Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans
If Verner opts to return to the Titans in 2014, he will have the chance to not only play for new head coach Ken Whisenhunt but new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The four-year veteran was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2013 after totaling 57 tackles, five interceptions (returning one for a score) and knocking down 23 passes.
The opportunistic Verner totaled seven takeaways this past season. Would the organization possibly franchise the talented defender?
Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins
Grimes’ 2012 season with the Atlanta Falcons ended after one game due to an Achilles injury. In his first year with the Dolphins, his season ended with an appearance in the Pro Bowl.
The heads-up defender led Miami with four interceptions and also knocked down 16 passes. Joe Philbin’s team lost its last two games this past season to finish 8-8, but it was the first time the Dolphins didn’t finish with a losing record since 2008. Now, the key is not losing Grimes.
Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers
It has not been a bad four-year run for Shields, an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami who signed with the Packers in 2010. He's coming off a season in which he started a career-high 14 games and in four NFL seasons has totaled 13 career interceptions.
General manager Ted Thompson has his share of quality players (defensive end B.J. Raji, wide receiver James Jones) that he is hoping to keep from hitting the open market, and Green Bay’s 25th-ranked defense could use all the help it can get.
Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
Marc Trestman’s team finished 8-8 in 2013 and didn’t have Tillman for half of the season. Is it possible that the 11-year pro has played his last game with the Bears?
“I'm not really worried about it," Tillman said, via Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. “I have some decisions I have to make in the next couple of weeks, couple of months."
Can the Bears easily replace 47 takeaways (36 interceptions) and 40 forced fumbles?
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos
Over the last few days, there’s been talk that the six-year veteran is contemplating retirement if his Broncos defeat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, it’s amazing what one media-day session at the Super Bowl will do, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
So, what does the future hold for Rodgers-Cromartie, who started for the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, was traded to the Eagles in 2011 and now may close out his career in style?
Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
Here’s a bonus selection. For the second straight year, the standout cornerback helped get the Patriots to the conference championship game. But for the second straight January, Talib got injured in the contest and could not finish out the game.
The one-time Buccaneers standout led the Pats with 13 passes defensed this past season and also totaled four interceptions. But how does his injury in the AFC title clash affect Talib’s status in 2014?