NFL Free Agents and Potential Cap Casualties: Linebackers

2013's free agent Linebackers and potential cap casualties

2/14/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - NFL Free Agents and Potential Cap Casualties: LinebackersNow we'll look at the middle linebackers. Though it may seem like Brian Urlacher could never play for any city but Chicago, new head coach Marc Trestman hasn't clearly expressed that he wants Urlacher back. He's willing to take a hometown discount to stay, though he understands that the Bears are moving away from the Cover 2 scheme that he was so effective in. Though he'll be 35 in May, it doesn't seem that he'd consider retirement if the Bears let him walk.

The Ravens want Dannell Ellerbe back to fill the void left by Ray Lewis, but as I said before, Joe Flacco's contract demands could prevent the Ravens from getting their free agents back. He played very well during Lewis' absence last year, and at the age of 27, he'll be a coveted player if he hits the open market.

Though he started all 16 games for the Bengals last season, Rey Maualuga was one of the poorer starting middle linebackers in 2012. The Bengals are not expected to bring him back. At the age of 26, he is still capable of starting, but could also latch on somewhere as a rotational player.

Tim Dobbins drew some starts due to Brian Cushing's torn ACL in 2012, but only has 21 starts in his seven-year career... Bradie James has started consistently for the Cowboys and Texans since 2005, and the Texans aren't expected to re-sign him.

Here are some linebackers who may be cut by the time free agency opens:

Rolando McClain (OAK) has been trouble off the field, on the practice field, and on the field. His combination of gun-related charges, heated exchanges with coaches, and struggles in pass covering make his $4 million salary a bit steep. Still only 23 years old and a valuable asset against the run, plenty of teams will be interested in him if he is released.

Bart Scott (NYJ) will turn 33 over the summer and is being overpaid ($6.9 million). With the Jets' salary cap situation, they can't afford to overpay a 33 year old.

The same applies for 32 year old Calvin Pace (NYJ), who is set to make $5.8 million in 2013.

The Steelers may be unable to afford James Harrison (PIT) at his current price of $6.6 million, especially considering his injury issues in recent years. He says he is open to restructuring his contract, but is not open to a pay cut. He wants to be back in Pittsburgh, but if he holds his stance on a salary reduction, he may be forced to play elsewhere.

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