Burress, James among best free agents available
With the annual case of Favre Fixation occupying the minds of many throughout the NFL, it's worth noting that many high-profile players who could help teams are still out of work. Call it the All-Available Team.
Burress is facing legal matters and possible league sanctions.
(Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)
From Favre to linebacker Derrick Brooks(notes) to wide receiver Plaxico Burress(notes), there are a number of prominent players available who could provide a helping hand in 2009. There's enough to even make up an entire team that would have been better than what the Detroit Lions trotted out last season on the way to 0-16.
"This is the time of the year when everybody has a chance to really sit back and study their team and figure out what's that one missing piece or try to patch up a position that you just don't like," San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said. "It really depends on what you're looking for.
"You can name guys right off the top of your head who can help a team: … Edgerrin James(notes), Derrick Brooks, Brett Favre(notes), Jon Runyan(notes). But so much of it is about how a guy fits in your system. Are you looking for a good, solid backup or are you desperate and you're looking for a stop-gap guy to get you through a season?"
From now until the beginning of training camp in late July, that's a question that almost every team in the NFL will be evaluating. Those teams will pore over their depth charts and evaluate the rookies who looked so good on the draft board in April, but then looked pretty lost when they got to minicamp in May and June.
"For a lot of teams, once you get past the draft and you really start thinking about going into the season, you ask yourself, 'Am I really confident going into next season with this rookie playing or do I want a veteran?' Smith said. "That's the really hard question that GMs and coaches have to ask themselves."
With that in mind, here's a look at the top players, by position, who are still on the market:
QB: Brett Favre – America's favorite vagabond passer continues his mid-life crisis. Other options: Rex Grossman(notes) and J.P. Losman(notes).
RB: Edgerrin James – His once-great burst is gone, but he's still workmanlike. Other options: Warrick Dunn(notes), Deuce McAllister(notes) and Rudi Johnson(notes).
FB: Cecil Sapp(notes) – Better athlete than most fullbacks, but still nothing special.
TE: Ben Troupe(notes) – Best from a mediocre offering. Other options: Mark Campbell(notes) and Dan Campbell(notes).
No. 1 WR: Plaxico Burress – Legal issues are holding him up, but he'll play.
No. 2 WR: Amani Toomer(notes) – Only 16 months ago, Toomer and Burress helped win a Super Bowl. Other options: Marvin Harrison(notes), Drew Bennett(notes) and Joe Jurevicius(notes).
LT: Levi Jones(notes) – Injuries curtailed a nice career, but he's still only 29.
LG: Mark Tauscher(notes) – He's a tackle, but could easily switch inside.
C: Jeremy Newberry(notes) – His knees are bad, but they have been forever.
RG: Pete Kendall(notes) – Smart, tough, but a lot of mileage.
RT: Jon Runyan – Biggest if of an iffy group. His knee still isn't healthy. Other O-line options: Fred Miller(notes), Jonas Jennings(notes), Wayne Gandy(notes), Melvin Fowler(notes) and Jason Whittle(notes).
DE: Kalimba Edwards(notes) – He's 29 and banged up, but still has some pass-rush skill.
DE: Ebenezer Ekuban(notes) – Pretty nice pass rusher still out there on the market.
DT: Kevin Carter(notes) – Amazing longevity, productivity and versatility.
DT: Ellis Wyms(notes) – Has his limitations, but is a very tough player.Other D-line options: Dewayne Robertson(notes), John Engelberger(notes) and La'Roi Glover(notes).
LB: Morlon Greenwood(notes) – At 30, he's one of the youngest starters.
LB: Pisa Tinoisamoa(notes) – A tackle machine, but he better play in a two-gap system.
LB: Derrick Brooks – Still can bring great leadership to a young defense. Other options: Napoleon Harris(notes), Paris Lenon(notes), Antwan Peek(notes) and Nate Webster(notes).
CB: Chris McAlister(notes) – Coming off injury and has lost speed, but still very physical.
CB: Ty Law(notes) – Perennial late-signee can still make a couple of plays if the offense isn't careful. Other options: Jason Craft(notes), Dre Bly, Deltha O'Neal(notes) and Roderick Hood(notes).
SS: Lawyer Milloy(notes) – Years of physical play have taken their toll, but he's really smart.
FS: Dexter Jackson – Has lost a step, but who on this team hasn't? Other safety options: Mike Brown(notes), Michael Boulware(notes), Kevin Kaesviharn(notes) and Will Demps(notes).