Top unrestricted free agent defensive linemen
1. Julius Peppers: Though his effort is inconsistent, there’s not a more dynamic free agent at any position. Philadelphia and Chicago are the early favorites.
2. Aaron Kampman: Kampman, 30, tore his ACL in November after playing out of position as a linebacker in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. Clearly more productive with his hand in the dirt, Kampman will appeal to 4-3 teams.
3. Dwan Edwards: The youngest available defensive lineman of note, this 28-year-old
is a 3-4 end. While not a true pocket pusher,
Edwards can set the edge and plug the run. The Ravens want to keep him.
4. Kyle Vanden Bosch: Injury prone, 31, and in decline, KVB had eight sacks in his last 25 games for the Titans after racking up 12 during the 2007 season. He may be the biggest beneficiary of the thin DE market.
5. Adewale Ogunleye: O-Gun’s 2009 season ended in Week 15 due to a fractured fibula, but he was playing at a high level for the Bears with a team-high 6.5 sacks and four turnovers forced before the injury. He turns 33 in 2010.
6. Leonard Little: Little, 35, quietly has 13 sacks over the past two seasons. He’s best suited for a situational role.
7. Derrick Burgess: Burgess disappointed after New England traded two mid-round picks for him, struggling in his first stint as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The 31-year-old closed strong with three sacks in his last four games.
8. Jimmy Kennedy: Kennedy was a first-round bust in 2003, but salvaged his career as a productive pass rusher off Minnesota’s bench last year. He could be overpaid.
Restricted free agents that are unlikely to change teams:
Mark Anderson, Remi Ayodele, Dave Ball, Stephen Bowen, Tony Brown, Barry Cofield, Ray Edwards, Anthony Hargrove, Antonio Johnson, Travis Johnson, Johnny Jolly, Clifton Ryan, Marcus Spears, Darryl Tapp, Gabe Watson.
Interesting names that could get cut:
1. Patrick Kerney, Seahawks: Kerney has been oft-injured since his 15-sack Seattle debut three years ago. He’s 33 and due $5.2 million.
2. Charles Grant, Saints: Grant has suffered season-ending triceps tears in each of the last two years and hasn’t topped six sacks since 2004. He’s owed $4 million and turns 32 before the season.
3. Trevor Pryce, Ravens: Pryce lost his starting job last season and is due $4.5 million going on age 35.
4. Chris Kelsay, Bills: With Buffalo transitioning to a 3-4, the overpaid Kelsay doesn’t have a position.
5. Maake Kemoeatu, Panthers: Once a feared run-stopping nose, complications from a botched Achilles’ tendon surgery that cost him all of 2009 may now cost Kemo his roster spot. The 31-year-old is due a whopping $9.3 million option bonus in March.
Teams in the market for DLs:
Everyone, every year.