NFL free agency is a gold mine for some players, and a deep disappointment to others. For players nearing the end of their career, it can be a humbling process.
A year ago at this time, Champ Bailey was coming off a Pro Bowl season and set to make $10 million. Now he's struggling to find work, taking his first visit of free agency Tuesday in New Orleans
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Last March, safety Ed Reed was the type of free agent who had the team ownersit next to him at his introductory press conference. Asante Samuel was a valued starter making nearly $5 million last year. Samuel and Reed are now staring forced retirement in the face.
Bailey and Reed probably will be Hall of Famers one day. In the meantime, they are getting treated like afterthoughts. That's life in the NFL. They will be forced to take low-cost, short-term deals to keep their NFL careers going. Reed might not even get that chance.
The first rush of free agency is long over. Now the second wave of selective "value" pickups like Shaun Phillips and Maurice Jones-Drew are mostly over too. Teams will mostly wait until the draft to fill their needs.
With April upon us, here are some other notable names who are without jobs.
Josh Freeman: Guys like Curtis Painter, Charlie Whitehurst, Luke McCown and Derek Anderson found work, while Freeman is wondering what happened to his once-promising career. The Oakland Raiders were Freeman's best bet before free agency, but they preferred Matt Schaub. Freeman might have to wait until after the draft to find a team.
Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes and Miles Austin: This trio would have won your fantasy league in 2009, but they all face big questions.
Davin Joseph: The two-time Pro Bowl pick is only 30 years old. He and Travelle Wharton are the two most interesting interior linemen left available.
Jermichael Finley: He reportedly couldn't pass a physical with Seattle when he visited the team. That's not a huge surprise, but there's no guarantee with his neck injury that he will be cleared over the summer. If he's healthy, it sounds like a matter of time until the Seahawks sign him.
Kevin Williams and James Harrison: Both players will get discussed someday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although they figure to fall short. Williams still looked like a useful role player in Minnesota last year. Harrison did a nice job stopping the run for Cincinnati and would love to get back to Pittsburgh. It's possible that both players are done as pros after proud careers.
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Rex Grossman and Matt Flynn: This is the section of quarterbacks we expect to find specific jobs. Grossman looks targeted for Cleveland as a reserve, while Flynn is probably headed to Green Bay to back up Aaron Rodgers. Unless Mike McCarthy gets really gutsy and opens it up to competition.
Anthony Spencer: The Redskins and Giants took a look at Spencer, but he's not ready to play following microfracture surgery. Twice designated Dallas' "franchise" player, Spencer figures to get a job once he's healthy.
Dustin Keller: There are still some pass-catching tight ends out there. Keller might return to the Miami Dolphins eventually.
Felix Jones, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee: Former first-round picks who have probably reached the end of the line. Give McGahee credit for lasting more than a decade in the league. Brown got close.
In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast" the guys do the news, open the mailbag and play "Win Wess' Toaster."