2019 Free Agent Preview: Defensive Tackle
There’s one obvious ‘ace’ DT available in free agency, and then several ‘maybes’. There will be many ‘one-year deals’ among the 2019 DT free agency class…a lot of 30+ year old veteran hands. Teams can get warm body pluggers cheaper via the NFL Draft…or just the one-year mercenaries versus paying anyone a longer-term deal.
The main opportunity: DT Grady Jarrett, ATL – He’s one of the best DTs in the NFL, so he should score a pretty hot deal. Atlanta has decent cap space and cannot afford for him to walk, so I suspect they’ll try to land him for a return. If the Falcons allow other teams to get into a bidding war on him, Jarrett will get a massive payday and be gone.
If Jarrett is not back with Atlanta, I could see the Raiders or Texans making a play.
The best sleeper DT: Christian Covington, HOU – I have believed him capable of much more than what he’s done with Houston. I think he wants to leave and go to a 4-3 defense where he will play every down and show his skills.
If Atlanta loses Jarrett, maybe they add Covington as a replacement. Buffalo might be a spot depending upon how much they turnover the D-Line in free agency with all the money they have.
The deep sleeper DT: Olsen Pierre, ARI -- Was a breakout guy in 2017, under Bruce Arians and then disappeared under Steve Wilks’ 4-3 defense. I suspect Pierre reunited with Arians but going to NYG to be with his old Arizona D-C is possible too. I’ll guess Arians wins the tug of war…and if Arians does cherry pick a few Arizona defenders this free agent period, which I think he will – the Bucs DST might be a minor surprise in 2019 under Todd Bowles. TB getting a bargain on Pierre would be another sign of that potential.
Other free agent DT notes…
-- David Irving, DAL is a real X-factor DT in 2019. He’s by far the best DT in the class, talent-wise. The problem is he’s a real knucklehead of a human. Nice guy, but flaky/unreliable, a suspension risk. An established defense adds Irving, and he buckles down for a reliable season – he helps a Super Bowl contender as a bargain DT.
Tampa Bay will be in play here if they can make sense of it – Arians loves rehabbing wounded birds.
The Patriots could be in play if he is looking at short-term ‘prove it’ deals and then trying to cash in on free agency 2020.
The Colts D-C has ties to Dallas, and he might see the opportunity…but I don’t think the Colts want bad character guys.
He might just re-sign with Dallas.
Washington could try to overspend for him, but they’ve been burned by these moves before.
I’m going to put a nickel on New England talking him into a decent one-year deal to rehab his image and help them win a Super Bowl, etc., and then cash in for 2020. If this happens…Patriots to win the Super Bowl (they probably will anyways).
-- Henry Anderson, NYJ – He’s always productive and always hurt. He’ll be in demand. He could follow Todd Bowles to Tampa Bay, and the Bucs could have a steal IF he stays healthy.
-- Some people swear up and down that Roy Robertson-Harris, CHI is a sleeper DT in this class. I don’t buy it, yet. It will be interesting to see if Vic Fangio pursues him to Denver.
-- Sheldon Richardson, MIN is usually in-demand, maybe the best DT in free agency in his right mind…but Richardson is a flake, so he is a gamble play for some team. He’s the kind of DT that desperate management people/coaches/GMs take a shot on – Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City might be in the hunt.
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