The unofficial start to the free agency period begins at noon Saturday when clubs are able to enter into contract negotiations with pending free agents. While deals can’t be executed until March 11 at 4 p.m., many will be structured over the coming hours.
With the time nearly upon us, here’s what we’re hearing on the outside linebacker front:
— The Eagles are showing some interest in Cincinnati free agent Michael Johnson.
The 27-year-old played defensive end in the Bengals’ 4-3 scheme but multiple teams are looking at him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Read more »
It’s no secret that the Eagles are in need of outside linebacker help.
Connor Barwin showcased his versatility last year and is a keeper on the left side. He’s not a prolific pass-rusher, but Barwin is excellent against the run, can line up in a variety of places and is good in coverage.
On the other side, Trent Cole did an admirable job of transitioning to a 3-4 OLB. But he’ll turn 32 next season and is still a bit of a square peg/round hole option. And the coaching staff saw Brandon Graham as purely a rotational player last season.
It’s possible that the Eagles go into 2014 with those same three rotating, but the better bet is that they add a piece either through free agency or the draft.
Keeping that in mind, here are four guys who will be on the market when free agency starts Tuesday. The two biggest names – Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds - are staying with the Redskins and Steelers, respectively. So this is a watered-down group. Read more »
Mike Neal is the fourth-best outside linebacker 0n the free agent market, according to Rotoworld. It’s a bit of a feat that he is listed as an outside linebacker at all.
A four-year down lineman at Purdue, the Packers selected Neal with the 56th overall pick in 2010. He weighed a shade over 300 pounds when he entered the league, and was used as a rush defensive tackle in Green Bay. His career got off to a slow start. He appeared in less than half of the Packers’ games over his first three seasons, in part because of injury, in part because of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances. (He claims it was for taking Adderrall).
Things turned around for the 26-year old in 2013. Knowing that he had good feet and mobility for a big man, the coaching staff made a pretty bold move and asked him to switch to outside linebacker. The gamble paid off. Read more »