Aging free agents still hoping to find right opportunity

Darren Sharper re-signed with the Saints on Monday, but many veteran free agents are still in limbo. Here’s a closer look at some of their situations and which teams should consider signing them:

Flozell Adams, OT

Why he’s available: He turns 35 later this month. Believing Doug Free was ready to take over at left tackle, the Cowboys took a calculated risk and cut Adams.

Where he fits: Broncos. The recent knee injury to left tackle Ryan Clady, who may not be ready by Week 1, should put Adams on Denver’s radar.

Mark Brunell, QB

Why he’s available: He’s not good enough to start, but he can win games as a backup.

Where he fits: Jets. If Mark Sanchez is sidelined a few games, having a quality backup like Brunell could save the Jets’ playoff chances. Brunell may re-sign with the Saints, but the Jets are interested. As a Final Four team, the Jets can’t sign another free agent until July 22, unless another of their free agents signs elsewhere. Coach Rex Ryan told reporters last week that Brunell is his kind of player. "He’s smart," Ryan said. "If he came here, it’s not like he’s coming here to be our starting quarterback. I don’t know if he’s going back to New Orleans or not, but we’ll see what happens."

Marc Bulger, QB

Teams interested in Marc Bulger will wonder whether the QB can shake off his recent struggles in St. Louis.
Teams interested in Marc Bulger will wonder whether the QB can shake off his recent struggles in St. Louis.

Why he’s available: His performance declined the past three seasons as he took plenty of punishment behind the Rams’ offensive line.

Where he fits: Bears. Coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat, and starting quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off a disappointing season. Having played for coordinator Mike Martz in St. Louis, Bulger is familiar with the Bears’ new system. Right now, the Bears’ backup quarterbacks are Brett Basanez, Caleb Hanie and rookie Dan LeFevour. Enough said. However, if Bulger still wants to be a starter, he may opt for a place like Arizona, where he may have a chance to beat out Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson.

John Henderson, DT

Why he’s available: The Jaguars used their first two draft picks on defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D’Anthony Smith, making Henderson more expendable. Henderson, 31, could still be effective for a team looking for an established run-stuffer.

Where he fits: Chiefs. Kansas City is trying to build the talent base in its 3-4 and could use help for a run defense that ranked 31st last year.

Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB

Why he’s available: Numerous off-field troubles led to Jones’ suspension from the NFL. After a one-season comeback with the Cowboys, he was released following the 2008 season and didn’t play last year.

Where he fits: Bengals. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Jones worked out for the Bengals on Tuesday, and ProFootballTalk reports he will sign with them. Coach Marvin Lewis admitted last week that the Bengals and Jones have kept in touch. "His agent does call, and I have returned the calls," Lewis said. "We’ll see what happens." If Jones can get himself into NFL shape, it will be interesting to see whether he can resurrect his career at the still young age of 26.

Kevin Mawae, C

Why he’s available: Mawae turned 39 in January, and the Titans decided not to re-sign him after he became a free agent. Mawae still believes he can be an effective starter, but his phone has not been ringing with offers.

Where he fits: He could be a Plan B after a team suffers an injury at center.

Terrell Owens, WR

Why he’s available: After well-publicized breakups with the 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys, Owens is a lightning rod for controversy and no longer in his prime at age 36. It may take an injury to a starting wide receiver for anybody to take a chance on Owens.

Where he fits: Seahawks. He’d be a veteran target for Matt Hasselbeck and take pressure off T.J. Houshmandzadeh. In his first year, Pete Carroll has the juice to jettison if Owens causes any trouble.

Adalius Thomas, LB

Why he’s available: After signing with the Patriots as a big-money free agent, he never seemed comfortable in their scheme and clashed with the coaching staff. The Patriots finally cut him last week.

Where he fits: Jets. Another player on their radar, Thomas had his best seasons playing for the Ravens when Ryan was defensive coordinator. "If you can use him all over the place as a defensive end, an inside ‘backer, an outside ‘backer, a safety, he’s special," Ryan said. However, Ryan made it clear the Jets were not desperate to get Thomas, 32. "We’re pretty good," Ryan said. "I think with him, we’ll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we’ll end up first in the league in defense."

Brian Westbrook, RB

Why he’s available: He suffered two concussions last season and has reached the age‹he turns 31 in September‹where many running backs begin to decline drastically. The Eagles have gone young and decided to let Westbrook go.

Where he fits: Rams. He has already passed a Rams physical and worked with coordinator Pat Shurmur in Philadelphia. Westbrook would have a role as Steven Jackson’s backup, but he may wait to see if an offseason injury somewhere opens an opportunity.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Darren Sharper re-signed with the Saints on Monday, but many veteran free agents are still in limbo. Here’s a closer look at some of their situations and which teams should consider signing them:

Flozell Adams, OT

Why he’s available: He turns 35 later this month. Believing Doug Free was ready to take over at left tackle, the Cowboys took a calculated risk and cut Adams.

Where he fits: Broncos. The recent knee injury to left tackle Ryan Clady, who may not be ready by Week 1, should put Adams on Denver’s radar.

Mark Brunell, QB

Why he’s available: He’s not good enough to start, but he can win games as a backup.

Where he fits: Jets. If Mark Sanchez is sidelined a few games, having a quality backup like Brunell could save the Jets’ playoff chances. Brunell may re-sign with the Saints, but the Jets are interested. As a Final Four team, the Jets can’t sign another free agent until July 22, unless another of their free agents signs elsewhere. Coach Rex Ryan told reporters last week that Brunell is his kind of player. "He’s smart," Ryan said. "If he came here, it’s not like he’s coming here to be our starting quarterback. I don’t know if he’s going back to New Orleans or not, but we’ll see what happens."

Marc Bulger, QB

Teams interested in Marc Bulger will wonder whether the QB can shake off his recent struggles in St. Louis.
Teams interested in Marc Bulger will wonder whether the QB can shake off his recent struggles in St. Louis.

Why he’s available: His performance declined the past three seasons as he took plenty of punishment behind the Rams’ offensive line.

Where he fits: Bears. Coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat, and starting quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off a disappointing season. Having played for coordinator Mike Martz in St. Louis, Bulger is familiar with the Bears’ new system. Right now, the Bears’ backup quarterbacks are Brett Basanez, Caleb Hanie and rookie Dan LeFevour. Enough said. However, if Bulger still wants to be a starter, he may opt for a place like Arizona, where he may have a chance to beat out Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson.

John Henderson, DT

Why he’s available: The Jaguars used their first two draft picks on defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D’Anthony Smith, making Henderson more expendable. Henderson, 31, could still be effective for a team looking for an established run-stuffer.

Where he fits: Chiefs. Kansas City is trying to build the talent base in its 3-4 and could use help for a run defense that ranked 31st last year.

Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB

Why he’s available: Numerous off-field troubles led to Jones’ suspension from the NFL. After a one-season comeback with the Cowboys, he was released following the 2008 season and didn’t play last year.

Where he fits: Bengals. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Jones worked out for the Bengals on Tuesday, and ProFootballTalk reports he will sign with them. Coach Marvin Lewis admitted last week that the Bengals and Jones have kept in touch. "His agent does call, and I have returned the calls," Lewis said. "We’ll see what happens." If Jones can get himself into NFL shape, it will be interesting to see whether he can resurrect his career at the still young age of 26.

Kevin Mawae, C

Why he’s available: Mawae turned 39 in January, and the Titans decided not to re-sign him after he became a free agent. Mawae still believes he can be an effective starter, but his phone has not been ringing with offers.

Where he fits: He could be a Plan B after a team suffers an injury at center.

Terrell Owens, WR

Why he’s available: After well-publicized breakups with the 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys, Owens is a lightning rod for controversy and no longer in his prime at age 36. It may take an injury to a starting wide receiver for anybody to take a chance on Owens.

Where he fits: Seahawks. He’d be a veteran target for Matt Hasselbeck and take pressure off T.J. Houshmandzadeh. In his first year, Pete Carroll has the juice to jettison if Owens causes any trouble.

Adalius Thomas, LB

Why he’s available: After signing with the Patriots as a big-money free agent, he never seemed comfortable in their scheme and clashed with the coaching staff. The Patriots finally cut him last week.

Where he fits: Jets. Another player on their radar, Thomas had his best seasons playing for the Ravens when Ryan was defensive coordinator. "If you can use him all over the place as a defensive end, an inside ‘backer, an outside ‘backer, a safety, he’s special," Ryan said. However, Ryan made it clear the Jets were not desperate to get Thomas, 32. "We’re pretty good," Ryan said. "I think with him, we’ll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we’ll end up first in the league in defense."

Brian Westbrook, RB

Why he’s available: He suffered two concussions last season and has reached the age‹he turns 31 in September‹where many running backs begin to decline drastically. The Eagles have gone young and decided to let Westbrook go.

Where he fits: Rams. He has already passed a Rams physical and worked with coordinator Pat Shurmur in Philadelphia. Westbrook would have a role as Steven Jackson’s backup, but he may wait to see if an offseason injury somewhere opens an opportunity.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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