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Stretching the Field: Plenty of talent left on the market
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - If you appreciate more spit than polish and more grit than glitter, the NFL free agent market is ripe for the picking.
Experience and veteran leadership appear to be the focal point for notable players still searching for employment with training camp just around the corner.
Before you know it, players will be buckling chin straps under the hot sun of their respective camp destination and some will be waiting for their smartphone to ring. Here is a list of free agents who shouldn't have to worry about picking up a new hobby come July:
MICHAEL TURNER - The Atlanta Falcons were done with Turner when he failed a physical and they probably didn't mind with Jacquizz Rodgers ready to step in. But Turner still has tread left on the tires and will fit perfectly in a two- back scheme. A drunken driving and speeding charge last September didn't help polish his appearance. Turner's numbers dipped considerably last season, as he rushed for 800 yards -- the lowest of his five-year Atlanta stint. He averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry. Still, Turner brings bulk and experience, and a go-to label inside the 5-yard line. He scored 10 or more rushing touchdowns (60 total) in each of his five seasons with Atlanta.
WILLIS MCGAHEE - A tip of the cap goes to McGahee, who came back from a devastating knee injury in college to enjoy a respectable NFL career. That career still has some life left. McGahee was a casualty of a numbers game in Denver, which has Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball in the backfield. Broncos vice president and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway appreciated the many contributions McGahee made to the team and now somebody else should kick the tires on the power back. McGahee knows there are teams that have doubts on his production in the twilight of his career, but said it's his job to "prove them wrong."
JOHN ABRAHAM - Abraham joined Turner and Dunta Robinson on the Falcons' chopping block, while the latter quickly found employment in Kansas City. It's tough for an aging defensive end to find a job, but Abraham could serve as a mentor to a team that has baby-faced defenders eager to learn the tricks of the trade inside the trenches. Many coaches believe championships are won at the line, so why not give Abraham a chance to prove he's still got it? Assuming he will be signed before training camp, Abraham is one of the active leaders in sacks and posted 10 for the Falcons last season. He has at least 9.5 sacks in each of the past three seasons and can work in a rotation in 2013.
RICHARD SEYMOUR - Retirement could be weighing on the mind of the one of the top interior linemen of the past decade or so. Signed to a hefty contract with the Oakland Raiders before the 2009 season, the veteran out of the University of Georgia has plenty of cash to opt for retirement. However, when football is still alive and pumping in the veins of an NFL player, the smell of grass, dirt and the locker room is a sense hard to ignore. Seymour said that he has no regrets about his career and will be ready to open a new chapter in his life if a team doesn't come calling. Any team needing to collapse the pocket would regret not giving him at least a tryout.
BART SCOTT - There are several linebackers who could have made this list, but Scott's mean streak and strong attitude will not go by the wayside. Any fan of football has to admire Scott's passion and alpha male personality because he can still bring it on a weekly basis. Scott may have lost a step in coverage and is not afraid to stick his nose into a situation, especially a running back's midsection. There are plenty of rookie linebackers out there who need guidance and pointers on how to survive in this league, and Scott is a perfect fit to show them the ropes. Other linebackers deserving of consideration are: Bradie James, Kirk Morrison, Michael Boley and Channing Crowder.
VONTA LEACH - The Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens failed to agree on a restructured deal with Leach, so now he's the prized fullback on the market. How he is still available at this moment is a head-scratcher, but teams have expressed interest in the bulky Leach. He was an integral part of Baltimore's running game, which was spearheaded by Ray Rice, and has made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons. Leach will serve as an excellent paver for any back in this league and can contribute to the offense as well. A tough, hard-nosed blocker, Leach could end up with his former Houston squad or possibly the New York Giants. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh described Leach as a "great guy" and a "great leader." Leach will soon make another coach feel the same way. He is among some running backs who could get their number called when injury occurs.
ERIC WINSTON - Now who wouldn't want an experienced offensive tackle with plenty of gas left in the tank? Winston was a victim of circumstance when the Kansas City Chiefs released him and later plucked offensive tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 pick in April's draft. Winston was let go by the Chiefs less than one year after he signed a four-year, $22 million contract as a free agent. Winston is arguably the best available tackle on the market and should be employed by a team before training camp begins. Other notable offensive lineman still available are Jeff Otah, Jammal Brown, Winston Justice, Vince Manuwai and Leonard Davis. Davis, though, could be headed toward retirement.
BRANDON LLOYD - If Lloyd can extinguish rumors that he's a knucklehead in the locker room and on the practice field, then some team should at least take a look at the speedy wide receiver. A veteran of 10 NFL seasons with six different teams, Lloyd wasn't brought back to the New England Patriots after he finished 2012 with 130 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns. He has been productive over the past three seasons and his attitude could keep him waiting by the phone when the season begins. Lloyd is arguably the best wideout available among a list of several, including Laurent Robinson, Braylon Edwards, Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Early Doucet, Mike Sims-Walker and Brian Robiskie.
HONORABLE MENTION - Dallas Clark, Chris Cooley, Beanie Wells, Cedric Benson, Tim Hightower, Joseph Addai, Ryan Longwell, Neil Rackers, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ray Edwards, Casey Hampton, Sheldon Brown and Quintin Mikell
06/28 13:10:44 ET
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