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Best Available Free Agents List

Contributing writer Tim Culver


1. Mike Wallace (Restricted)
He comes at an increased price of 1st round tender, which is hardly crippling.  Him or an unknown in a positionally weak draft?  Someone should bite.
2. Lardarius Webb (Restricted)  
Probably will not hit the market.  If somehow he does, expect him to compete with Finnegan as a top option.
3. David Hawthorne


He ranks behind Tulloch at the postion due his considerable risk of injury. If healthy, he’s on of the league’s best ILBs.
4. Manny Lawson
This high?  He’s in a weak free agent class for his position and he’s deadly against the run.
5. William Middleton
Higher than you’ll find him elsewhere, we’re aware.  Talent.  Upside.  Underrated and a gem.  Someone will land him after passing or missing on Carr or Finnegan and will love that they did so.  
6. Desmond Bryant (restricted)
Young and versatile player.  Yet another run stopper that fits into any defense.  The depth at this position will make him a great signing for a team, but will also cost him on the bottom line.
7. Sammie Lee Hill (Restricted)
Huge young run-stopper. His pass rush ability should continue to develop as well. Tendered at a 4th round value.
8. Derek Landri 
He had a strong comeback year that gives him value in this market. He also has a pass rush to accompany his run defense.
9. Chad Rinehart (Restricted)
Coming off a very strong year, he’s going to be a starter soon. His 3rd round tender means he will likely be back with the Bills.
10. Philip Wheeler 
Very strong player, but one who fills a very limited role. He’s young, and the Colts will try and keep him around to develop.
11. Demetrius Bell 
Bell isn’t as strong a lineman as Marcus McNiell, but his own injury concerns are sightly less discerning. We find his just value slightly lower than McNeill’s, due to increased shelf-life.
12. Marcus McNeill


Would be far higher, if he didn’t have a down year and injuries causing him to question returning to football at all. The Chargers will welcome him back at a refund if they get the chance.
13. Kraig Urbik (Restricted
Another strong Bills lineman who comes with a 3rd round tender.  Can play center as well, as he proved when the Bills lost C Eric Wood to injury.
14. Wallace Gilberry
This is a player who could really use a move away from the Chiefs. He has yet to really perform, but has been in the wrong system. Move him to the right place and he may surprise.
15. Amobi Okoye


Found more success with the Bears, than he had with the Texans. Last year was a strong showing, and he’s still very young.
16. DeAndre Levy (Restricted)  
Developing young player who’s still trying to find consistency. He’s tendered at a 2nd round level, so he will likely keep up this effort with the Lions.
17. Jonathan Goff


A player many have forgotten about, he missed all of 2011 after an impressive 2010 season. Still very young.
18. Danny Amendola (restricted
Probably holds more value to the Rams than elsewhere.  This bodes for all parties, as he comes with a 2nd round tender and will likely stick around.
19. Andre Carter


Carters 2011 season was simply shocking. The guy looked like a perennial Pro Bowler. At 32 and coming off of an injury, teams are being cautious with their pursuit but he’s to be on the radar of a number of teams that are looking for a pass rusher.
20. Jericho Cotchery
Granted, this could be a little high for Cotchery but he really showcased his ability last season for the Steelers. The WR market is very limited at this point so he represents one of the best remaining option at the position.
21. E.J. Henderson


His prime time is far in the past, but he can still be a useful piece somewhere.  Perhaps someone will cross their fingers and hope for 2010 numbers.
22. Matt Roth


Was a consistent player who would rank higher if not for concussion issues.  Teams will take caution.
23. Antwan Applewhite


Hasn’t really found a way to develop the promise that he showed with the Chargers.  Still young enough to evolve into something more than average.
24. Leroy Hill 
Could be a great value signing for someone… if he can stay healthy. Despite his unquestionable talent, that is a very big if.
25. William Hayes


Has been a relatively average player since replacing Jevon Kearse.  Still young and could be a cheap signing.
26. Marcus Thomas


Thomas is a very solid run-stopping DT and at 26, he’s certainly worth signing at this point. DEN is reportedly trying to re-sign him so we’ll have to see if he even considers leaving.
27. Antonio Garay


I find this amazing. Pro Football Focus rated him as the #2 DT in 2010, behind only Kyle Williams. SD’s poor pass rush clearly had an impact on his overall effectiveness last season but he could end up being a bargain for someone in the coming days.
28. Rashad Johnson (restricted


Johnson has the ability to be more than a serviceable S and considering that the market has limited depth at the position, he would have been a good value if he wasn’t a restricted free agent.
29. Cedric Benson


The 29 year-old, former first-round pick is coming off of a poor season in Cincinnati and should be greeted by a pretty cold market. He could be on the verge of joining the out-of-work group of aging veterans in the near future.
30. London Fletcher


This guy is really an anomaly. He’s going to be 37 at the start of 2012 but he continues to play at a very high level and brings plenty of leadership to the defense. I’d be surprised to see him leave WAS.
31. Bradie James


James has led the Cowboys in tackles for 6 straight seasons but the ILB market is deep which will likely have a negative impact on his overall value.
32. Justin Forsett


Forsett is one year removed from a great season in which he was rated as the #13 best RB by PFF. Marshawn Lynch had a huge impact on the amount of touches he received but at 26, he’s worth consideration.
33. Kalil Bell (Restricted)


Bell has a lot of potential and is only 25 years old. He looked great in relief of Matt Forte last season his restricted tender will almost certainly keep him in Chicago.
34. O.J. Atogwe


Atogwe is the best available safety at this point. Overall he’s a pretty good player that plays the run very well but he can be a liability in coverage and tends to draw some flags as well.
35. Ryan Grant
Grant comes with injury concerns and he’s lost any amount of burst that he once had. With that being said, the Packers were glad to have him down the stretch last season as he really looked good in limited action for them.
36. Aaron Maybin


We all know that this guy is a bust but the Jets did manage to help him turn things a round a bit last season. What’s really interesting about Maybin is that he’s still only 24. Maybe it took him a while to figure things out but he still has plenty of time develop.
37. Brandon Jacobs
Jacobs is an interesting player because there’s really no comparable player to him as far as his skill set is concerned. Yes, he’s underwhelming at times but in the right system he could be a very solid complimentary player.
38. Cary Williams (Restricted)
With a 2nd round tender on him, there’s not likely going to be a suitor. He should have a chance to head back to the Ravens and improve before hitting the market again.
39. Jim Leonhard


Leonhard rebounded from a poor 2010 season and was pretty solid before going down with a torn PCL. Jets have said that they’re still interested but we’ll see about that.
40. Max Starks


Age and injury concern to make him a huge (pun intended) injury risk.  Free agent tackle market gives him a significant bump in value.
41. Brandon Johnson


Johnson had a decent 2010 season but for some reason, the Bengals OLB just can’t get to the quarterback. I’m sure it’s because of their scheme but they are good against the run but need help in the pass rush department.
42. Greg Toler (Restricted
Toler is exactly a starting CB at this point, but in the scheme, he could be an ok #3 option for someone. ARI placed their fourth-round tender on him which makes it hard to image that he’ll be playing elsewhere.
43. Jarvis Moss
Moss ia former first-round selection that has yet to develop into the type of player that many thought he’d be but he’s still an option for someone that’s looking to add a situational d-lineman to their roster.
44. Aubrayo Franklin 
Franklin was exactly the type of player the Saints were hoping he was going to be for them but he’s solid against run while offering very little in terms on pressure up the middle.
45. Tim Dobbins
Dobbins is a very solid run-defender that actually can apply some pressure from time to time. The problem for him is the fact that he plays a position with plenty of options available so he’s going to require a limited contract. Could be a good value at this point.
46. Kevin Smith


It’s amazing that Smith is still on 25 years old but his injury history is defintitely a concern at this point. He was pretty effective for the Lions last year before getting hurt so he’s at least worth a look for a team that’s in need of some help at the RB position.
47. Tim Hightower
It was kind of strange to see Mike Shanahan trade for Hightower last year with the intentions of using him as their starting RB but he did look pretty good in the limited playing he had before getting hurt. He’s still 25 years old but the ACL injury is definitely concern.
48. Tony Pashos
CLE cut him lose after playing through a pretty serious ankle injury. He plays a premium position and is very solid at pass protecting. He should get some looks in the near future.
49. Vince Young 
Looking for a backup QB? This is where we are right now in the market. Young is the best available QB and that’s really not saying a whole lot.
50. Jason Brown
Brown was a cap-casualty that’s coming off of a pretty poor season. The good news is that he’s still only 29 and if the right team brings him in, he could really turn things around but he’s definitely a risk.


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