Aging NFL stars struggle to find work

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There are still a number of veteran free-agents searching for a team, but time is running out.

Many big-name free agents remain available in the NFL, but they all have one, major factor working against them: time.

A handful of stars of yesteryear remain available on the free-agent market, but most are well past their prime and are likely to be role players going forward. Some may have to settle for the league minimum if they're going to play in 2013.

Here's a look at the five of the most noteworthy former stars still available.

James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Harrison was released by the Steelers on Mar. 9 and has generated little to no interest on the free agent market thus far. Harrison attempted to stir up interest in himself early in free-agent season, saying it would be "nice" to play alongside Tom Brady, and that he would "love" to play for the Browns, but the feeling hasn't been mutual.

Harrison will have to settle for a deal hovering around the league minimum, plus incentives, if he wants to suit up in 2013. His abrasive personality, coupled with his age, likely turn off potential suitors. And entering his age 35 season, it's fair to question what Harrison has left in the tank.

Behind The Steel Curtain: Replacing Casey Hampton

2012 stats: 13 games played, 70 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles

Potential landing spots: Steelers, Browns

Dwight Freeney, DE/OLB, Indianapolis Colts

Freeney and the Colts decided to part ways earlier this offseason and so far, Freeney has generated some interest but hasn't come away with a contract from another team quite yet. Like Harrison, Freeney has only played for one team in his professional career to date, spending 11 seasons with the Colts.

The former Syracuse standout has visited the Patriots and Broncos, but left both Foxboro and Denver without a contract. The Lions and Dolphins are also believed to have interest in Freeney.

Freeney made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in 2012 and had the least-productive season of his career. Freeney also battled an ankle injury throughout the season, hindering his performance. NFL teams are likely skeptical of what Freeney can offer at this late stage of his career.

2012 stats: 14 games played, 12 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble

Potential landing spots: Broncos, Lions, Dolphins

Charles Woodson, S/CB, Green Bay Packers

Since being released by Green Bay in February, Woodson has generated little to no interest on the open market. Woodson visited with the San Francisco 49ers in mid-March, but he left the Bay Area without a contract.

Woodson will turn 37 in October and is coming off of an injury-plagued season. It was believed Woodson's market would begin to established itself once Ed Reed signed, but that hasn't been the case.

In a league where the passing game reigns supreme, having fresh, quick defensive backs is pivotal. Woodson simply doesn't provide much speed at this point of his career, but offers plenty of experience that younger players don't.

2012 stats: Seven games played, 38 tackles, one-and-a-half sacks, one interception, five passes defended

Potential landing spots: Packers, Browns, Vikings


Photo via Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

John Abraham, DE/OLB, Atlanta Falcons

Abraham was released by Atlanta in early March and has been the most popular "elderly" free agent on the market. Abraham has visited the Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos and Patriots and has garnered interest from the Saints and Dolphins, as well.

Abraham enjoyed a highly productive age-34 season in 2012, justifying the interest he's received so far on the open market. That Abraham hasn't been signed in over a month is somewhat telling, as teams around the league could be wary of Abraham's health. The pass-rusher was slowed by a balky ankle late in the season.

Dan Pompei noted that only 21 percent of Abraham's sacks the past three years have come against Pro Bowl linemen, and moving out of the NFC South could hinder his performance.

2012 stats: 16 games played, 35 tackles, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, seven passes defended

Potential landing spots: Patriots, Saints, Broncos

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Turner is the least surprising name on this list, as teams throughout the league tend to value youth at the running back position. Turner, now 31 years old, had the worst year of his career in 2012, rushing for just 800 yards and averaging a paltry 3.6 yards-per-carry.

The veteran runner suffered an ankle injury in the NFC Championship game that further damages his stock.

Turner still managed to rush for 10 touchdowns last season and has never been known as a speed back. Teams who need a short-yardage back could show interest in Turner after the draft.

2012 stats: 800 rushing yards, 3.6 yards-per-carry, 19 receptions, 128 receiving yards, 10 rushing touchdowns

Potential landing spots: Dolphins, Jets


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