With the NFL's salary cap increasing by about $10 million from last year to $133 million and teams having holes to fill, free agency should be hectic. Shutdown Corner will have you covered, with a preview of a different position each day leading up to the start of the free-agency period on Tuesday.
Here is Shutdown Corner’s breakdown of free agent defensive linemen:
There is plenty of talent available at defensive end and defensive tackle this year. NFL teams can choose young guys with upside or veterans who can have an instant impact. There is no excuse for any team looking to upgrade their defensive line this offseason.
The contract for the Vikings' Everson Griffen will likely determine what other free agents demand. Griffen received $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed after compiling 17.5 sacks and one start in four seasons. That does not mean every team will spend that much in free agency, but the elite defensive ends had to shed tears of joy after seeing those numbers.
Top Attraction: Michael Bennett, Seahawks, DE
Some NFL observers believe Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson is the best free-agent defensive end, but his sack numbers dipped from 11.5 in 2012 to 3.5 this past season. Johnson has talent, but it is hard to argue against Bennett’s upside.
[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]
Bennett spent four seasons in Tampa Bay before signing a one-year deal in Seattle. He recorded 8.5 sacks during the regular season, which led the team, and was a key component on Seattle’s Super Bowl team. He has compiled 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons, and is 28 years old.
Buyer Beware: B.J. Raji, Packers, DE
Raji has the name, a State Farm commercial appearance, and size (6-foot-2, 337 pounds). But the former first-round pick does not have the numbers to prove he is worth a heavy investment.
During Raji’s last 30 games, he has compiled only two sacks and four quarterback hits. He has not recorded a sack during the past two seasons. It explains why Green Bay is offering one-year and two-year deals to retain Raji.
Raji wants to examine his options in free agency, but teams would be purchasing his name more than a disruptive defensive lineman.
Frugal Addition: Henry Melton, Bears, DT
Melton, 27, is coming off surgery to repair his left ACL, and he has issues other than his knee. He was arrested for misdemeanor assault and public intoxication in December. However, Melton plays like a top 10 defensive tackle at times. Several teams have already expressed an interest. The bidding war will likely increase as free agency begins. As long as Melton’s knee checks out, he will be a great addition at a reasonable price.
Miami is not expected to pursue defensive tackle Randy Starks in free agency, according to the Miami Herald.
Here is a portion of that report:
The talented Starks is headstrong — the middle finger he flashed at the Dolphins’ bench in the 2013 opener is proof of that — and many around the league believe that he’s not a personality fit with Miami coach Joe Philbin.
Best of the Rest
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen compiled 11.5 sacks last season, has 128.5 in his career, but teams are anticipating his demise. Imagine what Allen might accomplish if he was signed by a winning franchise that is one pass rusher away from a Super Bowl.
Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston will likely receive a massive contract this offseason. Green Bay is one of the teams highly interested in obtaining the 27-year-old standout … Former Missouri defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was a first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2009. Former Alabama standout Terrence Cody was a second-round pick by Baltimore in 2010. Now both players are free agents who will be fighting to make an NFL roster in training camp … Lions defensive end Willie Young is an above average player with room to grow. He has the potential to improve if surrounded by a strong coaching staff.
Shutdown Corner's free agency preview schedule
March 3: Shutdown Corners's top 25 free agents
March 4: Quarterbacks
March 5: Running backs
March 6: Receivers/tight ends
March 7: Offensive linemen
March 8: Defensive backs
March 9: Linebackers
March 10: Defensive line
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