With the 2018 NFL preseason underway and the regular season less than a month away from kicking off, would you be surprised to learn that there are still difference-making free agents available?
Sure, this NFL free agency cycle has already seen heaps of cash get thrown at the likes of quarterback Kirk Cousins (three-year, $84 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings), cornerback Trumaine Johnson (five-year, $72.5 million with the New York Jets), left tackle Nate Solder (four-year, $62 million with the New York Giants) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (three-year, $48 million with the Kansas City Chiefs), just to name a few.
But there are still serviceable players available who can spell the missing link for a team to legitimately contend and make the playoffs. And many of these seasoned vets will probably come a bit cheaper at this point, too, while still packing some much-needed punch and having teams that take a chance on them reaching pay dirt.
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Check out these rankings for the best remaining NFL free agents.
11. Jeremy Maclin, wide receiver
The veteran wideout’s best days are behind him, but he sure would round out a team’s receiver corps nicely, while carrying about a decade of NFL experience in tow with him.
10. Elvis Dumervil, linebacker
The San Francisco 49ers severed ties with Elvis Dumervil after he recorded a respectable 6.5 sacks last season. Yes, at 34, he might have lost a step or two. But imagine adding him to a linebacker unit or defense that is one piece away. He could arguably spell the difference for that team/franchise taking it to the next level.
9. Antonio Gates, tight end
All Antonio Gates has done over the course of his NFL career is be a big, successful target at tight end. At 38, the future lock Hall of Famer isn’t the same player he once was, but why not take a free agency flyer on Gates? An offensive coordinator out there has to think that he’d still be an asset in red-zone situations.
8. Alfred Morris, running back
The 30-year-old rusher has been dependable and durable throughout his career, having played at least 14 games in each of his six seasons. Does he still have the legs to join a running back by committee or star in a one-two punch out the backfield? We think so.
7. Eric Reid, safety
Eric Reid is seemingly as solid and sound of a safety out there. But he’s being kept out there, seemingly as a fallout and callous reaction to his kneeling during the national anthem — something Reid did to spark social change with his then-teammate Colin Kaepernick. Not fair at all. Point blank — Kaepernick and Reid can still play.
6. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback
Flat out — Colin Kaepernick was statistically better than some starting quarterbacksin the NFL last season. If a team out there is spoken for at starting QB, how about at least considering Kaep as a backup option in the pocket? The more time that goes without Kaepernick not having a job in the NFL, the more his collusion grievance case gets stronger if you ask us.
5. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, cornerback
DRC can be a plug-in-and-play option at defensive back for a team looking for a veteran to anchor its D. At 32, Rodgers-Cromartie has 30 career interceptions to his name. Who is he going to add to that total with? Hmm …
4. Julius Thomas, tight end
A younger and arguably more viable option than Gates at tight end could very well be Julius Thomas. The 30-year-old vet hauled in 41 receptions for 388 yards and three touchdowns for the Miami Dolphins last season, making him a serious option to consider at tight end. [Cough, cough] You hear that, Seattle? After losing Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks might want to make Thomas an offer.
3. Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle
Listen, just because the Indianapolis Colts didn’t see enough from the defensive tackle in 2017, doesn’t mean another franchise can’t use his run-stuffing services on the D-line. The Colts cut the 26-year-old after only one season of his three-year, $27 million deal, opting to go in a different direction. But that was after he posted 44 tackles and two sacks. An interested suitor might have to really break the bank on Hankins, but the DT is arguably worth it and then some.
2. Bashaud Breeland, cornerback
A team in need of some serious coverage at corner should snatch Bashaud Breeland up asap. His 50 tackles, 19 passes defended and one interception with Washington last year aren’t shabby numbers at all. He had a three-year deal on the table with the Carolina Panthers for a reported $24 million with $11 million guaranteed, but failed a physical due to a “non-football injury” according to the Washington Post. That was back in March, though. Perhaps, the time since has Breeland even more ready.
1. Dez Bryant, wide receiver
If being cut by the Dallas Cowboys doesn’t give you a shot of rejuvenated motivation, nothing will. Turning 30 this November, Bryant hauled in 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns last season, proving he has plenty left to offer — even if he’s not regarded as a No. 1 wideout anymore. That, and he remains one of the fiercest competitors at his position. Watch him prove it this 2018 season and possibly make “America’s Team” regret on releasing him. Imagine him going to an NFC East squad to really stick it to the Cowboys?