The free-agent pool isn’t quite what it was back in March, but NFL teams can still find players who can help them win in 2016.
Between veterans who have remained on the market for months and talented players who were recently cut for whatever reason, there are potential difference-makers looking for new homes. The interest in these players will heat up as we get closer to the start of the regular season, but a move could happen at any time.
Here is a look at the latest buzz surrounding some of the best names currently available.
Karlos Williams, RB
This wasn’t a great offseason for Karlos Williams.
The Buffalo Bills running back was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He also showed up to camp overweight.
He wasn’t able to catch up to the rest of the players on the roster and was ultimately released after being placed on waivers.
On the plus side, there is quite a bit of interest for Williams on the open market
Lauren Brooks of Helmets and Heels also listed the Jacksonville Jaguars as a potential destination, but the New York Jets seem to be early front-runners after the running back’s visit.
He also made sure to exclaim, “I love New York!” before the end of the video.
Plenty of teams should be interested in a running back who averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season while tallying nine total touchdowns on limited carries. Even with the suspension, the second-year player has enough upside to justify a spot on the roster.
However, the Jets make a lot of sense, with the aging Matt Fortecurrently listed as the No. 1 running back. Williams will provide insurance for a team that needs it.
Predicted destination: Jets
Donte Whitner, S
Unlike Williams, Donte Whitner has been a free agent for quite some time after being released by the Cleveland Browns in April.
While there has been limited action in the pursuit of the safety, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that he will work out for the Carolina Panthers.
The fact that he has been available for four months without an offer isn’t a great sign, but Whitner can be an impact player in the secondary. The three-time Pro Bowler is excellent in run support, finishing with 106 tackles in 2014 before totaling 81 in 14 games in 2015.
He is simply an enforcer in the middle of the defense and is most effective in space.
This could make him a good addition for the Panthers, whose front seven is among the best in the NFL but whose secondary still has question marks. This is especially true at safety, with Roman Harper no longer on the roster.
Not only does Whitner have the potential to bring depth, but he also could battle for a starting spot this season.
Predicted destination: Panthers
Keenan Lewis, CB
Injuries were a major reason Keenan Lewis was released by the New Orleans Saints. The 30-year-old cornerback only played in six games last season, including just one start, due to a variety of ailments.
Lewis had started all 16 games in each of the previous three seasons for New Orleans and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The most pressing injury at this point is a hip and adductor strain suffered in early August.
Although the Steelers were interested in a reunion, Gerry Dulac of thePittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that this injury will likely keep him off the roster.
Teams will do their homework to make sure Lewis is healthy, but the Arizona Cardinals and Bruce Arians could actually be a good fit. While Patrick Peterson is an elite cornerback, the team is otherwise relying upon inexperienced players at the position.
Lewis could provide some much-needed experience at cornerback while being on a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Predicted destination: Cardinals