Some of the best defenders of the last decade still remain on the NFL free-agent market.
Dwight Freeney (defensive end), Brian Urlacher (linebacker) and Charles Woodson (cornerback) rank near the top of their respective positions in the past 10 years. However, all three are still looking to land a contract for the 2013 season.
Other players who are still in their prime, like Victor Cruz, have also yet to receive the lucrative contract offers they are seeking.
Where might the biggest remaining free agents land next this offseason?
The San Diego Chargers look to be in the lead to sign the defensive end.
The team scheduled a meeting with Freeney on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, a day after Melvin Ingram suffered a torn ACL. The linebacker only registered 27 total tackles in his rookie season, but the Chargers were looking for big things out of him in 2013.
Potentially losing a pass rusher for the entire season, San Diego will consider signing Freeney, who is fifth among active players with 107.5 career sacks. The Chargers need players who can get to the quarterback, losing Shaun Phillips to the Denver Broncos in free agency.
Just three seasons removed from being named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, Woodson has been surprised to go unsigned for so long.
Initially, there were rumors that he could land with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, the Broncos might be the defensive back’s best chance of joining a Super Bowl contender. The two sides have a meeting set for Wednesday, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.
Woodson’s agent, Carl Poston, told Anderson that his client has the opportunity to join another AFC West team. Poston says both the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers have inquired about the veteran’s services, with the Raiders making an offer. Woodson played for the Raiders before joining the Green Bay Packers in 2006.
The Chicago Bears star is looking to play in 2013, but he might not have an easy time finding a team that wants him.
There had been reports that the Minnesota Vikings were interested in their former rival, but head coach Leslie Frazier shot down that idea on “NFL AM.” Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Urlacher had been talking to the Broncos, but that also has been disputed.
Urlacher’s skill level has noticeably declined in recent years, and he recorded just 53 total tackles in 2012, as he battled injuries.
It appears inevitable that the wide receiver will return with the New York Giants in 2013. The question, though, remains on what kind of contract.
None of the other 31 NFL teams have made an offer to the restricted free agent, but Cruz and New York have been unable to agree on a long-term deal. Cruz reportedly seeks to make around $10 million per year, while the Giants don’t want to go much more than $7 million.
The impeding free agency of Hakeem Nicks may be playing a big role in the Giants unwillingness to offer Cruz more money. The club wants to make sure they can keep both players, and signing Cruz to a big contract now could limit what New York is able to spend on Nicks in 2013.