Keeping up with the top ten unrestricted free agents left
Free agency has come screeching to a halt, but there are still some interesting names available on the open market.
Here’s a breakdown of the top ten players left unsigned on the PFT Hot 100.
1. Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill -- Released by San Diego on March 13, McNeill visited the Lions a day later but left without a contract. He was rumored to have meetings lined up with the Falcons and Chiefs, but they apparently fell through. While McNeill has two Pro Bowls and 82 starts at a premium NFL position on his resume at age 28, medical concerns have clearly hurt McNeill’s market value.
2. Offensive tackle Demetrius Bell -- Bell has drawn interest from the Redskins and Cardinals, and will visit the Packers later this week. Like McNeill, Bell is a 28-year-old starting-caliber left tackle who’s been plagued by injuries. Bell’s medical concerns aren’t as significant as McNeill’s, however, and it would be surprising if he wasn’t signed soon.
3. Linebacker David Hawthorne -- A beastly run defender, Hawthorne’s market appeared to be established when Stephen Tulloch (Lions) and Curtis Lofton (Saints) were signed. Hawthorne remains available, however, after visits with Detroit and New Orleans proved to be leverage plays by those teams. Adam Caplan did report on Tuesday that the Seahawks and Hawthorne “continue to be in communication,” so perhaps he’ll re-sign with Seattle.
4. Linebacker London Fletcher -- Fletcher still hasn’t signed, but it’s been widely assumed that he’ll head back to D.C. Perhaps that’s why no other teams have seriously inquired. As Alper noted a couple of days ago, league-imposed cap penalties against the Redskins have affected negotiations with Fletcher.
5. Defensive end Andre Carter -- Carter racked up double-digit sacks in 14 games last year, but he hasn’t been signed because he’s still “limping heavily” after a late-season quadriceps tear. Carter should find work quickly once he’s healthy.
6. Defensive end Matt Roth -- The Bengals are Roth’s only known free-agent visit, and their interest seems to have cooled after signing twin draft busts Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey. Roth isn’t a bad pass rusher and sets the edge as a run defender. He can also play linebacker in a 3-4. It’s only a matter of time before he catches on somewhere.
7. Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin -- Franklin’s career peak was receiving the 49ers’ franchise tag in 2010. His 2011 market was surprisingly slow, and he’s now going on age 32. Franklin is coming off a disappointing season in New Orleans, struggling for playing time. The 2011 game tape may be turning off teams.
8. Offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie -- The Giants have already cut ties publicly with McKenzie, their starting right tackle since the 2005 campaign. Going on age 33, he may have to wait for training camp to be signed.
9. Defensive end Luis Castillo -- A productive but injury-prone 3-4 defensive end, Castillo has visited the Patriots and Chiefs in free agency, but likely was offered only the veteran’s minimum after missing all but one game last season. The Chargers also have an offer on the table to keep him. Castillo is only 28 years old with plenty of starts on his resume.
10. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards -- The Jets have expressed some interest in the top wide receiver left on the market, but it’s believed Edwards is still rehabbing from the knee surgery that forced the 49ers to give up on him in December. Edwards is 29 years old. He can separate from defensive backs with the best of ‘em when healthy and is an underrated blocker, but untimely drops and off-field concerns have tarnished his image as an NFL player.