Best Remaining NFL Free Agents Include Alex Smith, Michael Bush

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field at the end of the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants beat the 49ers 20-17. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The first week of NFL free agency is over, and many of the top names are off the market. But there's still some talent to be had.

The 2012 NFL free agency period has been open since March 13, and in a week many of the bigger names have already been taken off the board. Free agency has been highlighted by a monster deal for Mario Williams with the Buffalo Bills, as well as Peyton Manning choosing the Denver Broncos over the Titans, Cardinals and 49ers.

Many of the top free agents are already off the market as they've signed with new teams or have chosen to remain at home. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of solid players that can be had for the right price who can step in and play at a high level.

Here are a few of the best of the rest from each position as we enter the second wave of free agency.


Alex Smith: Smith is coming off his best year with the 49ers in which he led the team to the NFC Championship game. He was a first-round pick in 2005 and showed that with the right coaching, he can be a solid NFL quarterback. He could draw interest from the Dolphins, Redskins or Seahawks if he doesn't re-sign with the 49ers.

Donovan McNabb: Like wide receiver, the free agency quarterback market is pretty dried up now that both Matt Flynn and David Garrard have signed with new teams. McNabb's name stands out as a possible bridge quarterback for a team bringing in a rookie, much like what the Vikings brought him to Minnesota to do last year. He's old and probably doesn't upgrade your quarterback position.

Others: Vince Young, Josh Johnson, Matt Leinart

Running Backs

Michael Bush: Bush has been a solid backup for Darren McFadden in Oakland over the past four years. McFadden has had some durability issues, and when Bush has taken over as the lead back, he has done a good job and is likely looking to be the premier back wherever he goes next. The Bengals would be a good team to sign Bush.

Cedric Benson: Benson really revitalized his career in Cincinnati over the past few years. He's coming off of three straight 1,000-yard seasons and helped the Bengals make the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. His yards per carry is a little on the low side, though, and he has had some legal trouble in the last two offseasons.

Others: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Smith, Brandon Jacobs

Wide Receivers

Braylon Edwards: Edwards is a big and physical receiver who did next to nothing in 2011 for the 49ers. However, he has had success in his career both with the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. Free agent talent at receiver has been tapped out pretty much, and Edwards is the best of what is left.

Plaxico Burress: Burress didn't do much with the Jets in 2011 compared to his previous seasons with the Steelers and Giants. However, he has the potential to at least be a No. 2 receiver for some teams. There are many teams who may shy away from a receiver who shot himself in the leg once, but he's talented enough that somebody will look past that.

Others: Early Doucet, Ted Ginn, Jr., Jerome Simpson

Tight Ends

Jacob Tamme: Tamme is a young tight end that backed up Dallas Clark for the Colts. Because he was behind Clark, he hasn't had the opportunity for a ton of playing time, but he did start eight games in 2010 and finished the season with 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He could start for a tight end-needy team.

Dallas Clark: Clark has seen a lot of success at the tight end position while playing with the Colts, and he was one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets. He's older than Tamme, and his success was likely tied to Manning's, but he could also add a boost as a pass-catching tight end for a team in need. Don't be surprised to see the Broncos try to reunite Clark and Manning.

Others: Visanthe Shiancoe, Jeremy Shockey, Joel Dreessen

Offensive Linemen

Marcus McNeill: McNeill has been with the Chargers for the past six seasons at left tackle. In his first four seasons, he started all but two games, but in the last two seasons he has missed 12 games. He was released from the Chargers in March and could help a team in need of a decent left tackle.

Anthony Collins: Collins has been the Bengals' backup right tackle behind Andre Smith. Smith, however, has missed quite a bit of time since joining the Bengals, and when Collins was the starter, he did a good job against the defensive lines of the AFC North defenses. He likely wants to be a starter and could be a solid signing for a team with a struggling line.

Others: Demetrius Bell, Jason Brown, Jake Scott

Defensive Linemen

Mark Anderson: Anderson is coming off a great season with the Patriots in which he racked up 10 sacks at defensive end. There is a huge need on a lot of teams for players who can rush the passer, and while the Patriots would like to hang on to Anderson, he may have moved himself out of their price range, despite his age.

Andre Carter: Carter also racked up 10 sacks for the Patriots during the 2011 regular season and like Anderson, he likely moved himself out of the team's price range to just sign a deal without testing the market. Carter is older than Anderson and would fit with a team that is in need of a pass-rushing defensive end on a one- or two-year contract.

Others: Brodrick Bunkley, Matt Roth, Luis Castillo


Curtis Lofton: Lofton just finished his fourth year in the NFL, all with the Atlanta Falcons, and he's coming off his third straight season with at least 100 tackles. In 2011, he compiled 147 tackles, made one sack and picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. He could provide a huge boost to a team looking to upgrade its linebackers unit.

London Fletcher: Fletcher is pushing 37 years old, but he has played at an extremely high level for a long time. He hasn't had fewer than 100 tackles in a decade, and he led the NFL with 166 tackles a year ago. He isn't going to be able to sign a huge or long-term contract because of his age, but he has proven he still has what it takes to lead a good defense.

Others: David Hawthorne, Stephen Tulloch, Kamerion Wimbley


Jim Leonhard: Leonhard is the best remaining safety available in free agency, and while he has produced while with the New York Jets over the last three years, he has had a little trouble staying healthy. The Jets have decided to replace him with LaRon Landry, but if Leonhard can stay on the field, he can still help a team in need of a strong safety.

Others: Tracy Porter, Terence Newman, O.J. Atogwe

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