While the explosiveness that was the opening of free agency has long since passed, there are still some secondary players on the market who are capable of making a positive impact for the teams that sign them.
Although we are not talking about superstars, we are talking about players who can make a consistent contribution on a week-to-week basis.
In this piece, we look at the top remaining NFL free agents at each position on the offensive side of the ball, and explain what they have to offer in the upcoming season.
Quarterback Michael Vick, New York Jets – At this point in his career, Vick is clearly a backup. The numbers say he was not very impressive with the Jets as he backed up disappointing starter Geno Smith. Vick completed just 52.9 percent of his passes and he had a 3-2 TD-interception ratio. However, the Jets struggled up front and they did not have the kind of weapons Vick needed to record impressive stats. He still has excellent athletic ability and speed, and he should be a solid backup for his next team.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts – Injuries have kept Bradshaw from competing on a regular basis the last two years. He has played in just 13 games with the Indianapolis Colts. However, when Bradshaw was able to play, he demonstrated speed, quickness, and the ability to finish his runs. Bradshaw ran for 425 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He is a productive No. 2 back, but he could return to a starting role if he could stay healthy for 16 games.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers – Richard Sherman’s favorite receiver is still available, and he appears to be a victim of the current trend against veteran wideouts and in favor of untested rookies. However, as the draft approaches, teams have to ask themselves if they would rather go with a sure thing over untested potential. You can be sure at least one team will go after Crabtree, on the assumption that he will exceed the 68-698-4 he put on the board last year. If Crabtree can get off to a good start, he could catch eight or more TD passes in 2015.
Tight end Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals – It seems that teams have been afraid to sign Gresham after he underwent back surgery, but that cautious attitude may lead to regret next season. Gresham should be healthy and ready to roll this season, and he is one of the best blocking tight ends in the business. He also caught 62-460-5 last season, and erratic Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton missed Gresham at least four times last year when he was wide open in the red zone.
Offensive tackle Jake Long, St. Louis Rams – Long was not healthy in his two seasons with the Rams, and he never had a chance to play his best football. As a result, the Rams released him and let him hit the market. They have not written off Long, and they could sign him at a discounted rate. Long was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Dolphins, prior to signing with St. Louis. Long, who will turn 30 shortly, still has a chance to return to top form and become an impact offensive tackle once again.
Offensive guard Dan Connolly, New England Patriots – Connolly has been a mainstay for the Patriots for the past seven seasons and he excels as a run blocker and holds his own as a pass blocker. He is not an All-Pro candidate, but he plays with maximum effort every time he is on the field and he is respected by his teammates and the coaching staff. However, Bill Belichick often says goodbye to veterans one year early, and that means he could be quite productive in another uniform.
Center Stefen Wisniewski, Oakland Raiders – The son of former Raider great Steve Wisniewski has not been quite the player that his father was while wearing the Silver and Black. However, the younger Wisniewski still has quite a bit of football in front of him. He is just 26, and he has started at center for the last three seasons after manning the left guard spot in his rookie year. Wisniewski is an accomplished run blocker, but he must improve as a pass blocker to reach his potential.
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