Chandler Jones, Cardinals (32): Pro Bowl Voting Is Stupid, Exhibit A: Jones has been picked for only four Pro Bowls in 10 seasons, even though he’s eclipsed 10 sacks on seven occasions and ranks second among active players with 107.5 career sacks and first with 33 forced fumbles. Wrote Conor Orr SI.com’s huge free-agent preview: “While teams were able to take advantage of a depressed market last year to grab elite pass rushers at bargain-basement prices, Jones will provide a fascinating litmus test as to how much teams will be willing to spend. As one GM put it: He’s older, but he’s elite, and there’s an exceptional draft class coming down the pike. On one hand, this could make for the value buy of the offseason. On the other, Jones is smart enough to know his worth and could cost a pretty penny if win-now clubs aren’t interested in developing an edge from scratch.”
Von Miller, Rams (32): Miller, who will turn 33 on March 26, had 9.5 sacks last season – 4.5 in seven games with Denver to start the season and 5.0 in eight games after being acquired by the Rams for second- and third-round picks in the upcoming draft. In four postseason games, he recorded four sacks, six tackles for losses and one forced fumble. He is No. 1 among active players with 115.5 sacks. Is Miller really available, considering all the hints he’s dropped about returning to Denver?
Haason Reddick, Panthers (27): The 13th pick in 2017 recorded 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2020 and 11 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2021. Nevertheless, of 74 edge defenders with at least 250 pass-rushing snaps, he ranked only 49th in PFF’s pass-rush win rate . He’s an underrated run defender. Wrote Orr in SI.com’s free-agent preview: “Reddick is an interesting test case for where the market is headed. He fit in well with the blitz-happy Panthers, who tried to create exotic looks and manufactured pressure to compensate for their lack of a secondary. But where does he fit in an NFL that is increasingly trying to hang back and accentuate coverage? Quarterbacks are getting better at handling the blitz every waking second. Can Reddick, who has a career completion percentage allowed in the mid-70s but the speed to drop into zones and obscure passing lanes, justify big dollars as a backfield chaos agent?” SIGNING: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES.
Za’Darius Smith, Packers (29): Green Bay released Smith on Monday.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Dolphins (28): Ogbah really has blossomed into an underrated pass rusher. In 2020, he set a career high with nine tackles and 21 quarterback hits. In 2021, he had nine sacks and 24 quarterback hits. He ranked 41st out of 74 edge defenders in PFF’s pass-rush win rate. Ogbah played all 33 games the past two seasons. He’s spent all six seasons as a 4-3 end. RE-SIGNING: MIAMI DOLPHINS.
Jadeveon Clowney, Browns (29): Clowney, a three-time Pro Bowler, made some money this season. After recording three sacks in 11 games for Seattle in 2019 and zero sacks in eight games for Tennessee in 2020, he bounced back with nine sacks in 2021 for Cleveland. He ranked 28th out of 74 edge defenders in PFF’s pass-rush win rate. More than just a pass rusher, he will set a physical edge.
Derek Barnett, Eagles (25): A first-round pick in 2017, Barnett has 21.5 sacks and 36 tackles for losses in five seasons. He had only two sacks in 16 games in 2021. He’s spent all five seasons as a 4-3 defensive end. He ranked 43rd out of 74 edge defenders in PFF’s pass-rush win rate. As Orr noted, Barnett played alongside first defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and “never managed to dominate, despite an NFC East poor in offensive line play, which also happened to be a quarterbacking black hole.” He is one of the top run defenders in the league, though.
Uchenna Nwosu, Chargers (25): A second-round pick in 2018, Nwosu got his first chance to start last season and responded with career highs of five sacks, 17 quarterback hits and eight tackles for losses. Nwosu ranked 51st out of 74 edge defenders in PFF’s pass-rush win rate. He’s expendable now that the Chargers traded for Khalil Mack. If the Packers had the money, he’d be exactly what they’re looking for in terms of an edge rusher who is comfortable in coverage.
Randy Gregory, Cowboys (29): The greatest ability is available, a wise man (Mike McCarthy) liked to say. And therein lies the problem with Gregory. His greatest ability is rushing the pass. His greatest liability is being unavailable. A second-round pick in 2015 by Dallas, he started only one game in his first six years as a professional. In 2021, he played in 12 games with 11 starts and matched his career high with six sacks and set a career high with 17 quarterback hits. He ranked 20th out of 74 edge defenders in PFF’s pass-rush win rate. However, he was suspended for 14 games in 2016, all 16 games in 2017, two games in 2018, all 16 games in 2019 and the first six games in 2020. In 2021, he went on IR with a calf injury, then had offseason knee surgery. How much money will a team be willing to spend for sacks or flush down the toilet?
Wrote Gary Gramling in SI.com’s free-agent preview: “He’s a prototypical edge rusher hitting the market at a time when everyone is blitzing less and banking on four-man pass-rush dominance; Gregory could be this year’s Trey Hendrickson. However, multiple suspensions over the course of his career, issues as a run defender and the fact that he’s never played more than 457 snaps in a season mean he is a huge risk on a multiyear deal.”
Jerry Hughes, Bills (33): On one hand, Hughes had seven sacks in 2018, 4.5 sacks in 2019 and 2020, and two sacks in 2021. His seven quarterback hits and one tackle for loss were his lowest marks in a decade. On the other hand, Hughes has missed all of one game over the past 10 seasons and he ranked 10th in PFF’s pass-rush win rate among the 74 edge rushers with at least 250 pass-rushing snaps. He’s played in 4-3 and 3-4 schemes.