NFL teams do most of their free-agent shopping in March, or right after the draft when they figure out what holes still need to be filled.
Sometimes a gift comes in June, like a surprise cut of Jeremy Maclin or Eric Decker, but for the most part if a player is out of a job after July 4, it will likely be tough to get one. Then you peruse the list of available free agents and realize there are some good players who are still looking for work. There’s even some potential Hall of Famers on the list.
These might not be the best values or even the best players still on the market, but here are the 10 biggest names still waiting for a contract:
QB Colin Kaepernick: Let’s get this one out of the way first. I doubt he’s signing anywhere. Once the Seattle Seahawks passed, that was it. We all know the story about why he’s out of football despite not being that old, coming off a decent season on a wretched team and the NFL’s lack of competent quarterbacks. Even though there seems to be zero chance of him signing now, if a team suffers a major injury in preseason, Kaepernick is clearly the best free-agent quarterback available. Then we’ll see if whatever message NFL teams are trying to send outweighs their desperation at quarterback.
CB Darrelle Revis: This one surprised me, though it makes more sense once you consider his contractual situation. Yes, Revis’ play dipped last season, but he’s still better than a lot of cornerbacks who will be on 53-man rosters. But there’s the question of how much Revis wants to play, if he could accept a lesser role and probably most importantly, his contract. Revis’ contract with the New York Jets has $6 million in offset language for 2017, so he essentially makes $6 million whether he plays or not this season, unless someone offers him more than $6 million. That doesn’t seem likely. It’s possible one of the best corners ever will just fade away at age 31, or maybe try again next year.
RB DeAngelo Williams: Williams tried out professional wrestling (spoiler alert: he still needs some work) as he waits for a football job. Williams has said he still wants to play, and it has seemed like a reunion with the Pittsburgh Steelers makes the most sense for everyone. Even at 34 years old, he’s still a reliable, productive vet.
WR Anquan Boldin: Boldin recently talked about waiting until just before training camp to sign with a team. There should be someone interested. Boldin, 36, might not be the Pro Bowler he once was, but he’s tough, smart, a respected leader and still had 67 catches and eight touchdowns with the Detroit Lions last season. Many teams would be smart to add him.
C Nick Mangold: Mangold was cut loose by the New York Jets, and even though he’s 33 and coming off an injury-plagued season, he’s still one of the best centers of this generation. He’s not still at that level, but he’s probably still one of the 32 best centers around. A team like the Baltimore Ravens or New York Giants need to take a closer look.
S Jairus Byrd: It was only three years ago Byrd was worth $54 million to the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Part of that is the Saints’ addiction to compulsive spending, but Byrd was a good safety not too long ago. His time with the Saints didn’t work out (to put it mildly), and the 30-year-old hasn’t gotten another shot.
RB Rashad Jennings: Who wouldn’t want to add a champion to their roster? Jennings was a champion … on “Dancing With The Stars” this offseason, but that works too. He actually told Metro New York that the training he did for the show helped his footwork for football. Still, at 32 years old, he’s probably waiting for an injury to show off his sweet feet for an NFL team.
CB Alterraun Verner: Verner was a Pro Bowl player with the Tennessee Titans in 2013. He earned that honor, too. Then he signed a four-year deal worth almost $26 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 and hasn’t really been a factor since. However, it’s still a little surprising that in a pass-happy league, one in which many teams could use cornerback depth, the 28-year-old Verner hasn’t signed anywhere. He should get a shot at some point.
TE Gary Barnidge: Anyone who stumbled into Barnidge on their fantasy team in 2015 has fond memories of the out-of-nowhere breakout season for the veteran tight end. The 30-year-old Barnidge, whose career highs were 13 catches, 242 yards and two touchdowns, had 79 catches, 1,043 yards, nine touchdowns and made a Pro Bowl for the Cleveland Browns. What a story. Then 2016 wasn’t as kind, though he still managed 612 yards. The rebuilding Browns cut Barnidge when they drafted David Njoku in the first round, but it seemed a team with a need at tight end could use him as a short-term option. But that opportunity hasn’t come yet, and there’s probably no guarantee it will.
QB Robert Griffin III: With all the buzz about the quarterback at the top of this list, we kind of forgot about this former star. It has been deathly quiet this offseason for Griffin, and it seems like his 2012 offensive rookie of the year season was about three lifetimes ago. Injuries and poor play have limited Griffin to six touchdown passes over the last three seasons. He didn’t play too well (and was injured, again) with the Cleveland Browns last season. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Griffin’s offensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins in 2012, explained why teams aren’t rushing to sign him.
“You’ve got to make sure you tailor an offense that fits his skill set,” Shanahan said on The Rich Eisen Show, via All 22. “I look into all of that and I think one thing that’s tough when a guy’s not your for-sure starter, you need to put in a certain offense to give this guy a chance to be successful.”
Griffin, amazingly, is just 27 years old. Former No. 2 overall picks generally get plenty of chances. But with no buzz on Griffin this offseason, it’s hard to figure out where his next chance comes from.
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