Darrelle Revis

Patriots, Revis Have Not Discussed Contract

Reports from earlier this week indicated that it was looking “increasingly likely” that veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis would be returning to New England. While that could still be the case, CSNNE.com’s Tom Curran reports that the two sides have not had discussions regarding a contract.

Darrelle RevisThe Jets released the seven-time Pro Bowler in late February, and the Steelers emerged as a potential landing spot (although earlier reports noted that the organization had no interest). Revis’ supposed decline is apparently scaring away suitors, but some executives believes the veteran hasn’t played his last NFL snap.

We did our work on him. He can still play. He can cover,” the exec told Jason La Canfora. “He doesn’t have that long speed anymore; he’s not going to cover a No. 1 receiver deep. But he can cover in tight spaces and he has great instincts. The film is not as bad as some would have you believe. He’s a perfect fit in that quarters scheme Belichick runs, and they have the kind of safeties who can help him out, too. We’re convinced he’s going back to New England. It just makes too much sense.”

The Patriots could certainly use some reinforcement at cornerback. Despite signing Stephon Gilmore, the team lost defensive back Logan Ryan via free agency. It’s also sounding like Malcolm Butler could be on his way out of New England, meaning the Patriots would have to rely on some combination of Eric Rowe and Cyrus Jones to play opposite their free agent addition. If nothing else, Revis would at least provide coach Bill Belichick with some depth.

Revis ultimately appeared in 15 games this past season, compiling 53 tackles, one interception, and five passes defended. He was listed as the second-best remaining free cornerback in our positional rankings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Darrelle Revis To Land With Patriots?

Could Darrelle Revis circle back to the Patriots? It’s looking “increasingly likely,” according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who has spoken with numerous league sources, including some close to the defensive back. Darrelle Revis

Many, including myself, feel that Revis has lost a step and his effort was lacking in 2016. However, not all talent evaluators agree. One personnel man spoke highly of Revis when speaking to La Canfora.

We did our work on him. He can still play. He can cover,” the anonymous exec said. “He doesn’t have that long speed anymore; he’s not going to cover a No. 1 receiver deep. But he can cover in tight spaces and he has great instincts. The film is not as bad as some would have you believe. He’s a perfect fit in that quarters scheme Belichick runs, and they have the kind of safeties who can help him out, too. We’re convinced he’s going back to New England. It just makes too much sense.”

The Patriots have already allowed Logan Ryan to walk in free agency and Malcolm Butler could be traded to the Saints in the very near future. Even after signing former Bills standout Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots will need some help in the secondary. Revis might not be able to hold down a starting outside position, but he could theoretically be used in the slot, if he’s willing to make that adjustment. Word is that we won’t be seeing him at safety for New England, so slot could be his only real option if he wants to join the defending champs.

We have Revis ranked as the second-best corner remaining on the free agent market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Revis, Garoppolo, Lynch

Criminal charges were dropped against free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis earlier this week, which ostensibly opens the door for him to find a new employer soon. Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports that one league executive believes a Revis reunion with the Patriots is the only thing that makes sense, and while he would likely not serve as a starting corner in New England, he could be used as a strong safety or as cornerback depth. Interestingly, though, Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald tweets that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told Revis several years ago that Revis’ skill-set did not translate to the safety position. While that does not preclude a New England reunion, it does add an interesting twist to the Revis saga, as many have taken it for granted that Revis will wind up playing safety for whoever signs him in 2017.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • As Volin notes in the same piece cited above, the Patriots’ apparent desire to trade Malcolm Butler is reflective of the team’s usual philosophy of getting rid of a player a year too soon instead of a year too late. However, the Pats have notably departed from that philosophy with respect to Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the club has been reticent to trade despite the haul of picks they could acquire in return. Volin says the Patriots’ stance with Garoppolo is simply based on the fact that he plays quarterback, and they believe that if something were to happen to Tom Brady, they could still compete for a title with Garoppolo under center. The team took a similar approach in 2014, when they held onto Ryan Mallett throughout training camp and did not deal him until they were confident that Garoppolo could handle the backup role.
  • Some Patriots fans are wondering why the club is willing to trade Butler but handed Stephon Gilmore a mega-deal this offseason. As Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) notes, Gilmore is simply bigger than Butler, and his size and length can create more flexibility for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia when matching up against some of the game’s bigger receivers. Simply put, Gilmore is a premium man corner, and those players get paid.
  • Despite the Morris Claiborne signing, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com still expects the Jets to select a cornerback in the first or second round of this year’s draft.
  • Saturday night, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, retired running back Marshawn Lynch retweeted a message in which someone noticed that a musical playlist put together by Lynch contains a track entitled “Oakland Raiders.” The playlist was created in September 2015, but Florio believes the fact that Lynch went ahead and retweeted the message further legitimizes the Lynch-to-Raiders rumors.
  • Meanwhile, new Raiders acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson is actively recruiting free agent running back and former Vikings teammate Adrian Peterson to join him in Oakland, as Ben Goessling of ESPN.com writes. However, the latest reports about a Peterson/Oakland match suggest that Peterson has more interest in the Raiders than the Raiders have in him at the moment.
  • Sean Spence agreed to a deal with the Colts earlier today, and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com tweets that Spence’s former team, the Titans, could use newly-acquired Jonathan Cyprien, a strong safety by trade, to fill Spence’s role as nickel linebacker.

Darrelle Revis Open To Playing For Steelers

Free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis told reporters playing for the Steelers would be a “dream come true,” Penn Live’s Jacob Klinger tweets. Revis is a Pennsylvania native and attended the University of Pittsburgh.Darrelle Revis

Although Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported last week the Steelers are not interested in signing Revis, that was prior to all charges stemming from a February altercation being dropped. It’s possible Pittsburgh wasn’t mulling a run at Revis due to the off-field concerns that surrounded him at the time, and if that’s the case, perhaps the club has changed its tune. If the Steelers’ stance was based on Revis’ level of play, then they’re probably still not interested.

Revis, 31, ranks as PFR’s No. 4 free agent corner at the moment, and while he’s certainly not the shutdown corner he was in days gone by, Revis is still a viable starting option. He graded out as the league’s No. 64 corner in 2016, per Pro Football Focus, which would place him right at the tail end of acceptable play. However, one general manager recently told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he wouldn’t go after the veteran cornerback even if he agreed to play “for free.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Charges Dropped In Darrelle Revis Case

The judge in the Darrelle Revis hearing dismissed all charges against the cornerback, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com tweets. Revis was facing charges stemming from an altercation in which two men were knocked unconscious This could pave the way for the veteran free agent to sign with a club. Darrelle Revis (vertical)

“Darrelle Revis absolutely, categorically and positively did not knock out anyone, did not conspire with anyone to commit an assault, did not say ‘shut up before I knock your ass out next,’ and surely did not ‘rob’ another of a cell phone,” his attorneys said in a statement following the Feb. 12 incident. “The voice and admissions made on the video are NOT that of Darrelle Revis. We have no doubt but that further investigation relative to the clothing and voice verification will corroborate the above assertions.”

There may be differing opinions on what Revis can bring to the table at this stage of his career. One general manager recently told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he wouldn’t go after the veteran cornerback even if he agreed to play “for free.” Another executive said, “you respect the body of work throughout his career, but all good things come to an end.” Revis’ effort on the field has fallen off dramatically, but the cornerback denies that his work ethic has slipped.

The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro is coming off the worst year of his career. In 2016, he allowed the highest quarterback rating among cornerbacks who were targeted 75+ times. He also ranked 66th among Pro Football Focus’ 112 qualified corners. That’s hardly the kind of play the Jets had in mind when they signed him to a five-year, $70MM pact with $39MM in overall guarantees.

The University of Pittsburgh product has been linked to the Steelers, but they are reportedly not interested. Revis earned honorable mention on our Top 50 Free Agents list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Stills, Siemian, Revis, Texans

Kenny Stills may have had another contract proposal from at least one other club before re-signing with the Dolphins, tweets Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The Bears and Eagles were the two known teams with interest in Stills, but it’s entirely possible other clubs also pursued him. Ultimately, Stills re-upped with Miami at a cost of $32MM over four years.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • If the Broncos end up signing the recently-released Tony Romo, they could end up discussing a Trevor Siemian trade with the Jets, opines Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). To be clear, this is only speculation on the part of Pelissero, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine potential destinations for Siemian if Romo lands in Denver. Siemian isn’t the only semi-starting quarterback that could be affected by a Romo pursuit: if the Texans ink Romo, some executives think Houston will trade Tom Savage to the 49ers.
  • Former Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis showed evident signs of decline last season, and a developing legal issue led to the Jets ultimately cutting the veteran. One general manager recently told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he wouldn’t pursue the veteran cornerback even if he was willing to play “for free.” Another executive told Mehta that “you respect the body of work throughout his career, but all good things come to an end.”
  • The Texans re-signed kicker Nick Novak last night, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) has the details on the new pact. Novak’s one-year deal is worth $1.15MM and includes a $250K signing bonus.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Steelers Not Interested In Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis is a Pennsylvania native who starred at the University of Pittsburgh before entering the NFL, but the next stop of his career won’t be at home. The Steelers are uninterested in the cornerback, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Darrelle Revis

The 31-year-old Revis has been connected this offseason to the city of Pittsburgh, not its football team, since a February altercation that led to four felony charges. Revis, who could receive punishment from both the legal system and the NFL prior to next season, will attend a hearing related to those charges March 15.

Two weeks after his off-field run-in, the Jets released Revis, though they announced that the decision came for on-field reasons. The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro is coming off the worst year of his storied career, having yielded the highest quarterback rating among cornerbacks who were targeted 75-plus times. Unsurprisingly, then, his performance ranked a mediocre 66th among Pro Football Focus’ 112 qualified corners.

Given that Revis will collect $6MM from the Jets in 2017, it’s possible he’ll sit out next season if he doesn’t get offers worth at least $8MM, those familiar with the 10-year veteran tell Florio. There’s even a chance the future Hall of Famer will retire this offseason, Florio adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as franchised players aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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