The 2013 NFL free agency period is set to begin shortly, and a number of top players are likely to be hitting the open market in the near future.
Many big-name studs are in for a huge payday, but the real winners of free agency are going to be the teams scooping up talented pieces for bargain prices.
Let’s take a look at some of these players that project to have relatively low salaries in relation to their expected production.
Chris Ivory, RB
If you haven’t heard of Chris Ivory, it actually wouldn’t be that surprising.
He’s coming off his third year buried on the New Orleans Saints depth chart, stuck behind numerous other skilled RBs in Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram.
Ivory’s most impressive season came as a rookie back in 2010, when he rushed for 716 yards and five touchdowns in just 12 games. However, in the two campaigns that followed, the third-year man out of Tiffin University appeared in the same number of contests and only rushed for 591 yards and three scores.
New Orleans has seemingly failed to realize this young man’s potential and will likely part ways with him in the offseason.
What is almost certain is that one of the many other franchises around the league will roll the tape on the 24-year-old and see a 6’0”, 222-pound RB with above-average speed and strength.
He could become a true No. 1 running back in this league, and the worst-case scenario seems to be a solid No. 2 that could garner at least 10 touches per game on a relatively cheap contract.
Brian Hartline, WR
The Miami Dolphins wideout put together a great season in 2012, despite the occasional struggles of rookie signal-caller Ryan Tannehill.
Through 16 games, Hartline hauled in 74 receptions for 1,083 yards and a touchdown and showed he has a propensity to absolutely go off when he’s in rhythm.
In an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, Hartline caught 12 passes for 253 yards and his lone score of the 2012 campaign. He’s not much of a TD generator, but the Ohio State product sure can get open and move the chains.
He had an incredulous 48 first downs last year and became one of the most reliable targets for Tannehill.
If Hartline—a three-year veteran—lands with an organization that utilizes a more advanced game and has a more prolific signal-caller under center, he could become one of the top possession receivers in the league.
Charles Woodson, DB
Despite the fact that Woodson had to be moved from corner to safety and struggled with injury in 2012, there’s still a good chance the 14-year veteran can contribute at a high level in this league.
When news first circulated of the release, Woodson’s agent, Carl Poston, gave this statement (h/t ESPN): "It's part of the business. I just talked to him. He sounds like he has a lot of football left. He'd like to play for a contender, win another Super Bowl."
At 36 years old, Woodson will likely have to line up at safety wherever he lands—which isn’t a bad position to finish his career out. The only defensive Heisman Trophy winner has ball skills that simply won’t diminish with age, and he’s always a threat to take one to the house.
Over the course of his prolific career, Woodson has recorded 921 tackles, 17 sacks, 29 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 55 interceptions and scored 11 touchdowns. Before he hangs up his cleats, those numbers are going to be inflated a bit more, something that should solidify his status as a bona fide lock to be enshrined in Canton upon retirement.
It’ll be interesting to see which team takes a chance on Woodson, but we’re sure they certainly won’t be disappointed in this sage veteran defensive back.