My all free-agent team (this might be a cry for help)

Remember a couple of months ago when everyone was saying the NFL's free agent market would explode in an uncapped year? You know, how teams like the Redskins, Bears and Cowboys were going to spend billions of dollars to sign all the marquee guys out there?

Since the start of free agency three and a half weeks ago, things have been pretty tame — outside of the desperate shopping spree in Chicago (really, Brandon Manumaleuna for five years and $15 million?), the Giants overpaying for overrated safety Antrel Rolle and Nate Burleson convincing yet another team (the Lions) that he was worth big bucks.

Some have hinted that collusion among the owners has kept the market in check. Others (like myself) just think execs around the league stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.


The Panthers getting out from under Jake Delhomme's albatross of a contract? Smart. Ozzie Newsome trading a couple of mid-round picks for Anquan Boldin instead of signing Terrell Owens or taking a big gamble on Brandon Marshall? Smart. Thirty-one teams passing on Julius Peppers? Smart.

Whatever the reason, teams have been pretty patient this offseason. And while many of the big names were scooped up within free agency's first week, there are still good players out there. Darren Sharper. Kevin Mawae. Keith Bulluck. Kyle Boller's right arm.

You could build a somewhat respectable starting lineup with the available unrestricted free agents. I was bored at work today, so I thought I'd take a look at who was still out there and build a team (sidenote: I play way too much "Madden," which is why I enjoy doing inane things such as this):


QB: Troy Smith — OK, I know I said last paragraph that I was talking about unrestricted free agents, but there's no way I'm handing my team over to Boller or Daunte Culpepper. Instead, I'd give up a fifth-round pick for Smith (he's the only restricted free agent I'm going after). He can be a so-so starter in the NFL.

RB: Brian Westbrook — He's one more nasty hit to the head away from retirement, but I'd kick the tires on Westbrook and sign "Fast" Willie Parker to back him up.

FB: Dan Kreider — They say fullbacks are becoming obsolete, but I'm taking a good lead blocker in my backfield without hesitation.

WR: Terrell Owens, Kevin Curtis and Josh Reed —
T.O. will be my over-the-hill go-to guy, Curtis will stretch the field and Reed can work out of the slot. A respectable trio if Owens has a bounce-back season.

TE: Randy McMichael — Not the greatest option at tight end, but he'll do. I'm scooping up Michael Gaines as a blocking tight end, too.

OL: Mike Gandy, Shawn Andrews, Kevin Mawae, Chester Pitts, Langston Walker — This would probably be the worst position group on my team. Good linemen don't stay on the market for long, if they make it there at all. Mawae is a glaring exception, though. He can still play at a high level. I don't get how he's not under contract.


DL: Greg Ellis, Gerard Warren, Cornelius Griffin, Adewale Ogunleye — I'm cool with Ellis and Ogunleye as my defensive ends, but this quartet isn't stopping opposing running backs from moving the chains.

LB: Angelo Crowell, Antonio Pierce, Keith Bulluck — If Pierce is healthy and returns to form, I like this group.

CB: Ken Lucas, Nick Harper, Lito Sheppard — These guys are likely on the Ravens' radar as reinforcements for a banged-up secondary. I'll take them as my corners, with Sheppard as the nickel guy, begrudgingly.

S: Darren Sharper, Jermaine Phillips —
I'm jumping for joy if I can get Sharper, who's being low-balled by the Saints and other suitors. I'll make due with Phillips as the strong safety. At least he can hit.

Special teams:

K: Neil Rackers — The Ravens should be pursuing this guy.

P: Dirk Johnson — His name is Dirk. What else could you ask for in a punter?


What do you think? You'd have to think this team — with respectable backups — would be better than the Raiders, Rams and Browns next year, right? And should the Ravens be interested in any of these available free agents?

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