Familiar names still searching for work in NFL
NEW YORK – MISSING: A handful of former NFL stars.
REWARD: An opportunity to help a team and revive a once-flourishing career.
With NFL training camps about to open, several big-name players are still unemployed, waiting anxiously, wondering when – or if – they’ll get a call.
Here’s a look at a few familiar unsigned free agents:
Ronnie Brown: Once one of the NFL’s most dynamic running backs, Brown, 32, comes off a season during which he ran for 157 yards and caught eight passes as a Chargers backup.
Josh Cribbs: He has eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns, sharing the NFL mark, and could be a fit for a team looking for a spark.
Jermichael Finley: His career was in jeopardy when he suffered a serious neck injury last October with Green Bay. Finley was establishing himself as one of the league’s elite pass-catching tight ends.
Josh Freeman: Talk about a turn of events. Once considered a potential franchise quarterback for Tampa Bay, Freeman was benched last season in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, then released. He signed with the Vikings, was terrible in his one start and finished the season as Minnesota’s third-stringer. The Giants signed him in the offseason, but cut him in May.
James Harrison: A menace to quarterbacks who frequently was fined for illegal hits, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is 36, had a reduced role in his one season in Cincinnati and has seen his sack totals decrease every year since 2010.
Santonio Holmes: The Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers in 2009, Holmes, 30, was terrific in his first two seasons after being traded to the Jets in 2010. But he has just 43 catches in 15 games over the last two years.
Richie Incognito: He’ll always be known for his role in the harassment of former teammate Jonathan Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer last season. The bullying scandal, along with being 31, might make it tough for the guard to find a suitor.
Ed Reed: A year ago, the newly signed Reed was considered a key piece of the Texans’ improved defense. But he underwent hip surgery in the offseason, missed the first two games, then lost his starting job at safety. Reed was released after seven games, but reunited with Rex Ryan in New York and had three interceptions in seven games with the Jets. He’ll be 36 in September.
Asante Samuel: Helped the Patriots to two Super Bowls early in his career as one of the league’s top ballhawking cornerbacks. Samuel is 33, but still productive – although he was limited to 11 games last season.
Jonathan Vilma: A tackling machine early in his career with the Jets and Saints, he then dealt with knee injuries, ineffectiveness and also was identified in 2012 as a ring leader of New Orleans’ bounty program.
Kellen Winslow Jr.: The tight end caught 31 passes in 12 games with the Jets and showed flashes, but missed four weeks for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing substances policy.
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