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2013 NFL free agency: How 5 key guys should fit clubs' plans

Karlos Dansby would like employers to know he hasn't missed a start in 2 years. (USATSI)
Karlos Dansby would like employers to know he hasn't missed a start in 2 years. (USATSI)

A week into free agency, dust is clearing. Here are five key free agents -- Karlos Dansby, Victor Cruz, Ed Reed, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Elvis Dumervil -- and teams which should pursue them.

1. Karlos Dansby: The ex-Dolphins linebacker was a surprise release this week. Upon examining the free agency and and draft talent pools at middle linebacker, there are six teams which should be interested in Dansby: the Vikings, Broncos, Falcons, Giants, Ravens and Bengals were all -- with the exception of the Giants -- playoff teams. The also all need a middle linebacker.

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One of them needs to put a deal together for Dansby, 32, who recorded 101 tackles and defended nine passes in 2012.

I talked to Dansby after his release and he pointed out he hasn't missed a start in two years, and suggested any team interested should look at the two games last year against the Patriots. He had 24 tackles in the two games.

2. Victor Cruz: The Giants' receiver is a restricted free agent, who would require surrendering a first-round pick if the Giants don't match another club's offer sheet for him.

Any team near the bottom of the first round in need of a wide receiver should think about going after Cruz over a using a draft pick on a WR. In the past two seasons, Cruz, 26, has played 36 games with 189 receptions, 20 touchdowns while averaging 15.3 yards per catch and collecting 128 first downs. He has 21 postseason catches.

There's no guarantee any rookie in this draft class will produce those kind of numbers. The Texans, Patriots and Ravens should consider an offer sheet, because the Giants don't have the salary cap space to match a significant offer without cutting players.

3. Ed Reed: Reed is a future Hall of Fame safety who can still play and would be an outstanding addition to a few teams trying to get over the top.

Houston already has had him in for a visit, but the 49ers and Bengals should be in the hunt as well. The Jets aren't a player away from the Super Bowl, and don't have the cap space. However, they did lose both starting safeties and Rex Ryan coached him in Baltimore.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick: He may not have succeeded as the Bills' starting QB, but remains an outstanding backup candidate. How many teams fall apart when the starting QB goes down with an injury?

Go look at the two games in 2012 Fitzpatrick had against the Patriots. He threw for 687 yards and six touchdowns. He threw four TD passes in two games against the Jets. QBs with his experience are worth $4 million a year for a playoff team. Green Bay, Cincinnati and Atlanta would all rest easier if Fitzpatrick were on the roster.

5. Elvis Dumervil: A late arrival to the FA pool, but a blessing for a team in need of a pass rusher and too far down the first-round to get one of impact in this draft.

Atlanta looks like the perfect spot for him, and Baltimore has to figure out how to replace the production lost when Paul Kruger left. In Dumervil's last three seasons he has 150 tackles, 39 sacks, and 11 forced fumbles.

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