The defensive backfield is becoming higher-profile as the proliferation of gaudy passing attacks skyrocket. It's as simple as cause and effect.
The situation at safety is even more dire, after Devin McCourty decided to stay in New England. With plenty of teams needing help patrolling the back end, bidding could get high on a select few.
Below are our top free-agent defensive backs:
The top two
The 6-foot-1 corner thrived in the Seahawks' Cover 3 defense. Maxwell's size and physicality sets him apart from other corners on the market. The biggest question mark regarding Maxwell is his ability to flourish outside of the daunting Seattle secondary. Teams will have to measure whether or not the 27-year-old can be a true No. 1 corner or is best suited in the tandem role he played with the Seahawks.
After shaking off the rust of an ACL tear that cost him the entire 2013 season, Culliver displayed the size and speed that talent evaluators will salivate over. At 6-feet tall Culliver can press with the speed to recover. He started 14 games last season with 45 tackles, 14 passes defended and four interceptions. At 26 years old, he's just hitting the prime of his career and the ACL injury is behind him. Don't be shocked if the former third-round pick gets a whopper of a deal.
Free-agent fit:The need at corner for the Eagles is overwhelming and Kelly will love the size-speed combo. If Philly's shot-caller is doing it right he'll come away with the top safety and a corner who appears on the steep upward-sloped portion of his career arch.
The best of the rest:
3. Rahim Moore, S, Denver Broncos: Just turning 25 years old, the free safety has morphed into a solid starter with range (go ahead, make your AFC Championship Game joke) who is capable in run defense. Moore is a plug-and-play starter with room to grow. In a thin market for rangy safeties, he'll be in demand.
4. Davon House, CB, Green Bay Packers: Earning only 14 starts in his four-year career in Green Bay, mostly stuck in sub-packages, the 25-year-old will be searching for a permanent starting gig. The 6-foot-1 corner has the size and speed to stick with bigger receivers. He does need to improve in run support, which could come with more consistent playing time. The Packers could re-sign House if they lose ...
6. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals: Cro took a one-year prove-it deal in the desert and had an excellent bounce-back season. At 6-foot-2 Cromartie has great size for the position and at 30 showed this year he still has the speed to stride with receivers. He only allowed two touchdown catches all season.
7. Antrel Rolle, S, New York Giants: Rolle being ranked this high tells you the dearth at the safety spot. The 32-year-old is coming off one of his worst seasons in New York after a bounce-back 2012 campaign. His propensity to talk in a high-profile market leads to an overestimation of his play -- which was average and magnified by a banged up secondary. To his credit he's been extremely durable, not missing a game in five seasons with Big Blue.
- Perrish Cox, CB, San Francisco 49ers
- Ron Parker, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Cox played at a Pro Bowl-level for portions of last season with five interceptions ... With more playing time Searcy displayed improved cover skills to go with run-stopping ability ... Thurmond could be a steal if he could stay healthy, but that's proven to be a big if ... Skrine was picked on a lot the last two years; how would he perform away from Joe Haden? ... A bounce-back year for Lewis in his one season in Houston should easily translate into another starting gig ... Adams helped solidify a tough Colts secondary, but he's 34 and teams could decide to go younger ... Branch has the skills to be an impact player, but injuries have damaged his career ... Peanut has more punches left. The question is if/where he wants to play on a lower-level contract ... Robinson's best coverage season came in 2014 ... Versatility brings intrigue to Parker's situation after he started 15 games.