Joe Mahoney/Associated Press file photo
Joe Mahoney/Associated Press file photo
Most NFL teams already have begun their summer vacations. Several veterans: Dwight Freeney and Ahmad Bradshaw among them: also will be resting easy after recently hooking up with new teams. But quite a few accomplished players likely will be waiting until at least late July, when training camps begin to open, before they find work again. Our top ten available free agents:
1. DE John Abraham: Yes, he’s 35. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s acknowledge that his production and availability warrant employment given how hard it is to find proven pass rusher at this stage of the year. Abraham has averaged nearly 11 sacks over the last three seasons and has more (122) than anyone else currently playing. And though it seems he’s typically battling some injury or another, he’s missed just two games in the last six years. He’d be a perfect situational pass rusher for a contender, especially one that just freed up cap space by dumping it’s former starting running back.
Best fit: Broncos
2. FB Vonta Leach: He’s been the league’s premier fullback three years running ... and, yes, some will consider that faint praise. But one way to neutralize nickel-heavy defenses is to put your running backs in the wake of the bruising Leach; Arian Foster and Ray Rice averaged nearly 1,400 yards rushing behind the all-pro dating back to 2010. Leach also brings championship experience and a persona that endears him to teammates.
Best fit: Texans
3. DE Israel Idonije: The rare defensive end who will get to quarterbacks and stonewall running backs. According to profootballfocus.com, Idonije was a more effective player than former Chicago Bears teammate Julius Peppers in 2012. Idonije is 32, but he doesn’t have a ton of hard miles on his body since he didn’t become a regular starter until 2010. Since moving into the starting lineup, he’s averaged nearly 50 tackles and seven sacks. Throw in his penchant for blocking kicks, and you have quite a bargain.
Best fit: Buccaneers
4. RT Eric Winston: Given his apparent price tag, Winston may be perfectly content to wait for a team to suffer a catastrophic injury or realize that it has a performance issue at right tackle. Chances are, he’ll have some choices by early August if he’s still unsigned.
Best fit: Lions
5. G Brandon Moore: He’s one of the league’s best guards and excels in the run game. Unfortunately, he just turned 33, plays a position that isn’t valued and is best known for being on the front end of Mark Sanchez’s infamous butt fumble. Still, Moore can instantly solidify an offensive line that needs to be patched.
Best fit: Cowboys
6. FS Kerry Rhodes: He comes off an outstanding season and will only be 31 on opening day. Unfortunately, he has some baggage due to his off-field interests (acting, modeling) and being run out of New York by Rex Ryan in 2010.
Best fit: Browns
7. WR Brandon Lloyd: Another one who has a lot of irons in the fire off the field and mixed reviews for his locker room comportment. But he is intelligent and has fantastic hands and body control. He needs to be someplace where he’s a spoke and not a hub.
Best fit: Bengals
8. DL Richard Seymour: He’s a leader, he’s versatile and still plenty formidable at age 33. The guess here is he’ll want to go out with a winner ... especially one close to home. Best fit: Falcons
9. RB Willis McGahee: Thirtysomething running backs are a dime a dozen, maybe a nickel a score: just ask Cedric Benson or Michael Turner. But McGahee is a do-it-all, three-down player and fresh enough considering he’s had more than 200 carries only once since 2007. If his repaired MCL is as sound as he says, he could be a sound investment for a team lacking backfield depth.
Best fit: Dolphins
10. S Quintin Mikell: Box safeties tend to be lumped in with guards, two-down linebackers and fullbacks ... basically there’s a perception they grow on trees. But a player like Mikell, 32, should be valued more highly in a division with a fast-growing reputation as the NFL’s most physical.
Best fit: Rams
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