We’re still a few months away from the start of battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This month, we launched a new series here at PFR that will be known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.
Of course, while the debate may get spirited, we ask that it all stays respectful. If you need a reminder of our rules, please check out our commenting policy. Basically, we ask that you refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults, and attacks. Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Pro Football Rumors. You are no longer required to be a registered user – simply put in your name, email address, and comment and submit.
Today, we’re asking PFR readers to weigh in on the top remaining free agents. Excluding talented players with legal troubles like linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive end Ray McDonald, former Eagles guard Evan Mathis is universally regarded as the best player without a deal at this time. Beyond Mathis, however, there’s hardly a clear cut silver medalist.
Over the weekend, PFR’s Dallas Robinson put together his list of the best available remaining free agents. After Mathis, he ranked tackle Jake Long No. 2, citing the former No. 1 overall pick’s talent level while also acknowledging his frustrating injury history. Tight end Jermaine Gresham, who underwent back surgery in March to repair a herniated disc, comes in at No. 3 thanks to his pass-catching ability and history of solid blocking. One-time fantasy darling James Jones is ranked fourth even though he has yet to put up the kind of numbers that he did with the Packers in 2012. Defensive end Dwight Freeney, 35, has remained productive despite his age and lack of sack totals, and was ranked No. 5. Safety Dawan Landry, guard Rob Sims, defensive lineman Red Bryant, center Chris Myers, and offensive lineman Anthony Collins rounded out the top ten. Honorable mention went to notables such as defensive end Osi Umenyiora, running back Pierre Thomas, safety Bernard Pollard, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, and quarterback Michael Vick.
Long could definitely pay dividends for a team willing to roll the dice on a low-cost deal and one could hardly be slammed for considering him the most intriguing free agent after Mathis. After all, in 2013, Long graded out as the seventh-best tackle in the league with a strong 22.5 overall score, based on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required). However, he has torn his ACL in each of the past two seasons and in 2014, Pro Football Focus ranked him as just the No. 36 tackle out of 84 qualified players. Do you consider someone like Gresham, who was a focal point of the Bengals’ offense for multiple seasons, to be a better buy? Does that mantle belong to Freeney, who graded out as one of the best at his position in terms of pass-rush productivity? Or, would you cast your vote for someone else?
In the comment section below, let us know who you think is the second-best free agent on the board and why.