Last week, we checked out some solid NFL veterans on the offensive side of the ball who were still looking for work. Now we flip over to the other side of the line of scrimmage to find some notable players who are hoping to avoid the unemployment office by the time the fall hits.
Andre Carter was a Pro Bowler last year, but hasn't found much love on the free agent market.
Andre Carter, DE: Last year was the fourth time in Carter’s 11-year career that he has put up double digit sacks, but the Patriots don’t seem to have much interest in bringing him back, probably because of the torn quad he suffered in week 14. The 32-year old former first round pick could definitely provide a pass rush boost if healthy, as evidenced by the four-and-a-half sack game he put up last year against the Jets.
Marcus Thomas, DT: Still only 26 years old, Thomas is still in the prime of his career, but the Broncos opted not to re-sign the 315-pounder after five years with the club. 2011 was the first time the durable Thomas has missed games in his career, so some team will surely come knocking once the war of attrition starts down in the trenches.
Aubrayo Franklin, DT: Franklin is looking for his fourth team after spending 2011 with the Saints and only pedestrian results. The monster 317-pounder hasn’t missed a game in four years, but is now on the wrong side of 30 and needs to prove he can still plant his roots in the middle of the field to plug up opposing teams’ running lanes.
EJ Henderson will gladly bring the pain for any team that wants his services.
Gary Brackett, MLB: An inspiration to short people everywhere, Brackett was calling the shots in the middle of the Colts defense for both of their recent Super Bowl appearances. Last year, however, Brackett suffered a season-ending injury in week one, and has been purged as part of Indy’s rebuilding efforts. The former undrafted free agent will no doubt make an ideal mentor for a young cat trying to learn the ropes in the middle of a defense.
EJ Henderson, MLB: Another stout middle linebacker who is over 30 and on the market, Henderson was a pro bowler last year on a horrible Vikings team. In each of the last four seasons that hasn’t been cut short by injury, the former two-time All American at Maryland has registered over 100 tackles, including last season when he had 109 stops and three forced fumbles. If you want to see a gruesome leg injury, YouTube Henderson’s broken leg versus the Cardinals a few years back.
Brandon Johnson, OLB: Former Louisville Cardinal Johnson has played in every game for the Bengals over the past four years, but more in a reserve/special teams role. Still just 29, Johnson can probably find a similar niche somewhere in the league, especially as a cover linebacker.
Jim Leohnard has been called short his whole life. Now, he is also being called unemployed.
OJ Atogwe, S: Atogwe joined a long list this offseason of Redskins’ free agent signings that fell on their face, as Washington cut the former NFC INT leader after just one season. The 30-year-old Atogwe was steady during his years with the Rams, but things went south once he signed with Washington, and now he finds himself and his 25 career INTs on the open market.
Yeremiah Bell, S: Not to be confused with Jeremiah, Bell has been a rock in the back of the Dolphins defense since coming into the league eight years ago. The former EKU Colonel will be looking to help solidify a needy team’s secondary, as the job market in Richmond, Kentucky is scarce in the summer time.
Jim Leonhard, S: Another proud member of the Midget Mafia, Leonhard was a walk-on at the University of Wisconsin who has worked into a solid NFL player. The 5’8″ fireball has also doubled as a punt returner over the course of his career, but back-to-back season-ending injuries, including a torn patella this past year, has teams balking at signing him just yet.
Follow Zero-Star Recruit on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeroStarRecruit