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Thursday, March 9, 2006
Updated: April 12, 4:57 PM ET
Top 50 unrestricted free agents

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

With free agency finally set to start (Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET), here are my top 50 unfettered players in free agency. The group is comprised of unrestricted players and those who were released since the end of the season. It does not include restricted free agents or players designated as franchise or transition free agents. (Editor's note: This list is as of Thursday morning and will not include any players released at a later date.)

Top 50 UFAs
Player 2005 team Comment

1. C LeCharles Bentley
Saints Two-time Pro Bowl performer who switched from guard to center in 2004 and already might be the league's best player at the latter position. The kind of 315-pound anchor most franchises now favor in the middle and won't be on the market very long.
• 2006 team: Browns | Scouting report Insider

2. RB Edgerrin James
Colts Will be 28 years old by the start of the '06 season and, while that will be a red flag for some teams, "Edge" still has rushed for 1,500-plus yards four times in seven seasons. Does all the little things right, a terrific locker room presence whom the Colts will miss.
• 2006 team: Cardinals | Scouting report

3. LB Will Witherspoon
Panthers Pure speed 'backer who has posted three straight 100-tackle seasons, has averaged 105.3 stops for his career and who, at age 25, still has his best football in front of him. Can cover and has some blitz skills, has to play in a system that puts him in space.
• 2006 team: Rams | Scouting report

4. LB Julian Peterson
49ers An even more explosive and athletic linebacker than Witherspoon, but an Achilles injury has slowed him the past two years, and he's never quite played up to his skill level. Only 5½ sacks the last two seasons and more than four sacks just once in six years.
• 2006 team: Seahawks | Scouting report

5. QB Drew Brees
Chargers The revelation that his January shoulder surgery included repair for a partial rotator cuff tear will force teams to perform their due diligence. But he's a quality starter, still just 27 years old, and if teams determine he'll be ready to throw by camp, he will be signed very quickly.
• 2006 team: Saints | Scouting report

6. DE Aaron Kampman
Packers Blue-collar left end who possesses a huge motor and has gotten better every year in the league. Won't dazzle anyone with quickness or athleticism, but plays every down and is coming off a 2005 season in which he had 105 tackles and 6½ sacks, both career bests.
• 2006 team: Packers | Scouting report Insider

7. PK Adam Vinatieri
Patriots One of the greatest clutch kickers in the game, provided the winning field goals in two of the Patriots' three Super Bowl victories, and has averaged 115.8 points per year. Is the fifth-most accurate field goal kicker in league history and thrives under pressure.
• 2006 team: Colts | Scouting report

8. DT Maake Kemoeatu
Ravens The kind of 350-pound wide-bodied anchor every team covets, a guy who just eats up blockers and allows linebackers to get to the football. Had a career-best 60 tackles in '05 and, despite just four career sacks, is going to generate a very quick market.
• 2006 team: Panthers | Scouting report Insider

9. WR David Givens
Patriots His receptions total has improved every season and his quickness, double-move skills and size are impressive. It's notable, though, that he never has played a full 16-game schedule, and there are questions as to whether he can be a No. 1 receiver.
• 2006 team: Titans | Scouting report

10. DT Ryan Pickett
Rams Labeled an underachiever for much of his first three seasons, Pickett found motivation in 2005, started all 16 games for the second straight year, and had 115 tackles, the most in the NFL by any defensive lineman. Starting to become an impressive interior force.
• 2006 team: Packers | Scouting report

11. LB Willie McGinest(a)
Patriots Even at age 34, there are going to be a lot of 3-4 teams (Cleveland and Dallas, for instance) pursuing the 12-year veteran. He's a high quality presence on a roster and still has something left in the tank, as evidenced by his 4 ½ sacks in the playoffs.
• 2006 team: Browns | Scouting report

12. OT Jon Runyan
Eagles Some of the concerns about his age (32), the tread rubbed off his tires, the fact he plays the right side, and past inconsistency might be justifiable. But the 10-year veteran is coming off back-to-back solid seasons and proven tackles are a difficult commodity to find.
• 2006 team: Eagles | Scouting report

13. PK Mike Vanderjagt
Colts The adage that "you're only as good as your last kick" likely won't hold true. His shanked 46-yarder in a divisional-round loss to Pittsburgh aside, Vanderjagt still owns the best field goal conversion rate in league history. Kickoffs are his biggest problem.
• 2006 team: Cowboys | Scouting report

14. DT Gerard Warren
Broncos Has never lived up to his status as the third overall player selected in the 2001 draft, by Cleveland, but really subjugated personal goals in 2005 to become a terrific team defender. Had 42 tackles and three sacks but, more important, occupied a lot of blockers.
• 2006 team: Broncos | Scouting report Insider

15. DE Anthony Weaver
Ravens Established run defender who is more solid than spectacular and whose sack total (14½ in four seasons) might increase if he is able to get to a 4-3 team. Good strength for a guy who regularly plays in the 285-pound range. Fundamentally sound. Had some injuries in 2005.
• 2006 team: Texans | Scouting report Insider

16. Antwaan Randle El
Steelers More quick than fast, the mercurial Randle El isn't a deep threat, is best working from the slot, and his average of one touchdown every 23.1 receptions isn't scintillating. He could benefit from going to a team that throws more, and his versatility is intriguing.
• 2006 team: Redskins | Scouting report

17. CB Charles
Woodson
(a)
Raiders Was once a premier cover defender, but injuries have limited the former Heisman Trophy winner to 19 games in two years, and he's no longer considered elite. It will be interesting to see what kind of market is generated by a guy with just two interceptions in two years.
• 2006 team: Packers | Scouting report

18. DT Rocky Bernard
Seahawks Probably the top one-gap tackle in the free agent pool, which definitely sets him apart from others at the position and will enhance his attractiveness. Had 8½ sacks in 2005, but was a bit streaky, and didn't garner any sacks over the last five regular-season games.
• 2006 team: Seahawks | Scouting report

19. FS Chris Hope
Steelers Good range, was asked to cover a lot of ground when Pittsburgh played Cover 3 in most long-yardage passing situations and is a sure tackler. Teams are more split on him, though, and Pittsburgh hasn't tried very hard to retain him.
• 2006 team: Titans | Scouting report

20. DE/LB Andre Carter
49ers Has been a starter at end in the 4-3 and linebacker in a 3-4, and some teams still aren't sure about his best position. Had 12½ sacks in 2002, but hasn't come close to that since and has had some problems keeping his weight in the 260-pound range.
• 2006 team: Redskins | Scouting report

21. RB Jamal Lewis
Ravens Rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003, but injuries limited former first-rounder to 1,912 yards the last two seasons. Whether it was off-field problems, ankle surgery or a poor attitude, he did not look like the same player in 2005. Maybe he'll come back with a chip on his shoulder.
• 2006 team: Ravens | Scouting report

22. LB David Thornton
Colts Not very flashy, as evidenced by only three sacks in his three seasons as a starter, but Colts didn't blitz him very much at all. A sound player and good tackler, very good in pass coverage, nice quickness and a guy with a lot of football in front of him.
• 2006 team: Titans | Scouting report

23. QB Josh McCown
Cardinals At age 26, and with 22 starts on his résumé, probably has the most upside of any quarterback in the pool, with the exception of Brees. Nice pocket stature and a strong arm, has three games of 300-plus yards in his career and definitely possesses starting potential.
• 2006 team: Lions | Scouting report

24. DT Sam Adams(a)
Bills One of the NFL's top two-gap tackles of the past decade, who still manages to net three or four sacks per season while occupying interior blockers. Adams has made a difference on every defense on which he's played and, if you sign him, then you immediately improve versus the run.
• 2006 team: Bengals | Scouting report

25. OG Stephen Neal
Patriots A self-made player, the two-time NCAA wrestling champion never played a snap in college and was originally signed as an undrafted free agent. Only a two-year starter and teams typically don't spend much on guards in free agency, but this mauler might be worth the investment.
• 2006 team: Patriots | Scouting report

26. OT Kevin Shaffer
Falcons Former seventh-round draft choice made himself a solid pass protector, but slipped some in 2005, when he struggled against some top speed-rushers and lost some confidence. Still, he's got 39 starts on his reséumé, and the market is bereft of left tackles.
• 2006 team: Browns | Scouting report Insider

27. SS Adam Archuleta
Rams Big hitter who has averaged 77.4 tackles for his career, but will whiff on some tackles and too often takes bad angles. Has five times as many sacks as interceptions (15-3) and has to play in a scheme that gets him close to the line of scrimmage to be most effective.
• 2006 team: Redskins | Scouting report

28. PK Ryan Longwell
Packers Despite kicking in a tough environment for nine seasons, has made 81.6 percent of his career field goal tries, has been under 75 percent just twice, and has a 69.2 percent success rate on field goals of 40 yards or more. A reliable kicker with a strong leg.
• 2006 team: Vikings | Scouting report Insider

29. CB Deshea Townsend
Steelers Doesn't have prototype size or speed, but is a feisty defender, certainly Pittsburgh's best turn-and-run cover cornerback, and a terrific blitzer off the edge. Former nickel corner has made himself a player and has 14 interceptions since becoming a starter in 2001.
• 2006 team: Steelers | Scouting report

30. WR Antonio Bryant
Browns There is no denying his skill level and the four-year veteran is coming off a career season, one in which he snagged 69 passes for 1,009 yards. But he also is given to maddening lapses of concentration and has experienced attitude problems in the past.
• 2006 team: 49ers | Scouting report

31. OT Jason Fabini(a)
Jets There are a lot of miles on the eight-year veteran and he has suffered some injuries in recent seasons. But he's logged 114 starts, has played both left and right tackle, and some team will feel like it can get at least a couple more good seasons out of him.
• 2006 team: Cowboys | Scouting report

32. CB Sam Madison(a)
Dolphins There is a suspicion in some circles that Madison, 32, has slowed down, and teams point to the fact that he has only two interceptions the last two seasons. But the veteran corner still has enough left to help some secondary and to add to his career total of 31 pickoffs.
• 2006 team: Giants | Scouting report Insider

33. CB Eric Warfield(a)
Chiefs At one point, it looked as though Warfield might develop into an elite corner and, despite the fact that hasn't happened, he still might be worth a look on a short-term deal. One caveat is past off-field problems with alcohol, and another strike could earn him another suspension.
• 2006 team: Patriots | Scouting report

34. DE Trevor Pryce(a)
Broncos Limited to just two games in 2004 because of back surgery, the four-time Pro Bowl performer revived his career in 2005, starting in all 16 contests and playing well. He'll likely never be a double-digit sacker again, but he can play end and tackle and has something left.
• 2006 team: Ravens | Scouting report Insider

35. DT Larry Tripplett
Colts Rarely plays up to his second-round status for more than short stretches, and might have to play in a Colts-style one-gap defense to be truly effective. But there definitely is something here with which to work, especially if Tripplett can stay motivated.
• 2006 team: Bills | Scouting report Insider

36. WR Isaac Bruce(a)
Rams His 36 catches for 525 yards represented his worst production since 1998, when he played in just five games because of injuries, and at age 33, he has some skeptics. But the bet is that Bruce can still sign as the No. 2 wideout with some teams and still catch 60 balls.
• 2006 team: Rams | Scouting report Insider

37. DE Brett Keisel
Steelers Career backup never has started a regular-season game and is inarguably the biggest sleeper in this elite group. But he had three sacks in limited playing time last season -- and added two more in the playoffs -- and 3-4 teams looking for help feel he can be a starter.
• 2006 team: Steelers | Scouting report

38. OT Tom Ashworth
Patriots Another one of those undrafted free agents the Patriots turned into a very solid player. His résumé includes 33 starts but also some injuries that cost him playing time. Former college tight end who has worked hard to get better, probably limited to right tackle.
• 2006 team: Seahawks | Scouting report

39. WR Koren
Robinson
(b)
Vikings The former Seattle first-rounder overcame his alcohol problems, picked himself off the NFL scrap heap and earned a Pro Bowl spot as a kickoff return specialist. He still longs to be a starting wide receiver, though, and still has long-balls skills.
• 2006 team: Vikings | Scouting report Insider

40. RB Chester Taylor
Ravens Served as Jamal Lewis' caddy and third-down back much of career, so there is some question about whether he can handle a starting job. In eight career starts, Taylor has averaged just 58.0 yards, with only one 100-yard game, but there are teams that like him a lot.
• 2006 team: Vikings | Scouting report Insider

41. SS Corey Chavous
Vikings For a guy who is reputed to be a ball hawk, Chavous has just 19 pickoffs in eight seasons, and eight of those came in one year (2003). But the veteran safety, more a center field-type defender, is a savvy guy who makes up for a lack of range with plenty of smarts.
• 2006 team: Rams | Scouting report Insider

42. WR Joe Jurevicius
Seahawks Has traditionally been perceived as a possession receiver because of his long, gangly frame, but has the ability to separate and make big plays. Really bailed out the Seahawks in 2005, when injuries struck the position, and he finished with a career-best 55 catches.
• 2006 team: Browns | Scouting report Insider

43. QB Jon Kitna
Bengals Didn't perform well in a divisional-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, when he replaced injured Carson Palmer and threw two second-half interceptions, and has started only three times in two seasons. Still, his 33 career starts will earn him a lot of attention on the market.
• 2006 team: Lions | Scouting report

44. C Justin Hartwig
Titans Former college offensive tackle never had played center before being thrust into the position in 2003, but has started all but one game since and became an excellent hub. He has the size to take on oversized nose tackles, but is also a very solid in-line technician.
• 2006 team: Panthers | Scouting report

45. TE Jeb Putzier(a)
Broncos Seemed to fall out of favor with the Denver coaching staff in 2005, but still has emerged as one of the best young vertical tight ends in the league, averaging 14.4 yards on 73 catches over the past two seasons. A willing blocker, but he definitely needs some work in that area.
• 2006 team: Texans | Scouting report

46. SS Marlon McCree
Panthers One of the real steals in free agency a year ago, played for the minimum base salary, and ended up making a big difference in secondary. Replaced first-rounder Thomas Davis in the lineup after one game and finished season with 95 tackles and three interceptions.
• 2006 team: Chargers | Scouting report Insider

47. CB Ty Law(a)
Jets His 10 interceptions in 2005 won't fool many teams into overpaying for the 11-year veteran, as he's definitely lost a step and he collected a ton of penalties. But there will be some team out there that signs him to a back-ended deal that's good for a couple seasons.
• Scouting report

48. DE Kalimba Edwards
Lions In four seasons, the former second-round pick has 20 sacks and is a pure edge rusher, capable of beating a lot of tackles with his first step. Edwards might never be a full-time player, but he might be good for six to nine sacks if he's in the right situation.
• 2006 team: Lions | Scouting report

49. DE Lance Johnstone
Vikings At age 32 and after 10 seasons, Johnstone might have lost a half-step, but he still can play on third down and he's still good for eight to 10 sacks if his snaps are maximized. He's got 35½ sacks over the last four seasons and four double-digit sack years for his career.
• 2006 team: Raiders | Scouting report

50. C Kevin Mawae(a)
Jets Coming off a torn triceps that limited him to six games in 2005, teams will check the recovery of the six-time Pro Bowl snapper. He's played 12 seasons and is 35 years old now, but someone will try to coax maybe two more years out of him.
• 2006 team: Titans | Scouting report
Notes: (a) Player was released since the end of the season; (b) Vikings have a right of first refusal and can match any contract Robinson signs with another team.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.