The 2014 NFL off-season is nearing, which means some player contracts have ended. This off-season, like others, there are big name free agents that everyone dreams of having on their team. The top five free agents on the defensive side of the ball will not come cheap to any team that is interested in signing them.
At the top of that list is Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy. The 2013 NFL season was Hardy’s best to date. Hardy finished with a team record of 15 sacks and earned himself a trip to the Pro Bowl on team Sanders.
A funny thing happens on the winning score of the Pro-Bowl Colts coach Chuck Pagano replaced him with Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh on the conversion.
“I knew what he was running, exactly where he was going and they took me out,” Hardy said. “I was right there. I was like, ‘I know what’s about to go down.’ And they took me out.
Second on the list is Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. Orakpo spent almost all of his 2012 season injured, and looked to rebound in 2013. Orakpo recorded 10 sacks on the season, and recorded his first interception as well. Orakpo made his third Pro-Bowl, joining Hardy in Hawaii. Orakpo is now the most prominent 2014 Redskins free agent, and that his skills as a pass rusher will earn him a hefty new contract.
Third on this list is Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd. There were rumors at the beginning of the 2013 NFL season that Byrd wanted out of Buffalo. Aside from all the distractions, Byrd was able to record four interceptions on the season, which tied with three others for the team lead. Bryd also made his third trip to the Pro-Bowl and now is one of the prime free agent defensive backs heading into the offseason.
Fourth in this ranking is another safety, T.J. Ward from the Cleveland Browns. Ward recorded two interceptions, tailed up 112 total tackles, and a half sacks, and a touchdown this season for the team. He’s also on the verge of free agency, but hopes to return to the Browns.
Finally to round out the top five defensive players from this past season is Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner. Verner was able to come down with a team leading five interceptions. At only 25 years old, Verner is looking to get more attention on the market this offseason.