By Jordan Raanan, XFINITY Sports
Dannell Ellerbe had started just seven games in his first three NFL seasons. He averaged a measly 30 tackles per year. After a breakout 2012, the linebacker scored a five-year, $35 million deal with the Miami Dolphins that included $14 million guaranteed.
Ellerbe's big season paid off. He had a strong year right before the biggest moment of his life—free agency.
The former Ravens linebacker isn’t the first to capitalize on a single season worth of success. He won’t be the last, either.
Here are a dozen players (mostly impending free agents) who can break the bank with a strong 2013 season:
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) Jordan Raanan has covered the NFL since 2005. Follow him on Twitter @JordanRaanan, on Facebook or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.