Free agency has begun, and with it comes the inevitable frenzy and player movement that we have become accustomed to. Many players will move during free agency, with varying impact on their future teams. Linebackers are sometimes referred to as the Quarterback of the defence, this is due to the many jobs they are forced to undertake. They cover like a cornerback, and rush like a Defensive End. Below we will look at the best available linebackers on the free agency market.
- Danny Trevathan, ILB, Denver Broncos
This list begins with a player from the defending champions, and so it should. Trevathan had a great comeback season after an injury affected 2014, posting over 100 combined tackles and collecting 2 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Trevathan is a 3 down player and possesses all the skills required to thrive as the leader of a defence, and at just 25 years old, he is about to enter his prime. Look for him to be the top of John Fox’s shopping list up in Chicago and look for him to be paid like a superstar.
- Bruce Irvin, OLB, Seattle Seahawks
Irvin is in a great position in this years free agency class. He is the most proven pass rusher in the class, with a super bowl ring and he is only 28. This means that teams will overpay for someone who is at his best when he is a contributor rather than a star. His numbers are modest with 14 sacks over the past 3 years. While these numbers don’t jump off the page, his team has been to the Super Bowl in 2 of those 3 years. A team like the Falcons will benefit from his experience, however they may end up paying over the odds, for a player best suited to a complementary role. UPDATE: Irvin is reportedly to sign with the Oakland Raiders
- Derrick Johnson, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Johnson IS Kansas City. He is entering his 12th season, all of which have been with the Chiefs. He came back from injury this season and although he is now 33 that didn’t stop him posting over 100 tackles for the 5th time in 6 years. Johnson shows no signs of slowing down, and is pretty much a lock to finish his career in KC. On the off chance that he doesn’t however he should go to a team already primed to win with the luxury of having the ability to spend a high draft pick on his eventual replacement. That team is the Patriots, who would benefit from his vast experience, not to mention that fact that he is still a very good player.
- Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Indianapolis Colts
The emergence in recent years of pass catching tight ends and running backs, has made linebackers who can cover more important than ever before. Freeman possesses just such an ability. As the NFL becomes a more pass centred league linebackers are being asked to do more in coverage, while some have struggled, Freeman has excelled. While his overall game needs some work, his ability in coverage can’t be overlooked. An ideal fit for Freeman is with the Bills, they need help at inside linebacker, and he would be able to show off his cover skills matching up with Gronkowski and Cameron twice a year.
- Mark Barron, OLB, Los Angeles Rams
Barron is the wild card of this list, having only last season moved from safety to linebacker. He became somewhat of a bust at safety in Tampa Bay and then LA, however he has begun a career resurgence since moving to linebacker. Last season he recorded over 100 tackles and 3 forced fumbles, showing his ability to tackle and get after the ball. While his limited experience will scare some teams off, a team like the Jets who need to get younger at linebacker, may take a chance on the 26 year old former safety.
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