The Most-Interesting Veteran DB on a New Team

Footballguys staffers discuss the top defensive backs who changed teams

Links to similar discussions on other positions:


Each offseason brings a good deal of veteran movement. The defensive back position is no exception. We asked our staff to offer up the safety or corner on a new team they were most interested in.

Here are the names who were mentioned.

And here are all of the reasons.

Jason Wood

As I scan our Player Movement Tracker, the number of starting cornerbacks who changed teams is jaw-dropping. It's the embodiment of one man's trash is another man's treasure. But if the question is most interesting defensive back to change teams, my vote is for Keanu Neal. It wasn't long ago the Falcons were thought to have the most impressive safety tandem in the league in Neal and Kazee. But injuries derailed their trajectories and both ended up signing free-agent deals with Dallas this year. The Cowboys also happen to have Dan Quinn -- the Falcons' former head coach -- heading up the defense. What makes Neal more interesting than other signings is the Cowboys' plans to play him at linebacker. Dallas is desperate for defensive help and it looks like the new base defense will be a hybrid nickel with Neal at safety but effectively playing linebacker on many downs, in a more conventional 4-3 front. It'll be exciting to see whether the experiment bears fruit because Dallas could easily win the NFC if the defense can just find its way to the middle of the pack.

Ryan Weisse

I'm going to cheat and name two, which is fair because they left the same team and signed with the same team. The Cleveland Browns added John Johnson III and Troy Hill to sure-up arguably the only weak spot on their defense. From front to back, this defense looks ready to make some noise in 2021. Hill will take over as slot CB leaving Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and rookie Greg Newsome II to man the outside. Johnson is one of the better safeties in the game and will provide an excellent safety blanket behind those new corners. Combine all of that with one of the best defensive lines and an up-an-coming LB corps, and the Browns might have one of the best defenses in the league this season.

Jeff Haseley

Excellent call on the two Rams coming over to Cleveland, Ryan. No doubt, the additions of Troy Hill and John Johnson III will pay dividends for the Browns. Two other moves that bolster secondaries around the league are Kyle Fuller joining Vic Fangio's Broncos and William Jackson III signing with Ron Rivera's Football Team. Both coaches are defensive-minded, who understand the need to have a capable, veteran corner on the field. In a time when teams can't afford to pay the lofty salaries that good corners demand now, teams are forced to move on. We saw that with both of these players. Chicago couldn't afford to keep Fuller and Cincinnati had to make the tough decision of letting go of Jackson as well. Both should elevate the already strong defenses, especially Washington. Ryan names Cleveland as a strong defensive unit, and he's not wrong, but Washington is also turning heads with their continuous adjusting and strengthening of their defense. Cleveland and Washington should be on your radar as targets in leagues that use a defense/special teams position in the starting lineup.


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