2010 Notable IDP Free Agents

The 2010 off-season is going to be unusual. The failure to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement means that the 2010 season will be an uncapped year. Now many fans may think that this means the Daniel Snyder's and Jerry Jones' of the NFL will buy up everything in sight and dominate the league. However, this could be one of the more stagnant off-seasons, as far as free agent movement is concerned, because of certain stipulations that go along with this uncapped year. The biggest stipulation is that players have to be in the league six years to be an unrestricted free agent as opposed to the previous number of four years. Teams who wish to obtain RFAs from other teams must compensate those teams with draft picks. With this being said, most of the quality free agents are RFAs and will likely be staying with their current teams.

I have provided a list of notable IDP free agents for the 2010 season. This list will be continually updated throughout the off-season to reflect various changes in the free agency market. I will pull news from Rotoworld as it develops for each player and also add my own comments to these briefs.

Without further ado, here is my list:

Defensive Lineman

Julius Peppers1. RDE Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers (30) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Bears (6 years @ $91.5 million) - 3/5/2010

Peppers had a nice year in 2009 with 10.5 sacks and once again established himself as one of the top 5 defensive ends in the NFL. Peppers has made it quite clear that he is probably not going to be returning to Carolina and I don't necessarily blame him for that decision. Without a new CBA, the 2010 NFL season will be an uncapped season (with some restrictions on free agency). With this being said, Peppers, being an unrestricted free agent, will garner huge money. The Panthers franchised Peppers last year, but I doubt they will again this year due to the $20 million price tag and Peppers' obvious hesitancy to stay in Carolina. On February 3rd, Chris Mortensen reported that the Browns were apparently interested in signing Julius Peppers. Peppers has stated that he would like to play as a stand-up lineman in a 3-4 system (a system the Browns currently run), so he may be a good fit. However, I think it's more likely that he goes to Atlanta or Washington.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots

Fantasy Impact: If Peppers stays in a 4-3 system, his value will remain relatively unchanged. However, if he goes to a team, such as Cleveland, that uses a 3-4, his value will greatly diminish.

February 13 Update
: Michael Lombardi is reporting that the Eagles will pursue  Julius Peppers.

February 17 Update: The Patriots "remain very interested in acquiring [Julius] Peppers," sources tell NFL.com.

February 23 Update: According to NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora, Julius Peppers tops the Bears' list of free agent targets this off-season.

February 24 Update: Citing a league source, Brian Seltzer of ESPN Philadelphia confirms that the Eagles "are a target of...interest" for free agent Julius Peppers.

March 5 Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed on NFL Live early Friday that the "league-wide expectation" is that free agent Julius Peppers will sign with the Bears. Peppers' first official free agent visit will be to Halas Hall on Friday, and reports have Lovie Smith landing in Charlotte momentarily. The first visit often means the team has offered the most money. The Eagles dropped out of the bidding, while the Seahawks were never seriously in it. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has a tough time taking "no" for an answer with deep pockets, but may now have to turn his attention to Karlos Dansby.

March 5 Update: The player rep for free agent Julius Peppers insists that the Eagles remain "very interested" in his client, despite reports otherwise. Profootballtalk.com reported early Friday that the Eagles dropped out of the bidding after Peppers' price tag grew too high. It now appears that the Bears are standing alone in the Peppers sweepstakes, which wouldn't be a good development for Carey as his client prepares for Friday's Halas Hall visit. Carey is doing his best to keep Peppers' free agent stock high.

March 5 Update: Bears signed DE Julius Peppers to a six-year contract that includes $40 million in the first three years. Chicago, as expected, beat Philadelphia and New England to the punch with a deal believed to be in the $12-14 million-a-year range. A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Peppers has averaged over 10 sacks a year in his eight-year career and has 25 in the past two seasons. Peppers has less wear on his tires than most 30-year-olds, but the odds don't favor him finishing the contract. Still, the move looks strong on paper for a team that needs to win now for head coach Lovie Smith to keep his job. Peppers should maintain his fantasy value moving forward.

Julius Peppers2. DE/OLB Aaron Kampman, Green Bay Packers (30) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Jaguars (4 years @ $26 million) - 3/7/2010

It seems as though the Packers will attempt to re-sign Kampman next year even after he struggled transitioning from a 4-3 system to a 3-4 system. However, Kampman is built to be a defensive end in a 4-3 system and will therefore probably sign with a team that is looking to utilize has talents in that type of system. His market value has dropped somewhat do to a season-ending knee injury he suffered in Week 11 of the 2009 season. However, reports are that Kampman's rehab is far ahead of schedule.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy Impact: Prior to moving to OLB in the 2009 season, Kampman had been a top 10 fantasy defensive lineman. If Kampman signs with a team that heavily uses a 4-3, he will once again become a very viable fantasy defensive end. So, keep your eye on his free agent status as he could become a great value pick next season

February 12 Update: Bears defensive end Alex Brown has stated that he wants to see his team pursue Kampman and this makes me believe that the Bears will attempt to sign Kampman in the off-season.

March 5 Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter projects that the Seahawks will sign free agent DE Aaron Kampman. No official visit has been set up yet, so Seattle may be waiting to let Kampman see that his market value isn't up to snuff before making him a formal offer. You still can't rule out the Eagles jumping in.

March 5 Update: The Bucs have a "huge" interest in free agent DE Aaron Kampman, according to Brad Biggs of the National Football Post. Kampman has been linked to the Seahawks, but Biggs' source says he is the Bucs' No. 1 target in free agency. The Eagles are also in the hunt for a pass rusher with Julius Peppers reportedly close to signing in Chicago.

March 7 Update: The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed UFA Aaron Kampman. Kampman's new contract with the Jaguars is worth $26 million over four years, with $11 million guaranteed. He says he will mostly play right defensive end in Jacksonville. This is good news for Kampman owners. He gets a chance to play at a more natural position and could provide some good fantasy value.

Ray Edwards 3. LDE Ray Edwards, Minnesota Vikings (25) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Vikings (1st round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Vikings (1 year @ $2.521 million) - 6/14/2010

Jared Allen and the two Williams men up front paved the way for left end Ray Edwards to emerge this season. Edwards had 8.5 sacks and teams actually had more difficulty running over his side than Jared Allen's side. In the first game of the playoffs against the Cowboys, Edwards stepped up his play and proved to be a nuisance nearly every play, recording 3 sacks and 2 stuffs in the game. Edwards is a complete defensive end who will have a number of interested teams this off-season as the best young and complete defensive end on the market.However, the Vikings will try to keep the league’s best pass rush intact by re-signing the former Purdue standout.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints

Fantasy Impact: I honestly don't think Edwards' season was a fluke. I think he will re-sign with the Vikings and have a very good 2010 season (top 15).

February 13 Update: Judd Zulgad, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reports Edwards said during a radio interview that the Vikings have told him they will tender an offer to him this off-season.

March 5 Update: The Vikings have assigned a first-round tender to restricted free agent DE Ray Edwards. It won't be surprising if Edwards gets action on the RFA market, especially after his monstrous postseason. Having just turned 25, Edwards only figures to get better. Some past off-the-field issues, though, may keep Edwards safe.

March 13 Update: Beat writer Jeff McLane disputes a report that the Eagles are interested in Vikings restricted free agent DE Ray Edwards. The Eagles and Saints have both been reported as teams interested in Edwards, but he remains unlikely to be signed to an offer sheet at the price of a first-round pick. Though he had a dominant postseason, there may be concerned about a drop in production without the Williams Wall and Jared Allen drawing double teams.

Julius Peppers4. RDE/OLB Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Broncos (1st and 3rd round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Broncos (1 year @ $3.168 million) - 6/14/2010

Dumervil has become one of the league’s best pass rushers, leading the league in sacks with 17. He excels in using his long arms and hands to keep defenders off his body, despite his unconventional proportions. The Broncos will find a way to retain their most prized asset on defense, probably by throwing high-end outside linebacker money in his direction. Dumervil has already exceeded 40 sacks and is one forced fumble away from 10 in his short 4-year career. One thing that may prevent him from getting the type of contract he may ask for is that Dumervil is pretty one-dimensional and is moved around a lot to allow him to attack the weakest points of a defense.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Denver Broncos

Fantasy Impact: In most leagues, Dumervil is classified as a linebacker and, therefore, he loses much of his value. Unless he is classified as a defensive end or you are in a big-play league that rewards heavily for sacks, Dumervil a middle-of-the road option.

March 3 Update: The Broncos assigned a first- and third-round tender to restricted free agent OLB Elvis Dumervil. The move was an obvious one for Denver, as Dumervil just turned 26 and led the NFL in sacks a year ago. The sides will ideally work out a long-term deal. Dumervil would make a $3.168 million 2010 salary if he signs the tender.

Julius Peppers5. LDE Adewale Ogunleye, Chicago Bears (33) - Unrestricted FA
Ogunleye started the first 14 games at left defensive end for the Bears this season, before sitting out the final two. He notched 6.5 sacks on the season, breaking last year’s total of 5. Surprisingly, he led the team in sacks with this number. With the sudden and tragic loss of Gaines Adams, the Bears should have more incentive to keep Ogunleye around until they can find some consistent production from the position. However, at age 33, Ogunleye's skills are starting to deteriorate.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): ?

Fantasy Impact: Starter or not, Ogunleye is pretty much finished as a top 25 lineman. He projects out as a low DL3/DL4.

February 16 Update: Kevin Seifert, of ESPN.com, reports the Chicago Bears likely will not re-sign impending free-agent DE Adewale Ogunleye if he is looking for significant money in his next contract.

February 23 Update: The Bears have shown heavy interest in both free agent Aaron Kampman and Julius Peppers which signals to me that they will not re-sign Adewale Ogunleye.

March 24 Update: Bears coach Lovie Smith confirmed Wednesday that the team will not pursue re-signing free agent DE Adewale Ogunleye. "He'll get on with someone else," Smith said, "and I still feel like he can play." The Bears are moving forward with Julius Peppers. Ogunleye, coming off a fractured right fibula, has yet to draw known interest on the open market.

Julius Peppers

6. RDE Darryl Tapp, Seattle Seahawks (25) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Seahawks (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Traded to the Eagles (for Chris Clemons and a 2010 4th round draft pick) - 3/16/2010
*Signed a contract extension with the Eagles (3 years @ $9 million) - 3/19/2010

Tapp had seven sacks back in 2007, but hasn't been able to match that total since. Tapp had 5.5 sacks in 2008 and only 2.5 in 2009. However, he is very able against the run, which may increase his 2010 market value.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Seattle Seahawks

Fantasy Impact: IDP owners have been waiting for Tapp to breakout since his 2007 season, but to no avail. If he re-signs with the Seahawks, his value will be largely determined by if the Seahawks draft a defensive lineman or not. If they don't and Patrick Kerney retires, Tapp may have another chance to be an every-day starter and prove himself. But, more than likely, Tapp will remain a backup.

March 4 Update: The Seahawks extended an original pick restricted free agent tender to DE Darryl Tapp. Tapp has only been disruptive whenever given the opportunity to play extensively, but he's now on a third coaching staff that doesn't seem overly high on the former second-round pick. Still just 25, Tapp might get some nibbles on the RFA market. Most likely, though, he'll return as a reserve.

Cliff Avril 7. RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Tennessee Titans (31) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Lions (4 years @ $26 million) - 3/5/2010

KVB has said that he doesn't expect to re-sign with the Titans. "The Titans have given me no indication that they would like to re-sign me," said Vanden Bosch, "so mentally and physically I have been preparing like I am going to free agency." He has recently come out and said that he could fit well in many of the defenses in the NFL (I doubt it) and therefore believes he could sign with any team in the league during the off-season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Detroit Lions

Fantasy Impact: KVB is overrated. He managed only 3 sacks in 2009 without Big Fat Albert Haynesworth sucking up 2-3 interior offensive linemen. His poor 2009 performance will affect his market value but he will still, more than likely, land a starting job somewhere. I would avoid Kyle no matter what team he plays on.

February 18 Update: The Titans have initiated contract talks with free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch. The sides had not talked contract since before the start of the 2009 season, so the olive branch from GM Mike Reinfeldt is a positive sign. Still, the declining 31-year-old will likely have to accept a below-market deal to stay in Tennessee.

February 21 Update: Beat writer Carlos Monarrez speculates that the Lions could go after impending unrestricted free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch.

February 22 Update: Peter King says he'd be surprised if impending unrestricted free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch isn't a Lion a month from now. This is the second time in two days that a reporter has linked Vanden Bosch to the Lions. So it seems likely that he may end up being a Detroit Lion next year. If this is the case, it will raise some concerns about the fantasy potential of Cliff Avril for next season.

March 5 Update: Yahoo Sports' Jason Cole confirms that the Lions are expected to sign free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch by Friday. Coach Jim Schwartz didn't wait outside Vanden Bosch's house for nothing early Friday morning. It's unclear how much the Lions are willing to pay the 31-year-old, but his addition could seal Dewayne White's fate in Detroit. Vanden Bosch's move to Detroit can actually help his fantasy value especially if the Lions draft Suh or Gerald McCoy with the 2nd overall pick.

March 5 Update: Lions agreed to terms with DE Kyle Vanden Bosch on a four-year, $26 million contract, including $10 million in first-year guarantees. Coach Jim Schwartz gets his former pupil, and KVB gives the Lions' pass rush some credibility and leadership. We suspect they won't look back fondly on this deal, though. Vanden Bosch is 31, hasn't been healthy since 2007, and had next to zero production in Tennessee without Albert Haynesworth. The Lions overpaid for Vanden Bosch and, to a lesser extent, Nate Burleson.

Julius Peppers8. LDE Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams (35) - Unrestricted FA
At 35, Leonard Little is still giving the Rams some solid production from the end position. Under Steve Spagnuolo, Little had started the first 13 games this year before not dressing for the final three games. He recorded 6.5 sacks and a pick six in the process. For the one time elite defensive end, it’s the most productive season he’s had in 3 years when he notched 12.5 sacks. Leonard has little left in the tank (no pun intended) and it’s unsure whether the Rams will renew his contract. Little has been a career-long Ram, so that may factor into his plans if St. Louis does decide to let him walk. Though he hasn’t spoken of retirement, it’s a possibility. Little lives in Carolina so playing for his home team could also be an option for him.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints

Fantasy Impact: At 35, Little is pretty much finished in the NFL and in fantasy terms. He won't be anything but a rotational pass-rusher from here on out. Good career Leonard.

February 16 Update: The Washington Redksins and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett are reportedly interested in bringing free agent DE Leonard Little to the Redskins. I see this as a good fit for Little. He's played in Haslett's system in the past and had success. He would still remain a situational pass-rusher however.

February 24 Update: Free agent DE Leonard Little, 35, is reportedly "leaning toward" playing football in 2010. "We are very open to the possibility of having him back," Rams GM Billy Devaney said Wednesday. Little, though, may want to play for a contender. To do so, the career St. Louis Ram would likely have to accept a situational role.

March 5 Update: Free agent DE Leonard Little said Thursday that he is interested in finishing his career with the Panthers. "If they would call, I would really have to consider it," he said. Little, 35, is a fan of current Panthers DL coach Brian Baker, a former Rams assistant. "He's been a great inspiration to me, off the field and on the field," Little added.

March 8 Update: The Saints will host free agent DE Leonard Little on Thursday.
This will be his first free agent visit. Little could help the Saints as a situational rusher off the bench. Injury prone and going on age 36, he wouldn't be a viable option to replace Charles Grant full time at left end.

March 11 Update: Free agent DE Leonard Little's visit with the Saints has been rescheduled.
The Saints have put Little on the back burner while they attempt to lock up former teammate James Hall. Hall would conceivably replace recently released Charles Grant as an every-down end.


D'Qwell Jackson 1. RILB D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Browns (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Browns (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 6/14/2010

D'Qwell Jackson is one of the best well-kept secrets in the league (playing in Cleveland will do that to you). Jackson, who will be just 27 in September, led the league in tackles in 2008 and was on pace to do it again before tearing his pectoral muscle in October. However, thanks to the lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Jackson will only be a RFA. Jackson is one of the cornerstones of the Browns defense and could really help solidify their defense in upcoming years. The Browns will continue to track his progress and will most likely sign him this off-season as he could be one of the best linebackers in the game, if he returns to the field healthy.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Cleveland Browns

Fantasy Impact: I love Jackson (in a non-gay way). He is a tackling machine. Period. If he re-signs with Cleveland, which he probably will, he's a top five fantasy linebacker.

March 4 Update: Browns extended a second-round tender offer to restricted free agent LB D'Qwell Jackson. If Jackson is valuable as his agent believes he is, then he'll draw plenty of interest at the cost of a second-rounder. Even as a perennial league leader in tackles, he may fail to land a tender offer coming off a torn pectorals muscle.

Barrett Ruud 2. MLB Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Buccaneers (1st and 3rd round) - 2/26/2010
*Re-signed by the Buccaneers (1 year @ $3.268 million) - 4/21/2010

The Buccaneers will make it a priority to re-sign Ruud to a long-term deal in the off-season and, with all the cap room they have available, they should be able to accomplish this task. Ruud is one of the best tackling linebackers in the NFL and has great instincts. He has become the leader of the defense is consistently among the league leaders in tackles.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy Impact: It's highly likely that Rudd will re-sign with the Buccaneers. Therefore, his value will remain the same as it has been the last couple of seasons.

February 26 Update: The Bucs have assigned a first- and third-round tender to restricted free agent MLB Barrett Ruud. Tampa's tackle machine isn't going anywhere. Ruud, 27 in May, is deserving of a long-term deal after two strong seasons as a starter. While he tends to make a lot of his plays down the field, he fits well as a Tampa-2 "Mike."

Kirk Morrison 3. MLB Kirk Morrison, Oakland Raiders (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Raiders (3rd round) - 3/3/2010
*Signed by the Raiders (1 year @ $2.524 million) - 4/14/2010
*Traded to the Jaguars (for a 4th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft) - 4/23/2010

Morrison has had over 90 solo tackles in each of his first five seasons in the league making him one of the most dependable tackling options at the linebacker position. However, he doesn’t make many big plays and many speculate that is he a product of the system and not necessarily that talented of a player. The Raiders seem somewhat unsure on whether or not they are going to try and re-sign Morrison. I think it's a 60/40 chance Morrison's a Raider next season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Oakland Raiders, New York Giants

Fantasy Impact: If Morrison doesn't re-sign with the Raiders, his fantasy value will drop substantially unless he ends up signing with the Chiefs as a starting ILB.

March 3 Update: According to Daniel Jeremiah of MovingTheSticks.com, restricted free agent MLB Kirk Morrison is generating "a lot of buzz around the league" after the Raiders tendered him at the mere original pick level. "Someone will give up a (third-rounder) for him," Jeremiah states. Highly athletic and productive, Morrison could probably play any of the three linebacker positions. He's been Oakland's Mike 'backer for the last five years.

March 11 Update: Restricted free agent MLB Kirk Morrison says he's drawing interest from a "few" teams so far. Morrison wouldn't reveal the teams, but it's no surprise that he's drawing interest after the Raiders applied just a third-round tender. Beat writer Mike Garafolo believes the Giants have at least had "preliminary discussions" with Morrison's agent.

DeMeco Ryans

4. MLB DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Texans (1st and 3rd round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Texans (6 years @ $48 million) - 3/30/2010

Since being drafted with the 33rd overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, this former Alabama standout has been a stud for the Texans, displaying consistency from game-to-game and year-to-year. He won rookie of the year in 2007 and has been voted to two pro bowls. Houston will almost definitely re-sign Ryans to keep intact the foundation of the Ryans-Cushing-Williams front 7.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Houston Texans

Fantasy Impact: Ryans is going to remain in Houston and continue to perform like a pro bowl linebacker. He will remain a top 15 linebacker.

March 3 Update: The Texans have assigned a first- and third-round tender to restricted free agent MLB DeMeco Ryans. While Ryans is an outstanding and every-down linebacker, few non-QBs in the league would get a team excited enough to give up both a first- and third-round pick for. Ryans, still just 25, should be targeted for a long-term deal.

Karlos Dansby 5. RILB Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals (29) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Dolphins (5 years @ $43 million)

Dansby is one of the better scheme-diverse linebackers in the league and will likely have a number of teams lined up ready to woo him this off-season if the Cardinals don’t make an early offer. He can get more on the open market than he could from the Cards, and the Cardinals probably won't franchise tag him for a third straight year. With this being said, Dansby will more than likely being wearing a different uniform in 2010.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s):
Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons

Fantasy Impact: As mentioned before, Dansby can play in pretty much any defensive scheme. Therefore, his fantasy value should remain relatively consistent with what it has been in years past.

February 12 Update: The Giants cut veteran starting MLB Antonio Pierce today leaving many to speculate that they may be in the bidding for Dansby. As of right now, the Giants have Jonathan Goff or Chase Blackburn to choose from, so it seems logical that they would pursue a linebacker in free agency.

February 13 Update: In a recent interview, Dansby said the Giants, Chargers, Dolphins, and Redskins are possible 2010 destinations.

February 24 Update: There is reportedly "combine buzz" that the Dolphins are willing to pay to get free agent LB Karlos Dansby.

March 5 Update: Free agent Karlos Dansby confirmed that his first visit will be in Miami on Friday. He's not on a flight to South Florida because he was just interviewing live with ESPN. The Falcons and Redskins are also said to be interested, but the Dolphins have to be considered the prohibitive favorites to land Dansby. Considering the Falcons' interest in Dunta Robinson, Dansby is a long shot in Atlanta.

March 5 Update: Redskins GM Bruce Allen is reportedly planning to avoid the biggest free agent names, taking the team out of the running for Karlos Dansby and Julius Peppers.

March 5 Update: Free agent Karlos Dansby indicated in an ESPN interview early Friday that the Redskins are not out of the mix to sign him. "Washington is definitely a place I'm looking at," he said. "My gate is wide open right now. I'm going to take every visit." ESPN's Adam Schefter and SI's Peter King both report that Washington is taking a wait-and-see approach in the first wave of free agency. It's possible that Dansby is using the Skins idea to boost his market because Dan Snyder is usually so aggressive.

March 5 Update: Dolphins signed ILB Karlos Dansby to a five-year, $43 million contract, including $22 million guaranteed. I believe this is good news for Dansby owners. He goes to Miami where there will be little competition for tackles.

Thomas Davis 6. WLB Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Panthers (1st and 3rd round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Panthers (1 year @ $3.268 million) - 6/8/2010

Davis started to the 2010 season on fire by registering 61 total tackles in 7 games before tearing his ACL in week 9. With Davis on injured reserve, I think the Panthers realized the importance he plays in their defensive scheme and, consequently, they should bring him back for next season. CarolinaGrowl.com is reporting that the Panthers are expected to tender an offer to Davis in the off-season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Carolina Panthers

Fantasy Impact: Davis will likely remain a Panther (at least for the 2010 season). Seem may view his 2010 performance as a fluke, but I do not. He had 113 total tackles and 3.5 sacks the year before that and has the talent to improve upon those numbers moving forward. He is a great fit for a 4-3 Tampa-2 scheme and I see him as a top 20 linebacker next season.

March 3 Update: The Panthers have extended a first- and third-round tender to restricted free agent WLB Thomas Davis. Davis won't generate interest with a tender this high coming off a torn ACL, but the Panthers weren't going to give up arguably their most important linebacker. The Will 'backer in Carolina's new Tampa 2 scheme is supposed to make most of the tackles. Davis was living up to that before his injury.

Stephen Tulloch 7. MLB Stephen Tulloch, Tennessee Titans (25) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Titans (1st round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Titans (1 year @ $2.521 millino) - 6/14/2010

In 2009, Tulloch had, by far, his best season as a professional football player by registering 94 solo tackles and 27 assists. With both WLB Keith Bulluck and SLB David Thornton's performances declining over recent years, Tulloch will take over the leadership duties in Tennessee, if he is re-signed. I feel as though the Titans will bring Tulloch back not only for his great performance in the 2009 season but also to mentor young linebackers Gerald McCrath and Colin Aldred.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Tennessee Titans

Fantasy Impact: Tulloch had a top 20 fantasy year for a linebacker and I look for him to finish with similar numbers in 2010. He could even crack the top 15.

March 5 Update: The Titans have assigned a first-round tender to restricted free agent MLB Stephen Tulluch. The former fourth-round pick will be safe. A hammer in the middle with underrated cover skills, Tulloch may be targeted for a long-term extension at some point after the draft. The 25-year-old finished '09 with 121 tackles.

Gary Brackett 8. MLB Gary Brackett, Indianapolis (29) – Unrestricted Free Agent
*Re-signed by the Colts (5 years @ $33 million) - 3/5/2010

Brackett has been one of fantasy football’s best kept secrets over the last few years. He has consistently been the Colts leading tackler and has emerged as one of the main leaders of the defense. The Colts want to bring him back for the 2010 season, but he does turn 30 in the off-season and the Colts may be tempted to draft a linebacker.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s)Indianapolis Colts

Fantasy Impact: I think Brackett is one of the safest plays at the linebacker position. He doesn't provide for much big-play value, but he is one of the most consistent tackling point producers in fantasy football. I think Brackett will remain a Colt and retain his LB3 value.

February 16 Update: Colts president Bill Polian reiterated that the team will "make every effort" to re-sign free agent MLB Gary Brackett. "We can approach that rather quickly...because there's no ambiguity about his status," Polian said. "He's a very good player. He's a leader and he's a guy we'd like to get signed."

March 4 Update: ESPN's John Clayton reports that the Colts are on the verge of re-signing free agent MLB Gary Brackett. It remains to be seen how much money Brackett will get, but the deal figures to average around $6 million annually with $12-16M guaranteed. The Giants and perhaps the Eagles were thought to be interested in Brackett had he made it to the free agent market.

Derrick Johnson 9. LILB Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Chiefs (1st round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Chiefs (1 year @ $2.621 million) - 3/24/2010

Here's a guy who could be a steal if the Chiefs are stupid and let him walk - or put a low tender offer on him. Johnson had his ups and downs last year with KC's new coaching staff as they transitioned into a 3-4 defense and was reportedly extremely unhappy about his demotion to backup inside linebacker. When he finally got back into the starting lineup, Johnson played very well. Now that he has a year under his belt in this kind of defensive scheme, he could be on the verge of breaking out. You have to love his speed and athleticism.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Kansas City Chiefs

Fantasy Impact: Demorrio Williams put up solid tackle numbers in spot of Johnson. However, he failed to produce many big plays. Johnson had two big pick sixes against the Broncos in week 17 and is obviously the more talented linebacker. If he can garner a starting ILB spot next season, look for Johnson to be one of the better defensive sleepers heading into the 2010 NFL season. He could see low LB2/high LB3 value for Johnson.

March 4 Update: The Chiefs have extended a first-round tender to restricted free agent ILB Derrick Johnson. The high tender will make the cost of signing Johnson to an offer sheet to prohibitive for all teams. Johnson was hoping to test the open market after being benched last year. However, this high tender may be a sign that the Chiefs are ready to make Johnson an every-down starting linebacker.

March 24 Update: Used as a mere nickel 'backer by Todd Haley's staff after starting his first four years, Johnson still managed 37 tackles, three interceptions, two pick sixes, and five pass breakups last season. The Chiefs' first-round tender for Johnson indicates that he'll get a serious chance to start this year. If he starts, I think he has LB1 potential.

David Hawthorne

10. LB David Hawthorne, Seattle Seahawks (24) - Exclusive Rights FA
*Tendered by the Seahawks - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Seahawks - 4/15/2010

Hawthorne filled in extremely well for the injured MLB Lofa Tatupu in 2009. Hawthorne, an undrafted linebacker out of TCU, displayed flashes of brilliance at times during the season. However, the Seahawks invested a lot of money in Lofa Tatupu and he will return as the 2010 starting MLB. And with 1st round draft pick Aaron Curry and veteran Leroy Hill there as well, there is nowhere to put Hawthorne. The Seahawks will probably tender him nonetheless.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Seattle Seahawks

Fantasy Impact: Hawthorne will come into the 2010 season being highly overvalued because of his gaudy 2009 numbers. However, he probably won't even enter next season as a starter (unless the Seahawks move to a 3-4). Be aware of him busting!

March 4 Update: The Seahawks tendered exclusive rights free agent LB David Hawthorne. Hawthorne proved himself a steal last year, making 11 starts in place of MLB Lofa Tatupu (arm) and leading the Seahawks with a whopping 117 tackles, to go with four sacks, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He's clearly a player, although Hawthorne is not on track to be a starter in 2010.

Thomas Howard 11. WLB Thomas Howard, Oakland Raiders (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Raiders (2nd round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Raiders (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 4/16/2010

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Howard has been one of the more consistent tackling linebackers in the league. In this four year span, he has averaged 85-100 total tackles per year and will probably be tendered by the Raiders with a fairly high draft pick.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Oakland Raiders

Fantasy Impact: Howard has been a solid LB3 since entering the league in 2006. However, he was moved into the starting SLB position mid-way through the 2010 season which severly reduced his tackle production. It looks as though the Raiders are going to keep Howard at SLB and move Trevor Scott to WLB. In my eyes, this makes Howard very unappealing.

March 3 Update: The Raiders have extended a second-round tender to restricted free agent OLB Thomas Howard. The Raiders gave their top two linebackers sub-round one tenders, their likely starting quarterback a second-round tender, and their nickel back the highest tender possible. It makes no sense, unless you're Al Davis. Howard is slated to start on the strong side this season, opposite raw WLB Trevor Scott.

Keith Bulluck 12. WLB Keith Bulluck, Tennessee Titans (33) - Unrestricted FA
Before tearing his ACL in week 15, Bulluck was having his best season in three years. Granted, much of his increased tackle production was due to opposing teams running more against the Titans, who were often trailing in games. With this being said, Bulluck suffered a major knee injury and his status for the beginning of the 2010 NFL season is in serious doubt. Also, he's 33 years old. The Nashville City Paper suggests that the Titans could re-sign him to a "one-year, incentive-laden deal." Bulluck, however, has stated that he doubts he will be back.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts

Fantasy Impact: It still remains to be seem where Bulluck will play next season. For me, he's just too old and injury riddled to perform at the same level were were accustomed to in years past. If he remains a Titan, there's a chance 2nd-year linebacker, Gerald McGrath could steal substantial playing time away from Mr. Bulluck. I see Bulluck as a LB4 next season.

February 16th Update: The player rep for free agent LB Keith Bulluck says the Titans have yet to express an interest in re-signing his client.

February 24 Update: Free agent LB Keith Bulluck believes he has played his last down as a Titan. Bulluck said he'd like to stay, but he hasn't heard from the Titans this off-season.

February 25 Update: GM Mike Reinfeldt told the player rep for LB Keith Bulluck (torn ACL) that he wants the free agent to remain with the Titans in 2010. The Titans do want to keep Bulluck, but only at a reduced price. Though the sides will keep an "open line of communication" heading into free agency, Bulluck does not expect to return to Tennessee.

March 14 Update: ESPN's Len Pasquarelli says that the Titans are not expected to bring back free agent Keith Bulluck now that they've signed Will Witherspoon. Bulluck is 33 and is coming off a torn ACL. Pasquarelli says the Colts have "mild interest" in Bulluck, but teams want to be certain he's healthy. He'll likely end up with some kind of incentive-laden, one-year deal.

Larry Foote 13. MLB Larry Foote, Detroit Lions (30) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Steelers (3 years @ $9.3 million) - 3/15/2010

Foote will be 30 by next season. But, he has extensive 3-4 experience from his years in Pittsburgh and was having a quiet, but very solid season in Detroit before suffering - of all things - a foot injury. Larry is also a Detroit native and it's been rumored that he'd like to spend the rest of his career in Motown. However, Foote has become frustrated with the Lions lack of interest and has come out and said that he is going to test the free agent market. Foote wants a multi-year deal, but I don't think he's going to get it from the Lions. They have stud-in-waiting DeAndre Levy ready to take over the MLB position and they still have Ernie Sims to play the WLB position.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers

Fantasy Impact: Foote's value at this point in his career has fairly well dissolved into a LB4/LB5. I really don't think it matters much where he plays next year.

February 17 Update: Lions president Tom Lewand said Wednesday that the team would like to re-sign free agent LB Larry Foote. Foote, though, has stated that he wants a multi-year contract and the Lions can't guarantee him a chance to start.

February 19 Update
: The Lions and free agent LB Larry Foote are reportedly "not on the same page" in respect to contract talks. Foote wants a multi-year deal, and the Lions are sticking to a second straight one-year offer. Since Detroit already has two young and talented linebackers with DeAndre Levy and Ernie Sims, they will probably let Foote hit the open market.

March 4 Update: The Dolphins have been linked to free agent LB Larry Foote. NFL Network's Michael Lombardi isn't buying the rumors, pointing out that the Dolphins already have "enough slow guys" on their defense. Foote isn't enough of an upgrade on Channing Crowder or Akin Ayodele.

March 5 Update: The Redskins and Cardinals are reportedly the top potential suitors for free agent LB Larry Foote.

March 15 Update: Steelers signed LB Larry Foote, formerly of the Lions, to a three-year, $9.3 million contract. The deal includes a $1.8 million signing bonus. Foote, who spent the first seven years of his career in Pittsburgh, left the Steelers after the 2008 season because he wanted to be a starter. Now, ironically, he returns to the Steelers as a clear backup. He'll give the Steelers some run-stopping insurance on the inside.

Rocky McIntosh 14. WLB Roger "Rocky" McIntosh, Washington Redksins (27) - Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Redskins (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Redskins (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 6/14/2010

McIntosh has played fairly well for the Redskins since they took him in the 2nd round of the 2006 NFL draft. The Redskins will probably be moving to a 3-4 system next season with McIntosh and LFB in the inside.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Washington Redskins

Fantasy Impact: Much of McIntosh's 2010 value will depend on how well he adapts to playing inside linebacker in a 3-4 system. As of right now, I would classify him as a LB4 with LB3 upside.

March 3 Update: The Redskins have extended a second-round tender to restricted free agent LB Rocky McIntosh. A weak-side linebacker since 2006, McIntosh will have to learn to play inside in the Redskins' new 3-4 system. He was originally a second-round pick, so the club is showing it doesn't necessarily consider McIntosh a great fit.

Will Witherspoon 15. MLB/WLB Will Witherspoon, Philadelphia Eagles (29) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Titans (2nd round) - 3/4/2010

Witherspoon came over to the Eagles mid-season from the Rams in a trade after Stewart Bradley went down for the year in preseason. He filled in decently the 1st couple games at middle linebacker but o,ce moved to weak side linebacker, his production quickly fell.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Tennessee Titans

Fantasy Impact: Witherspoon is an overrated fantasy linebacker. Much of the value early in his career was due to the ample tackle opportunities he was receiving playing on the Rams defense. He's nothing more than a LB4 anymore.

March 9 Update: Titans signed LB Will Witherspoon to a three-year, $11 million contract with $5 million guaranteed. Witherspoon, who started for both the Rams and the Eagles last season, has the versatility to play any of the three linebacker spots for the Titans. Per the Nashville City Paper, he will be "penciled in" as a starting outside linebacker, most likely on the weak side. The eraser could make an appearance if Keith Bulluck (torn ACL) re-signs.

Defensive Backs

Bernard Pollard 1. SS Bernard Pollard, Houston Texans (25) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Texans (1st round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Texans (1 year @ $2.5212 million) - 4/2/2010

After being cut by the Chiefs close to the start of the regular season, Bernard Pollard landed a starting spot with the Texans and turned in a fantastic year. He had 102 stops to go with 4 interceptions in only 13 games. Since Pollard entered the starting lineup in Week 4, the Texans allowed only 84.3 yards per game on the ground and 3.6 yards per carry after allowing 205 yards per game over the first three. The Texans will surely try to lock up Pollard to a long-term deal.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Houston Texans

Fantasy Impact: I think Pollard played a little over his head in 2010 but is a solid safety nonetheless. I wouldn't expect a repeat of his 2009 numbers, but he still has to be taken as a top 5 DB.

Oshiomogho Atogwe 2. FS O.J. Atogwe, St. Louis Rams (29) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Rams (lowest possible tender or "right to refusal) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Rams (5 years @ $32 million) - 6/23/2010

Atogwe has given the Rams consistent production since he became a starter in 2006. Though his big plays were down last season, Atogwe was on pace to break his personal best for tackles prior to his shoulder injury, which forced him to the injured reserve. After designating him their franchise player, last season, the Rams were unable to get a long-term extension done. Coming off injury, the Rams will be cautious, but also realize Atogwe is one of the better players on the team. I look for the Rams to sign Atogwe to a large, multi-year contract.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): St. Louis Rams

Fantasy Impact: Atogwe, along with James Laurinaitis, are the staples of the St. Louis defense. The Rams offense will continue to suck at least for the next couple years and, in turn, their defense will be on the field a ton. This means plenty of tackle/INT opportunities for O.J. He's definitely a top 10 DB next year.

March 4 Update: The Rams have assigned the lowest possible restricted free agent tender, known as "right of first refusal," to FS O.J. Atogwe. The team announced the move was made "with intent to sign...a long term contract." Atogwe has until June 1 to find an offer sheet elsewhere. If he doesn't, the Rams have to cut him or pay him nearly $7 million at that point. While Atogwe's play was down some, he remained St. Louis' top defensive back. The 29-year-old is sure to generate interest and a trade can't be ruled out.

March 11 Update: Rams FS O.J. Atogwe will reach unrestricted free agency on June 1 if the team does not sign him to a long-term deal, guarantee a 2010 contract of $7 million, or trade his rights. The predicament has to do with Atogwe's right of first refusal tender. Currently a restricted free agent, Atogwe can be signed to an offer sheet until April 15. If he fails to draw an offer, Atogwe can force the Rams' hand on the $7 million guaranteed, knowing that the team will lose his rights by June.

Roman Harper 3. SS Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Saints (1st round) - 2/26/2010
*Re-signed by the Saints (1 year @ $2.521 million) - 6/15/2010

Roman Harper can be compared to Bethea in a number of regards as one of the more underrated safeties in the league. His ability around the line of scrimmage in run support is among the best in the league. Harper led the Saints in tackles for loss and was only a couple back of Jonathan Vilma for the clubhouse-lead in total tackles. Both of the Saints’ safeties are set to become free agents this year with Harper great in the box and Sharper pretty good in coverage. The Saints will attempt to re-sign both of their safeties and after winning the Super Bowl, they shouldn't have much of a challenge in accomplishing that task.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): New Orleans Saints

Fantasy Impact: Harper's numbers dipped in the 2nd half of the season because of significant injury issues at the cornerback position. Harper was forced to play more in coverage as opposed to coming up close to the line of scrimmage on run blitzes. With all of their cornerbacks healthy again, Harper should be a top 10 defensive back heading into the 2010 season.

February 26 Update: The Saints' qualifying offer to restricted free agent SS Roman Harper was at the first-round level. Harper will receive a $2.521 million salary, and the Saints are safe from another team poaching their strong safety at a first-round cost. This is good news for IDP owners as Harper should be able to produce solid fantasy numbers in the Big Easy.

Antoine Bethea 4. FS Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts (26) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Colts (1st round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Colts (4 years @ $27 million) - 6/11/2010

Antoine Bethea is every bit as important to the Colts’ secondary as the oft-injured strong safety, Bob Sanders. Despite earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2007, Bethea is still highly unrecognized. He’s consistently one of the Colts’ leading tacklers as a result of his sound angles and quick closing speed around the line of scrimmage. He is a little susceptible in coverage, but has the ability to play both strong safety and free safety. Even though this wasn’t Bethea’s best season, it was very close to it, and the Colts will most likely place Bethea at the top of their priorities this season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys

Fantasy Impact: Bethea finished this season as the 16th ranked defensive back in my scoring system. He's overall tackle production decreased but he tied a career high in interceptions with four. Bethea is a fantasy player that always seems to get a sufficient amount of points week in and week out. I have Bethea ranked on the outskirts of the top 10 defensive backs.

March 3 Update: The Colts have assigned a first-round tender to restricted free agent FS Antoine Bethea. Bethea is a ball magnet with cover skills, so he was bound to get a pricey tender. Should he sign off on it, Bethea would collect $2.52 million in 2010.

March 5 Update: Scout.com reports that the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys are showing interest in restricted free agent FS Antoine Bethea. The Colts gave Bethea a first-round tender, making the cost prohibitive for Washington in particular if it planned to sign him to an offer sheet. The sides could potentially work out a deal for less than the round-one compensation level, but Indianapolis certainly won't give up Bethea on the cheap.

Dawan Landry 5. SS Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens (27) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Ravens (2nd round) - 3/3/2010
*Re-signed by the Ravens (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 6/8/2010

Landry set career highs in total tackles (100) and interceptions (5) this year and looked to finally be settling into his strong safety position. Thanks to the lack of a CBA, Landry will be a RFA in 2010. Rex Ryan really likes Landry and there have been talks about the Jets trading for him or trying to sign him during the off-season. However, because of the high price tag, he will most likely stay a Raven.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets

Fantasy Impact: Landry had a nice season in 2009. He actually finished as the 12th higest ranked defensive back in my scoring system. I foresee Landry's 2010 numbers being fairly comparable to his 2009 numbers. Therefore, I like him as a low DB2/high DB3.

March 3 Update: LaRon's less gifted younger brother rebounded last season from a poor 2008 with four interceptions, a stout 90 tackles, and a forced fumble. He didn't have a single pick the previous year. Landry is very likely to return as a starter in 2010, and may have an even more prominent role if FS Ed Reed retires.

March 5 Update: Restricted free agent SS Dawan Landry will visit the Seahawks, a league source tells Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post. Landry was assigned a second-round tender, making it unlikely the Seahawks would actually pull the trigger on a signing. Landry is set for a starting role with the Ravens in 2010.

Darren Sharper 6. FS Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints (34) - Unrestricted FA
*Re-signed with the Saints (1 year @ $1.575 million) - 5/4/2010

After a couple of inconsistent seasons in Minnesota, Darren Sharper put himself back on the map by picking off nine passes and breaking Ed Reed’s league record for most INT yards in a season (376). He also had four defensive touchdowns! Sharper is your typical gambler in the secondary, risking big plays for aggressive coverage and the interception and he is only adequate when it comes to supporting the run. The Saints would surely love to have him back on a defense that prides itself on forcing turnovers, but probably won't commit too many years to him considering he is 34 years old.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, New York Jets

Fantasy Impact: Sharper was the 2nd ranked defensive back in my scoring system. However, his overall points were largely inflated due to his four defensive touchdowns and I expect his 2010 total points to be substantially lower. Sharper doesn't come up with enough tackles to warrant true DB1 consideration, however, he has produced enough big plays over the last few seasons to be a low DB2/high DB3.

February 16 Update: NFL Network's Steve Wyche reports that the Saints are expected to place the franchise tag on impending free agent FS Darren Sharper. This move makes sense because Sharper is 34 and the Saints are therefore probably not willing to sign him to a long-term contract.

February 22 Update: NFL.com's Jason La Canfora confirms that the Saints have informed free agent Darren Sharper that he will not be franchise tagged. This doesn't mean he won't stay with the Saints though. Sharper and the Saints will try to work out a multi-year deal before the start of free agency on March 5th.

March 1 Update: Sources tell the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the Saints have a better than 50-50 shot to re-sign free agent Darren Sharper. Sharper spoke recently of playing for the Bears on a Chicago radio station, but it's pretty widely known that he'd prefer to stay in New Orleans. The Saints will need to step up soon, or risk losing Sharper to the open market.

March 11 Update: Free agent FS Darren Sharper believes he would be a good fit with the Jets.
Sharper says he has the "utmost respect" for coach Rex Ryan and loves his aggressive scheme. Sharper added that "there's something about the big lights and the big city that fits me." He also expressed interest in playing for the Bears, another team with a need at safety.

Richard Marshall 7. Richard Marshall, Carolina Panthers (25) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Panthers (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Panters (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 6/8/2010

Marshall has put up gaudy tackling numbers in his first three seasons in the league, averaging over 80 total tackles per season. In his first season as a full-time starter, Marshall played exceedingly well. He didn't give up many big plays and came up with a career high 4 interceptions and has developed into one of the more physical cornerbacks in the game. He’s prepared for the upcoming contract negotiation by switching agents to Drew Rosenhaus and, from my research, it seems as though the Panthers are prepared to offer Marshall a long-term contract.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Carolina Panthers

Fantasy Impact: Marshall is among the top five tackling cornerbacks in the league and is a perfect fit for the aggressive Tampa-2 defensive scheme that Carolina employs throughout games. With Marshall solidifying his starting spot last season, he should have plenty of tackle opportunities in 2010 and be a top 25 defensive back.

March 4 Update: Beat writer Darin Gantt expects CB Richard Marshall to draw interest in free agency after landing just a second-round tender from the Panthers. Marshall is apparently looking to break the bank on a new contract, and the Panthers are unwilling to go there after handing out a six-year, $53.5M deal to Chris Gamble in 2008. An above-average starter, Marshall is a good bet to land an offer sheet.

Danieal Manning 8. FS Danieal Manning, Chicago Bears (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Bears (low-level) - 3/1/2010
*Re-signed by the Bears (1 year @ $1.176 million) - 5/17/2010

Manning was a crucial part of the Bears defense early in the season. However, after a string of bad games in which he allowed big plays, Manning was demoted to the nickel safety position. Even though Manning didn't play well down the stretch, the Bears are young and inexperienced, and will therefore likely bring Manning back for the 2010 season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Chicago Bears

Fantasy Impact: I think Manning will regain his starting FS position next season. If this happens, and he remains the starter for the whole season, he could regain top 20 DB status.

March 1 Update: Daniel Manning will get a chance at strong safety in 2010, sources tell the Chicago Tribune. Manning, a restricted free agent, has received the low-level tender offer of $1.176 million. He'll almost certainly be back in Chicago. If the Bears don't land a strong safety in free agency, Manning will get a shot to show his "in the box" skills. He'll also be in the mix for the nickel back job.

Reed Doughty 9. SS Reed Doughty, Washington Redskins (27) –Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Redskins (2nd round)
*Re-signed by the Redskins (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 5/26/2010

Doughty played well enough las season to take the starting strong safety position away from Chris Horton. Moving into the 2010 season, it looks as though Doughty will stay in Washington and be the opening-game starter at SS.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Washington Redskins

Fantasy Impact: Doughty exceeded fantasy expectations by putting up 75 solo tackles and 16 assists during the season. If he get's a full-time starting SS position next season, he could be a solid DB3.

Antrel Rolle 10. FS Antrel Rolle, Arizona Cardinals (27) - Unrestricted FA
*Signed by the Giants (5 years @ $37 million) - 3/5/2010

Rolle has been a fairly decent contributor to the Cardinals defense since being drafted 8th overall pick back in 2005. The Cardinals may not want to pay him the money he desires in the off-season. So, it will be interesting to see where Rolle ends up.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): New York Giants, Miami Dolphins

Fantasy Impact: The Cardinals moved Rolle to FS last season and he put up respectable numbers (70 total tackles and 4 INTs). If he lands with the right team, he could be a decent fantasy DB3.

March 4 Update: The Cardinals have released FS Antrel Rolle.

March 4 Update: Profootballtalk.com reports that the Dolphins and Giants are continuing to pursue free agent FS Antrel Rolle, despite Rolle already having begun contract talks with the Bears. Rolle's getting so much interest a mere hours after his release that he can probably play one team off another. LaDanian Tomlinson wasn't so lucky. The Bears are operating with the most urgency and look to be the favorites.

March 5 Update: The Giants are expected to offer free agent FS Antrel Rolle a deal averaging $8 million annually during a Friday visit. The visit is pending, with Rolle possibly taking a deal elsewhere sooner than that. Rolle has reportedly turned down a six-year, $38.6 million offer from the Cardinals. He is targeting a whopping $40 million over five seasons.

March 5 Update: According to Profootballtalk.com, the Bears have dropped out of the race for free agent FS Antrel Rolle. The Bears already have visits lined up with Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor, so they'll take precedence. Rolle is expected to meet with the Giants Friday, though he was in Miami Thursday night.

March 5 Update: Free agent FS Antrel Rolle is reportedly taking a physical with the Giants as of Friday afternoon. A physical usually means a deal is all but locked up, though beat writer Ralph Vacchiano cautions that the same source says the Dolphins and Cardinals aren't out of the race if they increase their offer.

March 5 Update: Giants signed FS Antrel Rolle to a five-year, $37 million contract that includes $15 million guaranteed. The Giants had to upgrade their safety position, but of all the free agent signings so far, we like this one least. Rolle has fine ball skills and range, but has never made a Pro Bowl, tackled poorly last season, and often seems to be out of position. In a perfect world, the Giants would team him with SS Kenny Phillips to form an imposing safety duo. Phillips' future is cloudy, however, as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery.

Nick Collins 11. FS Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers (26) –Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Packers (1st and 3rd round) - 3/3/2010
*Signed to a contract extension by the Packers (3 years @ $23.4 million) - 3/12/2010

Collins is one of the best safety free agents available and will therefore likely be tendered to the highest degree by the Packers.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Green Bay Packers

Fantasy Impact: Collins is overrated in most scoring systems since he is not a consistent tackle producer. He has had 13 INTs over the last 2 years though and could provide decent value in big-play leagues.

March 3 Update: The Packers have extended a first- and third-round tender to restricted free agent FS Nick Collins. Collins' agent stated last week the he was "optimistic" about the sides striking a long-term deal. The highest tender prevents Collins from being able to test free agency, but the Packers seem serious about an extension.

March 12 Update: Packers signed FS Nick Collins to a three-year, $23.4 million contract extension, including $14 million in the first season. Collins already had a one-year deal through 2010, so the extension takes him through his age-30 season. A dynamic playmaker in center field, Collins is well deserving of long-term security after picking off 13 passes in the last two seasons and missing just three starts in his career as a five-year starter. He may be the most underrated safety in all of football.

Abram Elam 12. SS Abram Elam, Cleveland Browns (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Browns (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Browns (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 6/14/2010

Elam was excellent for the Browns last season as far as run support goes. However, he needs to improve in his coverage skills. He is a favorite of head coach Eric Mangini and will therefore likely be tendered with a reasonably high draft pick.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Clevelend Browns

Fantasy Impact: Elam made for a solid bye-week filler last season. He actually managed to accumulate 74 solo tackles. This relatively high production was due to the ample opportunities he received playing on the Browns defense. He may be a decent DB3 option moving forward if he stays with the Browns.

Ryan Clark 13. FS Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers (30) – Unrestricted FA
*Re-signed by the Steelers (4 years @ $17 million) - 3/8/2010

Clark had the best season of his career in 2009 by registering 68 solo tackles, 20 assists, and 3 INTs and was a decent bye-week filler for some IDP owners. He has stated that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh and both sides will attempt to get a deal done before the onset of free agency.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redksins, New York Giants

Fantasy Impact: Clark was a decent bye-week filler for IDP owners in 2009. I really don't see his numbers improving very much especially with a healthy Troy Polamalu in the secondary next season. If he signs with a different team in the off-season, his value could increase depending on the situation.

February 26 Update: The Steelers have turned their attention to trying to lock up FS Ryan Clark before the onset of free agency. Clark has stated multiple times that he wants to remain a Steeler, so the sides should be able to hammer out a deal before the end of next week.

March 5 Update: According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, free agent FS Ryan Clark is now no longer expected back with the Steelers.The sides' inability to reach terms before the free agency period opened late Thursday/early Friday indicates Clark's asking price is too high. He'd be a nice fall-back plan for the Cardinals if they're unable to woo back Antrel Rolle.

March 5 Update: The Dolphins are reportedly "discussing" the idea of signing free agent FS Ryan Clark. He should be a much more affordable option than Antrel Rolle, and is a far superior tackler. Clark also drawn interest from the Bears and his "old" team, the Steelers. The Redskins and Giants have been rumored as suitors.

March 8 Update: Steelers re-signed FS Ryan Clark to a four-year, $17 million contract, including $5 million in the first year. Smartly, the Steelers didn't stop pursuing Clark after their Monday addition of backup-caliber safety Will Allen. Also smartly on Clark's part, he leveraged Pittsburgh by taking a Monday visit to the Dolphins. Clark turns 31 during the upcoming season and has never been a big-time playmaker, but is a banger in the back end with above-average range. His return is good news for a Steelers secondary that may experience major overhaul at cornerback.

Melvin Bullitt 14. SS Melvin Bullitt, Indianapolis Colts (25) - Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Colts (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Colts (1 year @ $1.684 million) 4/13/2010

Bullitt has filled in well for the oft-injured SS Bob Sanders over the last couple of years. If he stays with the Colts, he will enter 2010 as the backup to Sanders. However, the Colts probably realize that, at some point, they will need Bullitt. Therefore, a high tender is likely.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Indianapolis Colts

Fantasy Impact: Bullitt will be a backup to start the 2010 season. However, he's a guy to keep your eye on come waiver wire time since Bob Sanders has a high chance of getting injured which will give Bullitt his starting SS job back.

Roy Williams 15. SS Roy Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (30) - Unrestricted FA
*Re-signed by the Bengals (1 year @ $ ? million) - 3/13/2010

Williams seemed to be a good fit in Cincinnati. However, he was injured for most of the season and it remains to be seen whether or not the Bengals will bring him back for the 2010 season.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Cincinnati Bengals

Fantasy Impact: Given the opportunity, I think that Roy Williams will surprise a lot of fantasy owners next season with solid numbers. In the four games he played in 2009, he 7 total tackles per game. Keep an eye on his off-season whereabouts.

February 18 Update: The player rep for free agent Roy Williams indicated that he's been discussing a contract with the Bengals. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had previously stated that Williams wouldn't be a priority this off-season, so he may have to accept a backup job and a bargain deal.

March 13 Update: Bengals re-signed SS Roy Williams to a one-year contract. It's likely a bargain contract, as Williams wasn't drawing interest on the open market. Though Williams remains likely to play on running downs, Chinedum Ndukwe is a superior option in coverage. Expect the Bengals to look for a long-term solution at strong safety in the upcoming draft.

George Wilson 16. SS George Wilson, Buffalo Bills (28) – Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
*Tendered by the Bills (2nd round) - 3/4/2010
*Re-signed by the Bills (1 year @ $1.759 million) - 3/29/2010

Wilson performed quite admirably will filling in for injured safety Donte Whitner. He had 103 total tackles and 4 interceptions and he really only started 13 games. Wilson has stated that he would like to sign a long-term deal with the Bills. However, it remains to be sign whether or not this will happen.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Buffalo Bills

Fantasy Impact: The Bills secondary is quite crowded at this point and even if Wilson is re-signed, he will probably start the season behind 2nd year player Jairus Byrd and Donte Whitner. Wilson's value will largely be determined by his starting status, so keep a good pulse on that during the off-season.

Nick Harper 17. LCB Nick Harper, Tennessee Titans (35) - Unrestricted FA
Harper underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season and is expected to be recovered by OTAs. However, he will be 36 years old next season and hasn't played well enough in recent seasons to be a starting NFL cornerback. He's a long shot to return to Tennessee this year and will have a hard team even landing a job in free agency.

Interested 2010 NFL Team(s): Tennessee Titans

Fantasy Impact: It's doubtful that Harper will be a starter in 2010 for any NFL team. And he may not even may be able to obtain a roster spot at all. If by some miracle he does obtain a starting spot, I would keep my eye on him since he's proven throughout his career that he's capable of putting up solid DB3 numbers when healthy.

February 19 Update: The Titans have reportedly reached out to free agent CB Nick Harper in hopes of brokering a deal.

Last Updated: June 25, 2010

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts: