Now that Olivier Vernon‘s a full-fledged UFA after the Dolphins rescinded his transition tag, the Giants and Jaguars are leading the sweepstakes for the defensive end’s services, Jeff Darlington of NFL.com tweets.
There figures to be more teams involved in pursing the dynamic defender coming off a strong contract year, but these two are out in front, per Darlington.
Ranked No. 1 on PFR’s list of free agents going into the 2016 league year, the 25-year-old Vernon is now a coveted commodity by other suitors after the Dolphins opted to sign Mario Williams to join an already high-paid defensive front that features Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.
The Jaguars’ interest comes as no surprise given their league-high cap space, which currently sits at $72.2MM (per OverTheCap), but Jacksonville just agreed to sign defensive end/tackle hybrid Malik Jackson to a deal worth upwards of $85.5MM. Jacksonville also employs Jared Odrick, whom it pried from the Dolphins last year. Jackson and Odrick are currently the Jags’ top two highest-paid players.
The Giants, who as of now possess $47.02MM of cap space, are bolstering their defensive front aggressively as well, reaching agreements to keep Jason Pierre-Paul with the team and Damon Harrison in New York.
This would give the Jags some serious capital allocated toward its defensive front, which houses rookie-contract stalwart Sen’Derrick Marks.
Vernon ranked third overall behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller among edge defenders last season, according to Pro Football Focus, after amassing 7.5 sacks and 61 tackles. The former third-round pick has 29 career sacks.
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