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NFL AM: Best Available Free Agents

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The past few weeks have been mostly dedicated to getting draft picks signed and getting ready for OTAs for many NFL teams, but some are still making moves on the open market to upgrade their team any way they can.

The Miami Dolphins were the latest to dive back into the free agent field when they agreed to terms on Friday with free agent defensive end Jason Jones on a one-year deal. According to ESPN, Jones will fly to Miami on Sunday to sign the contract and join his new team. The 29-year-old edge rusher spent the last three seasons in Detroit, where he started 32 of the 33 games the Lions played (including the postseason) and registered 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and four passes defensed.

He joins a Dolphins team that saw their most productive player at the position last year, Olivier Vernon, depart for greener pastures with the Giants. Miami filled that hole by signing veteran Mario Williams, but with Williams getting up there in age and the team’s other projected starter at defensive end, Cameron Wake, coming back from an achilles injury, Jones adds some needed depth. The former second round pick is coming back off knee surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp.

“I’m excited to go down there to continue my career. Our whole D-line is about to be trill,” he told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

The signing of Jones removes one of the most attractive remaining free agent edge rushers from a market that was already slim to begin with. It also takes one of the most interesting players left on the open market in general off the table, leaving a thinner field of free agents to choose from. However there are still some attractive options out there for teams in need. Here’s a look at just a few that could still be scooped up in the coming weeks.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick – By far the best available quarterback on an already thin market, Fitzpatrick is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. Despite that, the options for Fitzpatrick, who has played for four different teams the last four seasons, are extremely limited beyond a return to the New York Jets team he spent last season with. But the standoff between the Ivy Leaguer and the Jets is entering its third month with seemingly no end in sight. Still, it makes too much sense for the two sides to come to terms. Fitzpatrick gives the Jets their best chance to win and the Jets give him his best chance to play. Best Guess: New York Jets.

Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin – At 35 years of age, Boldin certainly isn’t the player he used to be, but the three-time Pro Bowler still put up some pretty solid numbers (69 catches, 789 yards, 4 TD) last season in a bad San Francisco offense. He has also been a model of consistency and hard work at the position for more than a decade. After six years in Arizona, three in Baltimore and three in San Francisco, Boldin is taking his time choosing his next destination, and he can still help some team in need of some depth and leadership at the wideout position. Best Guess: Cincinnati Bengals.

Tight End Owen Daniels – At 33 years old, Daniels could just ride off into the sunset after a Super Bowl victory, but in a league where the passing game is more prevalent and the tight end position more valuable than it’s ever been, Daniels still has the skills to help some team. He started all 16 games and caught 46 passes for 517 yards and three touchdowns last season, almost identical numbers to his year prior in Baltimore. He’ll probably wait this out as long as he can but if some team has an injury at the tight end position during OTA or training camp, he’ll be the first guy they call. Best Guess: Arizona Cardinals

Running Back Arian Foster – Another guy who will take his time making his decision here as he continues to rehab from a debilitating achilles injury, Foster will have to prove he’s healthy before he gets a serious look from suitors. But Foster still has a skillset teams can lean on at the running back position and he doesn’t have as much tread on his tires as it might seem. At just 29 years of age (he turns 30 in August) and not far removed from a 1,200-yard rushing season in 2014, it seems likely he’ll catch on somewhere provided he’s able to play. Best Guess: Chicago Bears.

Guard/Tackle Louis Vasquez – Another member of the defending Super Bowl champions who was unceremoniously cut after the season to create cap space, Vasquez has been searching for a new home since March with little luck, which is kind of crazy. His skills declined slightly in the last few seasons with the Broncos, but he was still a First Team All-Pro as recently as 2013. It also should be noted that he was pigeonholed into a zone blocking scheme that didn’t fit his skills when Gary Kubiak arrived in Denver. Still, he started through the postseason for a team that won it all, so there must be something left in the tank. A return to a power blocking scheme could see him reinvigorated. Best Guess: Buffalo Bills

Defensive Tackle Dominique Easley – The New England Patriots dumped their 2014 first round pick this offseason after two highly disappointing seasons and it’s not easy for a player to catch on elsewhere after the Patriots, of all teams, deem you unfit. But at just 24 years old, Easley is likely to be the exception to this rule as some team will come calling to give him a shot in training camp to prove that maybe he just wasn’t a fit for what the Patriots do. There is still talent there and the Pats weren’t the only team to scout him out of the draft. He might have fallen out of the first round without them, but he wouldn’t have fallen that far. Best Guess: Seattle Seahawks.

Linebacker Justin Durant – Durant isn’t the big name, big play guys teams look for in the first wave of free agency to fill their needs at linebacker but he fits well in any defense as a depth piece with the potential to start with the right fit. His time in Atlanta was short and unsuccessful, but that could be just a blip on the radar for the 30-year-old who was coming back off an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season. Teams want to be as deep as possible at the linebacker position where injuries seem to come in waves and a guy like Durant can be a reliable fill-in. Best Guess: Dallas Cowboys.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie – Not long ago, Cromartie was a key piece to one of the best defensive backfields in the league, now he’s making more news for the number of children he has than the suitors he has on the open market. His skills have certainly decline considerably, with 2015 being his first year without an interception since his rookie campaign but a cornerback needy team will almost certainly take a flier on him before training camp hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Best Guess: Carolina Panthers.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys