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2013 NFL Free Agent Defensive Backs

By: Roshan Bhagat

Top Cornerbacks:

Charles Woodson (GB) - With a Hall of Fame case on his resume, Woodson will be able to step into any organization and bring leadership and motivation on and off the field. He's tipped his hand early indicating that he'll look to finish his career with a Super Bowl contender looking to leave the game with a second ring. At his age, he isn't the elite corner he once was, nor did he make a transition to becoming an elite safety. He still provides physicality, toughness, and strong slot skills that many teams lack in the secondary. For the Packers, the sum of these parts just didn't total the $10 million he was due. Brent Grimes (ATL) - After a couple of All- Pro caliber seasons under his belt, Grimes was unable to reach a long- term extension last offseason. Playing on the franchise tag, Grimes suffered a season- ending injury, which sheds some light on the thought process behind many holdouts. Though the Falcons finished allowing the fewest touchdown passes on the year (14) and 5th best in defensive quarterback rating (77.1), they'll want their top cornerback back if he can return healthy. The added risk will surely diminish the value of his payday whether it's from Atlanta or another team.

Aqib Talib (NE) - Though a career headache off the field, Talib has worked wonders for the Patriots pass defense since his arrival. Though still far from elite, his ability to play the perimeter has allowed the team to move Devin McCourty to safety, shoring up two needs and reducing the number of big plays they've allowed over the top. The Patriots need a player like Talib to contain their weakness, especially since they've struggled drafting corners, but history shows that they still won't ink Talib to a long- term deal just yet. Fortunately for them, almost every other team will take the same approach with Talib, who will most likely be suspended if he has another off- field infraction.

Sean Smith (MIA) - After trading another up- and- coming corner and former first round pick in Vontae Davis, the Dolphins showed confidence and placed a lot of stock in their long corner, Sean Smith. After another strong, but less than elite season, the Dolphins will be in a predicament with what to do with Smith if the current gap in contract talks doesn't shrink. It's hard to imagine that Smith will be paid as an elite corner, but something in the $6- $7 million range seems reasonable. Depending on how the Dolphins prioritize their impending free agents, Smith should be one that could get away as teams will fall in love with his size in the landscape of today's passing game.

Derek Cox (JAC) - While missing 17 starts over the past 3 season, it's going to be tough for the Jaguars to justify giving Derek Cox a huge contract. However, for a team that went 2-14, they may want to overpay, if it means keeping their top corner at the age of 26.

Cary Williams (BAL) - Williams reportedly turned down a 3 year, $15 million deal prior to the season, instead deciding to play on his restricted tender. Only time will tell whether he made a good decision, but after Lardarius Webb went down to injury, Williams assumed position as their top corner and has played well aside from a few plays over the top early on. Far from an elite corner, Williams won't see the 6 for $53 million offer Webb received last offseason, but the Ravens should be willing to commit a fair sum to keep Williams, ensuring strength in coverage.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (PHI) - After trading Asante Samuel and not hitting big on Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles will have decisions to make this offseason. Rodgers-Cromartie's a terrific athlete and has great size at the boundary corner position, but he hasn't played to the level of a good starting corner. The Eagles will likely resolve their vacancy at head coach before making any big roster moves, but they may be wise to let DRC test the market before re- signing him long- term. The depth at the corner position may be a concern if they let him go, but in the end, his demands may just not be worth the money.

Safeties:

Ed Reed (BAL) - Ed Reed isn't ready to go the Ray Lewis route and join him in retirement just yet, but that doesn't guarantee he won't reach that decision this offseason after contemplating it. The Ravens will have to join the rest of the league in waiting for him to assess his situation and determine whether he wants to put his body through another NFL season. If he does return, he'll reach a deal with the Ravens. If he doesn't it would be a huge blow for the defense to lose a pair of emotional leaders and future Hall of Famers in the same offseason.

Dashon Goldson (SF) - After several years of playing at a high level, Goldson has established himself as one of the league's top safeties. Goldson, who was reportedly seeking a deal in the range of $8 million a year a year ago, will face the same predicament as last year with a very tame tag number for safeties where 120% of his last year's salary would only equate to $7.5 million. With the production he's provided the Niners with much needed turnovers and big play prevention, he's likely to be kept through an extension or tag. With the volatility at the position, Goldson will be one of the bigger prizes in free agency if the Niners surprisingly decide not to use to the tag on him.

William Moore (ATL) - Through his rookie contract, Moore has become one of the premier safeties in the league. While the Falcons may be battling the cap going into this offseason, they should have enough to re- sign Moore, allowing the secondary to remain strong. With size, speed, and instincts, William Moore is an all- around safety that could establish himself as a perennial Pro Bowler for the duration of his next contract. With the safety position dry of elite players in the league, Moore could see a huge payday on the open market if the Falcons allow him to get that far.

Jairus Byrd (BUF) - After reestablishing himself as a strong ballhawk and improving upon his all- around game, the Bills opened up contract talks with Byrd midway through the season. Though talks don't appear to have gone very far yet, it will be an easy decision to use the franchise tag on him at $6.4 million if that's what it comes to. For all intents and purposes of this free agent list, he's as good a scratch off this list as any.

Louis Delmas (DET) - Delmas missed half the season to injury for the Lions and the secondary suffered from it. Though he's never broken free into the top tier of safeties, his absence has left the Lions reeling and pining for his return to the field where his reliability and hard- hitting ability has helped minimize the bleeding in the secondary. As the Lions look to find areas where they can improve, the secondary will be at the top of their list and within that goal, retaining their own starting safety will be important. After this season, his market value should have dropped enough to where his return to the Lions is a good bet.

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