With just a few hours until the new league year has officially been open for a week, this NFL free agency period has finally slowed to a manageable pace. Many of the top guys have found homes for the 2013-14 season and beyond, and more are signing each day.
On late Sunday and through early Monday, it was confirmed that the St. Louis Rams did in fact sign offensive tackle Jake Long, and that's the big signing of late. As it stands, there are still some top names available though and fans of relatively inactive teams should take note of this fact.
Below, we'll take a look at each position and talk about some of the remaining free agents worth checking out a week into free agency.
This is now the strongest position still remaining in free agency. The crop of starting-caliber offensive tackles still includes guys like Andre Smith, Sebastian Vollmer and Eric Winston. Vollmer might be the best remaining free agent on the market, while Smith is as solid a right tackle as you can find in free agency. At the next level, there's guys like Ryan Harris and Winston Justice worth a look.
While the big-name guys like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have found teams for next season, there's still some good names available. One such name is Elvis Dumervil, who had to be released by the Denver Broncos due to issues in getting a contract faxed over by an NFL deadline. He's a fresh infusion of talent to a position that still had some potential contributors available in guys like John Abraham, Dwight Freeney, Israel Idonije and Osi Umenyiora.
The market at defensive tackle dried up rather quickly, though it wasn't that significant to begin with. Now an aging Richard Seymour might be the top option, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. By most accounts, the worst thing about Seymour at this point in his career is his asking price, but he does still seem like he can contribute. Sione Pouha could be a solid option for 3-4 teams in need of a nose tackle, while guys like Casey Hampton and Aubrayo Franklin wait for another team to come along and kick the tires.
The cornerback market was one of the deepest of the free agency period, but it's now starting to dry up. Derek Cox and Aqib Talib have found homes, which means Brent Grimes and an aging Nnamdi Asomugha are the top names available. That said, Asomugha should still be able to contribute provided he's put back in a man-to-man scheme. Guys like Antoine Winfield and E.J. Biggers would be the next tier of corners still available.
With Dashon Goldson and Louis Delmas off the market, that mostly leaves much of the old guard. Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard are on the market, despite both players starting for the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens this past season. Charles Woodson and Ronde Barber remain unsigned. Michael Huff might be a guy who is still able to start if given the opportunity. Kerry Rhodes and Quintin Mikell are out there too.
Most of the top pass rushers have been snagged off the market. Dumervil, as mentioned above, is the best pass rusher remaining, but we listed him as a defensive end. There are plenty of guys still available who may not offer much help in the pass rush department, though. Daryl Smith and Nick Barnett are solid options outside, while Karlos Dansby, D.J. Williams and Larry Grant could be solid options in the middle. Brian Urlacher's future is murky. The 34-year-old hasn't found many suitors outside of the Bears, who would like to bring him back at a significantly reduced rate.
This market has significantly dried up. Perhaps the most intriguing name remaining at the wide receiver position is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who seemed to be on the verge of breaking out over the past couple seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Heyward-Bey was released for salary cap reasons, and might be a solid pickup for a team in need of a deep threat. After him, there's Brandon Lloyd, Julian Edelman, and then the (really) old guard in guys like Randy Moss and Braylon Edwards.
Most of the young talent is already spoken for with names like Jared Cook and Delanie Walker off the market, but many of yesterday's stars are still available. Dallas Clark, Fred Davis and Kellen Winslow are all hoping to be able to contribute to a team not in need of a starter next season.
Interior Offensive Linemen
The market for interior linemen isn't hot right now, with guards Brandon Moore and Lance Louis leading the charge. A team in desperate need for a center could find aging veterans Dan Koppen and Brad Meester worth a look, though. They could probably start for a season in lieu of a younger option.
Ahmad Bradshaw remains the top unsigned name now that Steven Jackson is off the market. Outside of him, teams might be willing to take a chance on guys like Beanie Wells, Peyton Hillis or Kevin Smith. Michael Turner, Cedric Benson and Brandon Jacobs are hoping they'll be able to catch on as dependable veterans. Fullbacks Greg Jones, Ovie Mughelli and Brit Miller remain unsigned.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is now off the market, which means that Kevin Kolb is the top name still remaining since being released by the Arizona Cardinals. After him, there are backups galore with Jason Campbell and Josh Johnson likely being the most dependable names available, before we get to guys like Brady Quinn, Vince Young and Rex Grossman.
The top special teams player right now is kicker Phil Dawson, but there has been very little news concerning him since free agency opened. Outside of Dawson, it's mostly guys looking to rebound, like David Akers and Billy Cundiff. For punters, Shane Lechler is still among the best in the league and he's available, but he's expected to come with a high price tag. Ted Ginn Jr. might be the best remaining kick returner.