September 15, 2011

Top-10 NFL Players Not in the NFL

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One has to figure that somewhere out on a ranch in Mississippi, Brett Favre is throwing around a football in his Wranglers, waiting for his phone to ring. While it’s not Brett Favre o’clock just yet, there are plenty of players with good reason to watch the clock. Starting on Tuesday, teams were permitted to sign free agent veterans with a week-to-week salary rather than guaranteeing a full-season contract. Expect some veteran signings as injuries — and team question marks — build up over the next few weeks. Here’s a list of the Top-10 free agents available on speed-dial:

And no, Brett Favre doesn’t make the list — after all, he is retired.

No. 10. K Jeff Reed

What would this list be without a kicker? The “foot” in football should never be taken for granted, as we saw this past week when Chargers’ kicker Nate Kaeding’s nasty run-in with the turf monster left him with a torn ACL, ending his season. Reed offers a veteran presence, at least as far as kicking is concerned; he boasts a 90 percent field goal success rate across an eight-year career, including countless kicks at not-so-kicker-friendly Heinz Field. A few missed clutch kicks last season left him packing for San Francisco mid-season, but the team dropped him after the season. Nick Novak just signed with the Chargers, so Reed will have to look elsewhere.

No. 9. LB Lofa Tatupu

Many around the league seem to think linebacker Lofa Tatupu — despite an impressive resume that includes three Pro Bowl appearances (2005-07) — is not a promising prospect for 2011 because of some nagging knee issues. Although his production has decreased in the past few years, he started all 16-games last year for the Seattle Seahawks and recorded 58 tackles along with 30 assists, solid numbers that are at least comparable to his Pro Bowl years. It’s tough to imagine that the 28-year-old will be without a home for the entire season, especially with teams like the Giants and Raiders looking for some linebacker help.

No. 8. C Shaun O’Hara

O’Hara is a reliable veteran that only played in six games for the Giants in 2010. Across the five years before that, however, he only missed one game. The heady 34-year-old could also attract a team looking to use him as a mentor for an up-and-coming center. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins look to have him groom rookie center Mike Pouncey.

No. 7. WR Donnie Avery

The former Ram could offer a quick-fix solution at wide receiver to many teams that are in need of exactly that. Avery, the first wide receiver taken in the 2008 draft, affords game-proven and consistent, albeit less-than-overwhelming, production at the wide receiver position. He could fit in nicely on many rosters, but expect the now Danny Amendola-less Rams to play free agency Indian giver here and push hard to get Avery back.

No. 6. T Max Starks

The 29-year-old former Steelers tackle only played in seven games last year, but he’s a young, talented option for any team in need of a tackle. And at 6-8, 345 pounds., he’s sure to give any defensive lineman a run for his money. The Steelers, however, who just lost Willie Colon for the season, seem to be more interested in bringing back veteran Flozell Adams, who is currently 36 years old.

No. 5. S Darren Sharper

So what if the man is 35 years old? He can still play ball. It was not too long ago, in 2009, that he was selected to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Super Bowl Champion Saints. Last year, he aggravated an injury after being reactivated from the Physically Unable to Perform List, and one might argue that the Saints’ defense suffered as a result. The versatile William and Mary alum, who has played both strong safety and free safety, seems ripe for the picking, especially as a band-aid for teams that might be lacking at the safety position. The Kansas City Chiefs — who just lost “The Fifth Dimension,” a.k.a. starting safety Eric Berry, to a season-ending knee injury — might come knocking.

No. 4. G Leonard Davis

The former Cardinal and Cowboy has only missed five games in his 10 NFL seasons, and started all 16 games in each of his four seasons in Dallas. He made the Pro Bowl in three of those seasons, and at 6-6, 375 pounds, he can be a formidable force at guard or tackle. The Seahawks and Raiders are both reported to be interested in Davis.

No. 3. WR Terrell Owens

The 37-year-old receiver, whose 153 receiving TDs and 15,934 receiving yards put him second behind only Jerry Rice, will likely find a new home as soon as he is fully recovered from a June knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. This could be only a month and a half away, despite the typical six-month recovery period following this type of surgery. Just ask T.O. himself, who in a recent interview stated, “It’s just a matter of time.” With not much more to prove other than a successful return from injury, expect T.O. to have one more (half) year of solid production left in the tank. Get your popcorn ready.

No. 2. QB David Garrard

Last week, Garrard went from Jaguars starting quarterback to unemployed. Garrard’s agent, Albert Irby, has made it known that the 33-year-old isn’t interested in being a “temporary fix,” but he’ll be highly coveted by a few NFL teams as just that. The Colts and the Dolphins are rumored to be interested, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t land anywhere until a team needs a fill-in when their starting quarterback goes down.

#1. WR Randy Moss

There’s not too much to be said here that hasn’t already been covered by the media maelstrom that has basically already anointed Randy Moss as “un-retired.” Simply put, Randy Moss, aside from some attitude and motivation issues, is the best free agent currently on the board, offering teams a big body with big-play potential at a position that often has its fair share of injuries. Expect teams in need of a big-play receiver to make an offer-you-can’t-refuse type push for Moss as the season presses on — that is, if the Eagles don’t swoop in and snatch him first.

Honorable Mentions: QB Marc Bulger, RB Clinton Portis, K Nick Novak, LB Channing Crowder, RB Tiki Barber, QB Kellen Clemens, P Ben Graham, T Flozell Adams

Original Author: Paul Picinich