Whether they possess the ability to cut the field in half, force a turnover or break the game open, impact players are few and far between in the NFL.
The league's free agency period will begin March 12, when an abundance of NFL superstars will become available. Although many will return to their current teams, some are sure to slip through the cracks.
Below we'll showcase some of the top impact players headed for the free agent market this offseason.
Jairus Byrd, S
Jairus Byrd has developed into a shutdown safety for the Buffalo Bills in recent seasons, striking fear into the hearts of opposing passers and receivers.
At age 26, Byrd has plenty of outstanding football left in him. What he brings to the table is the ability to lock down an entire half of the field. He has 18 career interceptions in four NFL seasons and didn't surrender a single touchdown in 2012, a year in which he forced four fumbles to go along with his five picks.
With veteran safety Ed Reed expected to be back in Baltimore next season, Byrd, a two-time Pro Bowler is hands-down the best safety perhaps set to become available this offseason.
Greg Jennings, WR
A veteran wide receiver with an impressive resume, Green Bay Packers star Greg Jennings brings a lot to the table as a free agent in 2013.
Not only can the 29-year-old star at various spots on the field, but his route running is exceptional, making up for whatever burst he may have lost after seven NFL seasons and a groin injury.
Jennings can find the soft spot in a defense from the slot or on the outside. He's a smart player and is as sure-handed as NFL wide receivers come. A two-time Pro Bowler, Jennings may be beginning his decline as he nears age 30, but that age can also be interpreted as experience.
Henry Melton, DT
Henry Melton is a 6'3", 295-pound wrecking ball in the middle of the defensive line. The 26-year-old has made a name for himself with the Chicago Bears over the past three seasons, but could be calling some other city home in 2013.
Melton's strength is, well, his strength. He can push through the middle of the offensive line snap after snap and cause disruption in both the running and passing game.
There are a handful of impact defensive players set to test the free agent waters this year, but none more dominant than Melton, who has 15.5 sacks (six in 2012) in three NFL seasons.
Melton earned his first Pro Bowl nod this past season.
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