Best free-agent bargains

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  • By Around The NFL staff
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A lot of funny money gets spent in free agency but there are always going to be bargains out there. Here are some of the players we'd target over the next two weeks.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns


The concussion history is a huge concern, and it will probably depress his value on the open market. But if Cameron lands in the right spot in free agency and manages to stay healthy, he has the ability to be an All-Pro level tight end. Colleague Chris Wesseling recently commented on the (award-winning) Around The NFL Podcast that Cameron was the closest player he's seen to Tony Gonzalez. That's the potential we're talking about. He represents a roll of the dice, but also upside as high as any free agent. -- Dan Hanzus

Dan Williams, DT, Arizona Cardinals


True nose tackles are becoming the white unicorns of the NFL. Williams has improved every season he's been in the league and now qualifies as one of the best at his position. He doesn't have the name value of Vince Wilfork, but he's the smarter signing. -- Gregg Rosenthal

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers


Amid a rich crop of free-agent backs, Mathews is flying under the radar. Injuries are a concern, but the Chargers back was a beast two seasons ago when he pounded his way for 1,255 yards over a full 16 games. Best paired with a passing-down specialist, Mathews has the tools to start wire-to-wire and lead a team in carries. We loved the way he ran two seasons ago. Healthy again, he looms as an affordable signing who could outplay his contract. -- Marc Sessler

Brandon Graham, pass rusher, Philadelphia Eagles


Graham's ideal position is 4-3 defensive end. It's telling, then, that he paced all NFL defenders last season in Pro Football Focus' Pass Rushing Productivity formula (sacks, hits and hurries relative to pass rushing attempts) as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Graham forces fumbles, wreaks havoc in the backfield and is an asset on special teams. He could emerge as a Pro Bowl-caliber player in the right scheme. -- Chris Wesseling

Brooks Reed, LB, Houston Texans


A former first-round pick projected in the Clay Matthews mold. Brooks Reed might very well still be that player, and because he's not looked at among the top-tier of free agents, he could come at a friendly price. Reed only had 8.5 sacks over his last 40 starts, but there's no doubt a team could figure out a way to use that combination of size and speed for good, even if they need to shift him inside and use him as a run-stuffer. -- Conor Orr

Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins


Stuck behind Alfred Morris in Washington, Helu could be a gem as a bottom-tier free agent back in a stocked market and draft class. Helu is a one-cut runner who excels in the passing game. He averaged a whopping 11.7 yards per catch and was second in the NFL yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus. Helu is a tackle-breaker who is more elusive than he appears at 215 pounds. His lack of touches means he's fresh and could be set to carry the load. Don't be shocked if Helu has a 2014 Justin Forsett-type breakout season in the right system. -- Kevin Patra

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills


Spiller has defined strengths (excels in space) and weaknesses (can't run between the tackles) as a running back. When Chan Gailey emphasized his strengths in 2012, Spiller's explosive playmaking ability jumped off of Game Rewind as much as any back in the NFL. When Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett tried to use Spiller as a battering ram, it predictably failed. If the Jets can find a way to keep Percy Harvin and add Spiller, the offense could be the most exciting since Brett Favre was in a New York state of mind. -- Chris Wesseling

Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland Browns


While he didn't emerge as Mike Pettine's "bitch-kitty" pass rusher last season, Sheard has proven himself to be a tough, versatile defender. Over four seasons in Cleveland, the hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end showed coaches that he can play in a 3-4 or 4-3. He has the speed and power to cause disruption inside and out, topping seven sacks in two of his four campaigns with the Browns. He also won over the locker room last season by playing through a nasty foot injury. If Cleveland doesn't re-sign him, opponents will come calling on a defender who shouldn't cost a bundle. -- Marc Sessler

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots


Ridley was one of the most naturally talented pure runners in the league. He's going to be a bargain coming off ACL surgery and could prove to be an excellent early-down runner at a cheap price.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

O'Brien Schofield, DE, Seattle Seahawks


A great platooned pass rusher who could use a look in a bigger role. The Giants had the right idea last year before a medical discrepancy got in the way. Schofield ended up playing in all 16 games anyway and if his knee holds up, he'll make a solid addition with a team that needs help pressuring the QB. -- Conor Orr

Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals


Never a fit for what coach Bruce Arians wants in his tight ends, Housler has struggled to make an impact and is a poor blocker. However, his measurables are off the charts at 6-foot-5, 248 pounds with a 4.46 second 40-yard-dash time coming out of college. As a bottom-tier free agent, Housler has the chance to become an uber-cheap signing who could play a role as a pass-catching tight end. In the right offense, the 26-year-old could cause havoc down the seam in mismatches with linebackers. -- Kevin Patra

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the LeSean McCoy-Kiko Alonso trade and what it means for the Eagles and Bills. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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