Age as of 9/1/09. All free agents listed here are done so with an optimistic outlook that a new CBA will be agreed upon. Accordingly, only four accrued seasons are necessary to obtain an Unrestricted Free Agency status on this list.
Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins (28)
Rogers is a good cover corner in the league, but not having the greatest season this year, which could cost him a little. DeAngelo Hall is arguably playing the best football in that secondary right now. Still Rogers does a nice job of contesting passes and is not one of the bigger areas of problem in Washington. He, like many other players on the team, have voiced concern with ownership and could easily be on his way out if allowed to become an unrestricted free agent.
Tramon Williams, Green Bay Packers (26) – Restricted FA
Tramon Williams is the third corner behind Al Harris and Charles Woodson, giving the Packers a trio of starting caliber cornerbacks. Playing on a modest Exclusive Rights FA contract, Williams will surely expect a long-term extension this offseason after asking for one last season. The former undrafted free agent has honed his instincts and gets the match-up on the left side while Charles Woodson slides to slot position in nickel packages. The transition to the starting lineup shouldn’t be a difficult one, especially since he already played half a season replacing Harris last year. At the very least, Williams will be given the highest tender.
Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans (27)
After holding out for nearly the entire offseason, Dunta Robinson has stepped in and played pretty badly this year for a lousy secondary. With an entire offseason of workouts, Robinson can return to form and be one of the better corners in the league, but it’ll be interesting to see how the situation plays out next offseason after the saga of last year. His cries for more money have disappeared in recent weeks, but he may still demand top money, which the Texans will once again be reluctant to cave in to. Hopefully he won’t miss valuable workouts and play at a high level wherever he winds up playing.
Richard Marshall, Carolina Panthers (24)
Marshall has put up gaudy tackling numbers in his first three seasons, averaging over 80 per season. Starting opposite Chris Gamble, Marshall has actually played very well this season. He hasn’t given up many big plays and come up with a couple picks himself. Marshall loves to get physical and is likely to be retained by the Panthers at the end of the season.
Marlin Jackson, Indianapolis Colts (26)
Marlin Jackson has been a key defender inside the Colt’s secondary for the past several years, especially in nickel packages where he moves in to cover the slot receiver. Jackson started the season on the PUP list and played a couple games before reaggravating his knee injury. If he can’t return to full health by the end of the season and reclaim his starting position, it would be a very risky signing for the Colts, something they may not have the money to do.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Alan Ball, Dallas Cowboys (24) – Restricted FA
Leigh Bodden, New England Patriots (27)
Dre’ Bly, San Francisco 49ers (32)
Ralph Brown, Arizona Cardinals (30)
Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons (26) – Restricted FA
Nick Harper, Tennessee Titans (34)
Walt Harris, San Francisco 49ers (35)
Anthony Henry, Detroit Lions (32)
Ellis Hobbs, Philadelphia Eagles (26)
Roderick Hood, Cleveland Browns (27)
Tim Jennings, Indianapolis Colts (26)
Ken Lucas, Seattle Seahawks (30)
Karl Paymah, Minnesota Vikings (26)
Stanford Routt, Oakland Raiders (26)
Deshea Townsend, Pittsburgh Steelers (33)
Fabian Washington, Baltimore Ravens (26)
Usama Young, New Orleans Saints (24) – Restricted FA
O.J. Atogwe, St. Louis Rams (28)
Though his big play numbers are down this season, Atogwe is on pace to break his season record in tackles and still remains the best hidden secret at safety in the league. After designating him their franchise player, the Rams will look to hammer out an extension after this season concludes. If he becomes a free agent, there are a number of teams that would love to add a playmaking safety like Atogwe to their secondary.
Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers (26)
After seeing teammate Greg Jennings handsomely rewarded this offseason, Collins missed most of voluntary workouts last offseason, partially as a protest to not receiving one himself. In 2008, Nick Collins emerged out of several seasons of mediocrity to become a safety net and playmaker in the secondary. He tied Charles Woodson for a Packers-high 7 interceptions, nearly doubling his career total. Collins’ numbers are down across the board, but he’s having another very solid season. Collins has been a nice coverage safety and played good contain on the run. However, if he wants to be paid like a premier safety, he’ll need to make more big plays.
Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts (25)
While Bob Sanders missed the first five games with injury, Bethea continued to blossom as another bright spot in the Colts’ secondary. He’s every bit as talented as the renowned enforcer, Sanders, but receives a fraction of the hype. A salary cap could force the Colts to choose between Bethea and Marlin Jackson in which they would more likely take their consistent and healthy safety.
Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints (33)
After a couple of inconsistent seasons in Minnesota, Darren Sharper has put together a fantastic season in New Orleans, making him one of the early frontrunners for Defensive MVP. Picking off 6 passes in 6 games with 3 touchdowns, Sharper is on pace for breaking the NFL record for most return yards and picks. While he should be expected to trail off that pace, Sharper has been a huge part of the turnaround in New Orleans. Given the former woes of the Saints’ secondary, don’t expect New Orleans to let him walk after this year.
Other Notable Free Agents:
Will Allen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27)
Atari Bigby, Green Bay Packers (27)
Tyvon Branch, Oakland Raiders (22)
C.C. Brown, New York Giants (26)
Daniel Bullocks, Detroit Lions (26)
Josh Bullocks, Chicago Bears (26)
Tyrone Carter, Pittsburgh Steelers (33)
Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers (29)
Hiram Eugene, Oakland Raiders (28)
Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints (26)
Sean Jones, Philadelphia Eagles (27)
Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens (26)
Danieal Manning, Chicago Bears (27)
Jarrad Page, Kansas City Chiefs (25)
Brodney Pool, Cleveland Browns (25)
Mark Roman, San Francisco 49ers (32)
Gerald Sensabaugh, Dallas Cowboys (26)
Roy Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (29)