Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 4/7/12

At this point in free agency, most of the top names have already been signed to teams to play for in 2012. Still, all nine of these players have the potential to fill a crucial need for your team in 2012 without breaking the bank.

1.Dallas Clark- Not long ago, Dallas Clark was one of the very best tight ends in football. Although I am sure many people would disagree, I still think he can play at a fairly high level. Clark’s last two seasons have been plagued by injuries, and it has shown in his huge slip in production. Clark is now 32 and likely will never stretch the field like he once did, but he can still be a solid starter and an upgrade for many teams at the tight end position.

2.Plaxico Burress- Burress proved that he can still play in 2011, although he will never be the player he was before prison. He doesn’t have the speed to stretch the field anymore, but he can still be a solid possession receiver and target in the red zone for many teams. Burress’ eight touchdowns in 2011 were the third most of his entire career.

3.London Fletcher- There is a solid chance that London Fletcher will be resigned by the Redskins in the coming days. Despite the fact that Fletcher is now 36, his production has not dropped off a bit against the run or the pass; he is still a tackle machine that isn’t a liability in coverage either. Perhaps even more importantly for a team like the Redskins, Fletcher is a proven leader who has never missed a game in his entire career.

4.Marcus McNeill- McNeill was cut by the Chargers on March 13, 2012. There has been speculation that the Chargers may attempt to sign McNeill at a much lower price than he was originally scheduled to make in 2012. The motives for the cut were health concerns and a contract that McNeill hasn’t lived up to. McNeill is still only 28, however, and is only a few years removed from being a Pro Bowl left tackle.

5.Andre Carter- At age 32, Andre Carter was surprisingly in the midst of a career season for the Patriots when he tore his left quadriceps tendon in week 14 against the Broncos. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and recorded 4.5 sacks in one game against the Jets, tying the Patriots single game sack record. The concern is that Carter is still recovering following surgery. As long as he gets healthy however, I don’t doubt that he can build on his momentum from 2011 and carry it over into 2012.

6.Gary Brackett- Brackett is getting up there in age at 31, which is likely why the Colts chose to cut him in an effort to get younger. Brackett was one of the few consistent bright spots on the Colts defense for a long time. He is not one of the great linebackers, but he’s very experienced and has played in a lot of big games.

7.Cedric Benson- In today’s NFL, older running backs typically are not very sought after as free agents. For this reason, it really does not surprise me at all that Benson still remains on the market this late into free agency. Benson’s last three seasons in the league have been far better than the beginning of his career. With three straight 1,000 yard seasons, Benson has proven himself to be dependable if not flashy. He could complement a speedy younger back well.

8.Aubreyo Franklin- Franklin is an above average defensive tackle adept at eating up blocks. He would be a solid addition to any team seeking depth at the position. The most likely reason that Franklin still hasn’t been signed by a team is that at age 31, he is well past the prime of his career. He also lacks the ability to pressure the quarterback.

9.Leroy Hill- Leroy Hill has the talent to be one of the best outside linebackers in the league. He can rush the quarterback and secure the edge against the run as well. However, Hill comes with a fair amount of baggage as well, which is why he is at the bottom of this list. Hill has battled injuries throughout his career; 2011 was the first season he has ever played in all 16 games. Making things worse, Hill has been arrested three times since 2009. Although charges of marijuana possession were dropped today, Hill’s off the field issues are the main reason he still remains unsigned.

-Demers

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