Ball started in place of Hamlin in four games last season after the veteran suffered a high ankle sprain, and performed well. Most likely, this contributed to the decision last month to abruptly release Hamlin, a Pro Bowler in 2007 whose play slid to some degree in 2008 and 2009.
Ball, who was drafted out of Illinois as a cornerback, posted 31 tackles last season, and defended a career-high three passes.
As of now, the starting free safety job seems Ball's to lose. However, the team will explore other options through free agency. They are thought of as one of the most likely destinations for safety Darren Sharper, who is spending the week in Jacksonville, visiting the Jaguars.
Ball will make $545,000 in 2010 under his current contract.
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