A couple days ago we discussed the available free agent defensive linemen for 2019. Today we will have a closer look at the available linebackers and which ones may fit the new 3-4 scheme McD and Nolan will implement.
Terrell Suggs – 26 – OLB – Ravens
In my opinion, Suggs is the crown jewel of this free agency crop, at least with the Broncos in mind. The guy is a young, dominant pass rushing force who can also play well in coverage. He has experience as a 3-4 OLB and just came off a great season. Adding to this, two of Terrell’s best seasons came while Mike Nolan ran the Ravens’ defense. Unfortunately, it would seem that the Ravens will do all they can to resign the guy, and failing that would probably slap the franchise tag on him. 26 year old guys who have proven they can get to the quarterback do not become available.
Update: Suggs was stuck with the Franchise Tag. They are working on a long term deal now.
Pierre Woods – 27 – OLB – Patriots (RFA)
Interesting guy here. He has mostly been a reserve/special-teamer in New England, but as we mentioned in the defensive line post, we could see McDaniels trying to pickup a few depth guys who already understand the Patriots way of doing things. Woods being a restricted free agent makes this a little dicey, but I could see him ending up in Orange and Blue.
Ray Lewis – 34 – ILB – Ravens
The Broncos have lacked Ray Lewis type leadership since Al Wilson left town. Ray Lewis would bring a fire and intensity to the team that the Broncos desperately need. However, he will command a large salary and at 34 one has to wonder how many more productive years the guy has in him. He could be another Junior Seau playing till 40, but that’s asking a bit much. He will more likely end up in a Jets uniform playing for Rex Ryan or will stay in Baltimore to retire in his purple jersey.
Karlos Dansby – 27 – ILB – Cardinals
Dansby proved to be a dominant force during the playoffs. He has quietly become one of the better inside backers in the league over the past couple seasons. At 27, he has a good number of productive years ahead of him. Team him up with DJ Williams inside and you’d have a nice solid run stopping machine. Dansby has already come out and said that he wants to see what kind of contracts linebackers will be getting this off-season and thinks he deserves to be one of the highest paid among them. Do the Broncos want to invest that much cash in this position? I think the Broncos could get buy with DJ and a draft pick or a cheaper free agent or even Spencer Larsen on the inside.
Jonathan Vilma – 27 – ILB – Saints
Former teammate of DJ Williams at ‘Da-U’, Vilma spent the last season in New Orleans after spending the early years of his career with the Jets. While it would be interesting to see DJ and Vilma paired up again, Vilma was not very productive as a 3-4 ILB at the tail end of his Jets days. His recent resurgence while playing in the Saints’ 4-3 should mean that he will likely stay in such a system. So I really cannot see him coming to Denver.
Bart Scott – 29 – ILB – Ravens
Bart Scott…with Suggs probably being franchised, and any other money the Ravens may be able to muster up, most ‘experts’ figure Scott will be the odd man out. One has to question whether Scott is simply a product of the volume of talent on the Ravens, or if he really is a stand out 3-4 linebacker. If nothing else, he could be plugged into the Broncos new linebacking corps and should be a solid contributor. He will probably be looking for a good payday though and at 29 is it worth it?
Channing Crowder – 25 – ILB – Dolphins
To me, Crowder is an interesting option. He was a tackling machine for the Phins in their 3-4 system. The question will be, how much will be be looking to get? At 25, one would think he will be looking for a big payday. Is it worth it for a 3-4 ILB? Again, we may have enough talent on the roster already to fill that spot, so, I am not sure. The Phinsider had a nice detailed writeup on the guy and whether or not he was worth keeping in Miami.
Takeo Spikes – 32 – ILB – 49ers
Spikes played for Mike Nolan in San Francisco and served as a solid ‘partner in crime’ next to Patrick Willis. While Takeo is getting up there in age, he could provide some leadership and act as a mentor to some of the younger linebackers on the roster. At the right price I could certainly see him filling a role on the team. Sure, he will not be the answer for years to come, but he could fill in as the starter next to DJ until a younger guy steps up to take the spot.
So what do I see happening out of all of this? It is difficult to say. I would love to see a guy like Suggs in Orange and Blue, but it’s a bit of a stretch. Could the Panthers let Peppers get away? Seems more likely than Suggs at this point, but do the Broncos dump a truck load of money for him? Again, not sure. Orakpo, Brown and Curry will all most likely be gone at our pick, so an impact outside backer in the draft is not extremely likely either. So let’s just assume for the moment that we can get Peppers or Suggs.
Little Pie in the Sky, but…
Crazy? Perhaps. Let us know what you think in the forum.