Free Agent Defensive Tackle Options For The Broncos

EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - SEPTEMBER 12: Matt Moore #3 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked by Barry Cofield #96 of the New York Giants during the NFL season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium on September 12 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Since the Denver Broncos weren't able to find a starting Defensive Tackle during the draft this past weekend, or more like an acceptable candidate did not fall to them on their Board, it is time to look again at the viable options via the Free Agent Pool. I wrote on this subject in January thinking it was accepted that a Free Agency period would precede the 2011 NFL Draft. Since that did not go down like each of us thought it would, let's review the Defensive Tackles available who play in the 4-3 scheme. I have included whether or not their team has an opportunity of placing the Franchise Tag on any of them, but I would add the caveat that without a CBA, their is uncertainty in that regard, as well as the service time for Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agent status. I am leaving the original text from my earlier post, but I will add an update to each one.

Brandon Mebane is the starting LDT for the Seattle Seahawks. He is 6' 1", 311 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he had a salary of $1.101 million.
At only 6’1, Mebane has the natural leverage and quickness to give interior linemen fits. Though his numbers were merely average, his impact on the field was anything but that. A solid tackle who does a great job reading plays and picking up the run, Brandon is quicker than he is fast. He excels at getting into the backfield off the snap, has a high motor and a healthy amount of confidence. His limited size and athleticism are obstacles. He is improving but needs to show more skills. Mebane is typecast as somewhat of a one-dimensional pocket-collapser. He is considered to a good starter. Brandon has the work ethic and the tools to be a dominant defensive tackle for the next decade. The Seahawks will try everything in their power to ensure that each of those years will be in Seattle.

 
Update: The Seahawks missed out on an impact defensive lineman in the draft so they will want to re-sign Mebane. He may have Unrestricted status as a 4th year player.


Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Seattle 16 29 10 39 5.5 24 0 0 0 0 2 1 0
2009 Seattle 15 40 9 49 1.5 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Seattle 12 19 12 31 1 7 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Career Totals   59 111 37 148 10 52 0 0 0 0 2 3 0




Barry Cofield is the starting LDT for the NY Giants. He is 6-4, 306 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, he made $1,016,110 in 2010. Barry can excel at both tackle and end. His size and girth allow him to play in the middle but he's fast enough to get into the backfield. A good run stopper and solid tackler who's cool from snap to whistle. He isn't an explosive defender with play-making skills because of his slow reaction on snaps. He is improving but still misses some easy tackles. Considered a very reliable starting lineman, Cofield also has a Super Bowl Ring.

Update: Cofield is looking for a multi-year contract instead of playing on another one-year tender. If he is labeled a Restricted Free Agent, he may request a trade. Barry was almost a New Orleans Saint via trade, but the money wasn't right. The Giants drafted Marvin Austin out of North Carolina and have the option to go with 2010 2nd-round pick Linval Joseph as opposed to extending Cofield. New York placed a 2nd-round restricted free agent tender on Barry and he is playing off a 4th-round contract. He will definitely get a raise from that.


Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 NY Giants 15 32 12 44 3 14 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
2009 NY Giants 16 23 12 35 1 9 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
2010 NY Giants 16 39 15 54 4 27 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
Career Totals   79 155 56 211 10.5 71 0 0 0 0 2 11 0




Daniel Muir is the starting LDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 2", 312 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. Muir is a well-sized and very athletic Tackle who reads plays well and reacts quickly. He possesses both the speed and mentality to adjust and make the stops on running plays. Daniel is a bit of a late bloomer who is still learning. He doesn't wrap efficiently and sometimes needs help to finish tackles. Could be coached up on execution basics, but still, he is a starting defensive lineman. 

Update: The Colts have used their Franchise Tag on Peyton Manning, so at least Muir would not be over valued. There really isn't all that much out there on Muir, but Big Blue Shoe over at Stampede Blue wrote about him in October of 2008. 

Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Indianapolis 6 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2009 Indianapolis 16 42 10 52 0.5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Indianapolis 14 29 9 38 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals   39 78 19 97 0.5 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 0


  
Anthony Hargrove is the 2nd string LDT for the New Orleans Saints. He is 6' 3", 272 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 6th year. He made $622,080 in 2010. A very good athlete with above-average initial quickness, Hargrove shows solid instincts and awareness. He is very good at getting into the backfield for sacks and run-stuffs. Somewhat of a late bloomer, his focus and intensity are question marks. Anthony doesn't have ideal overall size for the position and can be an inconsistent performer because of it. He is considered a rotational defensive end with starter tools. Hargrove also has a Super Bowl Ring.


Update: Hargrove should be available, but rumor has it that he has slimmed down for some unknown reason. Perhaps to add quickness since his sack total declined last year. Either way, that will definitely slide him out to the End slot for any interested teams. New Orleans drafted Cameron Jordan and Greg Romeus to upgrade the talent on their D-Line and retained Remi Ayodele with a 1-year $1.101 Million contract.


Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2007 Buffalo 12 18 10 28 1.5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 New Orleans 16 32 10 42 5 25 0 0 0 1 1 3 0
2010 New Orleans 14 21 8 29 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Career Totals    87 156 50 206 16.5 78 0 0 0 1 3 6 0



     
Leger Douzable is the 2nd string LDT behind Tyson Alualu for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is 6' 4", 284 lbs, Age: 24 and in his 2nd year. His 2010 salary was $385,000 and he is currently a Restricted Free Agent. Leger has good mobility and strength. He plays a safe and physical game. He has solid tackling ability and defends well against the pass. Douzable isn't an instinctive reactor to plays. He doesn't seem to have the poise and mean streak to make big plays. He is not a pass-rusher and has limited vision of the field. He is considered a fringe reserve lineman.

Update: Status quo. The Broncos will likely not pursue Douzable since Undrafted Free Agents of similar skills are available. 
          
Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2009 St. Louis 12 11 0 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Jacksonville 15 5 3 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals    27 16 3 19 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0



Fred Evans is a LDT for the Minnesota Vikings. He is 6' 4", 305 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 5th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. He is currently positioned at 3rd string behind Pat Williams and Jimmy Kennedy on the Vikings depth chart. Fred can be a real load up the middle when he gets up a full head of steam. He has good acceleration and can collapse the pocket. He also picks up the run fairly well along the way. Evans is an inconsistent performer who needs to develop better technique rather than relying so much on his solid (but not elite) physical tools. He is considered a decent rotation lineman with starter potential.


Update: Minnesota drafted Christian Ballard and D'Aundre Reed to shore up their Defensive Lines. They also declared LB Chad Greenway their Franchise Player and the William's will be sidelined with suspensions due to the StarCaps case. The Vikes will try to retain him at a lower salary which means he is available, unless the 5-year Unrestricted Free Agent tag goes into effect. 


Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Minnesota 16 7 9 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 Minnesota 13 6 3 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Minnesota 8 4 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals   49 22 12 34 1 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0



   
Derek Landri started sporadically at RDT for the Carolina Panthers in 2010. He is 6' 2", 290 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he made $466,110 according to Yahoo. Landri is an intense and scrappy defender that gets a real good burst through the line and can collapse the pocket. He is very solid at picking up runners along the way. However, Derek is a little bit undersized at tackle. he isn't a great athlete and needs to keep working to improve his technique. He may just need to be in the right system to succeed as a pro. Considered a backup defensive tackle that is a fringe Practice Squad player.

Update: Landri could be obtained by the Broncos at a bargain price, but the chances of that are slim. He doesn't fit the Fox mold and doesn't have any ties with him. The Panthers drafted Terrell McClain and Sione Fua for the D-Line. They also re-signed Nick Hayden to a $480,000 1-year deal for 2011.

Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Jacksonville 15 10 4 14 2 11 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2009 Jacksonville 7 9 4 13 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Carolina 16 30 13 43 3 14 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Career Totals   51 60 21 81 6 30 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
   

 
Anthony Adams is the starting RDT for the Chicago Bears. He is 6' 0", 310 lbs, Age: 30, and in his 8th year. According to Yahoo, he drew a $900,000 salary in 2010. Adams is a very wide and thick man who is surprisingly quick and agile for his body type.  He is a good pursuer over short distances, is tough, tenacious and plays with great leverage. He doesn't command many double-teams due to lack of ideal size, speed, and burst when getting after the quarterback and loses track of the ball at times. Anthony is considered to be a solid starter.


Update: Adams has made it clear that he wishes to remain with Chicago and word is that the Bears are working to keep him. 

Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Chicago 9 14 7 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 Chicago 16 36 8 44 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2010 Chicago 16 33 4 37 2 17 0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Career Totals    110 201 61 262 10.5 69 0 0 0 0 3 10 0


           
Gary Gibson is the starting RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 285 lbs, Age: 28 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, his 2010 salary was $510,000. Gibson is a good, physical player who possesses great lower-body strength to defend the middle against running plays. He's not a shifty lineman and doesn't use his hands well enough to get an extra step to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Gary is a decent rotational lineman though.     


Update: The Rams gave Gary an original pick tender, meaning they hold the right of first refusal. He was undrafted, so there would be no compensation. He could be an unrestricted free agent with a new CBA. St. Louis also drafted Robert Quinn with their first pick so Gibson could be gone.

Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Carolina 11 5 4 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 St. Louis 5 10 1 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2010 St. Louis 16 14 4 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Career Totals    33 30 9 39 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0



Antonio Johnson plays 2nd string behind Fili Moala at RDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. In 2010, his salary was $390,200 according to Yahoo. Antonio has size, natural quickness, and a nose for the ball. He is a solid physical presence who works hard on every shift. He is also a very good listener and fast learner. Another late bloomer, Johnson still needs a lot of work with technique and footwork as he can lose his balance and get pushed backwards at times. He is considered a starting defensive tackle.


Update: Johnson was limited with a knee injury late last season. Indy selected DT Drake Nevis out of LSU in the 3rd round of the Draft. They also acquired DeMario Pressley off waivers from the Texans, so Antonio could be looking for a spot to land. 


Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Indianapolis 8 11 2 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 Indianapolis 15 23 11 34 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Indianapolis 14 20 6 26 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals   37 54 19 73 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0




Andre Fluellen is the 2nd string RDT for the Detroit Lions. He is 6' 2", 302 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. In 2010, he made $391,890. He is currently a Restricted Free Agent. A supreme athlete for a guy his size, Andre moves well, has good leverage and can penetrate beyond the line to make some plays. The problem is inconsistency. He needs to start living up to his measurables. Fluellen could put on a lot of bulk without losing too much and may be a better fit in 3-4 defenses as a Nose Tackle. He is considered to be a decent rotation lineman or  occasional starter.

Update: After picking up Nick Fairley in the draft, Fluellen will likely want an opportunity elsewhere. Undersized but quick off the snap, Andre could fill in the rotation as a 3-tech pass rusher.     

Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 Detroit 8 3 4 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2009 Detroit 14 9 8 17 1.5 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010 Detroit 16 8 2 10 1 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals   38 20 14 34 2.5 24 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

 

Clifton Ryan is a RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.684 million. Ryan is a very serviceable lineman who can play both the end or tackle position. He has the explosive burst to get into the backfield, either off the edge or collapsing the pocket from the middle. He also has the tools of a play-maker. He isn't a speedy defender despite having solid mobility and will sometimes come in late on plays. He is considered a solid interior D-lineman. Clifton was limited to one game in 2010 because of Migraines. The Rams placed him on Injured Reserve on Oct 27th.  


Update: The Rams have shown no interest in retaining Ryan, who was once projected as their run-plugging nose tackle of the future. He would be a good rotational tackle to pickup. 



Year Team G Solo Ast Total Sack YdsL Int Yds IntTD DefTD FFum PD Sfty
2008 St. Louis 16 23 8 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2009 St. Louis 16 35 7 42 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2010 St. Louis 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career Totals   49 82 21 103 3 15 0 0 0 0 3 2 0




John Fox seems to like his Defensive Tackles on the large side. Brandon Mebane and Barry Cofield appear to be the upper tier DT's in Free Agency. Not far behind, I would place Daniel Muir, Antonio Johnson and Fred Evans in the next tier and Andre Fluellen and Clifton Ryan at the next level on this list.


The Broncos have the ability to go after Mebane and/or Cofield with pretty good odds on Cofield, but they have to be considering re-signing Justin Bannan and retaining Marcus Thomas, who they should have first refusal on since he is a RFA.


There is a 3rd pool to draw from--the Undrafted College Free Agents, but there shouldn't be any starting quality candidates in that direction.


Go Broncos!





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