NFL free agency isn’t even a week old, but the best players have already signed new contracts. While the likes of Ndaukong Suh, Darrelle Revis, DeMarco Murray and Julius Thomas are off the market, a few potentially impactful players are still available.
The top free agents that are still looking to sign with teams for the 2015 season are former Pro Bowl players that are slightly past their prime. But such players could become key components of contending teams, signing short term deals this offseason.
Below is a look at the five best free agents left on the market.
Wilfork has been one of the league’s best defensive tackles over the past decade. He was first recognized as a top player in 2007, making his first Pro Bowl and culminating with a fifth trip to the game in 2012 as a first-team All-Pro selection. But a year after an injury-riddled 2013 season forced Wilfork to restructure his contract, the New England Patriots declined to pick up the 33-year-old’s option.
Even though the Patriots made Wilfork a free agent, they are one of a few teams that could sign the lineman. He didn’t miss a game in 2014, doing so for the fourth time in five years. Wilfork helped New England post a top-10 run defense, and only the Kansas City Chiefs allowed fewer rushing touchdowns. Entering his 12th NFL season, Wilfork might not be an elite lineman, failing to record a sack since 2012. But his 47 combined tackles were just one shy of his All-Pro season, and he’ll be an important pickup for whoever signs him.
The once deep pool of free agent cornerbacks isn’t nearly what it was just a few days ago. Revis, Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers and Antonio Cromartie are all off the market, leaving Williams as the best player available. Playing with the Green Bay Packers for his entire eight-year career, Williams is one of the most durable players in the NFL, missing just one game since entering the league.
Williams was at his best in 2010 when he intercepted six passes, made the Pro Bowl and helped Green Bay win the Super Bowl. He might be losing a step, about to turn 32 years old, but he remains an above-average player at his position. Only Richard Sherman has more combined interceptions in the regular season and playoffs since 2010, and he’s been in talks with Green Bay and the New Orleans Saints.
New England is also pursuing Bush, needing to replace the loss of free agent Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, who signed with the New York Giants. Bush could be the pass-catching running back that the Patriots are missing, having averaged nearly 52 catches per year. He’s also being pursued by the San Francisco 49ers, who lost Frank Gore to the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite Bush’s ability to catch the ball, he’s more than just a third-down back. Prior to last season, he averaged 1,026 rushing yards on 4.6 yards per carry over a three-year period. Bush has never made a Pro Bowl, but he’s been productive during his time on the field and remains the best option available. His injury history could make teams wary of signing him, as he missed seven games in the last two seasons.
A lot of remaining free agents will get contracts worth more money than what Kuhn will receive, but he is one of the most valuable players on the market. The fullback is the best player at his position, being voted a first-team All-Pro in 2014. He helped Eddie Lacy rush for 1,139 yards in his second NFL season, ranking the running back seventh in the league.
After signing a one-year contract with the Packers last offseason, it’s unknown if Kuhn will be back with the team. He’s been a mainstay on the Packers, playing in 107 of their last 112 regular-season games. Green Bay has used Kuhn as a goal line rusher in the past, but he only had one touchdown in 2014, and saw his receptions drop from 13 to four.
The linebacker played with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 after spending the first four years of his career with the Patriots. Heading into the 2015 season, Spikes is looking for a new home. He was a part of a Buffalo defense that ranked fourth in total yards and points allowed, giving them their best defense in a decade.
Spikes saw his numbers decline in Buffalo, recording 54 combined tackles and a forced fumble. The previous two seasons, he averaged 89 tackles and 2.5 forced fumbles. Still, he might be the most talented free agent linebacker available, and he's likely to live up to his contract at just 27 years old.