SCOUT'S HONOR: Solid free-agent buys
Brian DeLucia / Special to
Posted: 13 hours ago
The following players aren't star players or top cornerstones to build a franchise around, but they are very good building blocks that rate right behind your franchise players.

Ahmed Plummer, 49ers, CB
Plummer is a top-line player. He possesses good speed and instincts as a cover guy. He displays natural feet and has fluid hips in transition. Plummer shows good burst to the ball, but doesn't make enough big plays. His ball skills come into question when he has to mix it up with physical receivers and he tends to gamble at times. He's gotten tougher and a little stronger, which has helped him contribute in run support. He has gotten banged up at times and his long-term durability is a concern.

Overall, Plummer is a very good starting cornerback who has a solid approach to the game.

Possible Fits: Cincinnati, Denver, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York Jets, Carolina, New Orleans, Arizona

Most Likely Destination: Philadelphia. I believe it would be tough for the Eagles to go into next season with both Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown in the starting lineup.

Antoine Winfield, Bills, CB
Winfield is among the top man-to-man defenders in the NFL. He possesses very good instincts and plays a physical style of coverage that annoys opposing receivers. That disrupts the timing of an opponent's passing game at times. The negatives with Winfield mainly deal with his short frame, which makes it hard for him to match up with certain receivers, and he doesn't generate turnovers. Those are the only things that really keep him from the blue-chip category. He makes up for it with his feel for the game. He should have a few more solid seasons as a starter, but could have his effective years cut short because he really throws his body around a lot for a small guy. Winfield would fit best in a secondary where he could be paired up with a playmaker.

Possible Fits: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minnesota, Dallas, Buffalo

Most Likely Destination: Minnesota.Would be an excellent fit within Ted Cottrell's defense playing opposite Brian Williams. Buffalo would love to re-sign Winfield, but there's a very good possibility his market value will be outside their price range.

John Tait, Chiefs, OT
Tait is a professional pass blocker, to say it best. If you have a pass-heavy offense, he's the type of tackle that fits best. He has good quickness, but will have some trouble against top speed rushers. Tait also knows how to pick up the blitz. In the running game, he lacks ideal strength and tenacity to get push in-line, but does a good job on the move. He played left tackle fairly well for a few years before moving to the right side. So he can project as an above-average to solid left tackle.

Possible Fits: Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, San Diego

Most Likely Destination: Re-sign with Kansas City. It would be best to keep the line intact while having Tait available to eventually move back to the left side in a few years.

Darrell Jackson, Seahawks, WR
With Terrell Owens' free agent status up in the air, Seattle's Darrell Jackson becomes the top receiver available.
Jackson is a fluid athlete with good quickness. He knows how to read coverages and get open. Jackson is a solid route runner who comes off the line quickly. He's more quick than fast, so he's not a downfield playmaker and lacks the ideal physical skills to outplay defenders in traffic for the ball in tight areas. He has fairly good hands, but dropped a lot of balls over the past two seasons. Jackson is a solid No. 2 receiver who falls a little short of being a legitimate primary target in most offenses. While he has no outstanding negatives in terms of character, he wasn't much of a presence with the team during his off-seasons with Seattle.

Possible Fits: New York Jets, Arizona, Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Seattle, Miami

Most Likely Destination: New York Jets. Would provide the Jets with a solid athlete to join Santana Moss in the passing game, but isn't the physical presence they ideally need.

Ian Gold, Broncos, LB
Gold is coming off a bad knee injury, but has been progressing well. Gold is an excellent open-field player who possesses a lot of quickness. He has a quick first step to the ball and covers a lot of lateral ground. He shows an excellent motor. Gold is also very explosive on the blitz. On the downside, there are some concerns coming off surgery whether he can regain his quickness because that's the main component of his game. He struggles quite a bit at the point of attack and runs around blockers rather than taking them on. Overall, Gold is a very active weakside presence who can handle a lot of responsibilities.

Possible Fits: Denver, Philadelphia, Washington

Most Likely Destination: Re-sign with Denver. The Broncos have their defense built around their playmakers at linebacker.

Bert Berry, Broncos, DE
Was a 'tweener coming out of college and spent the first few seasons of his career toiling at the bottom of the depth chart. Since arriving in Denver, Berry has developed further as an all-around defender. He possesses a good blend of strength and quickness off the perimeter and displays good moves as a pass rusher. He has shown that he can play the run well on the move and covers a lot of ground in pursuit. Berry will struggle when opponents come directly after him. He's best suited to an attack-style defense like Denver runs.

Possible Fits: Seattle, Cincinnati, San Diego, Arizona, Denver

Most Likely Destination: Seattle.The Seahawks badly need another edge rusher, but Ray Rhodes must learn to utilize Berry to his strength rather than clog him with too many responsibilities if he comes to Seattle.

Todd Wade, Dolphins, OT
Wade has good size for a right tackle and has been strong in the running game due to his leg strength and intensity on the field. He's inconsistent in pass protection, especially when isolated on an island. He has the ability to anchor in a short area because he's strong and knows how to use his hands. He just lacks ideal footwork and balance. Wade is a good worker and brings the right mentality to the game. He grades as a solid right tackle, but is not worth overpaying.

Possible Fits: Baltimore, San Diego, Dallas

Most Likely Destination: Dallas. With his strength and tenacity, Wade is an ideal player for Bill Parcells in Dallas.

Rod Coleman, Raiders, DT
Coleman is a very disruptive one-gap defender who displays an excellent first step. He makes most of his plays because he shoots gaps well. He uses his tremendous upper-body strength and quick hands to slip past defenders. Coleman is very effective as an inside pass rusher coming off the bench. On the downside, you really have to watch how many snaps he plays. He needs to be in a rotation that puts him on the field mostly on passing downs. He's a liability against the run and wears down when he's on the field too long. He also takes himself out of a lot of plays because he thinks pass rush first and pins his ears back to get after the quarterback.

Possible Fits: Oakland, Kansas City, Chicago, Atlanta, Arizona.

Most Likely Destination: Arizona. Would help boost the Cardinals' woeful pass rush.

Jeno James, Panthers, G
Was an inconsistent reserve guard and tackle in the past, but really put everything together in his first year under offensive line coach Mike Maser. James' techniques have sharpened up and he shows a good feel for the game. He's a solid contributor in the run game and does a good job playing on the move. He'd fit well with teams that like to pull and trap often. He also shows good work habits. James is still young and played at a very high level last season.

Possible Fits: New York Jets, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, Carolina.

Most Likely Destination: Re-sign with Carolina. The Panthers can't allow a young blocker to get away.

Troy Vincent, Eagles, CB
Vincent is a smart and instinctive cover guy who plays with confidence. Vincent is very tough and knows how to press receivers at the line. He's one of the best bump-and-run corners in the NFL. At this stage of his career, Vincent must maintain tighter coverage because he's lost a few steps. Vincent is also very strong in run support. While I have always liked Vincent, there are some concerns here. He'll turn 33 before training camp begins and has lost a step or two. He has trouble turning and running with receivers these days. He'll give up a lot of receptions when playing loose. But in the right system, he should remain effective as a No. 2 corner for another year or two. Vincent also brings tremendous leadership to the table.

Possible Fits: Carolina, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Philadelphia.

Most Likely Destination: Carolina. Would be an ideal fit to team with Ricky Manning, Jr. as the Panthers develop another young corner for the long term. Vincent's leadership would also become a perfect fit for the Panthers.

Carlos Emmons, Eagles, LB
Is coming off a broken leg, but should maintain his status as a steady rock on the strong side. Emmons is a very strong run defender who takes on blockers very well. Emmons also specializes in playing over the tight end. He can take them on against the run, but also understands how to neutralize tight ends against the pass. Emmons isn't asked to work upfield too often, but he's displayed an ability to get after the quarterback when asked. Emmons won't cover a lot of ground and doesn't make plays, but he's a reliable veteran to have in your lineup on the strong side.

Possible Fits: Oakland, Minnesota, Philadelphia

Most Likely Destination: Re-sign with Philadelphia. The Eagles have a limit on what they'll pay Emmons, so a lot depends on what his value becomes on the open market.

Darren Bennett, Chargers, P
Is 39 years old and carries a decent price tag. He still has a very strong leg and gets great hang time. Bennett also has become very proficient at pinning teams inside the 20 and improved his directional skills. Despite his age, I would be surprised to see a drop-off next season.

Possible Fits: Kansas City, New England, Green Bay, Atlanta.

Most Likely Destination: Kansas City. Bennett and d*ck Vermeil would make quite a pairing.

Tai Streets, 49ers, WR
Streets isn't a star by any means, but he could become more of a vertical playmaker in the right offense. He's a good straight-line athlete with deceptive speed and has good ball skills in the air. On the downside, he's a little stiff and struggles to run horizontal routes sharply enough, so he has problems getting away from coverage. His past injuries have to be considered a concern. Overall, he's an adequate to good No. 2 receiver in a vertical role and he's a good influence among teammates.

Possible Fits: Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota

Most Likely Destination: Detroit. If the price is right, Streets would be a good downfield partner with Charles Rogers.

Erron Kinney, Titans, TE
Kinney brings a lot of size to the tight end position. He shows good strength and is an effective run blocker. He also comes off the line of scrimmage well and breaks the jam with his strength. Kinney is a good athlete for his size and can occasionally stretch the field. He also shows good hands. On the downside, he hasn't quite developed fully as a football player. He has been passive at times on the field, but has made strides over the past year or so in his approach to the game.

Possible Fits: Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, Arizona, St. Louis, Tennessee

Most Likely Destination: Re-sign with Tennessee. The Titans can't afford to lose Kinney at this point.

Dan Kreider, Steelers, FB
Kreider isn't much of an athlete and doesn't add any versatility to an offense, but he is a solid component with a team that likes to pound the ball between the tackles. He's an excellent lead blocker between the tackles who opens holes with his pure physical ability. But he doesn't show nearly as much effectiveness outside because he's a limited athlete and relies solely on beating up people with his power. Kreider has decent hands as an outlet in the passing game, but is no threat beyond that. He's not going to run away from defenders. Overall, he's a solid starting fullback within his limits.

Possible Fits: Cleveland, Oakland, Pittsburgh

Most Likely Destination: Cleveland. Would be an ideal traditional fullback for Terry Robiskie's offense, but his price tag must come down.

Chris Gardocki, Browns, P
Gardocki has always been a solid athlete who remains a steady, reliable left-footed punter. He still has a good leg and gets good hang time. He also does a fine job of placing punts inside the 20.

Possible Fits: New England, Dallas, Kansas City, Green Bay, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay

Most Likely Destination: Atlanta. Played his college ball at Clemson and would be a steadying influence for the Falcons' special teams.

Eric Barton, Raiders, LB
Barton has just ordinary speed and physical tools. He relies on good instincts and taking good angles to the ball to grade as a serviceable starter on the weak side. He closes on the ball well and is a solid tackler. He's been effective when asked to blitz at times. Barton has also been adequate in pass coverage, but isn't a guy you want to isolate against top athletes. Barton needs to be covered and protected upfront to maximize his effectiveness.

Possible Fits: Oakland, New York Giants, Washington, Detroit, Green Bay.

Most Likely Destination: No definitive options yet. Much depends on how the market shapes out.