Now is about the time we hear about veterans getting a little twitchy as to whether or not they’re going to get signed before the draft. The reality is that many teams are buried in their own war rooms devoting most of their time to the crop of rookies that will be coming in, not the players who have made millions are looking for new gigs elsewhere.
The Minnesota Vikings aren’t that different from the other teams, but, if you like familiar names, there are still plenty on the open market, allowing an expansion team to put together a pretty interesting group.
They may not currently have jobs, but they’ve made their mark – one way or another – on the NFL. Here are some of the big-name players still on the market if somebody wants them.
Quarterback – Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Robert Griffin III.
Running Back – Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeGarrette Blount, Rashad Jennings, Stevan Ridley, DeAngelo Williams, Khiry Robinson.
Wide Receiver – Michael Floyd, Cecil Shorts, Anquan Boldin, Victor Cruz.
Tight End – Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis.
Offensive Tackle – Ryan Clady, Gosder Cherilus (if not retired), King Dunlap, Breno Giacomini, J’Marcus Webb, Jake Long.
Guard – Jahri Evans, Chris Chester, Brandon Fusco.
Center – Nick Mangold, Tim Barnes.
Defensive Linemen – Johnathan Hankins, Mario Williams, Vince Wilfork, Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux, Sen’Derrick Marx.
Linebackers – Elvis Dumervil, DeAndre Levy, D’Qwell Jackson, A.J. Hawk, Gerald Hodges.
Defensive Back – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Leodis McKelvin, Sam Shields, Alterraun Verner, Tramon Williams, Brandon Flowers, Justin Gilbert, Tramaine Brock, Corey Graham.
For many of these players, they are likely going to have to face the humbling decision to take a massive pay cut to continue their NFL careers. But one thing would appear certain: If an expansion team had the opportunity to add all of these guys to their roster – or cherry-pick the ones they like best – it would have a lot of injury-related casualties along the way in playing a young man’s game. Just as likely is that, if they all bought into to what their expansion coach was selling, they’d finish around 8-8.
The NFL often talks about its heroes of the past in glowing terms. Unfortunately, for those who don’t leave the game on their terms, the “family” part of the NFL can be a little cruel, as all these guys who have banked millions of dollars are finding out the hard way.