Free agent bargains and players to beware

More on free agency: Top 100 | By position

The champagne reserves have run out, the private jets have been returned to their hangar and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has run out of cap space.

With the signing of Terrell Owens this weekend, the last of the spotlight-gobbling free agents are off the market. Now the bargain-hunting franchises come out to play.

Teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and several others – all of whom resisted the first round of hyperactivity in the free-agent market – are set to come to life, sorting through the remaining serviceable players who can fill out solid roles on rosters.

And while pickings aren't likely to drive fans to ticket windows, there are surely bargains to be had – whether it's from a young group of starting quality players who have yet to distinguish themselves or off the heap of damaged goods. Like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Antonio Bryant one year ago, a potential star is likely to be hidden in the league's less glamorous wave of free-agent signings.

With that in mind, here are some of the best talents still on the market – guys who can fill a valuable role at a reasonable price – and some guys teams might want to avoid signing …


Bodden has spent just one season with the Lions.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Best under 30

1. Leigh Bodden, CB: He actually put up a solid performance with Detroit last season, despite having little help from a pass rush. He's got the combination of size and athleticism necessary to play in any scheme, and he's only 27.

2. Cato June, LB: Played out of position on the strong side in Tampa Bay. A move back to the weak side would free June up to be more of the playmaker he was with the Indianapolis Colts. He still goes for the kill shot too much when tackling, but he is an asset when dropping into coverage.

3. Roy Williams, S: His struggles in coverage are well known, but he's a great player in run support. Still a nasty hitter, too. Personnel men either love his game or hate it, and more people are hating it these days. Could still be very valuable on short to intermediate downs. Basically, keep him in situations where he isn't responsible for deep coverage and he can thrive.

4. L.J. Smith, TE: Injuries have kept him from reaching his potential, but when he's on the field, he can be a major part of a passing game. He's a serviceable blocker. The bottom line is keeping him healthy. If a team can do that, he still has several years left to be a key contributor.

5. Gerald Sensabaugh, S: He's got some off-the-field issues that have really hurt his stock, but he quietly had a solid season as a starter in Jacksonville last year, leading the team with four interceptions. He needs to be surrounded with some talent in the secondary, largely because of the chances he takes at times. He turns 26 in and June and could still get better with a consistent starting role.

6. Khalif Barnes, OT: If the evaluation was based on size and talent alone, he wouldn't even be on the market. But Barnes has had trouble off the field, and gave up 7½ sacks and committed nine penalties last season. He's still young (26) and if he could get some discipline in his life, he could be a good starting tackle well into his 30s.

7. Angelo Crowell, LB: Some personnel men think his decision-making is inconsistent, but he was undeniably productive before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year. He's got the size and speed to play inside or out in either a 3-4 or 4-3. If it weren't for the lag of that knee injury, he'd be long gone by now.

8. D.J. Hackett, WR: Injuries derailed his development, and the resurgence of Muhsin Muhammad prevented him from getting a lot of looks in Carolina. He's got good size but is suited for a West Coast scheme. He'll challenge a defender for a ball. At 28, he's still got time to stake his claim as a solid No. 2 in a system.

9. Freddy Keiaho, LB: He doesn't turn 27 until December and he's got two years of starting experience under his belt. His size (5-foot-11, 226 pounds) will always hold him back, but he's a quick, fiery tackler. Put him on the weak side in a scheme with beefy defensive tackles who will occupy guards, and he's a good, efficient starter.

10. Byron Leftwich, QB: Has a wealth of starting experience and was solid when he had opportunities with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The biggest negative is his delivery is still too slow, and it's too late in his career to change it now. But at 29, if he's in a structure with a run-dominated scheme and strong pass-protecting line, he could still be a solid starter.

Best over 30

1. Chris McAlister, CB: He hasn't been healthy the past two years, and that impacted his level of play. He has lost a step, but he's still a solid combo corner in both coverage and run support. He'll be exposed more by speed than he was earlier in his career, but given a solid pass rush and good safeties, he should be able to hold his own for a few more years as a starting corner.

2. Mike Peterson, LB: Injuries and issues with the coaching staff have hurt Peterson the last two seasons, but he still has some speed left, and is a good tackler. He can take over the middle for a needy team and give them solid play for a few more seasons. A change in scenery will do him good, particularly if he lands in a talented group of linebackers.

3. Jason Taylor, DE: He was never healthy last season in Washington. When he's physically right, he's still got good pass-rushing ability. He might not be an every-down end anymore, but a team could still maximize his value as a situational pass rusher for a few years.

4. Jeff Garcia, QB: He has still managed to be a quality starter, posting 90.2 passer rating in 12 games with Tampa Bay last season. But injuries have become more of a concern and a team needs to provide good protection if it's going to get the best of what Garcia, 39, has left. On the plus side, he might know West Coast systems as well as any active quarterback in the league, and he could walk into almost any of the current ones and be a starter on Day 1.


Harrison has combined for just 80 catches the past two seasons.

(Michael Conroy/AP Photo)

Buyer Beware

1. Marvin Harrison, WR: Regardless of his career numbers, the fact remains that Harrison turns 37 in August and was relegated to a No. 3 in Indianapolis' system. With his skills diminishing, his thin frame is a bigger liability. He's bound to be a constant injury concern.

2. Derrick Brooks, LB: He's just not the playmaker he once was. Now that he's lost a step, his size is much more of a concern. He can be a tackler and a locker room leader, but he's more a name than a major performer at this stage in his career.

3. Joey Galloway, WR: He turns 38 in November and he's no longer a No. 1 and may not be a No. 2, either. As his health diminishes, his speed will go, too. And once his speed is gone, he will have lost effectiveness on deep routes, and most of his value in an offense.

4. Deuce McAllister, RB: He's 30 with bad knees. That's a deadly combination for a 230-pound running back. Even in a split carry situation, he's not a big play threat anymore.

5. Reggie Williams, WR: His size and athletic ability make him tempting. He still shows flashes that make you think he can be a big-time player. But even before his recent arrest, he had the reputation of being an unfocused knucklehead. He's destined to break some team's heart.