NFL Free Agents and Potential Cap Casualties: Defensive Linemen
2013's free agent Defensive Linemen and potential cap casualties
2/12/13 in NFL
I've already covered all of the best offensive players that are likely headed for free agency, but now we'll take a look at the free agents on the defensive side of the ball. Here we have the free agent class of defensive linemen.
For a look at the free agent quarterbacks of 2013, click here.
For running backs, click here.
For wide receivers/tight ends, click here.
For offensive linemen, click here.
With the ability to play end in a 4-3 defense or outside linebacker in a 3-4, Cliff Avril will be targeted by any team with cap space that is in need of a pass rusher. Avril bet on himself by turning down a three-year, $30 million contract with the Lions last summer, and after another solid season (9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles), he'll probably be looking for a similar annual salary. The Lions don't have the cap space to franchise tag him, so he's a lock to hit the open market.
Osi Umenyiora is another player who is a near lock to hit free agency. The Giants are looking to get younger on the defensive line, and Osi is 31 years old coming off his lowest sack total since he was limited to 11 games in 2006. Even so, he can certainly make a big impact as a situational pass rusher, and will likely get a multi-year deal. The Seahawks have been mentioned as a potential landing spot.
Dwight Freeney is one of the bigger names on the market, but his sack totals have decreased by nearly three per season since 2009, finishing with just five this past season. He's expressed a strong desire to stay with the Colts, but is a poor fit as an old 4-3 end in the Colts' young 3-4 defense. There's a good chance that the Colts let him walk and he's picked up as a situational pass rusher.
In his nine years with the Bears, Israel Idonije has shown versatility by playing inside at defensive tackle and outside at defensive end. The Bears would like to have his versatility back in 2013, despite the fact that Idonije lost his starting job to Corey Wooton down the stretch in 2012. Idonije, however, may look for a starting job that pays starter money. With 7.5+ sacks in two of the past three seasons, he'll probably be able to get that starter money if he decides to test the market.
Michael Johnson was one of the cornerstones of the Bengals defense in 2012, racking up 11.5 sacks and an interception. Johnson is believed to be the Bengals' top priority in free agency, so it would be a surprise to see him on the open market.
Matt Shaughnessy was once considered a big-time steal in the draft, getting seven sacks in 2010 and grading out as Pro Football Focus' fifth best defensive end against the run. He has since had injury issues, and was a disappointment (as were most Raider defenders) in 2012. Only 26 years old, someone will grab him in an attempt to relight the fire he once played with.
Andre Carter, who will be 34 years old by the start of next season, had 2.5 sacks as a situational pass rusher in 12 games with the Raiders in 2012. He had 10 sacks and was a Pro Bowler as recently as 2011, so someone may gamble on him.