Thursday, 24 January 2013

Defensive Ends Worth Getting A Look In Free Agency

Wouldn't mind seeing him in a Seahawks jersey. I mean, the jersey I would mind, but him in it not so much.

    The speculation continues; this time with regards to one of Seattle's more glaring needs. The pass rush. It became all too obvious what a one man show the pass rush had become in the Seahawk's final game in Atlanta. Which I still have nightmares about. I originally thought the Seahawks would continue to develop their defense through the draft, then Chris Clemons got injured. There is a lot more urgency in Seattle to fix the pass rush now, especially with Clemons probably missing a chunk of next season with his torn ACL. Not that his play showed it, but he is also getting kind of long in the tooth. Replacements are needed, and they are needed now. Let's look at some of Seattle's options for defensive ends in the upcoming free agent frenzy.

DE, Cliff Avril: Avril is the best pass rusher available this off-season. As a result, you can expect one hell of a bidding war. Thing is, he is probably worth every penny. He is only 26 years old and when at his best bordering on unblock-able. This year was a bit of a step back for Avril with his sacks dropping from 11 to 9.5, but that's practically negligible. He was also very dissatisfied with his contract situation and eventual franchise tagging, which could have had something to do with that. The perfect replacement for Chris Clemons? I think so, be it short term or long.

DE, Michael Johnson: Often overlooked due to sharing a defensive line with all pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the stats speak to his abilities as a pass rusher. This one is more or less a pipe dream, as all signs point to the Bengals tagging him if they don't work out an extension. If Pete Carroll loves height, as much as indicated by everyone on the planet (self included) they should be selling the farm to somehow land this kid. He's only 25 years old and 6'7, but at the end of the day extremely unlikely to go anywhere this off season. Tis a crying shame.

DE, Usi Umenyora: All but a given he'll be hitting free agency, and one of the more likely targets on Seattle's radar. Personally speaking, I've never been all that fond of Umenyora. The stats don't lie though. Even if they are in decline, there is something to be said for reputation and I think based on stats alone, he's earned his. Having a 14.5 sack season to his name doesn't hurt. He's getting on in age though at 31 and may be looking for his one last massive contract. If that's the case, hope the Seahawks aren't the team adding to his retirement fund.

DE, Dwight Freeney: Here's a player I can get behind. His age (32), in combination with how ineffective he was last season as he struggled to play in Pagano's 3-4 defense might result in some team, maybe the Seahawks, getting him at a discounted price. Don't let his five sacks this season fool you. He's got at least another year or two of good football left in the tank, so long as he's back at defensive end.

Good options aplenty. Can't go wrong with any of these players - depending on the price. Of all the options I've listed though, my favorite for the Seahawks, with their cap situation, other needs etc. etc. has to be Freeney. He'll come cheaper than any of the other players listed, and could perform at an almost similar level. Wouldn't complain if we landed Cliff Avril either though...

J.D. Burke

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