Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 5/17/12
As NFL free agency comes to a close, there are still a number of talented players that teams can gobble up at the last minute.

Whether players are past their prime or recovering from injuries, these NFL free agents could potentially still make a difference in the upcoming season. Let’s take a look at some of the best and most recognized free agents still available.       

QB Donovan McNabb - It’s been six months since the Vikings released McNabb and no one has made any inquiries about the veteran’s services.

However, that hasn’t stopped the 35-year-old McNabb from continuing to rehab and physically prepare himself as if he was guaranteed to start under center in September. McNabb has marketed himself to the point of documenting his training through throwing exercises that he’s done while on the beach.

Yet, when teams like the Texans or Bears lost their starting quarterbacks during last season, they went with unproven options over McNabb.

Currently, all McNabb can hope for is that some team is forced to sign him because he does have the experience, intellect, and leadership to take a club far. Yet, McNabb’s only desire is to be a starting quarterback rather than being a backup or a mentor to a young prospect and that’s why the Vikings dropped him in the middle of last season and no teams will make any moves for him.

At this point, McNabb is way over his head if he feels that he’s still the elite quarterback he once was and should retire after a successful, iconic career.       

RB Cedric Benson - Out of all the remaining free agents, Cedric Benson is clearly the most valuable, at least on the offensive end. While he never is going to win style points, Benson is a consistent, hard-nosed running back coming off three straight seasons of 1,000 or more yards. Last year alone, Benson averaged nearly four yards a carry and at the age of 29, he still could prove to be a viable backup in any team’s platoon system.

While his off-field issues are a significant drawback, the Bengals' running back on the field offers great pace and physical strength to break tackles when fighting for additional yards. It’s shocking that Benson still hasn’t found a team although he recently linked himself to the Raiders, who are in need of a backup to Darren McFadden after Michael Bush’s departure.     

RB Ryan Grant - Football is a cruel game where one injury can derail some of the best athletes in the game. Such is the case for Ryan Grant, who went from being one of the top running backs in the game to backing up James Starks on a predominantly passing-oriented offense. However, Grant did prove to be an effective option on a limited basis last season and while he’ll likely never reach the same totals he had before his devastating ankle injury, he can still be an important offensive weapon.

Yet, the reason why Grant is still without a team is because he’s asking for several million which is ludicrous considering what kind of role he’ll have. He has already scared off the Patriots, who signed Joseph Addai for a much cheaper price and the Detroit Lions considering they could really use him. If the Lions are definitely out, Grant is left with either the Indianapolis Colts who have Donald Brown and Delone Carter in their backfield or a return to the Green Bay Packers, which would result in a serious pay cut from what he’s asking.    

S Jim Leonhard -A top safety with playoff experience with the Ravens and Jets, Jim Leonhard is a great defender with essential leadership skills. Considering his small size and height, he is a strong tackler that has become a grizzled veteran of the game.

However, he’s suffered two straight season-ending injuries in the past couple of years and now doesn’t have a job as he prepares for next season. Although he isn’t the best at covering tall receivers and tight ends, Leonhard makes a vital defensive impact which is why teams like the Kansas City Chiefs have been interested in the veteran support he’ll offer.

OT Marcus McNeill -Not too long ago, Marcus McNeill was a rising offensive tackle who looked set to be one of the best at his position for years to come. Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson had some of their best seasons under his protection as the Chargers were one of the NFL’s most explosive offensive powerhouses.

Then, things began to go south for McNeill whose play got worse and then got embroiled in an ugly, interminable contract holdout in 2010.  Following that, McNeill suffered a concerning neck injury which derailed his season in 2011.

Now, he’s a free agent who is hanging around which could make him a steal for teams considering his age (28) and physical size. With interested suitors like the Falcons, Chiefs, Lions and Eagles, McNeill seems likely to play again and hopefully redeem his career.      

LB E.J. Henderson - A top linebacker who was one of very few bright spots on a horrid Minnesota defense last season, Henderson had a Pro Bowl caliber season with 110 total tackles. That’s remarkable considering he broke his leg a couple of years ago and many were afraid that it would cut his career short.

Henderson is still a free agent though after failing to come to an agreement with the Vikings this offseason. Due to his age (32) and injury history, Henderson has not received a deal yet but like Leonhard, he provides veteran skill any team could use. Teams like the 49ers, who just lost rookie linebacker Darius Fleming for the season, could possibly look at Henderson for a short-term deal.

RB Justin Forsett - While there are many free agent running backs around, Justin Forsett stands out because he’s younger and less injury prone. At the age of 26, Forsett still has a lot left in the tank and while he doesn’t have the size of an elite running back, he possess the breakaway speed to be an effective change of pace.

Forsett is also deceptively powerful in terms of brushing off tackles and he can be very difficult to tackle in the open field. His elusiveness and catching abilities on screens can make him quite valuable on crucial third-down plays. Considering his price tag may likely be lower than other veteran backs, he can truly turn out to be a diamond in the rough.   

WR Braylon Edwards - One of the biggest questions this free agency group still holds is the enigma that is Braylon Edwards. Edwards is as inconsistent as they come as he has gone through his fair share of high and lows in the last few seasons. After a sensational season in 2007 with the Browns, he eroded in Cleveland as dropped passes and inconsistent performances killed his play.

He then went to the Jets which was a success, especially in 2010, where he developed a good rapport with Mark Sanchez. Edwards wasn’t re-signed though and went to the 49ers where many thought he would become the top wideout in an offense that really needed him. That didn’t work out as he struggled to get involved and eventually got cut.

At age 29, Edwards is the best receiver in free agency because of his height, speed and big-play ability. However, there is a lot of baggage that come s along with him which is why he hasn’t received a deal yet. The Bengals have been Edwards’ most speculated suitor though a return to the Jets has also been heavily rumored. Whether it’s the Bengals, Jets, or another team that needs more wide receivers (Dolphins, Ravens), Edwards will either be the strong No. 2 receiver as he was in New York or a retread with his career on the decline.     

TE Dallas Clark - When you look back at the career of Peyton Manning, it’s pretty shocking to see the impact that he had on many Colts players. Dallas Clark is no exception as he was arguably the best tight end in football for many seasons while receiving passes for the current Denver Broncos quarterback. After an injury cut his 2010 season short, Clark’s return in 2011 was quite an unhappy one as everyone saw what the Colts' offense looked like when Curtis Painter was starting.

Now that Manning is in Denver, many believed that Clark would quickly follow him to Colorado. However, the Broncos don’t need another tight end as they already have former Texan Joel Dreessen and ironically Jacob Tamme who emerged as Clark’s replacement in Indianapolis in 2010.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the Kansas City Chiefs are now the favorite for Clark, who would become involved in an effective tight end rotation with Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss. While Clark may be past his prime, there is no doubt that he is an effective pass catcher who would improve Kansas City’s passing offense.    

DE/OLB Andre Carter - On a New England defense that struggled mightily in 2011, there were two consistent playmakers that made the Pro Bowl; Vince Wilfork and Andre Carter. Carter was simply a beast as the defensive end had ten sacks and two forced fumbles. He put pressure on opposing offenses and looked ready to lead the Patriots' defense through the playoffs.

However, disaster struck when he tore his quadriceps at the end of the regular season against Denver, which knocked him out for the rest of the year. Now 33, Carter is rehabbing and may not be able to start next season. Any contract negotiations he’s had with the Patriots this offseason has been dim but rumors have swelled that the Ravens could use him as Terrell Suggs’ replacement. Overall, we may have not seen the last of Carter who no doubt will want to be ready at some point in 2012 to hunt quarterbacks again.    

WR Terrell Owens - Last but not least, we have the Allen Wranglers star receiver, Terrell Owens. When he isn’t busy trying to host ill-fated talk shows, reality shows or getting hammered by Dr. Phil, Owens is still trying to make one last comeback. Owens, who really needs the money, is working hard to get himself fit for one last run after tearing his ACL.

If Randy Moss can land a deal with the 49ers, Owens should be able to find a team as everyone knows how he keeps himself in tremendous shape and he still has skills that once made him an elite receiver. His last season with the Bengals was a great success as he had 983 yards and nine touchdowns, which showed that he had no signs of gradually wearing down.

Considering he probably won’t cost much and he’ll be eager to get back on the field, any team that’s looking to add depth to their receiver chart should give him at least a chance in training camp to see if he’s ready for the upcoming season. If Owens is coming back, I know I’ll have my popcorn ready.   

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs


Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker