Kurt Warner, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
The former MVP and Super Bowl winner has had a resurgent season in Arizona and has his team past the first round of the playoffs. He racked up 4,583 passing yards, his second highest career total for a season, and threw for 30 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Also, his passer rating of 96.9 was his best since the '01 season. Warner has not wanted his contract status to be a distraction, but he will be looking for an extension from the team once the season comes to an end. Warner could find another team willing to name him the starter if the Cardinals want to let Matt Leinart take over.
Matt Cassel, UFA, New England Patriots
Cassel has been franchised, almost ending his chance to hit the market with a non-exclusive type..
Kerry Collins, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Collins may have recently turned thirty-six, but he helped lead the Titans to the best record in the NFL at 13-3 when the Vince Young situation threatened to put a damper on the entire season. Instead, Collins stepped in and managed the offense well. He may not have looked like the quarterback he was when he led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl appearance early on this decade, but he did prove that he was capable of winning games and protecting the ball enough to allow his offense to run fairly smoothly. He may not have a lot left after this season and a potential Super Bowl run, but he may still be of interest to some teams looking for a steady game manager or an experienced backup for insurance purposes. The Titans may be looking to move forward with Vince Young, but Collins knows the system and could be offered a new contract to keep his services around.
Jeff Garcia, UFA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Garcia could retire given that he is nearing forty years of age, but many probably expected that he would have hung up his cleats before the just completed season. The veteran just keeps going and going and has kept the Buccaneers competitive. Last season the veteran passer threw for over 2,400 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games. This season, in twelve games, he passed for over 2,700 yards and had 12 touchdowns tosses to just six interceptions. He can still manage a game and make things happen often enough to keep defenses honest. He may be asked to stick around somewhere in the league for another season.
Rex Grossman, UFA, Chicago Bears
With all of the criticism that Grossman has had to face, he did lead a Bears team that reached a Super Bowl in ’06. During that season he threw for over 3,100 yards and 23 touchdowns; however, he also turned the ball over 25 times. Grossman lost his starting role to Kyle Orton this season and threw just 62 passes, completing only 32 and having a pair of touchdowns and picks. Grossman may wind up being a career backup.
Kyle Boller, UFA, Baltimore Ravens
Boller has never lived up to the hype that came with him and he was placed on the injured reserve this season. In five seasons of earning sporadic playing time, Boller has thrown more touchdowns than picks just twice. The presence and early success of Joe Flacco guarantee that Boller will be gone after the season, and it is hard to imagine that he’ll be given a shot at starting anywhere. Like Grossman, he seems destined to be a career backup.
Charlie Batch, UFA, Pittsburgh Steelers
David Carr, UFA, N.Y. Giants Ryan Fitzpatrick, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals
Byron Leftwich, UFA, Pittsburgh Steelers
J.P. Losman, UFA, Buffalo Bills
Luke McCown, UFA, Tampa Bay Bucs
Dan Orlovsky, UFA, Detroit
J.T. O'Sullivan San Francisco 49ers
Patrick Ramsey, UFA, Denver Broncos
Brandon Jacobs, UFA, New York Giants
Jacobs is a tough runner, and that type of running kept him from being on the field in parts of the two seasons prior to 2008. This season, Jacobs missed time again, seeing action in thirteen games. When on the field, he helped lead the Giants to the league’s second best record. While carries were limited at times, he rushed for 1,089 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He averaged five yards a carry during the Giants Super Bowl season, gaining over 1,000 yards in just 11 games and averaged five yards a carry again this season. He is a quality goal line back, but has become more than that. Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw contributed to New York’s backfield as well, so while the team likely wants Jacobs to stick around, Jacobs could have other plans and may bolt for a team willing to give him more of the carries. There will be some tough decisions concerning the Giants backfield and who will play what role in the future.
Darren Sproles, UFA, San Diego Chargers
Sproles is a spark plug of a runner, who doesn’t shy away from contact and has excellent speed. During the regular season, he did most of his work on special teams but did average more than five yards a carry when he was handed the ball. His recent playoff effort against Indianapolis during the first round was one of the best in playoff history, as he showed that he just might have the stuff to become a number one back. His 105 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards, and pair of scores had to impress teams out there looking for backfield help. San Diego will likely have to cut ties if they are moving forward with Tomlinson and don’t want to spend too much money in keeping a second quality back.
Derrick Ward, RFA, New York Giants
A huge rushing effort by Ward in week sixteen set him up to reach the 1,000 yard mark in the final game of the season, impressively giving the Giants two running backs to reach that mark this season. Ward made a statement in against Carolina in that week sixteen game, rushing for an astounding 215 yards on only 15 carries. He only reached triple digits in rushing twice, but he wound up averaging well over five yards per carry on the season while also playing a role as a receiving back with 41 receptions for nearly 400 more yards. Ward is twenty-eight years of age, and considering the thought that running backs lose steam after thirty, this could be his last significant contract. He may look for a team willing to expand his role or he could easily stay in New York, where he has become a quality back alongside Brandon Jacobs. With Jacobs also being a free agent, though, it will be an interesting offseason for the G-Men.
Dominic Rhodes, UFA, Indianapolis Colts
Rhodes will turn thirty in a couple of weeks and it appears he will remain a backup for the remainder of his career. He was an integral part of the Colts’ success during their Super Bowl run a few seasons ago, but he left for Oakland, only to return a season later. He has received limited carries during most of his time in the league, but he has filled in admirably when called upon. With Joseph Addai missing time this season, he carried the ball 152 times and turned it into 538 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 45 passes for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Rhodes will provide a decent third-down back and a veteran backup for any team looking to add depth on the free agent market.
Maurice Morris, UFA, Seattle Seahawks
Morris has always been a back under the radar—mainly because he was backing up Shaun Alexander for a period—but he has good vision and speed. He cracked the 100-yard mark in week twelve for the first time since week ten of the ’06 season and rushed for a season-high 116 yards against the Jets in week sixteen. He received limited carries, averaging 4.3 yards per rush, and he may be a useful backup come next season. Seattle has a lot of questions to answer and Morris may not be in the plans for the future.
Ricky Williams, UFA, Miami Dolphins
Williams showed flashes of the back that he was in his early days, but he was never quite as consistent as would be expected from a former fifth overall selection. His time away from the game and off the field issues certainly didn’t help him get back into the swing off things. Williams is over thirty and not likely to be a true starter with any team, but he gets a mention because of his controversial past and the fact that he gave Miami an extra option on the way to a playoff berth. There is a team out there that will take a chance on him if the Dolphins are unwilling to retain his services. Look for Williams to try and land somewhere as a backup.
Other Running Backs
J.J. Arrington, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
Cedric Benson, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals
Correll Buckhalter, UFA, Philadelphia Eagles
Jesse Chatman, UFA, New York Jets
Heath Evans, UFA, New England Patriots
Deshaun Foster, UFA, San Francisco 49ers
Rudi Johnson, UFA, Detroit Lions
Kevin Jones, UFA, Chicago Bears
LaMont Jordan, UFA, New England Patriots
Dominic Rhodes, UFA, Indianapolis Colts
Aaron Stecker, UFA, New Orleans Saints
Derrick Ward, UFA, New York Giants
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals
A Pro Bowl player, Houshmandzadeh is one of the league’s top receivers and arguably the best number two receiver in the entire league. A seventh round selection, Houshmandzadeh now has more than 5,700 career receiving yards. Heading into the ‘08, he had increased his reception and touchdowns totals in each of his six seasons and was coming off of a league-leading 112 receptions with 12 touchdowns. He had a down season by his standards in ’08, however, yet still managed to gain over 900 receiving yards on 92 catches in fifteen games. He posted those numbers while being thrown to by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick much of the season, making it considerably more impressive. Losing Houshmandzadeh would be a major setback for Cincinnati. Look for the Bengals to make every effort to retain and possibly promote him.
Bobby Engram, UFA, Seattle Seahawks
Engram likely won’t be the most desired receiver on the market this offseason, but he will provide a veteran option for team’s looking to add experience with their youth and others. Engram has an injury history that has caused him to miss a fair amount of time, but he’s been a solid receiver when healthy. His 2007 campaign was the best of his career. His 94 receptions helped him rack up 1,147 yards and six touchdowns without a strong running game supporting the offense. Playing for a struggling Seattle team this season, he played in thirteen games and caught 50 passes for nearly 500 yards, but failed to reach the endzone. With his history of injury and a struggling offensive unit not helping his numbers, he’ll likely wind up back in Seattle with his career closer to the end than the beginning.
Devery Henderson, UFA, New Orleans Saints
Henderson’s career high in receptions may be 32, but he’s a deep threat and can make big plays down the field when things are clicking for the offensive unit. He’s had at least three scores in each season of his four-year career and set a new career-high in yards with 793, averaging almost 25 yards per catch. If the Saints let Henderson go, someone may give him a shot at a bigger role.
Shaun McDonald, UFA, Detroit Lions
McDonald has had to play behind the likes of Torry Holt, Roy Williams, and Calvin Johnson during his six seasons. He hasn’t been spectacular, but he has shown that he can be a quality receiver. He had a career-high with 79 receptions in ’07 with the Lions and converted six of those into touchdowns. His numbers dropped this season as the entire team struggled and he played in just twelve games, but considering his situation, 35 catches for 332 yards isn’t a terrible showing. Assuming he returns from injury without a problem, McDonald has the ability to be a solid number two, and chances are he’ll look to play for a more competitive team.
Other Wide Receivers
Hank Baskett, RFA, Philadelphia Eagles
Jabar Gaffney, UFA, New England Patriots
Dante' Hall, UFA, St. Louis Rams
Sam Hurd, UFA, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Jones, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Ashley Lelie, UFA, San Francisco 49ers
Koren Robinson, UFA, Green Bay Packers
Amani Toomer, UFA, New York Giants
Roydell Williams, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Cedrick Wilson, UFA, Pittsburgh Steelers
Other Tight Ends
Owen Daniels, UFA, Houston Texans
Will Heller, UFA, Seattle Seahawks
Eric Johnson, UFA, New Orleans Saints
Jeff King, RFA, Carolina Panthers
Jim Kleinsasser, UFA, Minnesota Vikings
Leonard Pope, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
Daniel Wilcox, UFA, Baltimore Ravens
L.J. Smith, UFA, Philadelphia
Bo Scaife, UFA, Tennessee