Abraham, Turner latest stars now free

The free agency frenzy doesn’t begin until March 12.

Tell that to general managers who have begun flooding the market

with veterans they have cut – guys who can sign with any team at

any time.

Joining that group Friday were such former Pro Bowl players John

Abraham and Michael Turner, released by Atlanta along with

cornerback Dunta Robinson.

Also available is 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles

Woodson; the Green Bay Packers let the defensive back go last


While players whose contracts have expired can’t change

addresses for another 11 days, the so-called ”street free agents”

now out there can joins teams immediately. That’s already happened

with former Buffalo safety George Wilson, who signed with the

Titans, and it certainly could occur again before the likes of Mike

Wallace, Jake Long, Reggie Bush and Greg Jennings on offense or

Dwight Freeney, Anthony Spencer, Paul Kruger and Cliff Avril on

defense become available.

Wilson was coveted by Tennessee for reasons that stretch beyond

the field, and Woodson also could fall into that category. Listen

to what Titans general manager Ruston Webster says about Wilson,

who twice was Buffalo’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee:

”George is a quality veteran player. He will contribute for us

on the field, but his contributions also will come off the field,

in the locker room and in the meetings rooms. He was respected as a

football player and a leader during his career in Buffalo, and he

will bring that veteran presence to our team.”

The 36-year-old Woodson would be a nice fit in a young secondary

needing a boost of savvy and physicality, most likely as a safety.

Such landing spots as New England, Cleveland and Indianapolis could


Abraham has a history of nagging injuries and he’ll most likely

be a situational pass rusher at age 35 next season. Still, any club

looking for such a boost could do worse than Abraham, who had 10

sacks as a part-timer when the Falcons went 13-3 last year.

Turner no longer seems capable of being an every-down back, but

his power and quick feet could help a team that has an established

starter but no proven backup. Or an offense with a speedy running

back and not much inside presence.

Oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw, late of the Giants, also fits that

category. No one competes harder, but that has been a detriment for

Bradshaw, too, because his style makes him vulnerable to getting


Tennessee, Cleveland and Green Bay could find them attractive at

the right price.

Ah, price.

A major reason these players are unemployed right now is salary.

Atlanta saved about $16 million in cap space with its three cuts

Friday. The New York Jets freed up $31 million when they released

linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, safety Eric Smith and

tackle Jason Smith last month.

Naturally, there are other factors, including age, health, depth

at a position, a change in coaching staffs and, of course,


Players such as Packers center Jeff Saturday and Carolina DT Ron

Edwards simply might be at the end of the line. Kansas City tight

end Kevin Boss got onto the field for only two games in 2012. The

Saints’ David Thomas was expendable because Jimmy Graham is among

the best tight ends around, and New Orleans prefers to load the

field with wideouts along with Graham.

Philadelphia released DTs Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson when

Chip Kelly was hired as coach.

The Jets’ Pace and Scott and Chiefs receiver Steve Breaston

became overpriced when their on-field contributions slipped


Oddly, many of those players currently available figure to be

left waiting until weeks into full free agency before they find new

homes. Some teams will give out huge bonuses and long-term deals to

Jennings, Kruger et al. Then they will seek ways to fit in the


And don’t be shocked to see a few of the current free agents

wind up back where they started – for much less money.