NFL Players Who Have Earned Monster Deals in the 2013 Playoffs
For looming free agents, the bright lights of the NFL postseason can be a time when millions of dollars are either made or lost.
While some fold under the pressure, others rise to the occasion, giving both the client and agent something tangible to put on the free-agent bargaining table.
During the 2013 postseason, several upcoming free agents will have impressive playoffs performances to show off to teams this coming spring.
In the following slides, we present the players who could land big deals in free agency after shining bright during the 2013 playoffs.
OT Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots
One of the more underrated right tackles in the NFL is entering the 2013 offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Sebastian Vollmer, a 28-year old who has started 44 games in four years, will have his rookie contract expire at the conclusion of this league year.
He certainly helped out his potential value this postseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, Vollmer graded out at a combined plus-6.7 in playoff games against the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. He allowed just five total pressures over 97 pass-blocking snaps this postseason, and the Ravens' combination of Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger failed to muster a sack of Tom Brady in the conference title game.
Vollmer may not get ridiculous money this spring, and he's a good bet to stay in New England. But Vollmer did his best this postseason to prove to the Patriots and the rest of the NFL that he's worthy every penny of his next contract.
CB Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers
The restricted free agent status of Shields might limit the dollar value he can get from either the Packers or another NFL team, but he certainly proved over the final stretch of this season that he can be a top starter at the cornerback position.
In two games for Green Bay this postseason, Shields allowed just five catches for 58 yards on 13 targets. He intercepted two passes, including one against San Francisco that he returned for a touchdown.
According to PFF, his passer rating against of 38.8 was the best among NFL cornerbacks in the 2012-13 playoffs.
Shields was also able to shake some of the "soft" label he earned last season, missing just one tackle in 11 attempts during the postseason.
The Packers are likely to put a high tender on him, which will deter teams from offering up big money and picks to get him. But Green Bay would be smart to get Shields under contract long-term, because arguably no cornerback on the 2013 market has as much upside.
WR Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Wes Welker's two mistakes in the AFC title game will stick with fans, but don't expect either "drop" to hurt his value on the open market this spring.
The NFL's premier slot receiver still led the playoffs in receiving yards per game at 124.0, and his 16 catches and 248 yards ranked third and second in the postseason, respectively.
While unlikely that either Welker or the Patriots would benefit from a break up, it's certainly not set in stone that the 32-year-old receiver will be back in New England next season.
If the Patriots wait around, Welker will get offers. And in that scenario, there's always a chance that one franchise will be willing to pay more than New England would like to.
QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
No player in the 2013 playoffs did more for his free-agent value than Flacco.
The Ravens' hot-and-cold quarterback turned into a scorcher of defenses in three postseason games, throwing for eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions as Baltimore advanced to Super Bowl XLVII. Flacco currently leads the postseason in passing yards (853), touchdowns (eight) and quarterback rating (114.7).
Regardless of whether or not Flacco wins a ring, the Ravens now have to sit back and figure out how much value their franchise quarterback deserves monetarily. Expect the price tag to be substantial.
Beating both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and clinching the franchise's second Super Bowl berth in the same postseason will do that for an upcoming free agent. Flacco is due for a big pay day.
Trio of Baltimore Ravens?
The Ravens may have to really open up the checkbook this offseason. These three looming free agents also played well for Baltimore down the stretch.
LB Paul Kruger
Kruger's 2.5 sacks this postseason brought his season total to 11.5. Teams that need an edge rusher will take notice. For long stretches of 2012-13, Kruger was the team's best pass-rusher.
LB Dannell Ellerbe
Through three games, Ellerbe's 23 tackles ranked fourth during the postseason. That number is even more incredible considering all the tackles Ray Lewis has gobbled up. An athletic linebacker who has blitzing talents, Ellerbe should attract attention.
TE Dennis Pitta
Pitta might not be the most explosive tight end in football, but it's hard to ignore his overall numbers this season. Including the postseason, Pitta caught 71 passes for 806 yards and nine touchdowns. His two postseason scores ranked second in the playoffs. Luckily for Baltimore, Pitta is restricted.