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All-Available Team: The Best Free Agents In the NFL

Training camp is a month away, and there is still plenty of talent available in free agency. Either because of salary demands, injury concerns or age, many good players are still without a job in the NFL, and could reinforce teams before the start of the season in September. Let's take a look at the better option at each position to form the All-Available Team.


OFFENSE


QB Cam Newton

Newton was never an elite pure passer and is far from his physical prime. But at this point, any good option at quarterback is signed, so he was the only one left who has starting potential. Cam has had three consecutive seasons with a passer rating under 90, and last season it was the worst of his NFL career: 65.5. It was a difficult situation, though, because Newton was signed back by the Carolina Panthers in November, after an injury to starter Sam Darnold. After one season with the Patriots, Newton started five games in Carolina.

Last season's PFF grade: 53.1


RB David Johnson

Johnson finished his two-year stint with the Houston Texans following the infamous DeAndre Hopkins trade. He's 30 now and comes from the worst statistical season of his career — except for 2017, when he was injured during the season opener and didn't play again. Last year, Johnson had 228 rushing yards (3.4 per carry) and 225 receiving yards, with only one touchdown from scrimmage. But he didn't play that bad. The situation in Houston was terrible, and the Texans coaching staff prefered a committee approach, so DJ didn't have volume to produce. He might still be a decent back, with running and catching abilities.

Last season's PFF grade: 60.4


WR Odell Beckham

Odell is still available only because he tore his ACL during the Super Bowl. He revived his career with the Los Angeles Rams, being an important piece in the title run, with 288 yards and two touchdowns in four postseason games. The problem now is that Beckham might not be ready to play again before November. When he's healthy, there's a good chance he comes back to Los Angeles, but other interested teams may try to stack him before that,

Last season's PFF grade: 67.8


WR Julio Jones

Julio is not in his prime anymore, and the injuries are the main concern. He had lost seven games in his last season with the Falcons before being traded to the Titans last offseason. In 2021, he lost seven games again, and had the worst statistical season of his NFL career, with 434 yards and one touchdown. While his total numbers were bad, Jones didn't play badly when he was on the field, but he was behind AJ Brown on the depth chart. Julio probably will never be an All-Pro-caliber player again, but might be a useful receiver for a contender. The question is if he understands that enough to lower his contractual demands.

Last season's PFF grade: 74.2


WR Will Fuller

Fuller is the type of player who would be in high-demand in regular conditions, but the injuries are so frequent that no team can count on him. He hasn't played more than 11 games in a season since his rookie year, in 2016, and he lost almost the entirety of the 2021 season because of a broken thumb — Fuller played for the Miami Dolphins in only two games after signing a $ 10 million prove-it deal that didn't prove anything. In his best days, though, he's a dangerous deep threat and skilled receiver. In 2020, his last year with the Houston Texans, he was Deshaun Watson's primary weapon, and finished the season with 879 yards (16.6 per reception) and eight touchdowns in 11 games.

Last season's PFF grade: 61.4


TE Jared Cook

Cook has been a journeyman, with stints with the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Chargers (see that two of his teams have changed cities since). And he has been pretty solid, with at least 500 yards and four touchdowns in each of his last four years. Last season, his only one with the Chargers, he had 564 yards and four TDs — decent numbers for a tight end. He's 35, but can still help a contender as a pass-catching option.

Last season's PFF grade: 61.9


LT Eric Fisher

With ups and downs, Fisher had a solid career with the Kansas City Chiefs, even though he hasn’t lived up to the expectations as a former first overall pick in 2013. After suffering a serious Achilles injury during the 2021 season AFCCG which cost him the chance to play in the Super Bowl, Fisher signed a one-year deal with the Colts last season to be a stopgap left tackle. He missed the first two games, but played the next 15, so he proved he's healthy. He's a reliable left tackle, something relatively rare on the market. He should wait for a better opportunity — and a better contract — if there's an injury during training camp.

Last season's PFF grade: 68.2


LG Richie Incognito

Incognito has played in the NFL since 2005, one of the longest-tenured players in the entire league. He had been solid as a left guard for three years in Buffalo and two with the Raiders, but two serious injuries derailed his past two years — he played only two games in 2020 and none in 2021. If he's able to get back to his healthy days, Incognito may be a good presence in the middle of the line.

Last season's PFF grade: N/A


C JC Tretter

Tretter has been an above-average center for most of the last five years. Before that, he was a rotational and versatile player with the Packers. The Browns decided to part ways with him in March, and now he might be the best offensive line still available. Even though Tretter is primarily a center, he can also be used as guard or tackle at times.

Last season's PFF grade: 78.7


RG Ereck Flowers

Flowers had a terrible start to his career as a tackle for the Giants and the Jaguars. When he signed with Washington and moved to guard in 2019, he revived his career. After one year in Miami, Flowers was traded back to Washington last season and was released in March. He's also more suited to play left guard, but I cheated a little bit here to put the best possible guards available.

Last season's PFF grade: 72.0


RT Nate Solder

Solder was signed by the Giants in 2018 exactly to replace Flowers as the left tackle — Flowers was moved to the right side. But Solder himself didn't live up to his contract and was moved to RT. The former Patriot also opted out of the 2020 season for covid-related reasons. His experience playing both tackle spots might be helpful on the market, and he might have value as a swing tackle.

Last season's PFF grade: 60.3


DEFENSE


EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul

JPP was an integral part of the Buccaneers' championship defense two years ago, but his playing level took a dip in 2021. After having 12.5, 8.5 and 9.5 sacks in his previous three seasons in Tampa Bay, Pierre-Paul had only 2.5 in 12 games last season — it was the second worst number of his career, only ahead of 2015, when he played eight games because of the fireworks accident that resulted in an amputation of his right index finger. Even though he might not be a high-production player anymore, the 33-year-old defender may still be a rotational piece.

Last season's PFF grade: 49.1


EDGE Carlos Dunlap

Dunlap was a top edge defender with the Bengals. Even though he's 33 now, he's still capable of being a good rotational edge rusher. In this role last season for the Seahawks, he had 8.5 sacks in 17 games, even if starting just two of them. Dunlap was the sack leader for Seattle last season, but the team decided to move on as part of their plan to rebuild after trading quarterback Russell Wilson.

Last season's PFF grade: 72.1


DT Sheldon Richardson

Richardson had a promising young career with the Jets after being a first round pick in 2013, but stagnated after his third season. Since, he has played under short-term deals for the Seahawks, Vikings, Browns, and Vikings again, where he was last season. He is still a capable defensive lineman with good ability to rush the passer from the interior.

Last season's PFF grade: 62.1


DT Linval Joseph

Joseph was an important part of the Mike Zimmer defense in Minnesota for good part of his career, after four year with the Giants. Last season, he went to the Chargers and didn't play badly, although Los Angeles' defensive line was a weakness. As a heavy nose-tackle, he still can be a starter if there are better pieces around.

Last season's PFF grade: 63.1


LB Anthony Barr

Barr is a versatile defensive weapon. He is also a former Viking, and an essencial piece in Zimmer's Double A Gap scheme as an off-ball linebacker. In 2019, he agreed to a contract with the Jets, but ended up going back to Minnesota. In New York, he would have played as an edge defender. Now he's back on the market, and the versatility is enticing for potential suitors.

Last season's PFF grade: 62.9


LB Dont'a Hightower

Talking about versatility, Hightower was the epitome of that for Bill Belichick. He was one of the most important players in New England for most of his career, but didn't play as well last season after opting out in 2020. Now he's 32, with three Super Bowl rings, and free to leave the Patriots for the first time in his career.

Last season's PFF grade: 53.7


CB AJ Bouye

The cornerback position has many good options, so I had to leave Janoris Jenkins and Jimmy Smith out of the list. A. J. Bouye started his career playing at a high level for the Texans and was one of the free agents signed by the Jaguars who transformed that Jacksonville defense in 2017. But he's 30 now and hasn't had the same success in the last couple of years — that's why he has played for three teams in the last three seasons (Jaguars in 2019, Broncos in 2020, Panthers in 2021). Even though it's hard to imagine that Bouye could be back to his prime, he's still a useful depth piece for a contender.

Last season's PFF grade: 66.8


CB Joe Haden

Haden is 33, so age is a fair concern. Last year, he didn't have any interceptions, the first season without picks for him since 2015. As Bouye, Haden won't get back to his best days, but he's still a good veteran with plenty of experience — and he played ok in 2021, despite the lack of turnovers generated.

Last season's PFF grade: 63.4


CB Chris Harris

A member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, Chris Harris is still a reliable slot cornerback. And he's back on the market after two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. It's a specific skillset, but an important one in today's NFL dominated by 11 personnel. He is 32 years old.

Last season's PFF grade: 62.4


SS Landon Collins

Collins was great to start his career for the Giants, with three consecutive Pro Bowls between 2016 and 2018, including a first-team All-Pro selection in 2016. He didn't live up to his contract with Washington, though, and his style isn't well suited for the two-high scheme that has prevailed in the NFL for the last two years. But he is a talented strong safety and young enough (28) to play better if a coach knows how to use his skillset — Collins had five total sacks in the last two seasons.

Last season's PFF grade: 54.7


FS Tashaun Gipson

The Bears have had trouble trying to find a second safety to play alongside Eddie Jackson since the Packers signed Adrian Amos. The bet last season was Tashaun Gipson, an experienced defensive back who had played for the Browns, Jaguars, and Texans. The general level of play wasn't good enough, but he's here because there aren't many other options in this position.

Last season's PFF grade: 51.5


SPECIAL TEAMS


K Michael Badgley

Badgley played well for the Chargers in 2018 and 2019, but a terrible year in 2020 made him dispensable. Last season, he played one game for the Titans because starter Sam Ficken was injured, and ended up with the Colts for most of the season after Rodrigo Blankenship suffered a hip injury. Badgley made 18/21 field goals and 39/39 extra points.


P Michael Palardy

Bradley Pinion was originally on my list, but he ended up signing with the Atlanta Falcons. So, now, the best option is Palardy, who went through multiple teams without significant opportunities between 2014 and 2016. But he asserted himself with the Panthers, playing in Carolina from 2016 to 2020. Last season, Palardy played for the Miami Dolphins. So, experience is a plus for the 29-year-old specialist. He's also a high-ceiling player — last season, Palardy was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week 13, when he had six punts, including one of 65 yards and three inside the 20.


LS Matt Overton

Overton is 36 and has a lot of experience in football. He has played regularly in the NFL since 2012 — for the Colts, Jaguars, Chargers, Titans and Chargers again last season. Overton was let go because the Chargers signed former Falcons long snapper Josh Harris to a four-year deal. He also had camp appearances with the Seahawks in 2007 and 2010 and multiple experiences in minor leagues.


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