Last season, the New England Patriots signed two defensive ends, Mark Anderson and Andre Carter with little fan-fare. Both players received one year deals; Anderson’s contract paid him 1.375 million, Carter’s was worth 2.25 million, chump change in today’s NFL. But those small investments hit big for New England. Carter and Anderson combined for 20 sacks in 2011 as those two ho-hum signings became the best pass rushers on the team.
As the dust settles on the flashy parts of the NFL off-season–the “big money” free agency period and the draft– NFL general managers will now search for this year’s Mark Anderson. And while the remaining free agents have some warts, there is also a chance for some guys to reach untapped potential, or to regain past form. The following players are the best bargains available on the market.
Braylon Edwards– He was invisible last season due to injuries and the 49ers conservative offense. Two seasons ago he was a viable threat for the New York Jets. If healthy he could provide a good vertical threat at a low price.
Marcus McNeil– His health is a big question mark. If he recovers from his neck and back injuries he could be a steal.
Gary Brackett– He’s undersized, but is a sure tackler and is good in pass coverage.
Cedric Benson-Benson has no burst left, but still runs with power and leverage. He would excel in a short yardage/goal line back and could even serve as a spot starter.
Philip Merling– A physical 3-4 defensive end that would provide quality depth or even start for lesser teams.