Sports

Talented free agency pool still looking for teams

            NFL Free Agency has slowed significantly as the 2013 NFL Draft approaches. After the draft, teams will likely fill any needs not fulfilled by rookies. The free agency pool is still loaded with talent, ranging from future Hall of Famers to Pro Bowlers. Positions with the most depth are linebackers, offensive linemen and running backs.

Linebackers:
Nick Barnett, OLB – Barnett was cut from the Bills after another 100-tackle season. Barnett is still fast and familiar with the 4-3 defense. A year ago, he had three interceptions, making him all the more valuable as a pass covering linebacker. The Bears will replace Urlacher with Barnett, considering Barnett has spoken with the Bears this year.

Karlos Dansby, ILB – Cut by the Dolphins, who invested in young linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. Dansby, 31, was released despite recording a career-high 136 tackles last season. Dansby is speaking with the Bengals, which would be a perfect fit for him. After running the 4-3 defense in Miami, the Bengals could easily assimilate Dansby into their scheme.

Brian Urlacher, ILB –The future Hall of Fame linebacker is testing free agency for the first time in 13 years. Urlacher, 34, missed four games this season and an entire season in 2009. Urlacher recorded the least amount of tackles in his career this season with 68. Veteran leadership is a valued trait, but his athleticism is digressing. The Ravens seem to be a good fit after they lost Ray Lewis. Terrell Suggs is also aging, but Urlacher has worked with similar defenses.

Running backs:
Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw had his second 1,000-yard rushing season. Averaging 4.6 yards a carry, the Giants cut Bradshaw. Bradshaw is still rather quick, similar to Rashard Mendenhall in size, speed and quickness. The Steelers have Bradshaw in their sights and will likely sign him.

Michael Turner – For the first time in three seasons, Turner failed to reach 1,000 yards.  Just reaching 800 yards this season, the powerful runner is showing signs of fatigue. As a result, Turner will be looked to as a complimentary back, splitting time often. The Browns have Trent Richardson ready to go, and Turner could easily improve an already powerful backfield.

Linemen:
Brandon Moore, G – The 10-year veteran guard found himself in the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2011 for the Jets. Though the terrible quarterback play shed a poor light on the entire Jets offensive line, Moore remains a viable option. Both Tony Romo and Matt Stafford need protection on their lines. Each would be a perfect fit, but I’d lean towards a Dallas signing.

Andre Smith, RT – Being named to the 2012 All-Pro Team is Smith’s prize moment of the year. His performance on the field was dominant, but off the field, gun possession violations rose speculation for resigning. Smith wants top tier money, and rightfully so, earning the title of best right tackle. The Bengals better resign him or be prepare to regret it. Smith is young and could be swept away rather quickly by teams who have spoken with Smith, like the free spending Philadelphia Eagles.

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