Every season there are a few big name NFL players that end up in new places. This year, however, the list of veteran players looking for new digs seems longer than usual. A number of teams have decided (or seem like they will decide) to let star players walk, and that means that NFL free agency, which begins March 12, could be fairly interesting. So here is a look at some of the most notable veteran, Pro Bowl-type players you might see in different uniforms next year.
This former (1x) Pro Bowler linebacker's numbers were down last year—from 67, 59, and 53 tackles in the previous 3 years to 36 tackles in 2012—and he is 32 years old. However, he also played for the ridiculous Jets last year, so it's reasonable to think he might have one bounce-back year left in him. Moreover, there surely is some team that could use a little veteran help. So unless Scott really is just out of gas, he'll wind up on somebody else's roster next year.
11. Bart Scott
Technically, Titus Young shouldn't be on this list. After being released by the Lions for cold-cocking a teammate in Detroit and intentionally lining up in the wrong formation (twice) just to piss off his offensive coordinator last year, and after being claimed off waivers by the Rams only to be be released just 10 days later, it's looking like this kid's attitude* could keep him from finding steady employment in the NFL. However, I'm sure some team will at least invite him to camp and give him a shot. So let's leave it at this: Titus might be in a new uniform next year.
*Seriously, how messed up is it that a guy's attitude problems might be the difference between his becoming a superstar athlete or a broke idiot living on the street? Titus Young is seriously talented and could make a lot of money in football if he'd just follow the rules.
10. Titus Young
Rucker just signed a 5-year deal with the Browns before last season, and then he went and recorded 4 sacks and 48 tackles in 2012. However, as a defensive end on a team that just hired a coach who plans to go with a 3-4 defense next year, Rucker and his cap-hit had to go I guess. That's good news for other teams needing a solid DE who is only 29-years old. (And really, I'd sign him just because he's named after my favorite menu item at Wendy's.)
9. Frostee Rucker
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins signed a 5-year, $25 million deal with the Eagles prior to the 2011 NFL season, and he followed that up with two seasons in which he put up pretty much the same types of numbers he'd put up his entire career: 5.5 sacks and 33 tackles in 2011, 4 sacks and 23 tackles in 2012. Nevertheless, he was due to make $5.5 million this year, and the regrouping Eagles (remember when they signed all those guys in 2011 and were a sure-bet to win the Super Bowl?) needed cap space.
8. Cullen Jenkins
The Buffalo Bills ranked 26th in the league in defense last year. So obviously, the Bills elected to get rid of the two players who led the team in tackles last year.
No, really. Wilson (#37) had 73 tackles and 25 assists at strong safety, and Barnett (#50), a former All-Pro had 72 tackles and 40 assists at weakside linebacker. But, you know, the Bills decided that tackling is overrated, so now these guys are available.
7. Nick Barnett & George Wilson
Jackson's best days are probably behind him. He doesn't seem to have the breakaway speed that used to help him make the big, 30, 40, or 50-yard gains. However, for a team employing a two back system in need of a workhorse power back with a strong locker room presence, Jackson still has a lot of value. So if the Rams don't keep him around, somebody surely will—and don't be surprised if it's the 49ers. Jackson racked up big yards against them this year, and San Fran would love to steal him away from the only divisional foe they couldn't beat in 2012.
6. Steven Jackson
Osi Umenyiora definitely had a couple of off-years in New York, going from a 2x Pro-Bowler and a 2x All-Pro to a guy who started just 11 games the last two seasons. However, there was a lot of feuding between the DE and GM Jerry Reese, so it's very likely several teams will be interesting in signing this guy in hopes that a change of scenery might revive his career.
5. Osi Umenyiora
Speaking of guys the Giants no longer want, joining Umenyiora on the free agent list is former teammate Ahmad Bradshaw. This is a running back who had the second 1,000-yard season of his career last year, but got dropped because the Giants found somebody they like just as much and is a lot cheaper (David Wilson). So that makes two solid running backs available (Bradshaw and Steven Jackson) for what surely will be a reasonable price.
4. Ahmad Bradshaw
Now here's a free agent that nobody expected to be available. I mean, this is a 4x Pro-Bowl and a 3x All-Pro DE who led an otherwise subpar pass rush with 10 sacks. Moreover, the guy has 33 tackles, which is pretty good for a defensive end. However, now the 34-year-old is on the market, and some coach is going to be pretty happy to add Abraham to his roster.
3. John Abraham
Dwight Freeney is 33 years old and obviously beginning to decline. However, last year's disappointing 5 sacks could very easily be attributed to the fact that the guy had to play outside linebacker last year thanks to the Colts' 3-4 defense. So I don't think it will take very long at all for this future hall-of-famer to find a new home.
2. Dwight Freeney
Charles Woodson is 36 years old, and after 8 trips to the Pro Bowl and 7 All-Pro selections, in 2012 the guy had only one interception. However, he also was playing a new position to help out his team, and he played only 7 games as the result of a collarbone injury. So while it's possible the cornerback-turned-safety might have lost a step, it's also possible that he just needs to return to his natural position. I'm sure there are a number of teams out there who are more than willing to give him one last chance.