If you haven’t seen it already, we’ve revealed the top 25 free agents in the 2015 NFL class. Now we’re breaking the crop down by positions.
This list combines both the cornerbacks and the safeties available in the offseason, not to mention some of the best in all the NFL.
Here are the top five options for 2015:
1. Darrelle Revis*
New England has until March 10 to either pick up or decline Revis’ $20 million option for 2015. Revis was one of a handful of key components in the Super Bowl-winning secondary. The team has a history of letting older defensive backs walk in free agency (Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, etc.).
If the Patriots cannot restructure his deal, Revis will have no shortage of suitors. Among them is likely Buffalo, where his former head coach Rex Ryan was just hired, as well as the Jets where he’s long been rumored to return to.
Revis may not have a chance to hit free agency this offseason, but if he does he’ll automatically become the top option.
2. Byron Maxwell
Seattle’s other cornerback, Maxwell knows he’s “the prettiest girl at the dance” this offseason. With teams shying away from Richard Sherman, Maxwell excelled being the top target. He held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 81.1 leading up to the Super Bowl. That’s better than 81 other qualifying corners, per Pro Football Focus.
If Seattle can’t afford to retain Maxwell, perhaps he’ll try to re-unite with former defensive coordinators Dan Quinn in Atlanta or Gus Bradley in Jacksonville. As of right now, he’s the best cornerback available.
3. Devin McCourty
McCourty proved he’s one of the NFL’s top safeties in the playoffs, coming up clutch with an interception in the AFC Division Round. He also can help teams as a nickel corner.
If the Patriots pick up Revis’ option, McCourty seems like he might have to find work elsewhere. However, reports indicate the team wants to re-sign him.
One possible option is the franchise tag. The expected tag for safeties is somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million.
4. Brandon Flowers
Flowers enjoyed a comeback season his last in San Diego, where he thrived in on the left side and in the slot. In other words, he was at his best when he had safety help over the top.
After succeeding in his “prove it” season with the Chargers he’s probably hoping to earn a more lucrative deal this offseason. The Bolts have to figure out if they want to invest in Flowers or running back Ryan Mathews.
At 28, Flowers is currently the No. 2 corner in free agency.
5. Tramon Williams
The soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran is a candidate to leave Green Bay unless he settles for a somewhat market-friendly deal from the team.
Williams said despite his age, he feels like he has a lot of miles left on his tires and remains steadfast on proving himself right. He’ll be a quality option for contending teams needing to pad their secondary depth. Williams might have to settle for a one- or two-year pact.
*Just Missed The Cut: Antonio Cromartie, Rahim Moore, Antrel Rolle
Like Williams, Cromartie is a tremendous asset for contending clubs in need of a quality No. 2 cornerback to play opposite a surefire No. 1. One potential landing spot could be back with the Jets where he could re-unite with former defensive coordinator and now head coach Todd Bowles.
Moore and Rolle are the Nos. 2 and 3 safeties this free-agent class behind McCourty. Moore’s days in Denver may be numbered since the team has a number of other free agents to tend to. He could be an option for secondary needy teams such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. At 25, he’s a quality option.
Rolle has long been a Giants captain, and at 32 years old it makes sense that the team will bring him back on a short-term deal. That contract won’t be too rich, so as long as Rolle is willing to give a little hometown discount it seems likely he won’t have to test the market.