20 unsigned, big-name NFL free agent defenders
For my list of remaining big-name offensive free agents, click here.
DE John Abraham: After recording 10.0 sacks in 2012, it is pretty surprising to see Abraham still without a job. It looks like teams in need of a pass rush have deferred to cheaper options. The Dolphins were one of the frontrunners for Abraham, but selected Dion Jordan 3rd overall in the draft. Once camp gets closer, Abraham will likely lower his asking price and sign with a contender.
DT Richard Seymour: Though he was plagued by injuries last season, Seymour was still an effective player when on the field. It was interesting to see Tommy Kelly - Seymour's less effective Raider teammate - sign with the Patriots, as Seymour spent the first eight years of his career in New England and appears to have more left in the tank than Kelly does. The Falcons and Broncos are rumored to be interested in Seymour, but won't be willing to dish out big bucks to get him. There is speculation that Seymour will retire if he isn't offered a lucrative contract, so this could be the end of the road for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
DE Israel Idonije: Idonije is a bigger defensive end, so he offers versatility in that he can play end on early downs and kick inside to tackle in passing situations. The Bears could still bring back the 32-year-old, who has played for Chicago ever since being waived from the Browns practice squad in 2003. The Titans have also expressed interest, recently hosting Idonije for a visit.
DE Dwight Freeney: A misfit in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense, Freeney is now in search of a team in need of a 4-3 pass rusher. There has been a lot of speculation that Freeney could reunite with former teammate Peyton Manning in Denver, as he could play a significant role on the Broncos' defense. However, Freeney's sack totals have gone down in each of the past three seasons (he had 5.0 in 2012), so there is question as to how much he can still contribute.
DT Sione Pouha: A bit of a late bloomer, Pouha became a dominant force on the Jets' defense in 2009 at the age of 30. However, he dealt with chronic back issues in 2012 and was released. If healthy, Pouha could potentially play a situational role as a run stuffing specialist. The Ravens have been mentioned as a possible landing spot.
DT Casey Hampton: A dominant force for years in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have decided to move on from the five-time Pro Bowl tackle and get younger up front. Hampton has expressed a desire to continue his career, but hasn't generated much known interest. He should latch on somewhere as a reserve.
DE Ray Edwards: Since signing a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Falcons, Edwards has been a huge bust in Atlanta, tallying only 3.5 sacks in 25 games. They cut him in the middle of last season, and he cleared waivers. Edwards now plans to pursue a career in boxing. He made his professional debut during the NFL lockout, and has knocked out three opponents since the end of the 2012 NFL season. At the age of 28, a return to the NFL is still a possibility, but as of now, Edwards is a boxer.
LB Nick Barnett: The Bills released Barnett due to a failed physical, but he was a top-ten 4-3 outside linebacker last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He can play the middle or strong-side, and also has experience in a 3-4 defense, so it's surprising that he hasn't been receiving more interest. Assuming he's healthy, Barnett could very well ending up starting for a linebacker-needy team, such as the Vikings or Bears.
LB Daryl Smith: Though a groin injury limited him to two games in 2012, Smith is one of the better outside linebackers in the league when healthy. The lack of interest the 31-year-old has received has been quite surprising, but it appears that the Rams could make a play for him soon.
LB Brian Urlacher: The future Hall of Fame linebacker hit the market after receiving a slap-in-the-face contract offer from the Bears. He has expressed an interest in returning to the field, but only for contending teams. The team most heavily linked to Urlacher has been the Vikings, though that is mostly media speculation. General manager Rick Spielman recently said he doesn't "anticipate doing anything" with Urlacher.