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Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
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— Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
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Free agency reached its fourth week on Monday. If you’re an NFL player reading this, we hope you have a job.
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If you’re still unemployed, don’t lose hope. Even the best teams can’t fill all their needs through the draft. The phone might yet still ring. But even if doesn’t, you have one more option — the St. Louis Graybeards.
That’s right, for the second straight year I’ve put together a roster made up entirely of free-agent veterans who have yet to sign a contract as the calendar turns over to April. For fans of the Graybeards, you’ve surely noticed we have relocated from Los Angeles. Needless to say, we were less than thrilled the NFL declined to give us a seat at the table during the Rams’ protracted moving process, but we’re happy to keep professional football at the Gateway to the West.
Let’s get to it. The goal here is to field a team that can go 6-10. Or at least 4-12. We’d sign off on 2-14. We’ll pound the table to go at least 1-15. I’ve included each player’s age to underline the dangers of turning 30. Don’t get old, kids.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (33) Charlie Whitehurst (34)
We have no problem giving Fitzmagic the $16 million annually that he seeks from the Jets. Our money isn’t real, of course, which could complicate things down the line. Bringing Clipboard Jesus in the building is mostly for his hair and overall vibe, plus the possibility of Jewel visits. Running back/Fullback
Arian Foster (30) LeGarrette Blount (29)
John Kuhn (34)
Our backfield is legitimately saucy with Foster and Blount, who bring different skill sets and can do legit damage … when healthy. Kuhn is the only fullback most football fans even know, so it makes him a great value buy here. Sorry, Packers tom brady super bowl jersey fans, the “KUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHN!” chant is ours now! Wide receiver
Anquan Boldin (35) Percy Harvin (28) James Jones Jerseys (32) Andre Johnson (35)
Age/athleticism is certainly a factor at wide receiver. It’s safe to assume we won’t be taking the top off defenses, especially once we have to move Percy to IR in October. Andre Johnson didn’t have much in the tank last season in Indy, but we need to put somebody on the cover of the media guide. Anquan. Boldin. Just. Gets. Open. We won’t allow James Jones Jerseys to wear a hood. Tight end
Vernon Davis (32) Owen Daniels Jerseys (33)
Yep, we’ve decided to pick up the scraps left behind by the world champion Broncos. Success by osmosis! Davis can still move, even if he hasn’t done a damn thing in four years. Daniels actually had some nice moments with Peyton Manning last year, which is impressive when you contextualize what a terrible quarterback The Sheriff was at the end. Offensive line
RT Louis Vasquez (29) RG Jahri Evans (33) C Stefen Wisniewski (27) LG Ben Grubbs (32) LT Jake Long (31)
Dicey times, my friends. Trying to build an entire offensive line off the unemployment line in late March is no way to build a champion. Put it this way: It’s a must to build a passing attack that gets the ball out quickly. I like have a relative youngster Wiz at center, hopefully he can anchor the unit. Long is a total flier who barely saw the field last season. Con: He probably can’t move anymore. Pro: He’s rested!
Jason Hatcher (34) Terrance Knighton (30) Mike DeVito (32) Henry Melton (29)
We were legitimately upset when Nick Fairley walked out of a handshake agreement with the Graybeards to sign with the Saints, but that’s business. What’s left is a still pretty solid collection of cagey vets and good locker room guys. DeVito exemplifies the lunch pail attitude we wish to preach. Edge rushers
Aldon Smith (26) Dwight Freeney (36) Kroy Biermann Jerseys (30)
We are taking a chance on Smith because, frankly, we need an X-factor. Smith can certainly be that if he gets his act together. Freeney showed he could still play last year in Arizona. Biermann has a prominent role in one of the terrible reality programs my wife watches, so this was kind of a nod to her. Greg Hardy Jerseys won’t be on my team. Inside linebacker
Karlos Dansby (34) DeMeco Ryans (32) Donald Butler (27)
Tracker: Players | Positions | By grade
Mayock’s position-by-position rankings
Jeremiah: Top 50 draft prospects
2016 draft order and team needs
Draft rumors: Connecting players, teams
2016 pro days schedule and results
CFB 24/7: Full ‘Path to Draft’ coverage
Brooks 4.0: Broncos land next QB
Jeremiah 4.0: Bears find QB of future
Zierlein 4.0: Dallas powers up run game
Davis 3.0: Goff lands with Eagles
Reuter 5.0: Five-round projection Zach Brown (26) Justin Durant (30)
Not bad, not bad. Dansby was second-team All-Pro and got paid big bucks by the Browns in 2014. Ryans is a former Defensive Rookie Of The Year (granted, that was a decade ago, but still). Recent headline in San Diego: “Donald Butler defrauded Chargers”. Yeah, we’ll put some eyes on him. Cornerback
Antonio Cromartie Jerseys (32) Leon Hall (31) Charles Tillman (35)
Reggie Nelson (32) Dashon Goldson (31) Roman Harper (33)
That’s right, an all-thirtysomething secondary! What could possibly go wrong? We’re banking hard on the Law Of Cro (he’s good every other year). Hall’s a pretty solid slot guy. We’re asking a lot of Peanut — at age 35 and coming off an ACL — to take on stud receivers on the outside. Admission: We might be putting too much into the “But You Know What They Couldn’t Measure? His HEART” mind-set here. Harper — a.k.a. Mr. Salt-and-Pepper — was destined to one day be a Graybeard.
For those scoring at home, we now have two Walter Payton Man Of The Year winners in the building (Tillman, Boldin). Leadership for days!
K Greg Zuerlein (28)
P Steve Weatherford (33)
LS Don Muhlbach (35)
Zuerlein is on this team mostly because we like his nickname. “Greg The Leg”, baby. Less impressive was his 66.6 percent (20/30) field-goal conversion rate in 2015. Weatherford is yolked and had a legit case to be Super Bowl XLVI MVP. Muhlbach is a Detroit fan favorite who can snap like a BEAST. Total “glue” guy. Coaches
HC: Tom Coughlin (70) OC: Mike Shanahan (64) DC: Marty Schottenheimer (72) ST: Mike Westhoff (68)
We’re killing two birds with one stone here: Coughlin gets another job (which he desperately wants) and we do a solid for the Giants (and their influential ownership group) by luring Coughlin out of the team facility, where he is making everybody crazy uncomfortable. I have concerns about the Coughlin-Shanahan dynamic, but they can work out their issues at their local Elks lodge if need be.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 St. Louis Graybeards. Who wants some?