2006 NFL Free Agents
By: Thomas J Gersey
Continued from defensive backs part 1
4. Will Allen, CB, New York Giants [70 tackles, 0 INT]
If your team is looking for a cornerback, and they can't break the bank, then keep a close eye on this Syracuse alum when he matches up with Steve Smith in the first round of the playoffs. Listed at 5'10, 196, Allen plays bigger than he looks. Physical off the line of scrimmage, he has the requisite speed to keep up with a majority of the league's number one wideouts. His lack of interceptions this season are more a result of teams wanting to take a shot at rookie Corey Webster on the other side of the field. A former first rounder, Allen has been a mainstay in the Giants' secondary from day one. A consumate professional, he is consistent, and makes few mistakes over the course of a game. After being more of a gambler early on in his career, he has settled into the role of the team's primary corner, spending most of his time focused on minimizing the effect of the other team's star wideout. He would make a solid addition to any team looking for more consistent play on the outside.
GOOD FITS: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Arizona
EARLY PICK: The first five teams on the list are all excellent places for Allen to consider. Strong franchises looking for a solid if unspectacular veteran presence to play opposite younger players (Colclough, Newman, Marlin Jackson, Rashean Mathis), except for in Denver, where Allen would be among the league's top #2 corners. In Minnesota, he would help in the rebuilding effort alongside Winfield, while Arizona would certainly look to him to be the number one guy while they bring first rounder Antrel Rolle along. In the end, however, the Giants are likely to pay whatever it takes to hold on to Allen. Outside of the linebacker position, the Giants have very few needs, and are certain to spend whatever money they have on keeping their top players in Giant blue.
5. Tank Williams, S, Tennessee Titans [78 tackles, 1 INT]
Williams moves to the top of a solid if unspectacular group of remaining free agents. An excellent athlete, Williams has become a solid contributer over the years despite the deterioration of the Titans on the field. Not much of a ball hawk, Williams is an excellent tackler and reads plays well, always there to meet a ball carrier once he reaches his particular zone. The antithesis of Archuleta, Williams is more cereberal and caluclating, lining up big hits rather than seeking them out. He would be a calming presence in a young secondary, and less expensive than the flashier Archuleta, while offering the bonus of being three years younger.
GOOD FITS: Oakland, NY Jets, New Orleans
EARLY PICK: The Raiders currently have terrible cap problems, but releasing Woodson and some other veterans may give Al Davis enough room to bring in a player such as Williams. A former Stanford player, he would bring a veteran presence to an extremely young secondary. If the money isnt there, teams like the Jets or the Saints may prove to be a better alternative. New Orleans especially as Williams is a Gulfport, MS native. In the end, Tennessee will be as active in signing Williams as any other team, and will likely be in the bidding with Oakland and New Orleans to the very end.
OTHER FREE AGENTS OF NOTE:
Ricky Manning, CB, Carolina (RFA): A bit undersized, the addition of Ken Lucas has moved Manning to the nickel spot, where he is better suited. If a team is willing to pay him a starting corner's salary, the Panthers may be loathe to match it. However, the likelihood of that happening is not very high.
Lance Shulters, S, Miami: Not the player he once was, he would still offer a low cost alternative for a team seriously lacking at the free safety position. However, Miami would be in serious trouble if they lost Schulters, and will definitely try and sign him before March, unless they plan on drafting his replacement. Might be on Washington's radar.
Jamar Fletcher, CB, San Diego: A fomer first rounder, Fletcher wore out his welcome in Miami with inconsistent play. However, as a nickelback in San Diego, he found a home. Not likely to be as valuable as a starting cornerback, he would be a spectacular addition to a team that already has a solid set of corners, like Baltimore, Atlanta or Washington.
Jerry Azumah, CB, Chicago: Will only leave if he can get a starting job elsewhere, after losing his spot in Chicago to Pro Bowler Nathan Vasher. If he can't find a starting job, Chicago will certainly bring him back as a nickelback, unless they do sign Archuleta and move Chris Harris to the nickel spot. Either way, Azumah will likely be a third corner somewhere, while also assuming kick return duties, where the former running back has been spectacular in the past.
Deion Sanders, CB/S, Baltimore: He's old, a step slower, and still tackles with the ferocity of the "Fallen, and I cant get up" -lady. But he can still read a route better than anyone, and in his new spot as a safety, could excel in an opportunistic defense focused on creating turnovers. However, he remains a liability against the run, and is probably nothing more than a specialty player akin to a situational lefty in baseball.
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