Best 2013 free-agent bargains

Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has done excellent work this season against top opposing receivers. Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL becoming a year-round business, the month of March has become an entire season unto itself. Free agency moves to the forefront, as teams look to fill as many holes as possible before draft season takes full swing. As intriguing as March gets with all of the signings and player movement, very rarely does the team that "wins" the paper battle go on to Super Bowl glory. Instead, the teams that find the best value and add pieces to a homegrown roster are generally best set up for long-term success.

Football is unlike any other sport given the complex nature of schemes and new roles, as well as the quicker attrition of aging players, so making the right decisions on the open market is vital in team building.

With that in mind, here's a look at the best free-agent values through six weeks of the season with the player's salary for this season in parentheses.


Aqib Talib, CB, New England Patriots ($4.9 million)

The Patriots were reluctant to give Talib a multiyear deal, but he's putting himself in line for a huge payday, assuming he stays healthy. His plus-8.2 overall grade ranks fourth among cornerbacks in our system, and he's doing so while tracking some of the league's best receivers. New England is generally reluctant to move their cornerbacks around the formation, but after using Talib in that fashion at times last year, they went back to it in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since that time, Talib has moved around to track the likes of Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and most recently Jimmy Graham.