Notable Free Agents Still Available: Defense

A little over a week ago, we took a look at some of the most notable offensive free agents still available, rounding up the latest reports and rumors on those players. In the eight days since, a handful of those free agents have found new homes, with the Jets signing Stevan Ridley, the Browns securing Rob Housler, and the Broncos agreeing to terms with James Casey.

This weekend, we’ll shift our attention to the defensive side of the ball. Noteworthy veterans like cornerback Charles Tillman (Panthers) and edge defender Anthony Spencer (Saints) have come off the board in recent days, but there are still plenty of free agents worth checking in on, with 2015 free agency entering its second month.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most notable names remaining at the defensive positions, featuring the latest updates on those players:

Interior defensive lineman: Barry Cofield, Brett Keisel, Tommy Kelly, C.J. Mosley, Kevin Williams
Cofield and Keisel haven’t been the subject of any reports since being released by Washington and Pittsburgh respectively. It’s hard to imagine Keisel playing for any team except the Steelers if he continues his playing career, but he does have links to coaches in Arizona and Tennessee. Kelly played – and played well – for the Cardinals last season, but there’s been no indication yet that the club will re-sign him, and at age 34, he’s a potential candidate for retirement — the same can be said of Williams, who is also 34. Mosley would seem like a good fit in Detroit, after the Lions lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but the team may be reluctant to bring him back after last year’s suspension for marijuana possession.

Edge defenders: John Abraham, Red Bryant, Dwight Freeney, Osi Umenyiora
Bryant, who turns 31 next week, is easily the youngest player of this group, so it’s not surprising that none of them have found homes for 2015 yet. Abraham, who missed nearly the entire 2014 season with concussion issues, may not return, but I could see Freeney and Umenyiora being effective situational pass rushers in the right situation. Umenyiora informally visited the Jets, but it doesn’t appear that anything is brewing on that front. As for Freeney, he won’t be back with the Chargers, but the Falcons and Buccaneers have been mentioned as potential fits.

Linebackers: Lance Briggs, Joe Mays, Brandon Spikes, Philip Wheeler, Jacquian Williams
Mays will likely come off this list on Monday, as he’s expected to sign with the Jets. The 49ers are in the market for linebackers and have been linked to several of these guys, including Briggs, Spikes, and Wheeler, and I doubt signing Nick Bellore ends the team’s search for ILB help. The Bills would also like to bring back Spikes. Williams, who is unlikely to re-sign with the Giants, said early in free agency that he had received interest from five teams, including the Rams, but nothing has come to fruition over the last few weeks.

Cornerbacks: Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor
With Tillman no longer in play, cornerback is one of the weakest positions in free agency. Brown and Rogers started 21 games between them last year, but did so for the Raiders, and it doesn’t reflect all that well on them that even Oakland doesn’t have interest in retaining them. Brown, at least, drew some interest from the Patriots last month. As for Taylor, he doesn’t seem to be seeking contract offers, and all signs are pointing to him moving on to the next stage of his career.

Safeties: Stevie Brown, Dawan Landry, LaRon Landry, Danieal Manning, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson
While the cornerback ranks thin out, there are at least a handful of interesting names still on the board at safety. One Landry (Dawan) recently paid a visit to Buffalo to meet with the Bills and former head coach Rex Ryan, while the other (LaRon) may not find a job anytime soon, with a 10-game suspension hanging over his head. After Pollard received his release from the Titans, he explained that he preferred to play for a contender, but he doesn’t appear to be generating a ton of interest. Wilson started 10 games for the Titans last year, but his name has surfaced so little this offseason that he doesn’t even have his own PFR rumors page. Brown and Manning also haven’t been the subject of many reports, though one Giants beat writer predicted last month that New York would re-sign Brown.

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