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The relative value of 2023 free agent interior defensive line players

What is the “market value” from Dre’Mont Jones?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Dre’Mont Jones is about to be an unrestricted free agent and it appears that the Denver Broncos do not plan to use the franchise tag on him. Which means that the front office either believes that they can resign him for less than the franchise tag would cost (which would be $19.7 million for a defensive end, or $18.9 million for a defensive tackle) or that they can replace his production for less than the roughly $19 million he would cost the Broncos for 2023.

So let’s first look at comparable large defensive ends (hand-in-the-dirt guys) in terms of their current contracts.

The top five IDL players in terms of 2023 cap number are:

  • Leonard Williams - Giants - $32,260,000
  • Chris Jones - Chiefs - $28,291,668
  • Aaron Donald - Rams - $26,000,000
  • Cameron Heyward - Steelers - $22,256,250
  • Jonathan Allen - Commanders - $21,441,176

Relative to Dre’Mont Jones all of them had more production during their rookie contracts.

On his rookie contract (first 4 yrs to be comparable), Williams had 16.0 sacks, 160 pressures and 49 TFL. For Chris Jones that was 33.0, 172 and 54 TFL. Donald had 52.5, 303 and 98 (YIKES!). Heyward had 30.0, 157, and 56. Allen had 17.0, 117 and 29.

Dre’Mont had 22.0, 106 and 37. So in terms of production he was a little better than Jonathan Allen, so his agent could argue he deserves a comparable contract. But how does his production compare to other current UFA IDL guys over their last four seasons? Let’s look at comparable UFA IDL guys who played 600 or more defensive snaps last season.

  1. Greg Gaines
  2. Isaiah Buggs
  3. Fletcher Cox
  4. Javon Hargrave
  5. Zach Allen
  6. Jihad Ward
  7. Jarran Reed
  8. Matt Ioannidis
  9. David Onyemata

I’m sure I missed some guys who were hurt last season and should be included. Tell me in the comments and I’ll compile data for them as well. Using PFR we can compare their production, but let’s exclude Buggs since he doesn’t belong in the conversation (has only played significant snaps for one season and has 1.0 career sack).

RANK IDL Age Wgt D Snaps Tackles TFL FF Sacks Qbhits QB presures Snaps/Prss
1 Yannick Ngakoue 28 246 3014 121 36 11 35.5 65 116 26.0
2 Fletcher Cox 32 310 3006 159 28 7 20.5 45 91 33.0
3 David Onyemata 30 300 2275 153 20 0 16.5 48 68 33.5
4 Matt Ioannidis 29 310 2157 146 21 1 13.5 40 62 34.8
5 Zach Allen 26 281 1994 138 21 0 11.5 43 56 35.6
6 Dre'Mont Jones 26 281 2176 132 37 2 22.0 38 60 36.3
7 Javon Hargrave 30 305 2721 221 31 3 27.0 48 73 37.3
8 Jarran Reed 30 313 2745 160 12 5 13.5 48 72 38.1
9 Jihad Ward 29 287 1786 98 15 2 9.0 33 44 40.6
10 Greg Gaines 26 312 1896 122 11 0 10.5 24 38 49.9

So that leaves us with 9 guys, but I’ve included Ngakoue since some sites call him IDL (?!?). If we convert absolute numbers to rate stat (snaps per pressure) where you want to be low, then Ngakoue is the best free agent IDL pass rusher. Of course, most don’t consider him IDL since he’s listed at 246 pounds. So if you remove him, then Fletcher Cox has the best pass rush stats of true UFA IDL players over the last four seasons. The remaining nine guys range in weight from 281 (Jones and Allen) to 313 (Reed) so they are all relatively comparable.

Cox is 32 years old and he’s at the age when most DL guys start to lose that quickness that differentiated them from others (if they haven’t before that) in their prime.

David Onyemata is intriguing (Ian will be writing about him later) since he has played his entire career with the Saints and Sean Payton is very familiar with the Nigerian who didn’t play college football in the US (he played in Canada). Onyemata carries a big risk though since he has been suspended twice by the NFL for taking banned substances, the first time it was for weed and the second it was for taking supplements that he claims to not have known contained banned substances saying

While I was certainly surprised and disappointed with this news, I am responsible for what I put in my body. As I have never knowingly taken anything that could cause a positive test, we are currently in the process of testing the supplements I was taking at the time of the test. Regardless, I am committed to being more aware of any medication and dietary supplements that may contain substances banned by the NFL.

The guy below Onyemata on this pass rush rate stat, David Ioannidis, will forever be tied to Onyemata. Onyemata was drafted with a pick that Washington traded to New Orleans. Washington took Ioannidis with the pick they got from the Saints.

I’d love to see us get a younger guy who has great potential, but really hasn’t shown it yet. Those UFAs generally come cheap and every team needs “value” free agents who overperform their contracts like K’Waun Williams and Alex Singleton did for the 2022 Bronco D. Based upon career production, Zach Allen and Greg Gaines are two guys that should fit that bill in that they should be relatively cheap compared to someone like Hargrave or Cox, or even Dre’Mont Jones.


Which FA IDL guy do you prefer considering age, production, health and cost?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    (130 votes)
  • 4%
    (20 votes)
  • 8%
    (38 votes)
  • 4%
    (21 votes)
  • 36%
    (167 votes)
  • 7%
    (35 votes)
  • 2%
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    (28 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now