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Need Help On Defense? Call These Free Agents

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Role Players


LB Brian Urlacher. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
LB Brian Urlacher. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

DE Israel Idonije

Idonije is a borderline impact player after turning in a strong season with Chicago. He recorded 48 tackles and 7.5 sacks, and could always be relied on to shut down the run. He’s versatile enough to play both positions along the defensive line and, even at the age of 32, is still a very effective player.

LB Daryl Smith

Smith has been one of the most overlooked linebackers prior to his injury-plagued 2012 season, but he could be a steal if he manages to return to form. However, it’s tough to predict what he will bring to the table after he missed all but two games to a groin injury last season as a 31-year-old

LB Brian Urlacher

Urlacher is no longer the fearsome defensive force he once was, but he can still play a role for any number of teams in the league. While he would be hard-pressed to find a starting job at this point, he can rotate in and provide a tremendous veteran presence.

LB Nick Barnett

On the verge of turning 32, Barnett can still be a strong contributor against the run and in coverage. He had 112 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles for the Buffalo Bills last season.

Barnett has experience playing both middle and strongside linebacker, and he can play in both the 4-3 and 3-4.

LB Thomas Howard

After tearing his ACL and missing nearly the entire season, it’s tough to predict if Howard can still be an effective player. He was a solid linebacker before the injury, but age is not very kind to athletes three decades in. Depending on the price tag, it would be worth the risk to find out what he can still do.

CB Sheldon Brown

Brown played well opposite Joe Haden last season, but he’s been the victim of a less than ideal market for defensive backs this offseason. He can still start if some team out there has a vacant spot, and it’s only a matter of time before the 34-year-old lands on his feet.

S Quintin Mikell

Mikell will be 33 by September, but he turned in one of his strongest statistical seasons last year by setting career highs with 101 tackles and 3.0 sacks. He was also one forced fumble shy of matching his career high of five.

He was released due to financial reasons by the St. Louis Rams and not for lack of production, and he can still start for any number of teams.

S Charles Woodson

Woodson is well past his prime nearing 37, and he was a bit of a liability at times last year before he went down to injury. However, he’s still capable of being a somewhat effective defensive back.

While Woodson hasn’t garnered much interest after parting way with Green Bay, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before he gets picked up.

S Ronde Barber

Barber may have turned 38 last month, but he still has some gas left in the tank. He had 91 tackles — the most he’s had in a single season since 2006 — four interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble last season.

It’s tough to see Barber starting anywhere at this point in his career, but he could be a solid piece covering the slot, in a sub-package or adding some depth at safety. However, this is all contingent on him staving off retirement.