By Miles Liatos
One of my favorite pastimes at this point in the offseason is to compile a list of remaining free agents into a single 53-man roster. Why, you might ask? Well, it’s about to get really boring in this part of the offseason, like a black hole. Frankly, there simply isn’t a lot for us to do except over-analyze middling free agents (and watch baseball).
There will, however, be some final free agent additions to round out almost-complete rosters around the NFL. Perhaps this list, and the descriptions that accompany it, can help identify where remaining cast-offs fit.
So, without further ado I give you my 53-man free agent roster. With their powers combined, they could make a serious run at going 0-16.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU, 6’5” 225
Shaun Hill, Maryland, 6’3” 230
Analysis: In Mettenberger, the Irrelevant Idiots (that’s the team name now) are getting a player who has often been perceived as potential-laden. He improved throughout his career at LSU. He went from a 58% completion percentage to a 65% completion percentage from his junior to senior season. Mettenberger has had some trouble in his past, and has never really found the right situation to thrive. But bring him to a team with a good coach who knows how to accentuate Mettenberger’s strengths, and maybe his ceiling isn’t so out of reach.
Hill has been one of the most reliable journeymen signal-callers in the game. Whenever a team is shaky on their starting QB, Hill has been the guy to call. Obviously no one is going to bet money Mettenberger will succeed. Rather, it’s better to take that money and hedge it on Hill, who has proven he can keep the ship steady until the starter returns. And, if need be, he has the arm and knowledge to assume the starting role.
Matt Asiata, Utah, 6’0” 219
Rashad Jennings, Liberty, 6’1” 231
Karlos Williams, Florida St., 6’1” 230
Denard Robinson, Michigan, 6’0” 215
Analysis: Asiata has the most experience combined with the look of a feature back in comparison to all other available ball carriers. He was heavily leaned on in Minnesota when Peterson went down injured in 2011 and fared well. At 29, he should still be able to handle the bulk of the workload in a pinch.
Jennings is not very good. Yes, he did average 4.4 yards per carry for NYG in 2015. But last season he was very unproductive. And? He’s 32. What’s swaying me to put him on the roster is three-fold: 1) He’s experienced, 2) Legarrette Blount signed with the Eagles, 3) Jennings actually had the highest 2017 pass blocking efficiency among halfbacks with a score of 98.3, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s nothing to sneeze at. However, his 3.3 ypc definitely is something to sneeze at. So if I have to roll with this lethargic runningback, I’ll need some Claritin to go with it.
Karlos Williams is a high-upside play. On a roster like this you have to take some chances on guys. Williams flopped like a fish in Buffalo, having one decent season before coming into the following camp overweight. If his maturity can be fostered in an environment flush with leadership, he could rival Marshawn Lynch in terms of RBs who played well after leaving Western New York.
Denard Robinson has had a terrible time the past two seasons. Last year, he was relegated to a special teams role in Jacksonville before getting the boot. In my offense, I’m employing him as a third-down back who catches passes out of the backfield and maybe runs a trick play here or there (he did play some quarterback in college).
Anquan Boldin, FSU, 6’1” 220
Andrew Hawkins, Toledo, 5’7” 180
Marquess Wilson, Washington St., 6’4” 206
Stevie Johnson, Kentucky, 6’2” 207
Cecil Shorts, Mount Union, 6’0” 202
Jordan Norwood, Penn St., 5’11” 180
Analysis: The thin crop of free agent wide receivers doesn’t leave a lot of great choices. Thus I am choosing only to employ four receivers. I had Dom Williams as a nice deep-threat type guy, but the Eagles placed him on injured reserve after being waived with an injury designation.
Anquan Boldin is the guy you always say is about to be done. “Oh, this has to be his last year,” they said. “Oh, he doesn’t have anything left,” they said. “You can’t play when you’re 80 years old,” they said. But even at the tender age of 108 (!!!), Boldin has found a way to not just keep playing, but play effectively. Last season, he posted a somewhat respectable 67 receptions for 594 yards as the third receiver for the Detroit Lions. While it could be his last go-round any year now, and his involvement in offenses is falling fast, I could do a lot worse than having Boldin as my top receiver. Not to mention Boldin would command team leadership from day one. Go ahead, try to tell him he’s done to his face. See what happens.
Andrew Hawkins is a bit of an aged wine. He’s 31, but has exceptional athleticism. I’ll never forget his acrobatic flip over a defender into the endzone for a touchdown. Running a 40 time of 4.34 out of college, the speedster slots in as my definitive number 2 receiver.
Coming out of Washington State, Wilson was kind of a 2nd round talent, 7th round character type of guy. That is not uncommon coming out of Pullman, WA, where dedication to your craft takes a backseat to Busch Light and Jaeger-bombs (WOOF!). Nonetheless, I like the potential of Williams, who comes on the field in four receiver sets and inside the 20.
Stevie Johnson is a former number one receiver who still fits that mold, even if his productivity doesn’t. Johnson totaled just 932 yards on 80 receptions over the past two seasons with the Chargers and 49ers. His reputation really rests on three seasons he had with the Bills from 2010 to 2012, totaling over 1,000 yards receiving each of those three years. But here’s the question: why could he do that so well in Buffalo where good quarterbacks are like bigfoot, then descend into mediocrity with Philip Rivers under center? He did only play 10 games last year. Still, it makes you wonder how much he has left in the tank.
I might be a bit biased with Cecil Shorts. I picked him up in Madden and he became a very productive slot receiver for me. If he can be a star in Madden, why can’t he be great in real life, too? In fact, Shorts’ tenure in Jacksonville was quite worthwhile. He averaged 771 yards per season in Jacksonville from 2012 through 2014. And although his career hasn’t really manifested as much more since then, he certainly is among the more capable receivers left on the WR market.
Jordan Norwood is a versatile player who played in Superbowl 48. He can play the slot as well as return kicks. Every team needs a capable kick returner and Jordan Norwood is certainly that.
Gary Barnidge, Louisville, 6’6” 243
Chris Gragg, Arkansas, 6’3” 244
Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6’6” 240
Kellen Davis, Michigan St., 6’6” 265
Greg Scruggs, Louisville, 6’3” 277
I need to finish this article soon, because by the time I’ve finished this article Barnidge might have a deal inked. The 10th-year pro was the epitome of solid during his time in Cleveland. He teamed with Josh McCown to be the leading passing threat at the Dog Pound and one of the premiere pass catching TEs in the league. Benching 225 pounds 22 times at the 2008 combine doesn’t hurt either, giving me a good all-around player who bolsters this offense immediately.
Gragg is nothing if he isn’t fast. I remember him receiving plenty of hype coming out of college. Picked in the 7th round of the abominable 2013 draft, Gragg caught everyone’s eye by running a 4.50 40-yard dash with a 1.56 10-yard split at 244 pounds (!!!). Speaking of elite, he also notched a 37 ½-inch vertical. While he has accomplished nothing in the NFL as of yet, his athleticism gives me hope he can be groomed into an explosive Joker TE in a pass-heavy offense.
I’ll throw in Green to my TE corps. Released Thursday with an injury designation, he may need to start the year on PUP. He had some dynamic performances for the Steelers last year, although he was pretty on-and-off. If I’m a successful franchise that can afford to bring Green along slowly, I would seriously consider him given his high-yardage game totals in an injury-shortened season (110, 72 and 67 yards).
I know exactly what I am getting in Davis. I might be a little biased because he was a member of the Superbowl Champion Seahawks in 2013. He was a part-time blocking tight end who was effective in his role. All I’m asking him to do is block in heavy running formations. And if he catches a TD pass at some point, bonus!
Greg Scruggs is a developmental pickup. He was drafted at defensive end by your Seattle Seahawks. After a handful of sacks and never really delivering on his enticing upside, he was picked up by the crafty Patriots and converted to Tight End. It didn’t really work out there either, but continuing him on the same path the Patriots put him on makes sense.
King Dunlap, Auburn, 6’9” 330
Austin Pasztor, Virginia, 6’7” 308
Nick Mangold, Ohio State, 6’4” 307
Alvin Bailey, Arkansas, 6’3” 320
Ryan Clady, Boise State, 6’6” 315
Greg Van Roten, Pennsylvania, 6’3” 308
Nick Becton, Virginia Tech, 6’6” 322
Ryan Wendell, Fresno State, 6’2” 300
Dunlap has been a solid starting tackle in the NFL who has dropped off recently. At this point in the offseason, any OL available is going to have some flaws. Even the most flawed lineman may be considered a potential starter with the current dearth of linemen in the NFL (see Bradley Sowell). Dunlap has possibly the best track record of any player available. So he’ll be protecting Mettenberger’s blindside.
Pasztor is a player that fans were beckoning for even at the beginning of the offseason. For whatever reason, the former Brown has been unable to land anywhere. With the ability to play both tackle and guard, and as a collegiate first-team All-ACC, Pasztor is a no-brainer on this roster even though he’s questionable for NFL teams at this point.
Mangold is a tire-flipping man beast who I can’t say no to. He becomes the leader of the OLine on day one and ensures fluid communication between the big men. Because he’s a 7-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro, he’s by far the most accomplished lineman out there. He’s also possibly the most prized free agent left. He starts at center on the Irrelevant Idiots.
Bailey is best-known for his versatility. He can play both guard spots and both tackle spots. So, when the inevitable injuries come, he is able to slot in anywhere on the line. He is something close to an ideal swing tackle/guard, but slides in as an interior starter.
My original pick for the RT position was Breno Giacomini, but he signed with the Houston Texans. This left me with really the only choice remaining – Clady. Now, Clady has (had?) all the tools to be a top-level offensive lineman. He’s a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler. He pretty much epitomized what a NFL left tackle should be.
Then the injuries came.
In Denver, he missed almost all of 2013 and the entirety of 2015, losing out on the chance to play in Superbowl 50 (and win). After being traded to the Jets for a swap of scrap draft picks, he was just an oft-injured player who clearly wasn’t the same. That being said, with former greats that have lost a step, there’s always the question of “Can some team harness a drop or two more of production out of this once-highly coveted player?” I think someone will be willing to find out this year. I don’t think it will be the Seahawks. But the Irrelevant Idiots don’t mind taking a flier on Clady.
Roten, Wendell and Becton are journeymen linemen who all bring some athleticism and intelligence to their skillset. Becton posted decent numbers at the combine. Wendell has experience at both Guard and Center and played eight seasons with the Patriots. Van Roten had a look in training camp with the Seahawks and comes in as a guard. He played for Ivy-League school Pennsylvania and is probably just like Russell Crowe from “A Beautiful Mind”, so there’s that too.
Defensive Line (4-3 Defense)
Mario Williams, NC State, 6’6” 300
Devon Still, Penn St., 6’5” 310
Vance Walker, Georgia Tech, 6’2” 305
Devin Taylor, South Carolina, 6’7” 275
Dan Williams, Tennessee, 6’2” 330
Sen’Derrick Marks, Auburn, 6’2” 316
Jared Odrick, Penn St., 6’5” 295
John Hughes, Cincinnati, 6’2” 320
God this position was a mess. Don’t judge me.
I did not want to pick up Mario Williams here. He’s old, his last season was a train wreck in Buffalo. He used to wear weird-looking contacts that gave me nightmares. I just didn’t want him on my team. The trouble is, I kept running into how there’s no other defensive end who’s got the track record he’s had. Also, Jaye Howard got signed as I wrote this. I digress. Yes he is old, yes he hasn’t been productive like the years following his first overall selection. But the idea that at 32, he might have a little more of that elite juice left makes it impossible not to sign him with the lack of real options available.
Devin Taylor is (on paper) a close-to-ideal LEO. His career hasn’t quite followed, hence why he is here. However, at 6’7” and an extremely lean 275, he has the length and athleticism to cause havoc coming around the edge. He slots in as a LEO in this 4-3 defense.
Devon Still is an inspiring story. He had to quit football in 2014 to tend to his daughter, Leah, suffering from stage 4 cancer. He spent weeks with her in the hospital, shaving his own head and vowing he wouldn’t grow his hair back until she did. Eventually, after surgeries to remove lymph nodes and the tumor, it was announced that Leah was cancer-free. Still showed tremendous character putting football aside to tend to his daughter. On the football side of things, he is an early-down run stuffer who has the length to bat down passes and just be a force.
Vance Walker is a player the Seahawks showed interest in a year ago before he signed with the Broncos. Walker has had value throughout his career as an interior pass rusher. While he suffered a torn ACL this year, Walker was a contributor to the Broncos in their Superbowl 50 run. He even notched three tackles in that championship game.
Dan Williams is a load. His knack for stopping the run has given him real value throughout his career (until last year). Williams was part of a run defense that was a huge liability. But to be frank, outside of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, the whole Oakland defense was like a gashed submarine. It TANKED! At 29, I can envision this big man having a bounce-back season and helping someone somewhere.
When it comes to Sen’Derrick Marks, there is one image I have in my head. During the 2014 season, there was a clause in Marks’ contract that stated if he got eight sacks, he would receive a $600k bonus. On December 19th, he achieved that eighth sack. And he clearly knew it, because he showed the audience two Johnny Manziel “pay me” gestures. It was cool to watch. Although we are almost 3 years removed from that lucrative tackle, some team out there may find that he’s got plenty of sack dances left in the artillery.
Odrick is one of the most prized D-Linemen left on the market. Despite being a cap casualty with JAX, Odrick is 29, had 5.5 sacks in 2015 before an injury-shortened ‘16, and can be had on a reduced contract at this point.
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, Hughes overachieved in his first year in Cleveland. He combined for 34 tackles and three sacks as a rookie. With plenty of experience and a knack for stopping the run, Hughes fills in on first and second downs for the Irrelevant Idiots.
Rey Maualuga, USC, 6’2” 255
Gerald Hodges, Penn St. 6’2” 236
IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech, 6’1” 261
Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, 6’2” 244
Mike Morgan, USC, 6’3” 235
Sio Moore, UConn, 6’1” 240
Jayson Dimanche, Southern Illinois, 6’1” 236
Maualuga is simply the biggest linebacker name left. He has an abundance of tackles to his name and has solidified the interior of the Bengals defense for eight years. It must have been tough for the Bengals to release the mainstay, but it gives him an opportunity to build a legacy in another town.
Hodges has had one hell of an offseason. After his contract expired, he has had or will have visits with the Jaguars, Colts, Patriots, Jets, Chiefs and Seahawks. Now, the Seahawks have signed about 386 linebackers this offseason, basically ruling out the 4-year pro. But, Hodges has garnered plenty of attention. He is probably the most desired LB left on the market and should sign soon.
You may remember a story about Geno Smith getting punched in the face. That happened in 2015, and it made Enemkpali famous (infamous?) for a brief time. The incident won Enemkpali favor with former Jets coach and then-Bills head man Rex Ryan, who seemed to applaud Enemkpali’s behavior by saying he was “Proud of him” just months after and naming Enemkpali team captain at one point. Take that as you will – I’ll take it as Enemkpali would be a perfect fit for Gregg Williams’ defense in Cleveland.
Maybe the most remarkable thing about Sean Weatherspoon is the name of his parents – Develous & Elwanda. I question the legitimacy of those names, as they could be characters in Games of Thrones and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Nonetheless, Weatherspoon is an experienced former first-rounder who most recently found himself in Atlanta. He’s probably worth another go-round somewhere, at only age 29.
Mike Morgan! It’s surprising this guy is still a free agent. He’s one of the most remarkable players left on the market on the merits of his rise to NFL relevance alone. It is rarely an occurance to see any player make a full NFL career on an exclusive special teams role. But Morgan did it. In fact, he did it for five years before actually winning the SLB role last year in Seattle and recorded his first career interception. If nothing else, whoever signs Morgan is getting a hard worker that’s willing to do anything to play football on Sundays.
Moore was kind of a draft-nerd hypefest coming out of Connecticut in 2013. It was a terrible draft, but one thing that wasn’t terrible was Moore’s speed. At the combine, he ran a 4.65 at 245 pounds with a 1.58 10-yard split. The speed is noticeable and the split is elite. It’s actually kind of surprising that the Seahawks weren’t linked to him this year. He’s basically become a journeyman since the Raiders traded him in 2015. It will be interesting to see if his supreme athleticism translates into anything more than blog fodder.
Speaking of blog fodder from the 2013 draft, DiManche was also the talk of the internet that year. Coming out of small-school Southern Illinois, DiManche absolutely lit up Youtube. I would put his college highlights up with anyone’s: they were that dominating. Even though he played such low-level competition, it’s still fun to imagine what he could become in the NFL. He can play linebacker as well as line up at defensive end.
Alterraun Verner, UCLA, 5’10” 187
Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh, 5’11” 198
Sam Shields, Miami, 5’11” 184
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, 5’9” 200
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State, 6’0” 202
Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State, 6’0” 190
Verner has showed us how high his ceiling is. In 2013, he exploded onto the scene with five interceptions and 22 (!!!) passes defensed. The man was becoming a shutdown corner. Even though his numbers have come down a little bit after jumping to the NFC’s Buccaneers, it is surprising that Verner is still on the market. I would consider him an immediate add as a high-ceiling player who’s floor is not too low, either.
Obviously Revis is old and he may be looking at a conversion to safety this late in the game. But when all is said and done, his legacy will be that he was one of the best, if not the best, corner to ever play football. After winning a Superbowl, and guaranteed $5m this year by the Jets to go do something else, Revis might be content to call it quits. He also may be willing to take a nothing contract with a contender to try and go out a champion.
When Sam Shields was released in February, it was assumed he would latch on somewhere. But the depth in this year’s draft for DBs probably led his value down a steep cliff. He has also had concussion issues; his fourth one last year put him on the shelf for 2016. However, when he’s on the field, he’s solid. In 2014, he made the Pro Bowl, and no one should put it past him to qualify for another one.
A college product of the Pacific Northwest from the University that shall not be named (WOOF!), Ekpre-Olomu did not lack talent. In fact, he was considered by ESPN Draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr. to be the best senior cornerback in the 2015 draft. But Ekpre-Olomu injured himself in a December practice at the U of O, tearing his ACL and dislocating his knee. Suffice it to say, this was a double-major injury. It cost him, as he fell to the seventh round and lost hundreds of thousands in salary. Nonetheless, if a team could resurrect him, his ability to play nickel could help a team.
Gilbert is a disappointing story. He was drafted 8th overall by the Browns, obviously oozing with talent. But he didn’t live up to expectations. He was traded to the Steelers who only used him as a special teamer. Now, my argument for Gilbert is that teams at one time thought a great deal of him. But his career was cursed from the start because he was drafted by the Browns. That’s like getting signed by a Division II school that still has to play all the best teams in the country … Not ideal. Maybe someone can bring him back from the grave that is Cleveland football.
Lots of people want to argue that the Seahawks depth at CB is substantial. I disagree. There are plenty of somewhat recognizable names, but few who have proven anything in the NFL. Cox was added immediately after the 2016-17 playoffs as a band-aid to a vulnerable Seahawks secondary. Then, the Seahawks drafted Shaq Griffin, Delano Hill and Mike Tyson, and apparently no longer felt they needed the seven-year pro. Just like 2013, when the Seahawks cut him midseason amidst a Superbowl run, the Seahawks did him like that again. This move had to leave Cox a bit salty. Nonetheless, he is at least perceived by Seattle as a decent stopgap.
Isa Abdul-Quddus, Fordham, 6’1” 196
Cedric Thompson, Minnesota, 6’0” 213
Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse, 5’9” 217
Kelcie McCray, Arkansas St., 6’2” 202
Abdul-Quddus is another one of those free agents that makes you look twice. How is he still available? Before sustaining a neck injury in 2016, Abdul-Quddus was having a career year: 78 tackles. Five passes defensed. Two interceptions. Make no mistake, all indications point to the former undrafted free agent being a starter in this league. But no one has snapped him up yet, and I think that’s about to change.
Cedric Thompson is the hilariously-named brother of a rookie Seahawk by the name of Tedric Thompson. Like his brother, Cedric is a versatile DB that can play either safety spot. He has extreme explosiveness, with a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 40 ½-inch vertical jump to his name. Oh and by the way, he’s 211 pounds, making those numbers a tad more impressive. His NFL experience consists mostly of practice squads and futures contracts, but it’s hard not to be enticed by the former Minnesota Golden Gopher.
Thomas was a really interesting prospect coming out of college in 2013. I thought he would be an ideal backup to Kam Chancellor in Seattle. He has a unique and strong body type at 5’9” and 217 pounds, which is similar to body types the Seahawks have employed previously in their safety corps. Jeron Johnson, for example, stood 5’10” and 212, while McCray was 6’2” 202. The Seahawks clearly like bulky, powerful safeties at strongside safety, and often sacrifice height if the player shows good enough strength and power. But Thomas ticks more boxes than that; he ran a 4.42 40 and performed a 40.5-inch vertical with an 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump. I don’t want to jump to a conclusion, but I will. He’s the most Seahawky player on the free agent market. With how the NFL has flocked to Seahawky DBs, it’s kind of amazing that the uber-capable Thomas is still out there. The Seahawks are probably good with what they have, but Thomas is a nice hedge for injury situations.
The aforementioned McCray is a player the Seahawks traded for in 2015 by giving up a 5th-round pick to the Chiefs. It was kind of a head-scratcher at the time, but Seahawks fans soon understood what Pete Carroll & John Schneider saw in the former undrafted gem. Unlike Shamarko, his athleticism doesn’t jump off the page, but his capability and durability leaps off the tape. In 2016, he was an important player for the Seahawks as Chancellor missed four games and boy was McCray needed. In an October tilt with the Arizona Cardinals, McCray saw the field for 109 snaps as the game went to overtime and resulted in a tie. The Seahawks didn’t deserve to win that game, but McCray was instrumental in ensuring they didn’t lose it. With McCray’s kind of heart and dedication to his craft, he won’t be on the market for long.
K John Lunsford, Liberty, 6’1” 214
P Tim Masthay, Kentucky, 6’1” 200
LS Andrew East, Vanderbilt, 6’2” 240
You thought I was going to put Dan Carpenter here, didn’t ya? Alright alright! I know — I’m picking way too many former Seahawks. It’s my blog leave me alone! Anyway, Lunsford has a serious leg. I’ve never seen him kick in a game, but I was excited to see what he could do for the Seahawks in preseason. There’s a youtube video of him working with his kicking coach, who filmed him knocking a 70-yard field goal through the goal posts using a kicking stick. No, not a tee, a kicking stick (kicking sticks are the devices that act as holders in place of a human holder). This feat alone was very impressive and although I don’t know if he can really be a NFL kicker, I’m willing to roll the dice on a guy with a leg like that. Move over, Greg Zuerlein! You’re 65-yard field goals aren’t that impressive anymore!
Masthay was the punter for the Packers from 2010 to 2015, and he was out of football last year. But he put up solid numbers in Green Bay, averaging 44.2 yards per kick in his career. Masthay is my punter and I’m sticking to it.
Andrew East has bounced around to a few different teams. The former Vanderbilt player hasn’t botched any snaps in his NFL career, to my recollection. Also, there is some footage on Youtube where East covers kicks and makes some great tackles and hard hits on special teams. He may be a guy who just gets the ball to the punter, but also, he’s a guy who can cover the kick after getting the ball to that punter …
Wait a minute, are you still reading? This is way too much information about a long snapper. Aren’t you bored now? Well, good, because I don’t have to talk about any more players. This article is over. Go do something else. Or, you can leave a comment below. I hope you enjoyed my article about 53 nobodies.