Top 10 Free Agent Defensive Backs Still Available
Top 10 Free Agent Defensive Backs Still Available
It's safe to say that air raid offenses are more predominant lately than smash mouth plays in the NFL. The percentage of pass plays compared to run plays is about 60 percent. When the offensive team attempts to move the chains by passing, it's up to the defensive side's secondary--cornerbacks and safeties--to stop the attack.
While quarterbacks may vouch for their position as the most difficult position to play, defensive backs will say otherwise. The wide receiver runs forward while the defensive back begins running backwards. The wideout and his quarterback know the passing route, but the defensive back has to anticipate. The receiver is usually taller and bigger than the defensive back. In addition, referees are quick to whistle a foul on the secondary if there is any accidental contact after five yards from the line of scrimmage.
The safety position is even tougher. The safety plays like a jack-of-all-trades in the backfield. He sometimes has to cover the pass, blitz the quarterback, stop the run, or tackle a tight end who has about a 50 pound weight advantage. The safety has to be intelligent enough to see a play happen before it occurs, cover a quarter of the field, and have the physical tools to handle the ensuing play.
For teams that still need smart and athletic defensive backs, there's help available in the free agent market. They've got experience, and you want to stop the pass. It's a win-win situation. Here's the top 10 free agent defensive backs still looking for a team.
No. 10: Chris Crocker
Chris Crocker was released by the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2011 season and re-signed with the team in September of last year. After the '12 season was over, he was cut again. Must be a love/hate relationship. He had nine starts and finished the season with three interceptions.
No. 9: Jason Allen
Cornerback Jason Allen was cut by the Bengals after just one season where injuries limited him to just four games. When he was healthy, he was a solid defensive player. In 2011, he had four interceptions and 41 solo tackles. In 2010, he had six interceptions and 46 tackles. He'll be a great pick-up should he manage to stay healthy.
No. 8: Eric Smith
Eric Smith was cut by the New York Jets along with five other players in order to relieve $30 million off their salary cap. He had played his entire NFL career with the Jets. In 2011, Smith had 66 tackles and 2.5 sacks, but last year that fell to just 12. Maybe a new team will boost Smith's confidence.
No. 7: Terrence McGee
Terrence McGee, a 10-year veteran for the Buffalo Bills, was released during the offseason because of injuries. He was on injured reserve for the third time in four years. When healthy, he was a great cornerback and kickoff returner. He made the Pro Bowl in 2004 for special teams and had four interceptions twice in a season, in 2005 and 2007. He held numerous team kickoff return records, including 5,450 career yards and five touchdowns. The kickoff rules have changed and McGee can't remain healthy, but he wants to continue to play.
No. 6: Rashean Mathis
The NFL isn't kind to old and unhealthy players. Rashean Mathis of the Jacksonville Jaguars was cut by the team because of injuries and their pass defense was ranked 30th. He was a Pro Bowler in 2006 and holds the franchise record with 30 interceptions, but he'll turn 33 in August.
No. 5: Nate Clements
Nate Clements was another player cut by the Bengals for salary cap reasons. Last season, he had 31 tackles, an interception, and one forced fumble. While he has yet to find a new home, but he's working out in anticipation of playing for more years to come.
No. 4: Madieu Williams
Madieu Williams started every game for the Washington Redskins and accumulated 66 solo tackles along with one interception for a touchdown. He was released by the team after one season.
No. 3: Jairus Byrd
The Bills have franchise tagged Jairus Byrd, but he has yet to sign his $6.19 million tender. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and ties Ed Reed for most interceptions among safeties with 18 since 2009. The Bills may try a sign and trade with Byrd should contract talks stall beyond July 15.
No. 2: Sheldon Brown
Sheldon Brown missed only one game last season because of a concussion. Nonetheless, his numbers are quite impressive. He had 53 solo tackles, three interceptions with one pick leading to a touchdown, and recovered two forced fumbles. However, he's 34-years old and had nine penalties last year.
No. 1: Quintin Mikell
Last season, free safety Quintin Mikell had 101 total tackles, four forced fumbles, and three sacks. The Carolina Panthers are currently talking to him as they really need help in the secondary.
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