The 2015 NFL year officially began on Tuesday with the start of free agency and there are an unusually high number of former Texas Longhorns now looking for new jobs as a result of expired or terminated contracts.
Here's a look at all 11, along with the two lifetime Longhorns who have already come to terms.
Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins quarterback -- After throwing only 18 passes in 2012 and 2013 combined, McCoy's career looked stalled, but the injury to Robert Griffin III and ineffectiveness of Kirk Cousins gave the lifetime Longhorn a chance to redeem himself. For the most part he did, leading the Redskins to a comeback victory over the Titans, then helmed a thrilling overtime victory over the Cowboys in a triumphant return to the state of Texas.
He's still not considered a starting-caliber quarterback, so there won't be a huge market for him, but he did prove that he can be an effective option off the bench if necessary. With Griffin and Cousins still on the roster, the Redskins aren't expected to keep McCoy, though the two sides remain in contact.
Tony Hills, Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle -- The last Texas offensive linemen selected in the NFL Draft, Hills has bounced around in recent years, spending time on six different rosters in the last four years. He's on the fringes right now and may be a practice squad player at this point in his career.
Jonathan Scott, Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle -- Scott hasn't started any games since 2012, so he's another player who may have to battle just to find a roster spot in 2015.
Justin Blalock, Atlanta Falcons offensive guard -- Released in late February, Blalock was a victim of cost-cutting measures by the Falcons, as he was due nearly $5 million in 2015, a figure he probably won't be able to make elsewhere despite starting 125 games in Atlanta. He's still playing at a high level, though, having given up only one sack prior to the season finale last year, making him one of the best guards on the market. The Detroit Lions are a possible destination for the former Texas stalwart and hosted Blalock on a Thursday visit. A trip to St. Louis to visit with the Rams is also in the works.
Sam Acho, Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker -- After playing in only three games in 2013 because of a broken leg, Acho was a part-time starter last season and had his least productive pro season with only one sack. At 6'2, he's undersized to play a 4-3 defensive end position, so he'll have to find another 3-4 team and convince them that he can return to his previous level of play.
In typical Acho fashion, he's busy working on his MBA instead of worrying about free agency. Free agency may not get too serious for him until some of the other outside linebacker dominoes fall.
Chykie Brown, New York Giants cornerback -- Brown landed with the Giants late last season because of Prince Amukamara's injury after the Baltimore Ravens put him on waivers due to poor play. A starter for four games in New York, Brown may have gotten his career back on track with two passes defensed and 31 tackles.
Tarell Brown, Oakland Raiders cornerback -- The 30 year old nearly set a career high in tackles in starting 14 games for Oakland last season, proving that he can still play, even though he wasn't quite as active in pass defense as he was during his best years with the San Francisco 49ers. He's now being mentioned as a possible Darrelle Revis replacement for the New England Patriots.
Aaron Ross, Baltimore Ravens cornerback -- A torn Achilles tendon ended the 2014 season for Ross after four games and could imperil his career, as few NFL players recover from such injuries to produce at previous levels. And Ross is now 32 years old and already in physical decline. If he does get another opportunity, it will come months from now when he's healthy enough to try out for interested teams.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens kicker (restricted free agent) -- The most accurate kicker in NFL history also holds the franchise record for longest field goal and has already made seven game-winning kicks. Now it's time for him to get paid after a bargain-basement rookie contract that paid him less than $1.5 million over three years.
Since the Ravens assigned a second-round restricted free agent tender to Tucker, the team has a right to match any competing offer sheet or receive a second-round draft pick in return. From the sound of it, Tucker wants to remain with the Ravens, and Baltimore can't really afford to let such a clutch kicker walk, though receiving a second-round draft pick as compensation for doing so does change the equation a bit.
Chris Ogbonnaya, New York Giants running back -- The unlikely NFL veteran re-signed with the Giants after appearing in several games on special teams late last season following his release by the Carolina Panthers.
Cory Redding, Arizona Cardinals defensive end -- Despite the fact that Redding is now creeping into his mid-30s, he'll be back for at least one more season after another steady year with the Colts in which he recorded 3.5 sacks. The venerable 3-4 defensive end signed with Arizona on a Wednesday visit to Phoenix, a deal that is reportedly for two years and worth up to $6 million with a $2 million signing bonus. Not bad, old man.
Henry Melton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle -- Melton wasn't as productive as the Cowboys hoped after he signed a big free-agent contract to return to the state of Texas. An injury ended his season early and Dallas decided not to pick up the three-year option on his contract because it would have paid him $9 million in guaranteed money in 2015. He visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the start of free agency and then signed a one-year deal on Thursday to reunite with former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
Brian Orakpo, Tennessee Titans outside linebacker -- Two out of the last three seasons ended early for Orakpo because of injuries, but he has 40 career sacks in 71 games (fourth all-time in team history), so he's a commodity on the free agent market. Ranked No. 22 on ProFootballTalk's list of top free agents, Orakpo has visits scheduled with Arizona and Tennessee, though he could sign with the Titans before visiting with the Cardinals.
He spent the night in Nashville having dinner with fellow lifetime Longhorn Michael Griffin and other Tennessee players. And as of Thursday afternoon, he was still there as the Titans worked to finalize a deal with him. On Friday morning, the news broke that Orakpo inked a four-year deal worth as much as $35 million, with $13.5 million guaranteed.