Just because the first week of free agency is behind us, doesn’t mean there aren’t any good players left on the market. Some players remain on the market longer than other players for a variety of reasons. A team may have missed out on one of the top tier players in the group, leading them to go elsewhere. The player may not have gotten anywhere in previous contract talks (Fitzpatrick) which forces them to take less with a different team. It could be a wide spectrum of reasons.
So who are the best remaining players still looking for a new home? Take a look below at some of these impacts players who can make a difference with their new teams
Also, check out our full free agency review featuring team-by-team analysis with grades.
10. WR Rueben Randle
Often the afterthought of the New York Giants receiving corps behind the likes of Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, Randle had a quietly productive tenure with the Giants. He’s coming off a season in which he caught for nearly 800 yards with 8 TDs. He serves as an effective threat in the redzone.
In 4 seasons with the Giants, he’s caught 20 TD passes and even started all 16 games last year in Cruz’s absence. Not the flashiest, but a WR who can get the job done and add to an offense. Surprised to see him still available – especially since he’s only 24.
9. DE/LB Aldon Smith
One of the most gifted pass rushers in the entire league, Aldon Smith brings with him a lot of baggage which is why he’s still on the open market. Otherwise, San Francisco most likely would’ve signed him to a long-term deal had it not been for his character concerns.
Smith was given a chance to redeem himself in Oakland last season where he recorded 3.5 sacks in 7 starts. He may still be in Oakland’s future plans, but for now, he’s on the market. A high risk/high reward type signing. A team desperate for a pass rusher would be a suitor – but they’d need to be willing to deal with the possible off-field issues.
8. DE Greg Hardy
Like Smith, Hardy is another talented pass rusher who brings some baggage. In a one year rental with Dallas last season, Hardy started 12 games after serving a suspension and racked up 6 sacks on the year. A solid year, but not worthy enough for Dallas to bring him back.
You all remember Hardy’s monster year back in 2013 when he accumulated 15 sacks. The question is can he get back to that level? Whichever team that brings him will have hopes that he can repeat that type of production. A good fit as a DE in a 4-3 scheme.
7. CB Leon Hall
The longtime Cincinnati Bengal was cut prior to free agency. Hall can still serve as an effective depth corner and can be a solid spot starter. Over his 9 year career with the Bengals he intercepted 26 passes. His veteran savvy is what teams will value most.
Hall visited the Cowboys within the past week and that is definitely a possible landing spot for the veteran corner.
6. RB Arian Foster
Foster’s injury history is well-documented which is why he’s still on the free agent market. This led the Texans to move on as he was cut. Last season he averaged a minuscule 2.6 yards per carry in a limited 4 games.
I still believe Foster can be an effective running back in the league – not in a lead back situation, however. Foster knows how to get the job done and is a great receiver out of the backfield making him a good option as a team’s 3rd down back. I view Miami as a possible landing spot after Lamar Miller walked and they missed out on C.J. Anderson.
5. CB/S Walter Thurmond
There’s still the possibility that Thurmond can retire, but until then, he remains one of the best free agents on the market after a career year in Philly.
Thurmond brings versatility that teams covet. He can cover a lot of field from the safety position and even drop into the slot and go man coverage against WRs. He is set to cash in on a multi-year deal, so expect the money to talk him out of retirement, for now.
4. WR Anquan Boldin
I’m very surprised to see a guy like Anquan Boldin not get more free agency buzz. He was very productive in San Francisco last season despite a lackluster QB situation. He caught 69 balls for nearly 800 yards and 4 TDs.
Even at 35 years old, Boldin proved that age is not a factor to him. Not only that, he rarely misses a football game so you can expect to see him out on the field every Sunday. A very reliable, classy leader who can make an example to the younger guys in the locker room. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be signed sometime soon.
3. S Reggie Nelson
There’s a reason Nelson is still available, and that’s because of his age. At 32, most teams are unwilling to sign him to a big, multi-year deal which he most likely demands. This, even despite a career year where he led the league with 8 interceptions.
At the end of the day, a guy like Nelson will find a home. A playoff caliber team desperate for play making ability in the secondary will take him – most likely on a one year deal the longer he spends on the market.
2. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
After a solid stint with the Jets where he almost led them to the playoffs, I thought it was certain the two sides would strike a deal and he would return for the next couple of seasons. As it played out, the two sides were on different sides of the spectrum regarding a deal and the “Amish Rifle” is still without a home.
Bottom-line, Fitzpatrick is the only competent QB available, and in a league with such high demand at the position, he’ll be able to strike a deal somewhere. Last season he started all 16 games for the Jets and saw career highs in passing yards (3,905) and TDs (31).
My senses tell me Fitzpatrick will ultimately end up in Denver – unless they’re banking on Mark Sanchez to lead them back to the Super Bowl.
1. DT Nick Fairley
At this stage in the free agency process, it’s unlikely to see a guy like Nick Fairley still available. While he did have a down year in St. Louis after signing a one year deal, his huge upside remains. Fairley recorded 11.5 sacks in a two year span from 2012-2013. Teams are confident he can return to that form.
Fairley has drawn a lot of interest from teams like: New England, New Orleans and Philadelphia. He’s expected to sign with the Patriots, but for now, his service are still available.