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Landing Spots for Top 35 NFL Free Agents: Part II Defense


It is a good year to be a team in need of defensive help, as the talent pool of free agents on the defensive side of the football runs deep. After giving you our thoughts and predictions for the top offensive free agents around the NFL, it’s time to look at the guys they will be facing off against.

Defensive Line

ndamukong suh detroit lions

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Oh baby is this group going to be paid some hefty dough. As the Buffalo Bills led the way in the NFL with 54 team sacks, the Cincinnati Bengals showed some are still struggling to get to the quarterback as they recorded just 20 total as a team. Yes, Justin Houston and J.J. Watt both individually had more than the entire Bengals team combined.

If you are in need of a pass rush and you have some money to spend (*cough*Bengals*cough*), you could have your choice of a very deep group of available players.

Ndamukong Suh

2015 Team Prediction: Oakland Raiders

This is one we struggled with mightily. In previous drafts, we had Suh going to the San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns. To be frank, signing with any of these three teams wouldn’t surprise us in the least. All three are in need of skilled interior linemen and Suh perfectly fits the bill. The only reason we changed our mind from Cleveland (as they were the leader in the clubhouse) was because the Browns will need to spend their money surrounding Johnny Manziel with more weapons. While Suh would have to adjust to the Oakland scheme, the Raiders could benefit from his high motor and skilled production. Not to mention that his fiery attitude would fit perfectly with new head coach Jack Del Rio. Can you imagine what Del Rio could do with Suh?

Nick Failey

2015 Team Prediction: Washington Redskins

Coach Jay Gruden has a lot he needs to fix in Washington, including the defense. With former Chargers’ linebackers coach Joe Barry taking over as the defensive coordinator, the Redskins will be looking to give him play-makers at his disposal. Combining Ryan Kerrigan and Fairley would provide instant hell for opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks. The Redskins have $13 million to spend, and we all know Dan Snyder loves over-paying for defensive linemen. Fairley won’t require a contract like Suh, but he will still be expensive.

Terrance Knighton

2015 Team Prediction: Cleveland Browns

The Browns need another defensive lineman, and Knighton would be the smart route. He isn’t the marquee name like Suh and Fairley, but he is still a productive defender. Knighton would go a long way to help shore up Mike Pettine‘s defensive line without requiring the Browns to overpay.

Damon Harrison

2015 Team Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals

Considering the Bengals loathe shelling out the money for out-of-house free agents, this is a reach. However, considering the team’s need to slot a productive tackle alongside Geno Atkins, Harrison makes sense. While he isn’t known for getting after the quarterback, he is stellar against the run. While the Bengals might be losing their best run defender  (Rey Maualuga), the addition of Harrison would allow them to then seek out a coverage linebacker without losing production in the run game.

Jason Pierre-Paul

2015 Team Prediction: Atlanta Falcons

When healthy, Pierre-Paul has shown the ability to excel in the pass rush….again, when healthy. Unfortunately, health has been hard to come by lately for the former New York Giant. Assuming he leaves the Big Apple, he will likely go to the team that is in need of rebuilding a defense – Atlanta. Pierre-Paul could give the Falcons an edge rush that could take much pressure off of their linebackers – an area in which the team struggled last season.

Jared Odrick

2015 Team Prediction: Chicago Bears

Odrick has been a big part of a vastly underrated Miami Dolphins defense for the past four years. As much as they might like to keep him, the cap-strapped Dolphins will likely need to part ways. Miami’s loss will be Chicago’s gain. The Bears seemingly struggled everywhere last season, but especially on defense. Lining Odrick up on the same line as Jared Allen could be the first step in Chicago’s rebuilding plan.

Da’Quan Bowers

2015 Team Prediction: New England Patriots

We are going out on a limb with this one. The Patriots received good production out of rushers Rob Ninkovich and Chris Jones, but there is something about Bowers that seems like it would excite Bill Belichick. At 6-4, 275 pounds, Bowers can rush the passer or drop back into coverage. He is the type of hybrid that Belichick and company could use to manipulate and confuse opposing offenses. He won’t be expensive on the market and he is still young (24) – he’s the perfect Belichick project.

Brandon Graham

2015 Team Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles

After recording 5.5 sacks while starting just one of the 16 games he played in 2014, the Eagles would be crazy for letting Graham walk. He not only produces, but Graham provides depth to a Philadelphia defense that is a few pieces away from being truly impressive. With Chip Kelly calling the shots in the building, he’ll do his best to keep Graham around.

Linebackers

Justin Houston Linebacker Kansas City Chiefs

Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Justin Houston

2015 Team Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Chiefs are insane if they don’t place the franchise tag on the NFL’s leader in sacks from last season. Considering Kansas City is already $2 million over the 2015 projected salary cap, things could get tricky with regards to Houston.

Rolando McClain

2015 Team Prediction: Dallas Cowboys

With all the money Dallas will need to spend to re-sign their two offensive stars, there will be very little left. However, it would be smart for the Cowboys and McClain both to invest in a reunion going forward. McClain had a career resurgence in the Dallas system so why risk another meltdown elsewhere?

Brian Orakpo

2015 Team Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Just one season removed from 10.5 sacks, Orakpo is looking for a team willing to take a risk on him following an injury-plagued 2014. For the Bucs, why not take a chance on Orakpo? If he can return to resemble the player he was in 2013, the Tampa Bay defense could take great strides forward.

Brandon Spikes

2015 Team Prediction: Buffalo Bills

After leaving New England, Spikes jumped on a one-year deal with the Bills. His short tenure was successful. New coach Rex Ryan will have the league’s top defense in terms of sacking the quarterback. Ryan should look to retain Spikes to keep that defense stingy against the run, an area that is the specialty of Spikes.

Jason Worilds

2015 Team Prediction: Atlanta Falcons

Worilds can get to the quarterback and can provide the Falcons with some assistance against the rush. There is no “quick fix” for Atlanta, and they would be wise to reach out to a few free agents like Worilds to start the process of rebuilding that defense.

Cornerbacks

Darrelle Revis Re-Sign New England Patriots

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Darrelle Revis

2015 Team Prediction: New England Patriots

Right now, the Patriots have a $20 million option on the table for Revis – that is highly unlikely to happen. With rumors that the team plans to begin extension talks soon, there is little doubt that Revis will leave New England. He has been superb this season and is one of a few members of the Patriots’ secondary who could leave in free agency. They will allow one to walk, but it won’t be Revis.

Byron Maxwell

2015 Team Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles

Maxwell excelled with the Seattle Seahawks‘ secondary for the second year in a row. His production will make him one of the hot commodities this offseason, and he will be needed in the city of brotherly love. With an aging secondary, Chip Kelly will need to infuse some young blood into the fray, and 26-year old Maxwell could do just that.

Antonio Cromartie

2015 Team Prediction: Arizona Cardinals

After having a resurgence in Arizona, former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would likely prefer to bring him along to his new gig with the New York Jets. At 30-years old, no way Cromartie is interested in starting with a team in a rebuilding process. The Cardinals’ defense is sensational, and Cromartie should continue to shine alongside Patrick Peterson.

Perrish Cox

2015 Team Prediction: Washington Redskins

Talk about the right time to have a career year, thanks exactly what Cox did this season. Like Nick Failey, Cox will likely be targeted by Dan Snyder and company this offseason. Will the team overpay for a cornerback that has one full year of overriding success? We’re about to find out, but he could be a nice addition…for the right price.

Safeties

Devin McCourty Free Agency New England Patriots

Stew Milne/US Presswire

Devin McCourty

2015 Team Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Patriots will likely have to choose between Revis and McCourty, and that won’t be an issue (thanks to Tom Brady re-structuring his contract). Are the Jaguars sold on free safety Josh Evans? With McCourty available, they might be willing to give up on the second-year safety. McCourty and Johnathan Cyprien manning the safety positions for Gus Bradley‘s team could be a sight to see.

Will Hill

2015 Team Prediction: Indianapolis Colts

He started in just eight games and played in 10, but Hill flashed moments of skill. While he was he a bit inconsistent, he could give a team like the Colts depth at the safety position.

Louis Delmas

2015 Team Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have an old defense, that is part of the reason the stellar Dick LeBeau left the team. On defense, it became evident last season that safety was an area of concern for this team. Bringing Delmas into the fold will allow them to keep a veteran presence while getting younger (27-years old). He isn’t a flashy name or player, but Delmas can give stability to the position.

 

Cover Photo: David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT

Grant E. Doepel

Grant E. Doepel

Founder at Sports Grumble
Editor in Chief and co-founder of Riverfront City Sports and Sports Grumble, Doepel is a Cincinnati native who lives and breathes Queen City sports. A University of the Cumberlands graduate with degrees in Journalism and Communication Arts, Doepel still resides in the Greater Cincinnati area to provide easy access to the riverfront stadiums.
Grant E. Doepel

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