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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
2014 NFL Free Agency Preview: Defensive Backs
By Matt Horkman

Cornerbacks

Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
Releasing Bailey saved Denver $10 million in salary cap space, so the move was a no brainier. Bailey may have to move to safety to continue his career.

Possible Destinations: Falcons, Jaguars, & Raiders

Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers
Last November, the 49ers signed fellow cornerback Tramaine Brock to a four-year extension. Because Brown is just an adequate starter, the 49ers may not want to commit to him as they did Brock.

Possible Destinations: 49ers, Browns, Eagles, Giants, & Vikings

Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts
According to Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson, re-signing Davis is the Colts’ off-season priority. The two sides are reportedly talking and Davis definitely wants to return. Another team could definitely swoop in at the last moment, but that remains an unlikely scenario.

Possible Destination: Colts

Captain Munnerlyn, Carolina Panthers
After using the franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy, Carolina may not have enough money to afford Munnerlyn. He re-signed with the team for just $1.1 million last off-season, but he’s coming off a career year, so he’ll receive more action this off-season. Rumors have the Saints plucking him away from their divisional rival.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Buccaneers, Panthers, & Saints

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos
Keeping Rodgers-Cromartie is Denver’s biggest off-season priority. The two sides reportedly met during the combine, but there’s no word on their current progress. Losing Rodgers-Cromartie would be a major blow to Denver’s secondary, so the Broncos will need to act fast to keep him. Whether he’s willing to take less to remain a Bronco remains uncertain.

Possible Destinations: Broncos, Chargers, Saints, & Titans

Asante Samuel, Atlanta Falcons
Two years ago, Samuel intercepted five passes for Atlanta. He had a down year in 2013, though, so his stock took a tumble. He’ll need to wait out the first few waves of signings before entertaining serious offers. 

Possible Destinations: 49ers, Broncos, Lions, Saints, & Titans

Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
The Patriots want Talib back, but they seem reluctant to give him big-time money under a long-term contract. Talib could take less money to ease New England’s concerns, but this is probably his last chance to land a major contract. This situation is far from resolved.

Possible Destinations: Browns, Giants, Patriots, Titans, & Washington

Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
Playing safety is not an option for Tillman, who made that abundantly clear earlier last month. The Bears don’t intend to pay him what he wants, so he’ll have to decide whether he wants to pursue greener pastures or take less and remain a Bear.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Colts, Lions, & Vikings

Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans
Maybe the best free-agent cornerback available, Verner is in the prime of his career, and coming off a very good season. At just 25 years of age, it isn’t unreasonable to think he could develop into one of the game's premiere corners. Expect his deal to set the market for the other free-agent corners.

Possible Destinations: Jets, Lions, Titans, Vikings, & Washington

Safeties

Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts
Durable and productive, Bethea would be an excellent addition for any team looking to upgrade the backend of their secondary. The Colts do want him back, though, so anyone looking to sign him may have to outbid them. Bethea could help many teams and this is probably his last chance at a top-flight deal.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Cowboys, Colts, Packers, & Texans
Jairus Byrd
Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Possibly the top free agent available, Byrd will command top dollar on the open market. Some reports suggest he’s looking for nearly $10 million a year. It seems unlikely he’ll return to Buffalo, but he could follow former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to Cleveland, as the Browns have enough money to meet his demands.

Possible Destinations: Browns, Dolphins, Colts, Eagles, & Washington

Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers
After spending eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Clark will have to play elsewhere to continue his career. At 34 years of age, he’s likely to have a small market. 

Possible Destinations: Bengals, Rams, & Titans

Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins
Re-signing cornerback Brent Grimes was clearly Miami’s No. 1 priority. The Dolphins can now focus on bringing back Clemons, though it remains uncertain how much interest they have in re-signing him. Clemons is an adequate starter, so he’s not likely to sign out of the gate.

Possible Destinations: Cowboys, Dolphins, Jets, Packers, & Rams

Louis Delmas, Detroit Lions
While Delmas is an intimidating hitter, he’s not particularly great in coverage. He’s been free to talk with other teams because Detroit released him. The Dolphins, Falcons, and Saints have all reached out, with the Falcons seemingly showing the most interest. Personally, I think he’d be an excellent fit in St. Louis, where his run-stopping ability would come in handy against San Francisco and Seattle.

Possible Destinations: Dolphins, Falcons, Rams, & Saints

Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
Rumors link Jenkins to the Eagles, who desperately need help at safety. In fact, Philadelphia attempted to upgrade the position last off-season through free agency, but it didn’t go well. Jenkins is entering his sixth season, but he won’t be 27 until December. He’ll be a strong mid-tier signing.

Possible Destinations: Bills, Eagles, Falcons, Packers, & Saints

Mike Mitchell, Carolina Panthers
Mitchell played under a one-year contract in 2013 and is coming off an impressive season. The Panthers want him back, but he‘ll generate interest on the open market. He may want to weigh his options before committing to Carolina.

Possible Destinations: Bears, Broncos, Eagles, Panthers, & Washington

T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns
A bit overshadowed by Byrd, Ward is one of this off-season’s premiere free agents. The Browns are trying to bring him back, but Ward may want to play elsewhere. There certainly won’t be a shortage of options. 

Possible Destinations: Broncos, Browns, Jets, Lions, & Washington

Donte Whitner, San Francisco 49ers
A better version of Delmas, Whitner has played eight seasons in the NFL and isn’t even 29 years of age. He’s still young enough for a team to not worry about him fading, but he’s also has enough experience to quickly pickup a new defense.

Possible Destinations: Falcons, Jets, Raiders, Rams, & Saints

Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders
Woodson will either re-sign with Oakland or retire. He played well last season, so he has proven to be a valuable asset to the Raiders. He turns 38 in October, however, and has a history of injuries. As a result, the Raiders want a contract based around incentives, while Woodson wants something more upfront.

Possible Destination: Raiders

Best of the Rest
Antonio Cromartie, N.Y. Jets
Drayton Florence, Carolina Panthers
Terrell Thomas, N.Y. Giants
Walter Thurmond III, Seattle Seahawks
Major Wright, Chicago Bears

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