NFL Free Agents and Potential Cap Casualties: Defensive Backs
2013's free agent Defensive Backs and potential cap casualties
2/15/13 in NFL
Here's a look at the 2013 class of free agent defensive backs in the NFL, along with players who may be released by the time free agency begins.
For a look at the free agent quarterbacks of 2013, click here.
For running backs, click here.
For wide receivers/tight ends, click here.
For offensive linemen, click here.
For defensive linemen, click here.
For linebackers, click here.
We'll start with the cornerbacks. The Patriots are reluctant to sign Aqib Talib to the long-term contract that his talent warrants due to his history of off-field issues. If the Patriots offer Talib a team-friendly contract, he very well may turn it down. If that is the case, the franchise tag could be an option. If Talib hits the open market, teams will line up to try and win the 27 year old shutdown corner's services.
Brent Grimes was sensational in 2011 with the Falcons, but tore his achilles tendon in September of 2012. Plenty of teams will be intrigued, but with Grimes turning 30 years old over the summer, it's tough to predict how effective he'll be after his devastating injury. He may look to sign a one-year deal to prove himself. The Falcons have a solid group of cornerbacks, so they may not feel it is necessary to bring Grimes back.
Big, physical Sean Smith emerged as a very legitimate starting cornerback in 2012, but values himself much higher than the Dolphins do. The franchise tag could be a possibility, but right now it seems that Smith will hit the market if the Dolphins don't match his lofty demands. The Dolphins don't seem likely to give in to Smith at this point.
The Eagles are not expected to bring Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie back in 2013, so he'll likely hit the open market with a high price tag. Though he's been considered a bust since being traded to the Eagles, he remains one of the league's top ball-hawking cornerbacks. With size and age on his side, he'll have plenty of potential suitors.
If you've been following my breakdown of free agency, you'll have noticed that all of the Ravens' free agents have a good shot of hitting the open market because of Joe Flacco's contract demands. The case is no different for Cary Williams, who had a great 2012 season stepping up to the No. 1 cornerback position after Lardarius Webb's injury. Williams is seeking about $8 million annually, and the franchise tag is not an option.
Despite their age (both will be 30 or older by the start of next season), Terrance Newman and Pacman Jones played very well in 2012 and are expected back with the Bengals.
Mike Jenkins is not expected to re-sign with the Cowboys, and he'll be looking for a starting job on the market. After being used sparingly in 2012, he won't draw a ton of interest as a starter, but if he's willing to take a smaller role, he'll have no problem landing a contract.
Lions top cover corner Chris Houston has a good shot of hitting the open market due to the Lions' salary cap limitations... Derek Cox has plenty of talent, but likely won't be offered a long-term deal due to a lengthy injury history... EJ Biggers started 12 games for the Bucs' 32nd ranked pass defense in 2012... After a disappointing 2012 season plagued by odd injuries, Tracy Porter says he'll be on the field in 2013 - but probably not with the Broncos.The top safety in free agency this year is Jairus Byrd, who may also be the best safety in football. Though he may want to test the open market, the Bills will franchise tag him if they can't get him signed to a long-term deal.
Dashon Goldson is another one of the league's top safeties, but is considered the 49ers' top priority in free agency. He's very unlikely to hit the open market.
There's been a ridiculous amount of speculation surrounding the future of Ed Reed. The Ravens definitely want him back, but once again, they may not be able to afford him. He'll be 35 years old in September, but still plays at a very high level and would draw a lot of interest.
The Falcons badly want William Moore back in 2013, and may use the franchise tag to do so, if it comes to that. He's a versatile and integral part of what the Falcons do on defense, and is still only 27 years old.
Laron Landry showed us how good he can be when he is able to stay healthy, playing in all 16 games for the Jets in 2012. It was the first time he's played in more than nine games since 2009. The Jets can't afford to bring him back, so he'll likely end up with a team that is convinced his injury woes are behind him.
The Packers recently released Charles Woodson, and he'll likely get a lot of looks as a package player to bring in on passing downs. ESPN's Ed Werder has suggested the Broncos and Patriots as potential landing spots.
Since being moved from cornerback to safety in 2011, Glover Quin has become a very good player. One of the top playmakers on the Texans' defense, the Texans will work hard to retain his services.
Ronde Barber, who transitioned from cornerback to safety in 2012, will be on the market as a rotational player if he decides against retirement... Though George Wilson was cut by the Bills and will turn 32 in March, he graded out as Pro Football Focus' eighth best safety in the NFL in 2012... The Lions want Louis Delmas back, but will not use the franchise tag on him, leaving the door open for him to test the market... The Giants are set at safety and will likely let Kenny Phillips walk, and he could get looks as a starter... Chris Clemons played very well against both the run and pass in 2012, and the Dolphins are working hard to re-sign him.
Here are some defensive backs that could be cut by the time free agency begins:
Champ Bailey (DEN) played well during the regular season last year, but was torched by Joe Flacco and the Ravens' speedy receivers in the postseason. Making $10 million in 2013, he may need to take a pay cut to stick around in Denver.
Eric Wright (TB) is set to make $7.7 million in 2013 based on his one good year as a pro, which came in 2011 with the Lions. Buccaneers management now realizes they overpaid him, and they may cut ties.
Dunta Robinson (ATL) hasn't quite lived up to his contract, and his $8 million 2013 salary is a bit steep. He's also set to make $10 million in 2014 and $11.5 million in 2015, his age 32 and 33 seasons. He's unlikely to get any better at this point in his career. With his age and salary both getting too high in the near future, he's a candidate for release.