Defensive End Free Agents:
Top Choice: Greg Hardy from Carolina. Greg is 25 years old making $1,300,000 per year. He was drafted in the 6th round in 2010. He made it into the rotation and has played in almost every game since 2010. Pro Football Focus rates him as + 7.5 run stopper and +6.1 pass rusher. That would make him better in both categories than any of our defensive ends. With his youth and ability, he would be a top pick for David Caldwell. He is a 4-3 defensive end, so very little would be new to him.
Interesting choice #1: Tyson Jackson from Kansas City. Tyson is a 27 year old drafted #3 overall in 2009. He was making $14,000,000 per year and restructured his contract down to $4,000,000 for 2013 to avoid being cut. He was considered a first round bust, but has worked past that. Andy Reid recently said “I will put my money on him as being one of the smartest defensive linemen in the National Football League”. He had a terrible 2012, but his 2013 season is much improved. Pro Football Focus has him rated at -2.1 pass rush and +11.0 run stopper. For 3-4 defensive ends, he is the #12 best run stopping end. He is bright, young, healthy and a great team player, all of the Gus Bradley traits. Tyson would have a breakout year for the Jaguars.
Interesting choice #2: Lamar Houston from Oakland. Lamar is a 26 year old making $1,000,000 per year. He was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. He is in his contract year and having a great year. He has 5 sacks, 14 QB hits, 36 QB hurries and 48 solo tackles through 13 games. Pro Football Focus rates him as -.6 pass rush and +9.3 run stopper. He is solid on the edge. Oakland will resign him quickly this year, but if they don’t, Dave Caldwell will look at him. He is an improvement over any of our ends right now.
High Risk Choice: Michael Johnson from Cincinnati. Michael is a 26 year old making $11,000,000 per year. The Bengals offered him $40,000,000 over 5 years and he turned it down. They franchised him and he got the $11,000,000. In the process, Mike Brown got fed up and is expected to not pursue Michael any further. He will be a pain to negotiate with and a high risk for big contract laziness. The thing is, he is having a monster year. Pro Football Focus has him rated at +6.0 pass rusher and +17.5 run stopper. He is the number two overall 4-3 defensive end. I doubt we would pay him but with Michael Johnson on the end and a healthy Henry Melton and Sen’Derrick Marks in the middle, we would be huge trouble for Andrew Luck.
– Terry O’Brien