Super Bowl: Free agents to watch

There are more than 15 free agents, including several starters, who could be of interest to the Packers this offseason.

For you armchair NFL scouts, here's a good reason to watch today's Super Bowl: The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers have several key contributors who will be free agents beginning Feb. 27.

Topping the list is 37-year-old Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who, seven years after his last 4,000-yard season, finished second in the NFL with 4,583 yards and third with 30 touchdowns.

The Packers, obviously, would have no interest in Warner. But there are 15 other players involved in today's game who could warrant a look by general manager Ted Thompson as he considers way to improve last year's 6-10 club.

One player to keep an eye on is Steelers reserve cornerback Bryant McFadden. With new Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers implementing the Steelers' scheme and Green Bay not thrilled with its cornerback depth, McFadden could be a good fit.


Karlos Dansby, starting linebacker, fifth season: The 250-pound weak-side linebacker has spent much of his career under the radar, but the Cardinals' run to the Super Bowl introduced him to fans. At only 27, he's in the prime of his career. He can stop the run, drop into coverage and sack the quarterback (24.5 career sacks). He's going to make a ton of money, and the thrifty Cardinals might not be willing to pay, even though they'll be more than $40 million under the salary cap.

Antonio Smith, starting defensive end, fifth season: The 285-pound Smith plays left end regardless of whether the Cardinals line up in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He's started 39 games over the last four seasons and tallied 14.5 sacks. He had a sack for a safety in the playoff win over Atlanta and a sack, strip and recovery in the playoff romp at Carolina to raise his stock.

Terrelle Smith, starting fullback, ninth season: The 250-pounder has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in six of his nine seasons. Didn't get much of a chance this year with the Cardinals' pass-happy aerial circus.

Bertrand Berry, starting linebacker, 11th season: Berry is an interesting player in that he plays end when the Cardinals go to a 4-3 and linebacker when they're in a 3-4. The Packers have hinted they might do a little of both. He had five sacks in 14 games (four starts) in 2008. He'll be 34 by next season.

Leonard Pope, starting tight end, third season (restricted): The former third-round pick contributed just nine catches but was thrust into a bigger role in the playoffs when starter Stephen Spach went down.

Gabe Watson, reserve nose tackle, third season (restricted): The 335-pound Watson, who broke a kneecap running on treadmill last offseason, has got the beef and strength to play nose tackle in a 3-4. The Cardinals think the former fourth-round pick is ready to be a starter and likely will give him a high tender to scare away other teams.

Ralph Brown, reserve cornerback, ninth season: Brown has done an excellent job as the nickel corner. His leadership skills were evident in convincing the team's young cornerbacks to study more film.

J.J. Arrington, reserve running back, fourth season: The 5-foot-9, 215-pound backup has 29 receptions in each of the last two seasons.

Clark Haggans, injured linebacker, ninth season: Haggans, a starter from 2004 through 2007 in Pittsburgh, where he had 25 sacks, was a reserve for 11 games in Arizona before his season ended with a foot injury.


Max Starks, starting left tackle, fifth season: Slid over from right tackle when standout Marvel Smith went down and really blossomed. Played under the transition tag in 2008. At 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds, he's one of the biggest players in the league.

Chris Kemoeatu, starting guard, fourth season: Kemoeatu, a 344-pounder from Tonga, did a fine job as a run-blocker in place of departed All-Pro left guard Alan Faneca.

Willie Colon, starting right tackle, third season (restricted): Beat out Starks at right tackle in 2007 and kept the job in 2008. Has started all 32 games those two seasons. Perhaps better suited to play guard, though.

Bryant McFadden, backup cornerback, fourth season: McFadden has started 18 games for the Steelers with seven interceptions, including eight starts and two interceptions in 2008. He broke up 10 passes in that limited duty, which is either a testament to his cover skills or shows that opposing teams wanted to attack him.

Nate Washington, reserve receiver, fourth season: The former undrafted free agent had career highs of 40 catches for 631 yards. His career average is 16.4 yards per reception.

Marvel Smith, injured left tackle, ninth season: Smith got through five games before a season-ending back injury that required surgery. He's needed back surgery after the last two seasons but, if healthy, is one of the best in the business.

Byron Leftwich, backup quarterback, sixth season: The strong-armed Leftwich helped PIttsburgh win two games when Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He wants to start again, and could be a short-term answer for a team that's buying time with a young quarterback.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.

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