Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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NFL Free Agent Bargain Bin

Wednesday, March 07, 2012



5. Offensive guard Chilo Rachal, 26 years old.

The 39th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Rachal had the look of a long-term building block when he overtook Tony Wragge for a starting job as a rookie. Rachal seemed to shake off a sophomore slump by grading out as Pro Football Focus' No. 2 run-blocking guard behind only Carl Nicks in 2010. Rachal lost his footing and ultimately his job when Jim Harbaugh took over as 49ers coach in 2011, however. Benched by Harbaugh at halftime of Week 3, Rachal spent the rest of the year as a special teamer and jumbo-set option. Adam Snyder was Harbaugh's starter at right guard.

Rachal will appeal primarily to power-running teams because he's a 6-foot-5, 323-pound mauler who's been inconsistent in pass protection. Redskins O-Line coach Chris Foerster, Rachal's position coach in 2008 and 2009, may want to take another crack at a talented old pupil, however. If a zone-blocking team like Washington is willing to sacrifice a little athleticism at any offensive line position, it's right guard. Rachal should come pretty cheaply and has dominating potential. Incumbent RG Chris Chester could kick over to left guard after struggling mightily last season.

Prediction: Redskins on a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

6. Weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson, 25 years old.

As is often the case with undrafted free agents, Henderson made his early-career mark on kick and punt coverage, playing sparingly in Minnesota's base defense. Promoted into the starting lineup last season, Henderson broke out for career highs in tackles (70) and forced fumbles (2) while grading out as Pro Football Focus' No. 3 run-stopping 4-3 outside linebacker, behind only Von Miller and Jarret Johnson. Henderson was used strictly as a two-down player, but packs a wallop at 6-foot-3, 244 and ran respectable forty times of 4.73 and 4.74 coming out of Maryland. Henderson has extensive background with new Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, a position coach in Minnesota for the last six seasons. The Jets need to replace inside 'backer Bart Scott.

Prediction: Jets on a three-year, $10.5 million contract.

7. Tight end Martellus Bennett, 25 years old.

The youngest player on this list, Bennett entered the NFL as an immature 21-year-old second-round pick. While he drew the ire of Cowboys officials more than once for questionable off-field decisions, Bennett has encountered no legal issues and still possesses plenty of upside. Bennett is 6-foot-7, 255 and ran a forty time in the 4.6s at the 2008 Combine. His production levels were never where Dallas wanted them to be, but Bennett has quietly emerged as one of the league's premier blocking tight ends. The Dolphins and Bengals have showed interest in Bennett at past trade deadlines. Miami may cut incumbent starter Anthony Fasano due to a $3.6 million salary.

Prediction: Dolphins on a two-year, $6 million contract.

8. Running back Justin Forsett, 26 years old.

Though purely a scatback at 5-foot-8, 198, Forsett has settled in as a highly efficient, versatile pro. Forsett's career 4.63 YPC average compares favorably to top-end free agent backs Peyton Hillis (4.22), Michael Bush (4.18), and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (4.05), and Forsett's receiving/pass protection combo makes him an ideal fit as a third-down specialist. Decreased opportunities in Seattle last season, largely due to Leon Washington's unearned bigger role, may result in diminished market value for Forsett. Still highly regarded by ex-Seahawks and current Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, Forsett is a strong fit for Oakland's new zone-blocking scheme. He could give Taiwan Jones veteran competition for the No. 2 back job behind Darren McFadden.

Prediction: Raiders on a two-year, $5 million contract.

9. Wide receiver Eddie Royal, 25 years old.

Royal exploded onto the NFL scene as a rookie in 2008, ranking eighth in the league in receptions (91) as the flanker and slot maven in Mike Shanahan's offense. Miscast since as a Deion Branch-type outside wideout under Josh McDaniels, and dogged by injuries as a part-time player last year, Royal's market value has sunk to the point where he'll be cheap to sign. Though undersized by NFL standards at 5-foot-10, 188, Royal has incredibly quick feet and plenty of long speed (4.39 forty). He's a tailor-made slot receiver for offenses that frequently go three-wide. With Shanahan in Washington and 33-year-old Santana Moss on his last legs, Royal's old coach would be a logical pursuer. Particularly if the Skins miss out on the top end of this year's free agent receiver class.

Prediction: Redskins on a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

10. Defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, 26 years old.

Bryant is a restricted free agent and tenders have not been formally extended. If the cap-strapped Raiders deem the second-round tag ($1.927 million) too pricey for Bryant, expect a market to emerge for the former undrafted free agent. He could be signed away free of draft-pick forfeiture if tendered at the "original pick" level. And Oakland is not well positioned to match contract offers.

A Harvard alum, Bryant goes 6-foot-5, 290 and has gradually climbed the depth chart in Oakland. He is a versatile pass rusher capable of playing both defensive end spots as well as inside. Bryant racked up five sacks last season while starting ten games, and Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-20 defensive end in run defense. Bryant possesses the requisite size to fit a 3-4 defense as a five-technique end, and 4-3 teams as a swing-type lineman. He is a young player on the rise.

Prediction: Raiders on a one-year, $1.927 million contract.



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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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