Brees, the only five-star player according to the Scout.com free agent player rankings is garnering a considerable amount of attention due to his success in leading the Chargers out of the basement of the AFC West Division.
The field of available free agent quarterbacks is mainly those of aging veterans, backups or potential grooming quality players. Listed below are the latest quarterbacks released as teams pare contract from their salary cap.
Tony Banks (Houston) Banks has been a backup to David Carr in Houston and should only expect to serve in a reserve capacity at this point in his career. Still athletic, Banks still has a strong arm, but inconsistency and a knack for turning the ball have hampered him throughout his career.
Jay Fiedler (Jets) Brought in to serve as insurance in the event starter Chad Pennington was injured, Fielder went down with a shoulder injury minutes into his first opportunity in New York. Has had some success as a starter, but is now in the twilight of his career and should be looked upon as a backup or emergency type starter.
Tommy Maddox (Pittsburgh) Appears to have lost all confidence in his ability. Often throws into coverage and has proven to be very erratic. Unlikely he will suit up in 2006, unless a team comes calling for a veteran type to step in.
The list of available free agent running backs is impressive in name and a team seeking a quality back shouldn’t have a problem securing a ball-carrier. The number of quality backs in free agency should help maintain a reasonable salary scale at the position.
Any of the top-10 ranked running backs, which includes recently released Mike Anderson and Stephan Davis could step in and start in the right situation.
Following the top-10 backs are a group of players which fill specialty roles or have been backups to some of the top backs in the game. Listed below are the latest quarterbacks released as teams pare contract from their salary cap.
Mike Anderson (Denver) Looking to clear cap space and provide Ron Dayne a greater opportunity (as a backup), Anderson was a somewhat surprising cut for the Broncos. Not the fleetest afoot, Anderson has proven to be a powerful inside, downhill type rusher. On the downside of his career, Anderson has the ability to play, but shouldn’t be counted on as a feature back at this point.
Stephen Davis (Carolina) At one time Davis was as good as any back in the league. Knee injuries have robbed Davis of his surprising quickness and upper-body shiftiness. Still retains power, but is too great an injury risk to count on.
Rod Smart (Carolina) Simply a reserve at the running back position, Smart has had some success in the return game and should catch on with a team seeking a better than average kick return specialist.
Tony Hollings (Houston) Never reached the potential many scouts believed he possessed when coming out of Georgia Tech. Knee injury in college robbed him of playing time and quite possibly took some of his game from him. Hollings is a reserve at best at the professional level.
Cal Murray (San Diego) Special teams type player.
Jerald Sowell (Jets) Has one role, of a blocking back. Good blocker that understands his role of sacrificing himself. Teams which utilize the two-back or H-back sets with a need should express an interest.
Jeb Putzier (Denver) Has turned into a solid tight-end in the Broncos offensive system. Putzier release was in an effort to reduce the Denver salary-cap issues and no other reason. His blocking has improved, but should be deemed average, while excelling as a receiver. The interest in Putzier will immediate when the free agent player signing period commences.
Mark Campbell (Buffalo) As the Bills sought to gain salary-cap relief, Campbell was an easy target for the team. Has battled injuries throughout his career, when healthy has shown the ability to get open, and is a sufficient run blocker. Campbell should be looked at as a depth player for a team looking to fill out the roster with a veteran presence type player willing to play special teams.
Cedric James (New England) Non-descript, special teams type player at best.
Johnnie Morton (San Francisco) Nearing the end of his career, still runs routes well, but has slowed and does not catch the ball nearly as well as in his days in Detroit. Can be a help as a reserve, but shouldn’t be counted on to be a major contributor.
Harry Williams (Jets) Special teams type player.
Damion McIntosh (Miami) Age, size, and physical limitations make McIntosh a risky proposition at the tackle position. Due to the lack of top-flight talent at the tackle position in the game, McIntosh should remain in the game as a reserve.
Brad Hopkins (Tennessee) He may be getting up in age (35), but Hopkins still possesses the ability and consistency sought at the left tackle position. At one time, He was close to being a dominant tackle, utilizing quickness and excellent handwork, now he depends on experience and desire to play the position at a high level. Due to age, Hopkins shouldn’t be counted on to be much more than a two-year stop-gap player.
Matt Morgan (St. Louis) Reserve, special teams type player.
Matt Hill (Carolina) Reserve, special teams type player.
Jason Fabini (Jets) Fabini was a solid, workmanlike tackle for the New York Jets prior to a pectoral muscle tear midway through the 2005 season. Capable of manning either the left or right tackle position, Fabini has been a consistent lineman without significant injury concerns. Fabini remains strong at the point of attack due to a wide base and leg strength. Released as a salary-cap relief measure, Fabini will garner serious looks from teams seeking an above average, experience lineman.
Mike Williams (Buffalo) A classic underachiever inside a mammoth frame. Williams was a highly touted lineman coming out of Texas, but has never achieved at the level expected of a high first-round draft selection. Overall play is inconsistent and sloppy, does not move well, and cannot reach the second level of defense. Williams can start on a team which can hide his deficiencies and will receive some looks based off his size and experience.
Ron Stone (Oakland) This cagey veteran will not wind down his career in Oakland. A marginal, fringe type player now, Stone still has the ability to run block well, but struggles against quicker defensive linemen. Inconsistent is getting to the second-level of the defense and can be beat without help over the duration of a game. May get some looks from teams wanting to add depth, especially in training camp.
Jason Whittle (Giants) A better run blocker than pass blocker, Whittle is not overly strong at the point of attack, but will give maximum effort. Could be of value to a team looking for an average lineman for depth or to help a team with serious issues at the guard position. (NOTE: Whittle agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Vikings on Friday evening.)
Joe Iorio (Giants) Deep backup, special teams type player.