2013 NFL Free Agents Worth Overpaying

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIFebruary 11, 2013

2013 NFL Free Agents Worth Overpaying

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    The 2013 free-agent market isn't overly strong, but that doesn't mean there aren't players who can instantly make a team better. In fact, some players even have the ability to improve a roster so much that they would be worth overpaying to sign.

    Usually, teams want to stay away from overpaying a player. But sometimes, a team has a need and there is a player in free agency who can fill that hole. In these situations, an organization might have to break the bank to get better.

    Today, we are going to look at a handful of 2013 NFL free agents who are worth overpaying.

Jairus Byrd, Free Safety

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    Who Should Overpay: Buffalo Bills

    There simply wasn't a better safety in coverage this past season than Jairus Byrd. He recorded five interceptions and helped keep opposing quarterbacks to a 56.9 quarterback rating.

    He also played well against the run, making him one of the best all-around safeties in the league in 2012.

    With Buffalo needing elite players like Byrd on its roster, the team will likely need to overpay him to keep him around. That isn't a bad thing, though, as he makes the Bills' secondary significantly better. 

Brent Grimes, Cornerback

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    Who Should Overpay: Detroit Lions

    Before going down with an Achilles injury in Week 1, Brent Grimes had started to put things together for the Atlanta Falcons.

    When healthy, Grimes has the ability to be a shutdown cornerback for teams. He isn't necessarily going to force a lot of turnovers, but he can keep an offense's top receiver from making big plays downfield. 

    For years, the Lions have needed to improve their secondary. Now might be the perfect time to overpay for a true shutdown player.

Anthony Spencer, Outside Linebacker

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    Who Should Overpay: Dallas Cowboys

    While DeMarcus Ware may be the most well-known player on the Cowboys' defense, Anthony Spencer may be the best one. He certainly was in 2012, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a repeat performance in 2013.

    Spencer is successful in all facets of the game. Not only can he get after the quarterback (11 sacks, 27 hurries in 2012), but he is also very good against the run. He can even drop back into coverage and make plays.

    With Spencer and Ware, the Cowboys have two of the best outside linebackers in the league—a combination they should overpay to keep on the roster.

Dannell Ellerbe, Inside Linebacker

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    Who Should Overpay: Baltimore Ravens

    With Ray Lewis retiring, the Ravens can't afford to lose a player like Dannell Ellerbe.

    While he only played 667 snaps this season, he proved to be a valuable member of this team moving forward. The only area of his game that really needs improvement is when he drops into pass coverage. His ability to rush the quarterback and stop the run are both above average.

    Ellerbe is only 27 years old and is just starting to hit his prime. With more playing time, he could become a reliable starter.

    Baltimore has to re-sign him this offseason.

Henry Melton, Defensive Tackle

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    Who Should Overpay: Seattle Seahawks

    Henry Melton can really do only one thing well—get after the quarterback—but he should still be overpaid for that skill. 

    He has recorded 13 sacks over the past two seasons from the defensive tackle position, and many teams would covet that ability. 

    One of those is the Seahawks, who could absolutely overpay for a player like Melton. With Alan Branch a free agent this year, Melton becomes even more likely to sign with Seattle.

Ryan Clady, Offensive Tackle

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    Who Should Overpay: Denver Broncos

    Few tackles have been as consistently good as Ryan Clady has been for the Broncos. Now that the team has Peyton Manning at quarterback, Clady simply can't be allowed to leave.

    The man was an absolute workhorse last year, totaling the fifth-most snaps out of any tackle at 1,141 while only giving up one sack and 15 quarterback hurries. He graded out as the fourth-best tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

    Basically, Denver needs to pay Clady whatever he wants. Even if that means making him the highest-paid tackle in the league, he is worth it.

Andy Levitre, Offensive Guard

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    Who Should Overpay: Chicago Bears

    Andy Levitre isn't the most well-known offensive guard by any means, but that doesn't mean he isn't one of the most talented at his position. 

    His 2012 season was a thing of beauty. He finished as the highest-rated guard in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). While he didn't excel in the run game, he was a serviceable starter in that regard.

    A team like Chicago, who has issues all over its offensive line, should make a play at signing Levitre.

Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver

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    Who Should Overpay: Miami Dolphins

    If the Kansas City Chiefs had any type of quarterback the past few seasons, Dwayne Bowe would easily be considered an elite receiver.

    Unfortunately, much like Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, Bowe's production has suffered greatly due to the quality of play from his quarterback. Bowe has the size and hands to greatly improve any team's receiving corps.

    One team that desperately needs playmakers at receiver is Miami. With Ryan Tannehill looking the part of a franchise quarterback, the Dolphins should do whatever it takes to bring Bowe on board. 

Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver

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    Who Should Overpay: St. Louis Rams

    Despite dealing with injuries the past two seasons, Greg Jennings can still make a huge impact for a team. He has all the tools to be a legitimate No. 1 option for several teams, including St. Louis.

    Now, Jennings isn't going to be an elite deep threat, but he was still a top-five receiver without that ability. He excels at getting open, catching the football and making plays after the catch. 

    The Rams desperately need playmakers on offense, and Jennings can still be one for them. It's extremely unlikely that the Green Bay Packers even make an effort to re-sign Jennings, but there should still be plenty of suitors for his talents.

Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver

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    Who Should Overpay: San Francisco 49ers

    Mike Wallace's offseason drama combined with his drop in production this season might have scared some teams away in free agency. However, Wallace still has the talent to be an elite deep threat in this league.

    He knows how to stretch the field, get open and make plays after the catch. He is one of only two players to have at least eight touchdown receptions in the last two seasons. 

    While it might sound a little crazy for the 49ers to overpay Wallace, it makes a lot of sense. They are likely losing Randy Moss this season, and with Colin Kaepernick as quarterback, they need players who can stretch the field.

    Bringing Wallace to San Francisco would take the offense to a whole new level.

Steven Jackson, Running Back

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    Who Should Overpay: Green Bay Packers

    Steven Jackson may be nearing the end of his career, but that doesn't mean that he can't still be extremely valuable to a number of teams.

    Jackson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his last eight seasons for the Rams. However, what is even more impressive is that he has done that while only averaging 281.5 carries per season.

    To give you perspective, LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 320 carries per season before he signed with the New York Jets.

    A team like Green Bay that desperately needs some semblance of a ground game should be willing to pay Jackson whatever he wants. He would greatly improve the Packers' roster and would make them extremely dangerous in the years to come. 

Joe Flacco, Quarterback

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    Who Should Overpay: Baltimore Ravens

    Not every quarterback who wins the Super Bowl is worth overpaying, but quarterbacks who win the Super Bowl, have been to three AFC Conference Championship Games and are only 28 years old are worth a lot of money.

    The Ravens simply can't afford to not have Flacco on their roster next season. Unfortunately, that likely means they will have to cough up quite a bit of dough (probably around $20 million a year) just to keep him around.

    What one game can do for a player.