Knock Three Times… On The Ceiling If You Want Meâ€¦
Youâ€™ll soon find out that free agents previously ignored will in due time find their cell phones ringing as training camp and pre-season injuries become an unfortunate task for teams to deal with. There are glaring reasons as to why players remain unclaimed into the start of training camp, whether it be injury history, age or attitude. Depending on the situation, many teams are suddenly able to look beyond these issues when necessity calls. The â€œoldâ€ guy all of a sudden has something left in the tank, the â€œattitudeâ€ deserves a fresh start (never mind the resume of three teams in four years) and that â€œprevious injuryâ€ isnâ€™t so bad after all.
Optimism? Despiration? Probably more of the latter, but bottom line is itâ€™s important to be mindful of the existence of these players. If the situation is right, a discarded player could have some fantasy relevancy. If there is room on your roster, better to score now, then to have to scamper to the fantasy Waiver Wire when one of these players becomes the Player Du Jour.
Regarding quarterbacks, most of the impact players were either re-signed or found their way to greener pastures. Left are your garden variety backups, none of real fantasy impact. These include the likes of former Philadelphia Eagle Trent Edwards, the now svelte free agent JaMarcus Russell, former Buffalo Bill Tyler Thigpen, former Oakland Raider Matt Leinart and former Pittsburgh Steeler Bryon Leftwich.
Try to contain your excitement.
As far as running backs, there are certainly players of merit, a few guys who could fill a need if duty calls. Most notably, former Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner. His eventual signing is only a matter of time, and quite honestly I am surprised it has taken this long. He has no plans of retiring, is a workhorse back and will most certainly contribute when opportunity knocks. His limitations as a pass receiver out of the backfield donâ€™t make him an ideal fit for many teams, but his productivity, knowledge of the game and talent will have him suiting up prior to the start of the season, without question.
A few players whose injury history has left them idle for the time being, wearing that â€œInjury Proneâ€ moniker, would lead us to former Arizona Cardinal Chris “Beanie” Wells, former Detroit Lion Kevin Smith, former Denver Bronco Willis McGahee and former Giant and 49er Brandon Jacobs. There is an element of risk with all four of these guys which is widely documented around the league. Teams already dealing with injury woes will undoubtedly be hesitant to bring in another player who could succumb to injury when a stiff breeze blows a leaf past them in practice. A concern yes, but many teams will throw caution into the wind and I would expect all four to be trying out and suiting up sooner as opposed to later. Look for Wells and McGahee to lead the charge.
Other players who could make a minor impact depending on the situation could be former Tennessee Titan Javon Ringer, former Detroit Lion Jerome Harrison, former Indianapolis Colt Mewelde Moore, and former Green Bay Packer Cedric Benson. Benson is still recovering from a foot injury (lisfranc) but if he is in any way healthy, heâ€™ll more than likely get some interest and ultimately land somewhere.
With a few starting wide receivers already gone for the season due to injury, depth charts around the league suddenly have immediate openings and teams are jockeying for depth as the start of the season looms in the distance. Of course some teams wait longer than others to make a move (former Indianapolis Colt Austin Collie signed by the San Francisco 49ers in response to the injury to standout WR Â Michael Crabtree) while others stand pat for now (Philadelphia Eagles, losing WR Jeremy Maclin). That said there are a few quality options available that will be fielding calls from prospective teams any time now.
Two names that instantly come to mind are former New England Patriots wide receivers Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd. While Branch is a little older than Lloyd, he could find work easier than his former teammate. The reason is simple. Â Lloyd has been on SIX teams in EIGHT seasons and has not been known as a great guy in the locker room. That is BIG for some teams when making a decision. The last thing needed is to bring in a player that will disrupt team chemistry or bring a questionable attitude into the mix. Teams would rather go with the status quo than risk a disruption.
That said, New England was probably not the best fit for either Lloyd or Branch. Falling into a situation with a team more apt at stretching the field would bring out the best in both as that type system is better tailored to their strengths.
Another player that would benefit dropping into the right situation would be former Jacksonville Jaguars WR Laurent Robinson. Donâ€™t remember him in Jacksonville? Neither do most Jaguars fans. Fantasy owners will remember him as the early Waiver Wire darling in 2011 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Leaving Dallas and a capable quarterback the following season for the proverbial mess at the position in Jacksonville did not serve him well. That said, he has talent and is garnering interest from the likes of the Chargers and the Steelers.
Then there are your problem children, the likes of former San Francisco 49er Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Chad Johnson formerly Chad Ochocinco. Call me old, silly, fill in the blank, but all three of these players could certainly help some NFL teams out there assuming they are in shape and out of trouble.
There are a few other free agent wide receivers Â to be mindful of as training camps move on. One would be former Denver Bronco WR Brandon Stokley. Yes, heâ€™s been around the block more than a few times, but he is a solid veteran, a good route runner out of the slot with soft hands who is not afraid of traffic. On a team with a young and emerging quarterback, a player like Stokley would be a solid option.
NOTE: Stokley signed a 1 year deal with the Baltimore Ravens this week, joining former long time Indianapolis Colt and former Buccaneer TE Dallas Clark as recent additions.Â
Former Arizona Cardinal, now former Seattle Seahawk Early Doucet will be heard from again, without question. Heâ€™s a big target who tends to be streaky at times, but definitely someone teams could consider a quality reserve option. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised at all if he was one of the first of this wide receiver group to sign.
The tight end position is pretty dry at this point in regards to free agency, but the likes of former Kansas City Chief Kevin Boss and former San Diego Charger Randy McMichael are still available. Both are saavy veterans that could find their way on an NFL roster at some point this season. Of course, there is former New England Patriot/Free ManÂ Aaron Hernandez.Â Maybe starring in the The Longest Yard? Seriously, donâ€™t waste your time, as he needs to be worrying about another type of defense for the foreseeable future.
Bottom line, it will come down to team needs, some expected and unexpected, and the willingness and determination of the players above to stay focused and in shape, both mentally and physically.
Knock, Knock, Knockâ€¦
Drop me a line here or via Twitter – Â @djleason
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