Michael Vick, quarterback: At 34, Vick is younger than a handful of NFL starters. Still, he was a trainwreck with the Jets last season and hardly a good example for Geno Smith after acknowledging that he failed to prepare as a backup. Vick recently called himself a “proven winner” who “can win games and play with some consistency and be a leader.”
It’s going to take the right kind of team and coaching staff to take on a declining veteran who still views himself as the player he was four seasons ago. That said, Vick would have crept into the upper third of our backup quarterback rankings were he on a roster today. He’ll keep waiting for work until signal-callers start biting the dust.
Pierre Thomas, running back: Only six backs had more catches last season than Thomas, who hauled in 45 balls after a 77-reception campaign in 2013. Per Pro Football Focus, only two runners —Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy — graded higher last season catching the ball. One of the finest screen-pass targets of his time, the former Saint would fit on a team looking for help on passing downs.
Ahmad Bradshaw, running back: Set to serve a one-game ban to start the year, Bradshaw was recently cleared from the fractured fibula he suffered in Week 11. He’s constantly hurt, but remains effective on passing downs and has averaged at least 4.5 yards per tote in seven of his eight NFL seasons. The Colts haven’t tried to re-sign him, but Bradshaw, at 29, deserves another shot.
Chris Johnson, running back:Finally healthy after sustaining an offseason gunshot wound to his right shoulder, Johnson said this week that he believes teams will chase after himonce camp starts. “I actually thought he was the best back on (the Jets) last year,” one league evaluator told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. “He’d be a good fit with some teams that run a lot of outside zone.” Johnson needs high-volume carries to dial up the occasional home run, but teams aren’t going to view him as a workhorse. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a club like the Cowboys come calling.
Knowshon Moreno, running back: Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said in March that Miami wouldn’t rule out re-signing Moreno, but more recent reports suggest his knee isn’t healthy.That rings true considering the utter lack of interest he’s drawn this offseason. Still a good pass blocker who ripped off 134 yards in Week 1 before the injury, Moreno figures to get another shot in time.
Ben Tate, running back: Arguably last offseason’s top free-agent running back, the shine is off Tate. He worked himself off the roster in Cleveland, where his former position coach, Wilbert Montgomery, called Tate a “distraction” who clashed with rookie Terrance West while serving as a locker-room headache. He looked slow last season and couldn’t hang on with Minnesota or Pittsburgh. Only 26, Tate might see his name called if a team gets down to bare bones in the backfield.
Santonio Holmes, wideout: The market has been middle-of-the-night silent for Holmes after his underwhelming nine-game stint with the Bears last season. It’s possible this drama-magnet is done as an NFL player.
James Jones, wideout: It’s not a good sign when you’re sent packing by the talent-poor Raiders. Jones last month cited the Jaguars, Chiefs,Giants and Seahawks as teams that“fit me,” and the latter three showed some preliminary interest in June. Teams looking for a middle-of-the-road slot receiver know where to go.
Reggie Wayne, wideout: Wayne wants to play one more season and told ESPN.com that teams have been calling. A hard-working vet who doubles as an outstanding mentor, the ex-Colts star could draw interest from a wideout-needy squad. Injuries diminished his skills last season, but the bigger question is whether Wayne would refuse to play for anything but a Super Bowl contender.
Wes Welker, wideout: He still wants to play, but Welker hasn’t drawn any interest. At 34, his health is a concern after multiple concussions. We can’t help but wonder if the Patriots might give him one more shot, but plugged-in beat writer Mike Reiss of ESPN.com doesn’t believe New England would have any interest unless Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola were lost to injury.