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2005 Offseason Player Movement - Defensive Backs

  1. S Darren Sharper, 29, Minnesota (from Green Bay): 4 years, terms not disclosed
    Darren Sharper is one of the premiere playmakers in the league (31 INTs over last 5 years), but the Packers decided to release him after he wouldn't accept a significant pay cut. Most of his numbers dropped in 2004, but he was playing hurt most of the time and was still able to lead the Packers in interceptions with 4. The Vikings moved quickly to sign him once he became available, and he should be a good fit on a defense that appears to be loaded with talent. Sharper has been invited to 2 different Pro Bowls and is a very versatile player who can line up at either safety position. He's expected to line up at FS for the Vikings and will represent a huge upgrade from former starter Brian Russell. The Vikings have a very talented group of cornerbacks in place, so Sharper should be able to freelance a bit more than he did in Green Bay. The defensive line should also be able to generate a lot of pressure on opposing QBs, which will create plenty of interception opportunities for Sharper. Although his skills may have declined slightly from earlier in his career, at just 29 years old, Sharper still has the range and ability to be one of the highest scoring fantasy safeties in the league.


  2. S Kenoy Kennedy, 27, Detroit (from Denver): 5 years/$14 million, $4.4 million bonus
    After starting at strong safety for the Broncos from 2001 to 2003, Kennedy was forced to switch to free safety in 2004 after the team signed John Lynch as a free agent. That move, along with the addition of Champ Bailey, helped him put up the best numbers of his career. Kennedy has a reputation for being one of the biggest hitters in the league, and that has gotten him into some trouble in the past with fines and a suspension. He should provide the Lions with a physical presence in their secondary and help improve a run defense that finished near the middle of the league in 2004. Kennedy isn't much of a playmaker in the secondary (4 career INTs), but he's had some success as a blitzer and should be able to produce a few sacks each year. At just 27 years old, Kennedy is a young player on the rise and he could wind up being one of the better free agent signings in the league this year.


  3. S Sammy Knight, 30, Kansas City (from Miami): 5 years/$11 million
    Sammy Knight's career got off to a great start in New Orleans, where he averaged 73 solo tackles and nearly 5 interceptions/year over a 6 year period. He was a big free agent signing by the Dolphins, but didn't quite live up to expectations during his two years there. The Chiefs signed him to a reasonable contract and hope that he'll be able to provide some stability and toughness to their secondary. Knight doesn't have great range, but he has good instincts and great ball skills. His 35 interceptions since entering the league are the 2nd most in the league to Darren Sharper's 36. Knight is expected to start at strong safety for the Chiefs, and should help improve a defense that has been one of the worst in the league over the past few years. In addition to Knight, they've also added CB Patrick Surtain, MLB Kendrell Bell, OLB Derrick Johnson, and DE Carlos Hall this year, so defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham should have plenty of talent to work with in turning the defense around.


  4. S Dwight Smith, 27, New Orleans (from Tampa Bay): 5 years/$15 million, $3.5 million bonus
    The Saints defense has been a sore spot for years, and last year their pass defense ranked #27 in the league. Tebucky Jones was released after a year in which he set a career high for tackles because the team felt he didn't make enough big plays to justify his huge contract. Dwight Smith was signed from Tampa and should provide a decent upgrade at the free safety position. He's a former nickel CB who can match up with most WRs in coverage, and also has great ball skills to make a play when given an opportunity (12 INTs over last 3 years). Smith lacks ideal size and will miss the occasional tackle, but he's capable of delivering bit hits and the pressure created on opposing QBs from the Saints defensive line should provide him with plenty of interception chances. The Saints drafted a very good free safety in Josh Bullocks, so there is a risk that Smith could be moved back to cornerback at some point. As long as he stays at safety, however, he should be a productive fantasy DB.


  5. CB Gary Baxter, 26, Cleveland (from Baltimore): 6 years/$30 million, $10.5 million bonus
    Gary Baxter began his career as a backup at safety, but was moved to cornerback in his 2nd season. He's one of the bigger and more physical cornerbacks in the league and has started every game over the past 3 seasons. The Browns are likely to have at least 3 new starters in their secondary this year, as Robert Griffith, Earl Little, and Anthony Henry have all moved on to other teams. The safety position is likely to be manned by two very inexperienced players in Sean Jones and Brodney Pool, so the team will rely heavily on Baxter to provide stability and leadership. He hasn't shown great ball skills thus far in his career (5 INT over 3 years), and there's a good chance that his tackle numbers in Baltimore were inflated as a result of playing opposite Chris McAlister, who is a true shutdown CB. The new defense implemented by Romeo Crennel, however, should give the cornerbacks plenty of opportunities to come up and support the run defense, and if he's allowed to match up against the opposing team's #1 WR each week he should remain one of the more productive fantasy DBs in the league.


  6. CB Ty Law, 31, NY Jets (from New England): 7 years/$50 million, $5 million bonus
    Ty Law is an elite CB whose tackle numbers have been remarkably consistent over his career. He has good size, and is not afraid to be physical with ballcarriers. Law missed most of the 2004 season with a foot injury, but he apparently has recovered enough to convince the Jets to take a chance on him. If healthy, he's still young enough to give the Jets a few more good years at CB before moving over to safety. Furthermore, the Jets have one of the best defensive systems for fantasy CBs, as seen by the numbers put up by players like Donnie Abraham and Ronde Barber in recent years, and Ty Law could be the latest beneficiary.


  7. CB Anthony Henry, 28, Dallas (from Cleveland): 5 years/$25 million, $9 million bonus
    Many of the Cowboys defensive struggles last year were blamed on the fact that they only had one quality starting cornerback on the roster. To address this, they went out and signed Anthony Henry from the Browns. Henry has had a bit of an up and down career so far, starting with a rookie season that saw him rack up 10 interceptions despite playing primarily as the team's nickel back. He will give up some big plays on occasion, but he's got good size and should help take some pressure off Terence Newman and Roy Williams. Recent reports suggest that he's been one of the most impressive players in Cowboys training camp.


  8. S Tebucky Jones, 30, Miami (from New Orleans): 2 years
    The Saints made a big trade for Jones prior to the 2003 season, but he never quite lived up to their expectations despite setting a career high in tackles last year with 79 solos. He is a great athlete who does a solid job in coverage but he misses too many tackles and doesn't make very many plays. Nick Saban is planning to start him at SS, however, so he should be in a great position to put up strong tackle numbers once again.


  9. CB Patrick Surtain, 29, Kansas City (from Miami): trade, 7 year/$51 million extension w/$14 million bonus
    Surtain has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league over the past few years, yet he's probably gone unrostered in most IDP leagues. He simply didn't collect enough tackles while playing in the Dolphins defensive scheme that relied heavily on man coverage, despite putting up great INT totals almost every year (25 over last 5 years). The change to a new system in Kansas City could help him emerge as a viable fantasy option in some scoring systems. While he doesn't have great size and isn't known as a strong tackler, the CBs in Kansas City have traditionally produced decent fantasy totals.


  10. CB Samari Rolle, 29, Baltimore (from Tennessee): 6 years/$30.5 million, $11 million bonus
    Rolle is in a similar situation to Surtain. He's been a stud CB for the Titans over the years but been practically useless in IDP leagues as his tackle numbers are well below average for fantasy DBs. He will pair up with Chris McAlister to give the Ravens the best CB tandem in the entire league, with both of them able to shut down nearly any WR by themselves. Rolle is somewhat undersized at 5'11", 175lbs, so the Ravens probably won't ask him to get too involved in helping to defend the run. But, he will be stepping into the starting spot that was vacated by Gary Baxter, so it is likely that he'll see quite a few more tackle opportunities this year than he did while in Tennessee, when most opposing QBs tried to avoid him.


Others

  • S Lance Schulters, 30, Miami (from Tennessee): 1 year


  • S Robert Griffith, 34, Arizona (from Cleveland): 2 years


  • S Idrees Bashir, 26, Carolina (from Indianapolis): 1 year


  • S Earl Little, 32, Green Bay (from Cleveland): 1 year/$665,000


  • S Brian Russell, 27, Cleveland (from Minnesota): 1 year/$1.5 million


  • S Bhawoh Jue, 26, San Diego (from Green Bay): 3 years


  • S Travares Tillman, 27, Miami (from Carolina): 2 years/$1.7 million


  • S Jon McGraw, 26, Detroit (from NY Jets): trade


  • CB Ken Lucas, 26, Carolina (from Seattle): 6 years/$6 million, $13 million bonus


  • CB Duane Starks, 31, New England (from Arizona): trade


  • CB Philip Buchanon, 25, Houston (from Oakland): trade


  • CB Andre Dyson, 26, Seattle (from Tennessee): 5 years/$17.5 million, $3 million bonus


  • CB Aaron Glenn, 33, Dallas (from Houston): 2 years/$2.8 million, $1 million bonus


  • CB Mario Edwards, 29, Miami (from Tampa): 1 year


  • CB R.W. McQuarters, 28, Detroit (from Chicago): 1 year/$1.6 million


  • CB Dewayne Washington, 32, Kansas City (Jacksonville): 1 year


  • CB Ashley Ambrose, 34, Kansas City (New Orleans): 1 year


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