NFL

Biggest reason each top NFL free agent remains unsigned

NFL free agent
Rachel Wold
Written by Rachel Wold

NFL teams are beginning their offseason programs, but there is an intriguing slew of free agents curiously unemployed.

Some are big-name veterans looking for a willing team to give them a chance in 2017. Unfortunately, many of these guys are just not in the type of shape they were back in their Pro Bowl years. Others include a Super Bowl champion wide receiver and a quarterback under the age of 30 who not long ago took his team to the big game.

There are also some NFL free agents who might have already signed but prefer to be selective about where they will work.

This brings us to dissect the one main reason each of these top-10 remaining NFL free agents still remain without work.

Darrelle Revis, cornerback: Revis Island is just not scary anymore

Darrelle Revis

Revis is a seven-time Pro-Bowler and a one-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. He was once considered the most-feared cornerback in the league.

But the former 2007 first-round draft pick finds himself unemployed after a terrible final season with the New York Jets in 2016. He managed just one interception while defending only five passes and was noticeably in poor shape.

Watching Revis in action last season was laughable at times.

The man who once owned the NFL’s top receivers turns 32 in July. If he wants to remain viable in this league, then he should be hitting the gym on a daily basis. Long gone are the days when receivers used to fear visiting “Revis Island.”

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback: When taking a knee doesn’t pay off

Has Kaepernick played his final snap in the NFL? We covered a particular AFC executive’s take on Kap — an executive who wondered why he was still unsigned despite being more talented than many other quarterbacks.

If Kaepernick had not protested the National Anthem in 2016, he most likely would have a job right now. Instead no NFL team in need of a starting quarterback or backup has taken a chance on the guy who dared to stir the pot and kneel for what he believed in.

At some point a needy enough team may cave as the summer plays out. We hate to predict injuries, but if disaster strikes it could force a franchise to reach out to Kaepernick. He recently said he still wants to play, and the Seattle Seawhawks actually are currently considering Kap as a backup. That just has awkwardness written all over it and is a story worth following.

Sam Shields, cornerback: Concussions and drugs

When healthy, Shields can produce at a high level. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old corner only played in one game last season and never returned after sustaining a concussion in Week 1.

The Green Bay Packers released him after seven seasons that were highlighted by various injuries. They also unloaded a $9 million cap hit stemming from Shields’ $12.125 million salary for 2017. Surely Shields’ asking price is much lower now, but he still remains unemployed.

Will another team bite is the question. Shields’ history of concussions and the fact that he still had not cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol in January is a red flag.

On top of that, news that Shields is currently facing drug charges doesn’t help him much either.

Victor Cruz, wide receiver: Not enough salsa, too many ailments

Cruz has recently drummed up some interest and might not be available for too much longer.

He is slated to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars, who now employ his former New York Giants head coach, Tom Coughlin. The one-time Super Bowl champion also recently visited the Chicago Bears.

Cruz once was the star receiver of his former team. Unfortunately, a nasty knee injury, followed by other various health ailments, prevented him from playing 26 games between 2014-15.

When he did return in 2016, he was overshadowed by Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard. Cruz salsa danced in the end zone just once after scoring one lonely touchdown on the year.

Cruz recently opened up to the league, letting teams know that he still wants to play. If he can stay healthy, the 30 year-old Pro Bowl receiver should make for a serviceable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver on any receiver-needy roster.

Elvis Dumervil, linebacker: Age up, games and stats down

The Baltimore Ravens let Dumervil hit the open market after the 2016 season. He’s been with the team since 2013 but finished his final season with the Ravens having played in only eight games, missing time with a foot injury.

Dumervil had high hopes of breaking the NFL’s sack record in 2015, which he said would send the Ravens to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Father Time caught up with him and he tallied only nine total sacks from 2015-16.

He is not nearly daunting to opposing quarterbacks these days.

When the Ravens released the 33 year-old linebacker they said “they have not closed the door” on him, per the team’s official website. It’s likely he’ll remain unemployed until the dog days of summer. Once training camp kicks into high gear, however, it won’t be shocking if he comes back to Baltimore or signs elsewhere.

DeAngelo Williams, running back: Does he have any gas left?

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Williams did a spectacular job covering for Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting running back Le’Veon Bell in 14 total starts between 2015-16. But now that Bell is healthy and no suspensions are looming overhead, the Steelers have opted not to re-sign the 34 year-old running back.

Williams has also drawn zero interest as a free agent. The risk of signing an aging back with Williams’ injury history is quite significant. Although, he could be obtained on the ultra-cheap for a one-year gig as a security blanket.

It’s worth noting that Williams rushed for 907 yards in 2015, his highest total since 2009. He also managed 11 touchdowns and tallied a career-high 367 receiving yards.

These numbers might just pique some team’s interest. They also suggest that Williams’ gas tank is not quite empty.

Nick Mangold, center: Being choosy and taking his time

Mangold, originally a first-round pick by the New York Jets in 2008, is a free agent for the first time in his career.

The seven-time Pro Bowl center is currently recovering from an ankle injury that caused him to miss eight games in 2016. Currently, Mangold is pondering his options.

Nick Mangold“Right now I’m kind of sitting back and weighing what options are available,” Mangold said per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “There’s a lot of factors going into it. You got your family, you got your body to think about. There’s a lot of different things that go into it.”

Mangold is 33 and visited the Baltimore Ravens in February. They reportedly are still interested, but nothing appears to be happening on that front according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.  The New York Giants were reportedly once interested as well.

From the tone of things, it seems that when Mangold decides he wants to get back into the swing of things that he will eventually land with a contender.

Brandon Flowers, cornerback: Health, concussions 

Flowers has not started in 16 games since his 2011 campaign with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Most recently, the San Diego Chargers released the veteran cornerback after he missed 10 games in 2016. When healthy, Flowers earns his keep. He managed one touchdown on his lone interception made during the six games played last fall.

The Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly showed some interest in March. But at this time, Flowers is still jobless. Taking into account the Steelers’ current roster of defensive backs, Flowers would be an upgrade should Pittsburgh circle back.

Whether it is the Steelers or another team that takes a flyer on Flowers, a one-year prove-it deal is likely all Flowers is going to attract.

Anquan Boldin, wide receiver: Waiting for the training camp train

NFL free agent, Anquan Boldin

The last time we checked in on Boldin’s status, the veteran receiver said he was not in a hurry to sign with a team until training camp. The latest buzz on this front has the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions as potential suitors.

Boldin started in every single game for Detroit last season. He managed 69 receptions for 789 yards and four touchdowns, proving he still plays quite exceptionally well for a 36 year-old receiver.

Boldin also previously spent three seasons with the Ravens, where he earned his Super Bowl ring. The veteran receiver could choose to quietly step away from the game considering his accomplishments. It will be interesting to see what his plans are as training camp inches closer.

Gerald Hodges, linebacker: Show him the money

Hodges, 26, has drawn interest by both the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas Chiefs, who’ve both had him in for visits. The New York Jets are also curious, and Hodges most recently visited the East Coast on May 10.

Pro Football Focus graded Hodges No. 21 among all linebackers in 2016. He recorded two interceptions and tallied career-highs with three sacks and 80 total tackles. Considering his youth and prpduction, Hodges’ potential asking price might be a little high for teams looking to add depth.

Since entering the league as a fourth-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, Hodges has earned what some might consider a meager, $3.671 million. Sometime soon we suspect a deal will be struck by a team willing to give Hodges a sizable raise but one that won’t break the bank.

About the author

Rachel Wold

Rachel Wold

Rachel is a football lover of both the NFL and Fantasy and creator of Fantasyfootballchick.com. When she is not vacationing in Miami or Vegas, she is an NFL writer at Sportsnaut and a fantasy contributor at eDraft.com. Rachel's articles are also featured on Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @liveocgirl and chat with her anytime!