Running backs will garner plenty of attention
There are a number of non-vested players available who could be claimed on waivers.
For those teams seeking depth at tailback, and there are more than a few even as the start to the regular season looms, the cutdown to the mandatory 53-player roster limit might have represented a windfall of sorts.
There were a few "vested" (if a vested veteran is on a club's roster for the opening game, his salary for the full season is guaranteed) veterans -- like Chris Fuamatu Ma'afal of Pittsburgh, Lamar Smith of Green Bay and New Orleans' Ki-Jana Carter -- whose names appeared on the league waiver wire. But more important to the franchises seeking younger tailbacks as backups, there was a healthy group of non-vested runners with fewer than four accrued seasons in the NFL, and who are subject to waiver claims.
Just a week ago, a few teams phoned the Washington Redskins to see what it might take to get second-year veteran Kenny Watson in a trade, and now he can be had for free. The former undrafted free agent rushed for 534 yards in 2002, a 4.6-yard average, and he also returned 23 kickoffs for an average of 21.6 yards.
The guess here is that there might be multiple claims on Watson.
Robert Edwards of the Miami Dolphins, the feel-good story of '02 after he resumed his career following a three-year hiatus and heroic comeback from what should have been a catastrophic knee injury, will play somewhere in 2003. Ditto another former University of Georgia back, Patrick Pass, cut loose by the New England Patriots.
There could be a few other "claimable" tailbacks, such as Dee Brown (Carolina), Cecil Sapp (Denver) and Herbert "Whisper" Goodman of Green Bay, whose phones ring soon. Many teams in need of reserve tailbacks gambled that several younger runners would be released, and thus rejected trade opportunities, and now will have their choice from a glut at the position.
Here are a few non-vested players at other positions who could be claimed on waivers or who will merit auditions with new teams:
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.