Could a team of free agents compete against an actual NFL team? With the doldrums of the offseason rapidly approaching, let's take a look at the best remaining unsigned players.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Age: 33.
Fear the Beard. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the jets to a 10-6 record under new head coach Todd Bowles. Fitzpatrick will beat the bad teams but will struggle against tougher NFL defenses. The New York Jets desperately want to re-sign the quarterback, but they lack the cap room to strike the deal Fitzpatrick commands.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans. Age: 30.
Arian Foster is not the same Arian Foster who had three consecutive 1000 yard seasons including a rushing title in 2010 with 1616 yards. Prior to his Achilles injury that knocked him out for all but four regular season games, had nearly 1450 carries in 5 years which averages to nearly 300 a season. Running backs historically always decline following a season with over 300 attempts, and there is a proven regression curve for running backs older than 30. Foster works best in a back-up or third down back capacity.
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers. Age: 35.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons. Age: 34.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints. Age: 33.
Big names, Slim pickings. These receivers all exceeded even their own expectations especially Boldin and Colston who were sixth and seventh round picks respectively. These receivers are likely to follow the path of fellow great veteran Andre Johnson who has failed to latch onto a team. All of them should be relegated to slot receiver capacity, where Boldin and White played last season.
Jahri Evans, G, Saints. Age: 33.
Will Beatty, OT, Giants. Age: 31.
Yes, I know that it takes 5 people to form an offensive line. Yes, I know that I have only named two players. That speaks to the weak remaining free agents along the offensive line. Beatty and Evans both struggled majorly with injuries in 2015 and will likely never be the players they were early in their respective careers.
Jason Jones, DE, Lions. Age: 30.
Greg Hardy, DE, Cowboys. Age: 28.
Sammie Lee Hill, NT, Titans. Age: 29.
Chris Canty, DT, Ravens. Age: 33.
Let me be clear: Greg Hardy will not and should not be signed by an NFL team. I am only relaying the best free agents available from a football perspective. His talent cannot be denied, but he is too much of a scumbag to ever be shown on television again. Sammie Lee Hill is an excellent rotational player, and Canty can still be a force in a 3-4 scheme clogging up the running lanes with his big body. Jason Jones is getting up there in age, but still proved effective setting the edge for the Lions in 2015 and even was 3rd on the team for sacks.
Danny Lansanah (RFA), OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
DeMeco Ryans, ILB, Eagles. Age: 32.
DeMeco Ryans can still be a starting, three down linebacker in the NFL (meaning he can stay on for passing downs because of his coverage ability). His health has been an issue and he has ceratainly lost a step but a team could do worse. Danny Lansanah is a restricted free agent (meaning the Bucs can match any offer extended to the player). Lansanah put himself on the map with an astounding season in 2014, but regressed back to his regular self in 2015.
Leon Hall, CB, Bengals. Age: 31.
Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Age: 32.
Leon Hall may be the last remaining prize of this free agency class. While he is over 30 years old, Hall still managed to play at a high level last season by contesting teams number 1 receivers and recording 2 interceptions and 9 deflections in the process. Antonio Cromartie is a more of household name than Hall, and may have had the better career, but he is not the player he was three years ago and struggled with injuries at the end of the 2015 season.
Donte Whitner, S, Browns. Age: 31.
Will Hill, S, Ravens. Age: 26.
Will Hill was an above average starter for the Ravens last season. He is still young and a very good player, but Hill has been suspended for 10 games due to PED use which is why the ravens released him. Donte Whitner is a little past his prime and has lost a step in coverage but is still a force in the run game.
Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams. Age: 28.
Ryan Quigley, P, Jets. Age: 28.
Greg the Leg! Legatron! Both of these players can still be effective in the league.