The best signings in free agency are usually unheralded players.
Quarterbacks and skill position players get the most money. High-profile defensive guys get plenty of attention. Special teams players fly under the radar but can make the most impact.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman in 2014 to bolster their special teams. They did just that. The Eagles have had one of the best special teams units in the NFL the past three seasons.
“Part of the messaging to the team from my standpoint is we have three aspects of our team: You’ve got offense, defense, special teams. And, special teams is so important to the success of your team,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.
Maragos was lured away from the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks three years ago and signed a contract extension last fall. Braman will become an unrestricted free agent and should get a nice contract from a team looking to improve its coverage units.
Here’s a look at some of the NFL’s top special teams players who were signed as free agents:
JOSH MARTIN: The linebacker was signed off the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad and led the Jets with 14 special teams tackles in 2016. Martin will be an unrestricted free agent this week. He drew Bill Belichick’s attention before the Jets played the Patriots. “In the kicking game, Martin is the guy to stop,” Belichick said. “I mean, he’s one of the top players in the league (on special teams). He’s done a great job for them.”
ERIC WEEMS: The Falcons signed the wide receiver to a two-year deal after a successful first stint with the team before he went to Chicago. He finished fourth with 17 special teams tackles and will be an unrestricted free agent.
BRYNDEN TRAWICK: The Raiders signed the safety away from Baltimore last March and he finished with 15 special teams tackles. Oakland has a tough decision to make on WR Andre Holmes, a core special teams guy who will be an unrestricted free agent.
DWAYNE HARRIS: The Cowboys’ special teams haven’t been the same since they let the wide receiver sign with division rival New York Giants in 2015. Harris had 14 special tackles last season and returned one punt and one kickoff for TDs in 2015.
MARC MARIANI: The Titans signed the wide receiver a week before the season opener last year and he stabilized Tennessee’s return game.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker and Sports Writers Dennis Waszak and Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi