Free Agency 2011 – Defense, Who’s Left?

| August 6, 2011

Yesterday we looked at the offensive players that were left, and within hours of it going live, a number of players were picked up. Coincidence? Completely. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be telling myself I scared teams into making moves on players.
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Well my delusional state needs some more material. So right now I’m going to look at what defensive players are left before they’re all gone. With that said, I, Khaled Elsayed will look at the best players left, tell you something interesting about them, and suggest a possible team fit.
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Let’s roll.

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Defensive Line
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Shaun Ellis: Ellis can’t be long for this league, but he’s still got plenty of talent. Last year he was our fourth ranked defensive end, though he was probably overused a little.
Suggested Team: New York Jets – he won’t find the playing time he had last year, but he can still contribute in either a nickel or rotational role (depending on the progress of their rookies).
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Trevor Pryce: It was a shame Pryce just couldn’t find the playing time (260 snaps including playoffs, at the Jets), because he still has an exceptional burst off the ball, and can generate pressure.
Suggested Team: Green Bay Packers – they could use a solid veteran to come in on a line that is lacking in numbers. Pryce could fill the third down role left by Cullen Jenkins.
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Stylez White: Everywhere you turn people are saying White doesn’t practice hard and has a bad attitude. I can’t comment on that, but the Stylish one can pass rush. He didn’t excel in an every down role, but he always brings pressure.
Suggested Team: Minnesota Vikings – not only can he spell a couple of defensive ends who need spelling, but he can play the nickel rusher role while Brian Robison kicks inside.
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Andre Carter: Everyone knew that Carter wasn’t suited for a 3-4 OLB role, and so it proved. But it was only a season previous where he was our third highest graded pass rushing DE.
Suggested Team: Jacksonville Jaguars – if they think they’re built to make a run at the AFC South they need to upgrade the pass rush.
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Ma’ake Kemoeatu: An interesting one, Kemoeatu had a serious injury that forced him to miss 2009, and then struggled in his comeback year. But he’s an intriguing possibility if being a year further removed from injury sees him near his best. Back in 2008 he was one of our top ten run defenders at the DT position.
Suggested Team: Tennessee Titans – they lost some defensive tackles and could use some bigger bodies as part of their rotation.
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Jimmy Kennedy: It’s hard to make an impact as a defensive tackle for the Vikings if you’re not a Williams. That is though what Kennedy was able to do in 278 snaps in 2009, with a +4.4 rating. A year later and he was only picking up 153 snaps and struggling. He’s not a starter, but he’s a reliable hand with about 300-400 snaps a year.
Suggested Team: Jacksonville Jaguars – they overused their defensive tackles last year and could do with an option to spell their impact players.
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Pat Williams: The big man isn’t as spritely as he once was, but he’s still capable of making it hard for teams to run up the gut. He still had a +11.9 run defense grade in 2010.
Suggested Team: Baltimore Ravens – with Kelly Gregg gone they could do with another part designed to eat up blocks and clear paths for the linebackers. The Ravens aren’t scared of veterans who can help them win now.
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Linebacker
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Matt Roth: It really has been a surprise to see such a small market for Roth. He’s excelled when given a chance over the past three years, and has a proven ability to get to the pass rusher. He’s pretty handy playing the run as well.
Suggested Team: Kansas City Chiefs – They can’t rely on Justin Houston or Andy Studebaker, and they haven’t made enough moves to keep ahead of the rest of the AFC West. They need to get better.
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Tully Banta Cain: His injury was particularly badly timed, but when he’s healthy a team will find room for a guy who can make life difficult for the quarterback. Has 94 quarterback pressures over the past two years.
Suggested Team: New York Jets – they’re always in the market for someone who can upgrade them, and TBC will provide some pass rush off the edge.
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Eric Barton: Playing in the two gap Browns system, Barton had a particularly strong year. It doesn’t hurt to have a veteran capable of stepping in and contributing.
Suggested Team: Arizona Cardinals – how much faith do they have in Paris Lenon? If it’s a lot, Barton would still provide a lot of depth.
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Channing Crowder: He may be a frustrating player at times, but despite some of the often ridiculous things he says, Crowder is a talented linebacker. He is one of the most physical inside linebackers, and has no issues shedding blocks and making plays. He’s not so hot dropping into coverage.
Suggested Team: Washington Redskins – consider me someone who doesn’t believe that they have the talent at inside linebacker to run a one gap system.
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Keith Bulluck: Despite coming off a pretty severe injury, Bulluck was able to step in and play well enough in his two down role to rank ninth in our 4-3 OLB rankings (despite only playing 315 snaps).
Suggested Team: New York Giants – has Clint Sintim ever done enough to suggest he can be relied upon?
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Kirk Morrison: A two down linebacker who only missed one tackle last year. Morrison has never really been able to hack an every down role which isn’t ideal in a middle linebacker.
Suggested Team: Buffalo Bills –  It won’t hurt them to have some depth at the linebacker spot. The best fit though is likely a team looking to fill in a gap after injury.
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Pisa Tinoisamoa: If Tinoisamoa wasn’t so often injured he’d have a lot more teams interested in him. As it he doesn’t, even after a good year with the Bills where he was our 17th ranked OLB.
Suggested Team: Chicago Bears – it wouldn’t hurt the Bears to bring him back.
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Cornerback
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Kelvin Hayden: Another player who injuries have gotten the better of. Hayden does have talent (though not as much as the Colts payment of him would suggest). You have to look back to 2008 to see the last time he really played well.
Suggested Team: Chicago Bears – they can take a chance on Hayden upgrading their CB ranks, without relying on him to sort the position out.
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Safety
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Renaldo Hill: The former Bronco played pretty well last year to finish the year our 12th ranked safety. He’s a useful deep safety.
Suggested Team: St Louis Rams. I just don’t have faith in Craig Dahl to be the deep safety the Rams want him to be. They have Quintin Mikell, so partnering him with someone more suitable for a free safety role makes the Rams better.
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Atari Bigby: He only saw 72 snaps last year after 757 in 2009. His play that year made him ninth in our safety rankings, and someone has to see the talent in him. While he will give up some plays, he’d represent a cheap upgrade for a number of teams.
Suggested Team: Cincinnati Bengals – they lost out on the Donte Whitner sweepstakes, but Bigby (you would imagine) would at least turn up.
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Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed as well: @ProFootbalFocus
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  • paddy

    Doughty re-signed with the Skins during the week.

  • sleepy042

    simply stunned andre carter hasnt been picked up by cle/jax/min/sea

  • jebbs

    I really like the Carter to Jacksonville idea. He would look even better with 2 big boys in Knighton and Alualu demanding attention.

  • thadjw

    Why wouldn’t the Pats find a way to sign Matt Roth? It seems like they could get a deal too! Enjoyed this article. TW