Yesterday we looked at a few “names” that are still available in free agency on offense and today we make the turn to defense. Two of the players from yesterdays post were signed later that day so maybe that bodes well for a few of these players as the league enters Phase III of free agency.
Will Smith- Smith will be 33 this season and is coming off a lost season due to injury. While he is no longer going to provide a dominant pass rush one would think a competitive team would think he could be used in a rotation with the team. I could see a contract negotiation being a little difficult here. Between the age and the injury many teams might not want to go much beyond the minimum and he probably is hoping for a little more security in the $3 millionish range. He can hold out hope that a small deal can lead him to a moderate deal next season ala Calvin Pace. I would think he’ll sign before the draft.
Kevin Williams- The soon to be 34 year old can still play but is going to need to find a home where they have a steady rotation on the interior. Money may also play a role as he has usually been compensated as an above average player but could be down in the $1 to $2 million range. Considering all the shifting around in the NFC North maybe he’ll find a job with one of the Vikings rivals. I would think if he is not playing in 2014 it’s his choice to not play for the dollars being offered.
Anthony Spencer- Injuries from last season must be an issue but Spencer is a quality pass rusher who was well above average in his last two seasons with the Cowboys before his injury. I would think any team running a 34 front would be interested in his services. He could be hoping for a longer term contract and feels that waiting until the summer could nab him a two year contract as many teams might only consider one at this point. If a team can get him cheap for a year it’s a great value pick up.
Champ Bailey- Bailey is going to the Hall of Fame, but he was exposed in the 2012 playoffs and consistently injured in 2013, which is not a good combination for a 36 year old. Bailey wants to keep playing and he has enough name value to where someone will give him a shot on a low end, incentive laden contract, but its either a team with no cap room or a team with limited upside that would bring him in. Id anticipate him signing sooner rather than later.
Jabari Greer- A constant injury risk, Greer is coming off ACL surgery which is likely scaring teams off. Teams may wait until they are more convinced of his rehab before making a move which likely makes him a summertime signing. Greer could be in position to collect injury benefits under the CBA so if the money offers are not there he may not be pushing rehab.
Asante Samuel- I thought Samuel was pretty underrated in Philadelphia and Atlanta, but he has been a free agent since February and there have been no takers. That would worry me about his prospects. He may have been looking for a two or three year contract which no team would be willing to consider and forced them to sign other players instead. Maybe his name pops up again after he draft or later in the summer when teams are unhappy with the corners they have.
Terrell Thomas- Highly talented player whose goal last year was to play the season out without injury, which he did. The fact that he has not signed yet shows how much the injury history still plays a factor. I would think he does not want to sign another short term deal but that might be what he is forced to do. I wonder if a team like Green Bay would be interested come the summer when he would no longer factor into the compensatory equation.
Ed Reed- Just last year Reed was a coveted free agent. This year he’ll have to accept a minimum salary contract which likely isn’t coming until after the draft. Reed could be a mentor to a younger secondary but I think he made it pretty clear in Houston and New York that he is not content being the old man on the bench. He’ll only come to a team if he is given an opportunity to contribute. That may not mean as a starter but I would think the Jets make the most sense again for him.
Yeremiah Bell- Another adequate veteran that should find a home somewhere. Hes been a minimum salary guy already so I doubt the contract is an issue. Probably a situation where teams want to see if they can improve in the draft before reaching out. A solid fit for a team with limited cap space.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.