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Published: June 11, 2015 at 01:30 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2015 at 05:22 p.m.

NFL's nine best remaining veteran free agents

With players hitting the field for OTAs and minicamps, it's easy to forget that there are still some notable unsigned free agents out there. But, as veteran receiver James Jones reminded us -- literally, declaring recently, "If you need a WR, come get me" -- there are plenty of guys still looking for work. They obviously aren't first- or second-tier free agents, but some of them can help someone, even if many won't land a job until training camps get going.

Below, I've listed the nine best free agents remaining, arranged in alphabetical order. You won't see some of the higher-profile guys -- like Wes Welker, Steven Jackson, Lance Briggs, Michael Vick, Dwight Freeney and Pierre Thomas -- but not because they've been overlooked; rather, they were left off because they no longer stack up with the players listed.

9 Photos Total

  • The former second-round pick started 125 games in eight seasons with the Falcons, and I think he can continue to start for someone in 2015, either as a center or a guard. I could also see the business-savvy Texas product, who will turn 32 in December, choosing to pursue another path in life. But if he decides to stay in the NFL, he'll have a place to play. <i><b>Good fits:</b> Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos.</i> <b>UPDATE:</b> NFL Insider Ian Rapoport <a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/610500633448292352" target="_blank">reported Monday</a> that Blalock is retiring. 9

    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Justin Blalock, offensive lineman

    The former second-round pick started 125 games in eight seasons with the Falcons, and I think he can continue to start for someone in 2015, either as a center or a guard. I could also see the business-savvy Texas product, who will turn 32 in December, choosing to pursue another path in life. But if he decides to stay in the NFL, he'll have a place to play. Good fits: Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos. UPDATE: NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Blalock is retiring.

  • Brown has speed and athleticism, and he can help on special teams if needed. He started 47 games for the San Francisco 49ers from 2007 to 2013, then signed a one-year deal last year with Oakland, where he collected 55 tackles and four passes defensed in 14 games before <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/69858/tarell-brown-goes-on-the-injured-reserve" target="_blank">landing on injured reserve</a> with a foot injury in late December. I think the 5-foot-11, 190-pound former Dallas kid can be productive as a third corner. <i><b>Good fits:</b> New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys.</i> 8

    Tom Hauck/Associated Press

    Tarell Brown, defensive back

    Brown has speed and athleticism, and he can help on special teams if needed. He started 47 games for the San Francisco 49ers from 2007 to 2013, then signed a one-year deal last year with Oakland, where he collected 55 tackles and four passes defensed in 14 games before landing on injured reserve with a foot injury in late December. I think the 5-foot-11, 190-pound former Dallas kid can be productive as a third corner. Good fits: New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys.

  • Bryant is probably available right now largely because the Jaguars overpaid (inking him to a four-year, $17 million deal) to bring in the former Seahawk last offseason, but he's still a serviceable player. The 31-year-old might not be much of a pass-rusher (4.5 sacks in seven seasons), but he is very good against the run, and would conceivably be ideal for a team desperate to boost its ground defense. <i><b>Good fit:</b> Philadelphia Eagles.</i> 7

    Mark E. Tenally/Associated Press

    Red Bryant, defensive lineman

    Bryant is probably available right now largely because the Jaguars overpaid (inking him to a four-year, $17 million deal) to bring in the former Seahawk last offseason, but he's still a serviceable player. The 31-year-old might not be much of a pass-rusher (4.5 sacks in seven seasons), but he is very good against the run, and would conceivably be ideal for a team desperate to boost its ground defense. Good fit: Philadelphia Eagles.

  • Gresham's age (26) is a plus, and the two-time Pro Bowler displays immense talent at times, but he's inconsistent. He might make an unbelievable catch on one long play, then drop a crucial pass on the next set of downs. If he were also a true blocking tight end, he might be more appealing, but he's more of a receiver than a blocker. Still, he's athletic, and he caught 50-plus passes in all but one of his five seasons with the Bengals. <i><b>Good fits:</b> Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos.</i> 6

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Jermaine Gresham, tight end

    Gresham's age (26) is a plus, and the two-time Pro Bowler displays immense talent at times, but he's inconsistent. He might make an unbelievable catch on one long play, then drop a crucial pass on the next set of downs. If he were also a true blocking tight end, he might be more appealing, but he's more of a receiver than a blocker. Still, he's athletic, and he caught 50-plus passes in all but one of his five seasons with the Bengals. Good fits: Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos.

  • Johnson, who will turn 30 in September, still has speed and running ability. He's reportedly been <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000485904/article/chris-johnson-working-out-one-month-after-shooting">working out well</a>, though he did <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000477255/article/chris-johnson-released-from-hospital">suffer a gunshot wound</a> in an incident in March. The key with him, as it is with many guys who have made big money in their day, is whether or not he's willing to sign somewhere for the veteran minimum salary. <i><b>Good fit:</b> Oakland Raiders.</i> 5

    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Chris Johnson, running back

    Johnson, who will turn 30 in September, still has speed and running ability. He's reportedly been working out well, though he did suffer a gunshot wound in an incident in March. The key with him, as it is with many guys who have made big money in their day, is whether or not he's willing to sign somewhere for the veteran minimum salary. Good fit: Oakland Raiders.

  • Jones is a solid receiver with good hands who is two seasons removed from leading the NFL in touchdown catches (14 for the Packers in 2012). He lacks speed, but he makes catches, including a career-and-team-high 73 with the Raiders last season. He scored 37 times and made 47 starts with the Packers before leaving last offseason for Oakland, where he had six touchdowns (also a team high) and 666 yards. At this point, he'll likely have to play for the veteran minimum salary. <i><b>Good fits:</b> Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans.</i> 4

    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    James Jones, receiver

    Jones is a solid receiver with good hands who is two seasons removed from leading the NFL in touchdown catches (14 for the Packers in 2012). He lacks speed, but he makes catches, including a career-and-team-high 73 with the Raiders last season. He scored 37 times and made 47 starts with the Packers before leaving last offseason for Oakland, where he had six touchdowns (also a team high) and 666 yards. At this point, he'll likely have to play for the veteran minimum salary. Good fits: Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans.

  • Long is a giant with long arms, and you don't just find giants with long arms hanging out on the street corner. He's also a smart guy who definitely could add something to a number of teams. His days as a left tackle might be over, but he can still do well at right tackle or either guard spot. The question is, can he stay healthy after suffering ACL tears in both 2013 and 2014? <i><b>Good fit:</b> New York Giants</i> 3

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    Jake Long, offensive lineman

    Long is a giant with long arms, and you don't just find giants with long arms hanging out on the street corner. He's also a smart guy who definitely could add something to a number of teams. His days as a left tackle might be over, but he can still do well at right tackle or either guard spot. The question is, can he stay healthy after suffering ACL tears in both 2013 and 2014? Good fit: New York Giants

  • Mathis -- whose <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000496672/article/evan-mathis-released-by-philadelphia-eagles">release by the Eagles on Thursday</a> concluded a contract dispute with the team -- was a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro in Philly, where he started 56 games over the past four seasons. The 33-year-old veteran is a pretty good pass protector who has plenty of experience; this will be his 10th season in the NFL. He can definitely go in and help somebody as a swing guard. <i><b>Good fit:</b> Denver Broncos.</i> 2

    Evan Pinkus / PINKE

    Evan Mathis, offensive lineman

    Mathis -- whose release by the Eagles on Thursday concluded a contract dispute with the team -- was a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro in Philly, where he started 56 games over the past four seasons. The 33-year-old veteran is a pretty good pass protector who has plenty of experience; this will be his 10th season in the NFL. He can definitely go in and help somebody as a swing guard. Good fit: Denver Broncos.

  • <i>Everybody</i> in this league is looking for tight ends; this is a clear position of need. The 29-year-old Miller, who has eight NFL seasons under his belt, might not be starter material -- an ankle injury severely limited his playing time last season, in which he was held to six catches for 76 yards in three games -- but he can still make plays. Somebody will give him a look. <i><b>Good fits:</b> Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns.</i> 1

    Scott Eklund/Associated Press

    Zach Miller, tight end

    Everybody in this league is looking for tight ends; this is a clear position of need. The 29-year-old Miller, who has eight NFL seasons under his belt, might not be starter material -- an ankle injury severely limited his playing time last season, in which he was held to six catches for 76 yards in three games -- but he can still make plays. Somebody will give him a look. Good fits: Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns.