Top 2012 LB Free Agents
Photo By: Icon SMI
Before a year officially ends in the NFL, preparations have already been underway for months as to whom all 32 teams are looking to target for the upcoming draft, and in the free-agent market. While teams still hold rights to franchise tags, and have the ability to retain various players before free agency begins in March, I have a list of the players I feel are top linebackers listed below.
When free agency opens up I will update this list, and all other positions linked below. Outside of the actual season taking place, the anticipation of free agency has to be one of my favorite times of the year, as NFL Futures will change, not just for the players who sign with new teams – but for their new fellow teammates as well.
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Last Updated – 3/20
DeMeco Ryans To Eagles – Coming off a down year after an Achilles injury, during the 2010 season; Ryans will now play the middle for Philadelphia. If Ryans can play at a respectable level (likely will) this should be a great move for a defense that was in sore need of veteran leadership in the middle last year. If anything, this is a very solid upside addition to a talented, yet at times, undisciplined group.
|Stephen Tulloch (Det)||Re-Signed5 yr, 42.5 million|| After signing Tulloch for a one year prove it deal, the veteran linebacker gets the contract he deserved last year.Tulloch will continue to play in the middle, with a big front line that will put pressure on the offense, allowing Tulloch to make plays.
|David Hawthorne (Sea)|
|Curtis Lofton (Atl)|
|D’Qwell Jackson (Cle)||Re-Signed5 yr, 42.5 million||After two lost years due to injury, Jackson came back with a solid year in 2011, and it helped him land a big deal.Cleveland was wise to re-sign this guy, as he has a nose for the football.Hopefully, the Browns young defensive line will continue to mature, as Jackson may not take as much wear and tear in the process.|
|London Fletcher (Red)|
|E.J. Henderson (Min)|
|Larry Grant (SF)||Tender|| This is a great hold for the 49ers if they should keep Grant, as he played very well in Willis’s absence at the end of the year.
|Jovan Belcher (KC)||Tender||In his mid twenties, Belcher should be a quality option for the Chiefs, inside, with Johnson playing next to him.
|Jameel McClain (Bal)|
|Jonathan Goff (NYG)|
|DeAndre Levy (Det|
|Player (former team)||New Team||Notes|
|Ahmad Brooks (SF)||Re-Signed6 yr, 44.5 million|| A three down outside linebacker, Brooks can put pressure on the quarterback, which is essential, because he plays on the opposite side of the field, from the Smith’s.Brooks should continue to make an impact for the 49ers defense, and while they may have paid a little high, retaining him ensures their front seven will be tops in the league.
|Erin Henderson (Min)|
|Jarret Johnson (Bal)||Chargers,||Solid in run support, Johnson will be an upgrade for a defense that needs to improve, if the Chargers have any hopes of making the playoffs.|
|Leroy Hill (Sea)|
|Manny Lawson (Ben)|
|Philip Wheeler (Ind)|
|Aaron Maybin (NYJ)|
|Wesley Woodyard (Den)|
|Rocky McIntosh (Was)|
Kamerion Wimbley Signs With Titans – Tennessee picks up a solid pass rusher as Wimbley amassed 16 sacks over his two years in Oakland. A better pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme, Wimbley should have no problem getting to the quarterback.