The franchise tags placed on Jimmy Graham, Brian Orakpo and Greg Hardy, coupled with Jordan Gross retiring and the finalized deals made prior to March 11th with Brent Grimes, Riley Cooper and Dennis Pitta (to name a few moves) have really taken the sting out of the impending free agency period. While you'll no doubt still see a slew of deals early in the process with some crazy money getting thrown around to the top available talent left, great things come to those that wait. As the market settles and the big money has been spent, that's where the true gems at a bargain price can be found. Below are 10 players that may not sign on the first day of free agency, but they can be had at a reasonable price, and they could make a significant impact on the team that lands them.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Running backs aren't commanding much money these days and they're a dime a dozen. The former 2nd round pick and Stanford star has just never really had a chance to prove himself playing behind Adrian Peterson. Still just 26, he has very little tread wear on his tires. In four seasons he's had under 300 carries and he boasts a slick 4.7 career yards per carry average to go with it. In limited reps he's shown the potential we saw in college. He won't cost much but could be a really nice rotation player in a system that uses multiple backs.
Anthony Spencer, OLB, Dallas Cowboys: He played on the dreaded franchise tender deal last season and while he made a nice chunk of change, the lack of security it provides long term is starting to haunt him. Spencer goes from a 29 year old star in his prime that was franchised to a 30 year old coming off a serious knee surgery. He'll now have to likely sign a 1 year deal for cheap to prove he can still play, but if he can come anywhere close to his form prior to that injury, someone will look like a genius for getting him.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings: He won't break the bank and while he has consistency issues, he has serious big play ability. He's 28 which means he's been around and should be able to acclimate himself to a new offense quickly as a veteran. Give him the right role and the right quarterback and he could be a dangerous piece to have.
Devin Hester, KR, Chicago Bears: I can't imagine he'll cost much of anything but he can still electrify a return game. His 2013 season was as good as ever.
Kendrick Lewis, FS, Kansas City Chiefs: He's been a starter for four full seasons since his rookie year. He'll be 26 in June and with playoff experience as a starter, 7 career interceptions, and steady play he could be a really nice pickup for someone. He won't be confused with a Pro Bowler but he's young, has experience and has played pretty well.
Brian de la Puente, C, New Orleans Saints: From 2008 to 2011 the Saints were his SIXTH team as he bounced around rosters trying to catch on. Once he landed with the Saints he became a quality starter for the last three seasons out of nowhere. With Alex Mack now under the transition tag, De la Puente's value could go up, but starting quality centers normally don't come too expensive.
Perry Riley, ILB, Washington Redskins: He's only 26, has started 32 games the last two seasons, and can do a little bit of everything as a linebacker… showing he has the potential to play on every down. After a rough season he won't command a king's ransom on the open market, but you can't ignore the fact that he totalled 244 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 15 defended passes over the last two seasons. He's durable, reliable and versatile, not something you can say about many linebackers.
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans: He's a pass catching threat only, but he's definitely a factor in the passing game. Any team that needs size down the seam would be a perfect destination for him.
Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears; He may be over the hill, but a player of his pedigree and track record sure is tempting at the right price.
Clinton McDonald, DT, Seattle Seahawks: He had 5.5 sacks last year as a rotational interior pass rusher. That might be good enough for someone to give him a shot at a full time starting role. Being on a Super Bowl champion team never hurts.