Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
As the minicamps come to a close and training camp draws closer, fans are beginning to wonder if their team is finished signing players for the upcoming season. Most teams that have glaring needs have already addressed them either in the draft or earlier in free agency, but there are still significant players that remain unsigned. Some of these unsigned players are surprising and can be used as starters instead of just replacement men for an injured player down the line. Let’s take a look at some notable free agents and where they could end up.
John Abraham, DE
Many Patriots fans were shocked when Abraham didn’t join New England early in free agency. Reports circled of his signing an offer sheet with the Patriots, but no further developments have taken place between the two parties. Abraham is old but still an excellent defensive player, arguably better than Dwight Freeney who was recently signed by the Chargers. The reason no team has snatched up Abraham yet is his demand of playing 60% of the snaps per game. This number is very high for an older player and it would require him being paid higher than a rotational rusher, the role in which most teams would rather use him. It could take an injury to a key player in order for Abraham to be signed unless he bends on his demands.
Best fit: New England Patriots
Michael Turner, RB
I can’t believe no one has signed Michael Turner yet. This guy may be old but he can still run better than a few team’s starting running backs. Last year Turner ran for 800 yards and had 10 TDs. He deserves a one-year deal at the veteran minimum at least to see how much he can offer a team in his 10th season in the NFL. I’m not saying Turner should start, but he can be a solid #2 runner for a team in need. I don’t think Ryan Matthews is the answer in San Diego, so the addition of Turner would be a good compliment.
Best fit: San Diego Chargers
Richard Seymour, DE
It would be a shame to see Seymour retire if no team picks him up this offseason. The guy is still a solid defensive player even though with his age, injury is a concern. It seemed as if Seymour was destined to become an Atlanta Falcon to replace John Abraham but the two sides couldn’t agree on money. At his age and with the lack of suitors, Seymour needs to swallow his pride and accept less money or else he’ll have to hope a team needs him mid-season. He said he is still open to signing with the Falcons but the two parties are going to have to reach a compromise in order for that to happen.
Best fit: Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Moore, OG
Most Patriots fans will fondly remember Moore as the backside that Sanchez ran into for the “fumble seen ’round the world.” Aside from that comedic play, Moore was a widely underrated anchor on the Jets’ offensive line for 11 years before being cut. He gave up only 20 QB disruptions, only had 4 penalties called on him, and is an excellent blocker for the run game. There are many teams that could use a big addition to their offensive line, including the team that let him go, the Jets.
Best fits: Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Lloyd, WR
Lloyd was a bit of a failed experiment by the Patriots last season. While his play wasn’t bad, he wasn’t the staple outside the numbers like the Patriots were hoping and his chemistry with Tom Brady never seemed fully formed. He was set to make an extra $3 million this season, so the Patriots cut him. I could see the Patriots taking him back if some pieces of their very young receiver corps don’t play out as hoped or an injury takes place. He was able to have nearly 1,000 yards and 4 TDs last season and would provide depth at WR for teams in need. With the injury to the 49ers’ Michael Crabtree, Lloyd may be a replacement option. If not, now that Darrius Heyward-Bey left Oakland for Indianapolis, new QB Matt Flynn could use an extra weapon on a talent-starved offense.
Best fit: Oakland Raiders
Nick Barnett, LB
Even though Barnett will be entering his 11th season in the NFL, he can still play at a pretty high level. In 2012 he had 112 combined tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. While he may not be a starter, he has experience at middle and strong-side linebacker. He was cut by the Bills for failing his physical and because of the $3 million+ cap hit they would take with him on the roster. If he can shape up he can provide defensive depth for a team in need.
Best fit: Chicago Bears
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE
When the Lions cut Vanden Bosch, relieving them of his $7 million salary, I was really hoping the Patriots would take a look at him. He would instantly provide depth for any defensive line, but surprisingly no one has shown an interest in him. The downside of signing Vanden Bosch is his age of 34, but he claims to be the healthiest he’s been in a couple years. While he shouldn’t be given the salary or responsibility he had on the Lions, I’d love to see him get a shot from another team before he hangs up his cleats. The Patriots really don’t need Vanden Bosch since they are pretty much set at RE, but if he could make the switch to LE he might be worth a look. In reality, he should be looked at by teams with a young defensive line that could use his veteran presence.
Best fit: Cleveland Browns