Scouts’ views: There aren’t any free agents worthy of a blockbuster deal

Observations and opinions from an NFL scout on this year’s free-agency period, which opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday:

Who is one running back teams should be wary of? Thomas Jones.
Who is one running back teams should be wary of? Thomas Jones.
 

Five things to ponder

1. Nobody is worthy of a budget-breaking deal. I just don’t know that I would go out and pay a lot of money to any of these guys. If you’re looking for the combination of a guy who’s played 16 games for (each of) the last four years, is good off the field and is still young and in his prime, I just don’t see anybody who fits that bill.
2. I think there’s some pretty good restricted receivers out there, like Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin, but as has been shown — Marshall was a fourth-round pick and Austin was a free agent — you can develop those players. So to give up a first-round pick, or more, for them would be pretty expensive in my opinion.
3. I would definitely stay away from those veteran running backs — Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson, even Thomas Jones. Jones is the best of those players, but he ran behind one of the best offensive lines (with the Jets). As running backs get older, their acceleration, ability to take hits and bounce off them and gain more yardage diminishes.
4. When you ask the question about a trade, the most common answer would be one of those quarterbacks in Philly. And it makes sense to get rid of one of those guys. But I just don’t see how the Eagles are going to give up on Kevin Kolb. They’ve groomed him, they like him, and he’s produced well. Donovan McNabb is the guy I think will be traded. I think he’s been underappreciated for what he’s done, but you have to cut ties with him and get something for him while you can — especially if you have the guy already on your roster who you think can take his place.
5. Redskins owner Dan Snyder just can’t help himself in free agency, as has been proven over and over again. Hopefully, they have the right guy in there finally in (general manager) Bruce Allen to at least steer them in the right direction. As a personnel guy, it would be great to work for Snyder because he’s willing to spend money. It’s just that they haven’t made the right decisions in a number of years.

Five most overrated unrestricted free agents

1. Keith Bulluck, LB, Titans. He’s coming off an ACL injury, and I don’t think he played as well last year.
2. Darren Sharper, FS, Saints. I know a lot of people are excited about him. But as you watched the season progress and got to Weeks 11, 12 and on, he really wasn’t playing that well.
3. Leigh Bodden, CB, Patriots. Can he start and be a good corner? Yes, he can. But for the amount of money he’s going to command on the market — because he’s one of the best corners out there — I think he’s going to be overpaid.
4. Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Titans. I think he’s done. Without Albert Haynesworth next to him, his limitations kind of showed up. He wasn’t just in chase mode and didn’t get too many of what I call cleanup sacks. He actually had to beat his guy, and he had a hard time doing it.
5. Julius Peppers, DE, Panthers. If you’re approaching a million dollars a game, you should have an impact or be a key contributor every game. If he gets that amount of money, I’m not sure he’s going to be worth it. Now if some team pays him $10 million a year, I don’t necessarily feel the same way. All of a sudden, it’s a good deal.
 

Five most underrated unrestricted free agents

1. Ryan Clark, FS, Steelers. He’s one of those smart, tough, aggressive guys.

2. Ben Watson, TE, Patriots. I think he was underused in New England. With the way teams are looking for tight ends who can run and stretch the field, I think he’s probably a little underrated.
3. Rex Hadnot, G, Browns. I don’t know why this guy isn’t more of a household name. Maybe it’s because he’s been on bad teams. He’s still young — he’s 28 — and is pretty strong and very physical.
4. Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins. I think he would make a great backup. I know he’s been injured, but he’s just so smart and he works really well with other quarterbacks. If I was a team looking for a veteran backup and I had a young quarterback I wanted to help groom, I’d definitely sign him.
5. Dwan Edwards, DE, Ravens. He was injured in ’08, but he came back and played well last season. He’s kind of in between a tackle and an end. As an interior guy rushing the passer, he’s pretty good. And he’s pretty good against the run.  

 
This story appears in March 5’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Dennis Dillon covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.
Observations and opinions from an NFL scout on this year’s free-agency period, which opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday:

Who is one running back teams should be wary of? Thomas Jones.
Who is one running back teams should be wary of? Thomas Jones.
 

Five things to ponder

1. Nobody is worthy of a budget-breaking deal. I just don’t know that I would go out and pay a lot of money to any of these guys. If you’re looking for the combination of a guy who’s played 16 games for (each of) the last four years, is good off the field and is still young and in his prime, I just don’t see anybody who fits that bill.
2. I think there’s some pretty good restricted receivers out there, like Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin, but as has been shown — Marshall was a fourth-round pick and Austin was a free agent — you can develop those players. So to give up a first-round pick, or more, for them would be pretty expensive in my opinion.
3. I would definitely stay away from those veteran running backs — Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson, even Thomas Jones. Jones is the best of those players, but he ran behind one of the best offensive lines (with the Jets). As running backs get older, their acceleration, ability to take hits and bounce off them and gain more yardage diminishes.
4. When you ask the question about a trade, the most common answer would be one of those quarterbacks in Philly. And it makes sense to get rid of one of those guys. But I just don’t see how the Eagles are going to give up on Kevin Kolb. They’ve groomed him, they like him, and he’s produced well. Donovan McNabb is the guy I think will be traded. I think he’s been underappreciated for what he’s done, but you have to cut ties with him and get something for him while you can — especially if you have the guy already on your roster who you think can take his place.
5. Redskins owner Dan Snyder just can’t help himself in free agency, as has been proven over and over again. Hopefully, they have the right guy in there finally in (general manager) Bruce Allen to at least steer them in the right direction. As a personnel guy, it would be great to work for Snyder because he’s willing to spend money. It’s just that they haven’t made the right decisions in a number of years.

Five most overrated unrestricted free agents

1. Keith Bulluck, LB, Titans. He’s coming off an ACL injury, and I don’t think he played as well last year.
2. Darren Sharper, FS, Saints. I know a lot of people are excited about him. But as you watched the season progress and got to Weeks 11, 12 and on, he really wasn’t playing that well.
3. Leigh Bodden, CB, Patriots. Can he start and be a good corner? Yes, he can. But for the amount of money he’s going to command on the market — because he’s one of the best corners out there — I think he’s going to be overpaid.
4. Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Titans. I think he’s done. Without Albert Haynesworth next to him, his limitations kind of showed up. He wasn’t just in chase mode and didn’t get too many of what I call cleanup sacks. He actually had to beat his guy, and he had a hard time doing it.
5. Julius Peppers, DE, Panthers. If you’re approaching a million dollars a game, you should have an impact or be a key contributor every game. If he gets that amount of money, I’m not sure he’s going to be worth it. Now if some team pays him $10 million a year, I don’t necessarily feel the same way. All of a sudden, it’s a good deal.
 

Five most underrated unrestricted free agents

1. Ryan Clark, FS, Steelers. He’s one of those smart, tough, aggressive guys.

2. Ben Watson, TE, Patriots. I think he was underused in New England. With the way teams are looking for tight ends who can run and stretch the field, I think he’s probably a little underrated.
3. Rex Hadnot, G, Browns. I don’t know why this guy isn’t more of a household name. Maybe it’s because he’s been on bad teams. He’s still young — he’s 28 — and is pretty strong and very physical.
4. Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins. I think he would make a great backup. I know he’s been injured, but he’s just so smart and he works really well with other quarterbacks. If I was a team looking for a veteran backup and I had a young quarterback I wanted to help groom, I’d definitely sign him.
5. Dwan Edwards, DE, Ravens. He was injured in ’08, but he came back and played well last season. He’s kind of in between a tackle and an end. As an interior guy rushing the passer, he’s pretty good. And he’s pretty good against the run.  

 
This story appears in March 5’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Dennis Dillon covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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