings:
18. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
34. Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton.
43. Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.
48. Broncos outside linebacker Shaun Phillips.
49. Ex-Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
53. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
65. Cowboys defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.
72. Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.
76. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno.
79. Seahawks outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield.
83. Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers.
87. Ex-Buccaneers offensive guard Davin Joseph.
91. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount.
93. Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
95. Saints center Brian De La Puente.
99. Panthers offensive guard Travelle Wharton.
101. Raiders defensive tackle Pat Sims.
108. Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman.
Now, a few thoughts entering the second week of free agency:
Pass-rush help is still to be had. Jared Allen is the biggest name still out there, but Broncos defensive end/outside linebacker Shaun Phillips (10 sacks in 2013) also remains unsigned, as does Cowboys defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.
A number of the top unsigned players are coming off of injuries. Bears defensive linemen Henry Melton (knee) and Corey Wootton (hip) are two prime examples. Spencer (knee) missed almost all of 2013. Seahawks outside linebacker/defensive end O’Brien Schofield had a deal with the Giants nixed because of a knee issue. Meanwhile, a neck injury is clearly the holdup with skilled Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.
What happens with Knowshon Moreno? The top unsigned running back on the market, Moreno led the Broncos in rushing a season ago. There has to be a key role for him in someone’s backfield. He’s an asset in the passing game, and he fumbled just once in 301 regular season touches in 2013.
Who rolls the dice on Josh Freeman? The last player to make PFT’s free agent list, Freeman is just 26 years old. The question is, does he land a job before the draft, which will fill some of the open QB depth chart spots around the league? Ideally for Freeman, he finds employment with a team coached by someone who works well with quarterbacks. On paper, the Bears, Ravens, Eagles and Saints would seem like decent fits for Freeman, but it doesn’t appear he’s in a position where he can be choosy if he wants to work in 2014.
The strength of the 2014 NFL Draft could very well work against some players still on the market. There are still some veteran starters out there; Allen jumps to mind. And starter-caliber players can be patient. However, there are far more veteran reserves unsigned. The sooner experienced backups can land on a roster, the better. The rookies are coming.