Pickings Slim Among Remaining NFL Free Agents

The only way to describe most of what’s left among free agents in the NFL would be the lame, old and unproductive.

It’s a full month into the 2014 season and what talent there was in this year’s free-agent class has long been spoken for by league teams. Right now, it would not be nice to say clubs are scratching the bottom of the barrel for talent, but it would be very close to the truth. Consider the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that eschewed the free agent shopping experience for years signed oft-injured, oft-unproductive wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to a contract. Last year with Indianapolis, Heyward-Bey had 29 catches in 16 games for just 309 yards and one TD catch.

By design the Chiefs have worked only the fringes of free agency as they’ve tried to find veteran help to plug into several positions of need, like wide receiver, safety and offensive tackle. The results are mixed at this point, but there’s time between April and the regular-season to add seasoned pros.

However, the pickings are very slim right now. There was a surprise option in the past week when DeSean Jackson was released by Philadelphia, but the Chiefs sat out that chase and Jackson signed with Washington.

There will be moments in the coming three months when other veterans will become available. Like all but a handful of top shelf free agents, those players will come with baggage – injuries, age and low production. It’s hard to see how the Chiefs will find anything at this point.

For example, here are the top players remaining at a position where the Chiefs can use some help – wide receiver:

Wide Receivers

Miles Austin, 30 in June, 6-2, 217 pounds, 9th NFL season. Injuries held him to 542 plays last season in 11 games with eight starts; he caught 24 passes for 244 yards. Austin was an undrafted college free agent in 2006 with Dallas, where he played his entire career. In 106 games, he caught 301 passes for 4,481 yards and 34 touchdowns. Over the last five seasons, Austin has missed 11 games because of injuries.

Jason Avant, 31 later this month, 6-0, 212 pounds, 9th NFL season. He was on the field for 807 plays for the Eagles, where he was a fourth-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft by Andy Reid. Last season, Avant caught 38 passes for 447 yards and two touchdown catches. He played in 16 games with 14 starts and 807 plays. Over his career, he’s caught 297 passes for 3,646 yards and 12 scoring catches in 116 career games. In the last five seasons, Avant missed just two games.

Earl Bennett, 27 years old, 6-0, 205 pounds, 7th NFL season. During the 2013 season, Bennett saw 545 plays in 15 games while handling 32 passes for 243 yards and four scoring catches. He was a third-round pick by Chicago in the 2008 NFL Draft and has deal with injuries while playing for the Bears; he played all 16 games in only one season (2009) and has missed 18 games over his career. In 78 games played, he has 185 catches for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdown plays.

Nate Burleson, 33 in August, 6-0, 195 pounds, 12th NFL season. For Detroit last season, Burleson contributed 39 catches for 461 yards and a touchdown catch as he played 511 snaps in nine games. A broken forearm suffered in a late night auto accident knocked him out for seven games. A former third-round choice of Minnesota in the 2003 NFL Draft, Burleson has played for the Vikings, Seahawks and Lions. In the last two seasons, he’s only played in 15 games because of injuries. Overall, he’s played 135 games and made 457 catches for 5,630 yards and 39 touchdown passes.

Santonio Holmes, 30 years old, 5-11, 192 pounds, 9th NFL season. In 515 snaps during 11 games in the 2013 season with the New York Jets, Holmes caught 23 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown catch. He was a first-round choice of Pittsburgh in the 2006 NFL Draft and was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII in January 2009. In the last two seasons, Holmes has missed 17 games. Over his career he’s played in 103 games, with 381 passes caught for 5,963 yards and 36 scores. Off the field, he has been involved in numerous incidents, including at least one arrest for marijuana possession and he served a four-game league suspension when he failed a drug test.

Robert Meachem, 30 in September, 6-2, 215 pounds, 8th NFL season. He returned to the Saints last year after a season in San Diego. The former first-round choice of the Saints in the 2007 NFL Draft, caught 16 passes for 324 yards and two touchdown catches. He appeared in 15 games and 401 plays for New Orleans last season. Over his career, Meachem has appeared in 92 games, catching 171 passes for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdown receptions.

Josh Morgan, 29 in June, 6-1, 220 pounds, 7th NFL season. A sixth-round choice of San Francisco in the 2008 NFL Draft, he caught 20 passes for 214 yards without a touchdown catch for Washington last season. He saw 391 snaps in 14 games and seven starts. With the Niners and Redskins, he’s played 79 games in six seasons, catching 199 passes for 2,488 yards and 11 scoring catches.

Sidney Rice, 28 in September, 6-4, 202 pounds, 8th NFL season. He had 340 snaps in eight games last season as he was derailed by injuries. He caught 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdown catches. Originally a second-round selection of Minnesota in the 2007 NFL Draft, he’s played 81 games, collecting 243 catches for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdown passes. Rice has had problems with availability, playing in 16 games just once in the last four seasons (2012). In the three other seasons he played in 23 games total. Over his career it’s been big knee injuries, a hip problem and concussions that cost him games.

We’ll look at a few other positions in the next few days, but the pickings are just as slim at safety and offensive tackle.

8 Responses to “Pickings Slim Among Remaining NFL Free Agents”

  • April 3, 2014  - ChuckXX says:

    Bob; As the old saying goes: Its going to be a tough year. Losing 5 very good players, signing just average players in return, getting absolutely no impact or game changing type players, in conjunction with a much tougher schedule this year leads me to think we will be darn lucky to go 8-8. Denver on the other hand will be a powerhouse.

  • April 3, 2014  - R W says:

    Most everyone that plays in the NFL over the course of several seasons is having to deal with injuries. It ‘comes with’ a NFL career but the question is are a player’s injuries of the chronic variety? A poster child for chronic injuries? Remember Moeaki?

    The next question to be asked, obviously, is this: Are any of the above list of WRs better than what’s on the roster right now? Highly subjective in some cases but at first glance, considering that most of them are 30 or older, or come complete with their s—house lawyer degree, I’d say probably not.

  • April 3, 2014  - Spikedog says:

    Hope there is some value out there, but yeah, the big names aren’t still on the board.

    Safety – hope Dorsey considers John Wendling, cut by Detroit. Too slow to be an everyday safety, but a stud on special teams.

  • April 3, 2014  - el cid says:

    Basically, I would say if you have heard of any signee by the Chiefs, they will be at the end of their careers. If you never heard of the guy, he will be a second or third tier player, the Chiefs hope will play better with them than any time in their career.

    That is what we are down to and that is not a bad thing. We need depth and a diamond in the rough, shortage of cash and roster players seem to have no interest in helping the team by adjusting their contracts. Could be a tough year but that is why Dorsey and Andy get the big bucks.

    Bring on the draft. Need 3 or more first line players, tough thing to do.

  • April 3, 2014  - Niblick says:

    Dorsey signed Schwartz, Jordan, Demps to one year deals last year as street free agents. I don’t know if many fans had ever heard of most of them. Schwartz and Jordan were starters and solid contributers. Demps was a good special team player but not much of a safety. I don’t know if any of the street free agents we signed this year to one year deals will contribute, but perhaps they will fill some gaps in the short term, just as the ones last year did.

  • April 3, 2014  - R W says:

    Good points by Niblick.

  • April 3, 2014  - David says:

    Complete validation of the Chiefs decision to pass on DeSean Jackson: he went to the Redskins. Dan Snyder has the Midas touch in reverse. Everything he puts his hands on turns to poo.

  • April 3, 2014  - Topeka-T says:

    I have a different take on the off-season! Tell me what you think:

    Walker > Jackson

    Mays > Jordon

    Cummings (or Mark May for that matter) > Lewis

    R. Johnson = Schwartz/Asomah

    And, we will likely get 4 draft choices next year. If this years example holds – 3rd, 4th, 5th and 5th.

    We have a need for a starter at WR. Solved in the 1st or 3rd round.

    I would move Rodney Hudson to LG (natural position) and look for a C (see below).

    The O-line will be fine either way. The weak link is Allen. The surprise just might be Eric Kush!


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