In one of the most active free agency periods we have seen in the history of the NFL, many talented veterans are still available as we near the start of training camp. When Dwight Freeney signed with the San Diego Chargers earlier this week, he became the 161st free agent to be signed.
With that many players being signed to new contracts, how is it possible that several big name veterans remain unsigned? Veterans that have played integral roles on recent Super Bowl winning teams would typically be a hot commodity, yet these athletes find themselves looking for a job as training camp nears. Keep reading to find out the biggest hold up these stars face in finding a job this season, as well as anyone who is potentially interested in acquiring their services.
Charles Woodson (CB/S)
A future Hall of Fame player, yet unemployed as of today. His numbers have fallen off the past two years after being a key component in Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Woodson was bit by the injury bug, breaking his collarbone again, and only playing in 7 games last year. Being 37 with his recent injury history is certainly a concern for potential suitors, however his ball-hawking and leadership capabilities make him a near certainly beneficial move for whoever ends up signing him.
Woodson recently worked out for the Denver Broncos, but left without a contract offer. He is scheduled to return to his old team, the Oakland Raiders, and have a physical tomorrow. He previously stated that he would only play for a contender, but perhaps that isn’t in the cards and he will have to settle for his former team in order to prove his abilities for next season.
Best guess for where he plays: Oakland
Other possibilities: Green Bay, Cincinnati, New York Giants
John Abraham (DE)
The 36 year old defensive end has spent the past 7 years with the Atlanta Falcons after his career with 6 years as a New York Jet, compiling an impressive 122 career sacks. After putting up 10 sacks last season, he has actually produced better numbers than the recently signed Freeney over the past few years.
Abraham probably wouldn’t be able to be an every down player throughout the year due to his age and the wear and tear that comes with being in the league for 15 years, however as a pass rusher in a rotation, he could be a key piece in a contender’s defense.
Best guess as to where he lands: Tennessee, Other Possibilities: New Orleans, New England
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB)
It is extremely rare for a running back who put up over 1000 yards and averaged over 4.5 yards per carry the previous year to last this long in free agency. However with the extensive history of foot problems Bradshaw has suffered throughout his career, teams have been reluctant to put up the cash a back of his talent typically warrants.
At age 27, Bradshaw should have plenty of gas in the tank to produce several more 1000 yard seasons for whoever ends up signing him, assuming his feet allow it. Running backs are always highly coveted, with more and more teams going to a backfield by committee and deploying different backs in different situations to change the pace on a defense and prevent their backs from taking the wear and tear that can devastate their season.
St. Louis has no proven starter in their backfield after the departure of Steven Jackson to Atlanta earlier in the off season, so they could potentially use a proven starter to bolster their backfield. Oakland’s Darren McFadden seems to miss a few games every season, so they also could use a quality backup for those games he is near certain to miss.
Best guess for where he lands: St. Louis
Other possibilities: Oakland, Philadelphia
Brandon Lloyd (WR)
The journeyman receiver, most recently of New England, once again finds himself searching for a new home, although it has never taken this long for him to find a suitor in his 11 year career. Although only producing one season of 1000+ yards (2010 with Denver) he has shown that he has the ability to be a top tier receiver if he can land with the right offense. He nearly reached 1000 last year with the Patriots, falling 89 yards shy of the mark.
Several teams could still use a playmaker at wideout, and he is the most proven play maker still on the market. Baltimore is in need of a threat to compliment Torrey Smith after losing Anquan Boldin, while Cleveland seemingly never has a quality corps of receivers and needs as much talent as it can get to allow 2nd year quarterback to develop.
Best guess for where he lands: Baltimore
Other possibilities: Cleveland.
Written By: Charlie Gille