With all due respect to K Phil Dawson, CB Quentin Jammer, and T Jonathan Scott, here are five former Texas Longhorns who could move quickly today in NFL free agency.
DL Lamarr Houston
Houston should be one of the hottest names in free agency. We profiled him here.
Houston may not sign with a team today. He was Oakland’s best defensive player last year, and the Raiders should be doing what it takes to bring him back. Problem is that if the Raiders thought he was worth what his camp thinks he’s worth, he’d have a deal done by now. He’ll almost certainly take best offer back to the Raiders in the next couple days, who will decline to match.
He is a schematic fit for all 32 teams, but he’s at his best on the edge. He played the majority of the 2013 season in a two point stance, so the best place for him is on either side of the line of scrimmage, but as a edge rusher across from a more dominant pass rusher. Houston is not a sack artist, but wins his one on one matchups more often than not and gets the “clean-up” sacks created by the rest of the line. He’s one of the toughest players for a tight end or tackle to block. It’s a rare skill set, and he will get paid like it.
CB Tarell Brown
The San Francisco 49ers corner is entering his age 29 season. He’s the least publicized member of the 2005-2006 Texas defensive backfields that had a future pro playing every position. Brown has spent the last three seasons starting opposite Carlos Rogers in the secondary of the 49ers.
After the 49ers released Rogers yesterday, he is a candidate to re-sign. The tricky thing is that Brown lost the starting job in November to Tremaine Brock. The Niners are trying to find more playing time for Chris Culliver opposite Brock, but will need to sign or draft a corner who can start for them.
Brown is not highly rated on most free agent lists with a lot of corners hitting the market today, and could be a relative bargain for the Niners, Seahawks, or some other team.
TE Jermichael Finley
The Green Bay tight end is fully healed from a surgical procedure that repaired a nerve issue that ended his 2013 season. Finley, according to reports, is on track to be 100%, and enters free agency as the best available player at the position.
Finley was the youngest player taken in the 2008 draft out of Texas, and will be only 27 later this month. He’s also the prototypical modern TE. His Packers career demonstrated his immense ability along with some key lapses in concentration. If Finley is truly cleared medically, he could be a very rich man by the end of the week.
DT Henry Melton
The Bears defensive tackle is coming off a fairly severe ACL tear that ended his season. The former UT running back was considered one of the best defensive players in the game, but he got hurt while playing on Chicago’s franchise tender, and his stock in the NFL has dropped sharply. He will be available in free agency, and potentially available for quite a while.
Though Finley’s injury was more immediately serious, Melton’s injury is more serious from a football perspective. Even the team that picks him up is not sure they will be getting the player that Chicago had the last five years. If they get that player, he’s going to be a free agent steal. But it’s impossible to know what Melton you are getting until he’s healed and on the field for drills.
QB Colt McCoy
The Longhorn’s starting quarterback from 2006-2009, McCoy had an excellent rookie season for the Browns in 2010, jumping Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace on their depth chart. But when Mike Holmgren fired Eric Mangini and his staff at the end of that season, McCoy was tasked with having to learn the west coast offense for the first time, under new head coach Pat Shurmur.
The 2011 season was a long one for McCoy and the Browns, and when he was hit helmet to helmet by James Harrison of the Steelers, McCoy’s Browns career effectively ended. He was traded to San Francisco last offseason, backed up Colin Kaepernick for a season, and is now eligible for free agency.
McCoy will be 27 last year, and will have to sign somewhere as a backup, but his numbers are as good as any player in this free agent class. His best shot is to get to a team that has an unstable quarterback situation at the top, and win the job the old-fashioned way.