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With all the news about a new CBA is getting better and better each day, the talk about free agents we are going to look for is increasing. We've seen a number of great posts already discussing running back, undrafted free agents, and other areas of interesting. But it seems the area that most fans think we need to focus on, defensive tackle, isn't getting much attention.
So with the need at the focus of free agency, a number of names have been tossed around, Mebane, Cofield, and others. I wanted to review some candidates and look to see how they'd fit our system, what type of contract they'd want, and other factors that will come into play if we try and pick them up. So lets get to it shall we.
Kaptain Kirk did some fantastic work earlier this off-season, and I will be drawing from his work here, and following his style. So we will be looking at each players recent history, age, projected salary, and physical attributes. Let's get started.
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.
Player Summery: 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.
Free Agency Forecast: Since the Seahawks didn't draft a DT this past year, they are obviously going to try and resign Mebane. There is also rumors from Seattles FO that they have a contract waiting for Mebane. Mebane has also stated he would like to return to Seattle. The Seahawks will try everything in their power to ensure that each of those years will be in Seattle. So with these two factors taken into play, as well as Seattle's playoff run last season, all signs point to Mebane returning to Seattle, the only way that would change is if a team offered Mebane a contract that was among the biggest in the league, and while Mebane is a great young DT, he isn't in the top 3 defensive tackles in the league, and I think it would be foolish to overpay to get Mebane.
Ability of the Broncos to Get Mebane: Low
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.
Player Summery: 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.
Free Agency Forecast: Cofield is looking for a multi-year contract instead of playing on another one-year tender. With the Giants drafting Marvin Austin out of North Carolina and have the option to go with 2010 2nd-round pick Linval Joseph as opposed to extending Cofield, but with the need to make a good playoff run this year, the Giants and Coach Coughlin aren't in a position to lose any key players. He will definitely get a raise, possibly to the top 10 or 15 of his position. Because the Giants a great team, Cofield knows the system, and will be getting a big raise, even if it is just for a shorter two or three year contract, he will likely stay with the Giants. The only way to get him away would be a contract that would be in the top 5 of his position, which would cost about $7 million a year, possibly more with how young guys Suh and McCoy have altered the pay scale for defensive tackles.
Ability of the Broncos to Get Cofield: Low, but higher than Mebane
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.
Player Summery: 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. While not an great player, he is a solid run stopper, and would make a great rotational guy.
Player Summery: 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. He has made solid strides in the past two years to improve his game, and is spoken highly of by his teammates in respect to his work ethic.
Free Agency Forecast: Adams has made it clear that he wishes to remain with Chicago and word is that the Bears are working to keep him. The Bears would also be looking to pay him more than most teams because they are looking to shore up their defensive line to make another playoff run with their aging defense. For the Broncos to get Adams away from the Bears, a team that is more talented and which he knows better, they'd have to pay him far above his level of play, closer to $3.5 to $4 million a year.
Ability of the Broncos to get Adams: Medium
Marcus Spears plays DT for the Dallas Cowboys. He is 6' 4", 311, Age: 28, and in his 6th year. He drew a $1.23 million salary in 2010.
Player Summery: Spears naturally plays defensive end in a 3-4 defense, but has shown potential to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 and has the size and skill to back it up. Spears is not a guy who will get to the quarterback often, but is a fantastic run stopper, which is the Broncos biggest need since we have already got a number of pass rushers. Spears has stayed healthy most of his career but in 201 he suffered an injury and he missed the 2nd half of the season.
Free Agency Forecast: With Spears recent injury, his bargaining power has dropped. He will still demand a decent contract, around the area of $2 million, but would make a great upgrade for Denver, as he can play as a run stopping DT and can also come in as a DE for multiple front defensive lines. Spears won't be highly sought after, and Dallas has said they would like him back, but without a raise, so look for Spears to test free agency.
Ability of the Broncos to get Spears: High
With so many names in play, as well as Bannan, who I'd like to see return, we have a number of quality free agent defensive tackles, and while we always want guys like Mebane and Coefield, keep in mind, overpaying is a big issue for teams in free agency, and overpaying for a player will hurt the Broncos in a number of other way as well. When it comes down to it, I see us taking a run stopping defensive tackles like Spears or Adams, both of whom would be a big upgrade from our current roster, and both wouldn't cause the Broncos to break the bank. By taking a guy like Spears or Adams, we still have money left to spend on a free agent running back or offensive lineman.
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