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2019 Free Agent Preview: Defensive End
There are three real difference-making defensive ends available (currently) in free agency, and I suspect they’ll all get franchise tagged/kept by their teams …except one of them, maybe. All three come with ‘issues’, thus their potential availability.
Those three in my preference/order:
1) DE Frank Clark, SEA – At times last season, he looked like the best pass rusher in the game…the most menacing. I cannot imagine Seattle lets Clark walk. It would be too easy to slap a franchise tag on him.
2) DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DAL – He’s been one of, if not THEE, top 4-3 DE sack guy in the NFL the past two years. The issue…he finds ways to get suspended or hurt. Does a team really want to pay a massive contract for the risk? They could franchise tag him, but the problem, for all NFL teams, is now these players have seen Le’Veon Bell take a stand, and win. Lawrence has hinted at not signing a franchise tag.
Dallas has a big decision to make. They may franchise tag to trade or just franchise tag and hope for the best. Jerry Jones is desperate to win now…not having Lawrence all but ruins any false hope of a Super Bowl this season. Lawrence has Jones right where he wants him. I think he stays with Dallas.
3) DE Jadeveon Clowney, HOU – Clowney has had some moments, but he’s never fully lived up to the hype. You would think a Watt-Clowney duo would be awesome, but Houston’s defense has been ‘meh’ for years.
I think the Texans are inclined to let Clowney walk or tag-to-trade him. Clowney isn’t ‘all-in’ on football. He gets this big contract and he may very well fall off a cliff. I wouldn’t touch him, but a team like the Jets or Raiders will pursue him if available.
My favorite sleeper free agent DE: Preston Smith, WAS – he’s starting to round out his game beyond just a pass rusher. Lot’s of pressures/QB hits but just 4.0 sacks. His output might lead to him being a bargain for another team to steal away from Washington.
I wonder if the Colts might be interested. The Colts D-C Matt Eberflus would be familiar with his work from his time as LB coach in Dallas (studying/seeing the intra-division opponent twice a season). The Colts have a TON of free agent money.
Other top sleeper… Dion Jordan, SEA – Started to flash some of the high draft pick ability the past two years, but multiple suspensions and nagging injuries. He’s a risk, but I’m very interested to see where he winds up. He can be a great piece to an existing great defense.
My favorite DEEP sleeper free agent DE: Benson Mayowa, ARI. I thought he looks spectacular at times last season…almost unblockable – 4.0 sacks, 11 TFLs, 11 QB hits in 2018 in limited duty. Steve Wilks is now in Cleveland as D-C, and Mayowa might want to follow the guy who started to regenerate his career.
Kerry Hyder, DET – He’s co-deep sleeper. Great 2016. Achilles injury 2017. Didn’t fit Matt Patricia 2018. He could be a bargain/steal this offseason.
Other DE free agents I’m interested in their landing spots…
Trey Flowers, NE – I don’t think NE will push for him, and 31 other teams tend to overpay for former Patriots, so he’ll likely be on the move. Miami with Brian Flores makes some sense.
Brandon Graham, PHI – The Eagles may be tight on money/cap space this year so Graham may be on the move. Perhaps and Indy reunion with Frank Reich? *A few days after I wrote this, Graham signed a big extension with Philly.
Ezekiel Ansah, DET – I only know one thing…he won’t be back in Detroit. Him and Matt Patricia…didn’t work.
Markus Golden, ARI – Which ex-Cards coach will he go to…D-C James Bettcher, NYG or Bruce Arians, TB? I’m going to guess NYG.
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