2014 NFL Free Agent Tracker: Defensive Ends

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2014 NFL Free Agent Tracker: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2014.
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  1. Greg Hardy, DE, Panthers. Age: 26.
    Franchised by Panthers

    One of the best defensive ends in the NFL, Greg Hardy tallied 15 sacks while being a monstrous run-stuffer in 2013. Hardy will be getting a huge contract sometime soon, as he’ll be just 26 in July.

  2. Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
    Franchised by Redskins

    One of the NFL’s top pass-rushers, Brian Orakpo is also strong against the run and can cover if he has to. He deserves a massive contract this offseason, but he’ll likely have to wait until 2015 because he’ll almost certainly be franchised.

  3. DeMarcus Ware, DE, Cowboys. Age: 32.
    Signed with Broncos (3 years, $30 million; $20 million guaranteed)

    DeMarcus Ware, when healthy, is arguably the best pass-rusher in the NFL. He’ll turn 32 in July and happens to be coming off a six-sack campaign, but he was banged up last season. He still has the potential to have several Pro Bowl-caliber seasons if he can remain injury-free.

  4. Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Seahawks (4 years, $34 million; $16 million guaranteed)

    Michael Bennett signed a 1-year “prove it” deal this past offseason because he was coming off an injury. The gamble paid off, as Bennett registered 8.5 sacks while being a dominant force against the run, as usual. Letting Bennett go was one of the many reasons why Mark Dominik was fired as Tampa Bay’s general manager.

  5. Lamarr Houston, DE, Raiders. Age: 27.
    Signed with Bears (5 years, $35 million)

    Lamarr Houston, the Raiders’ best player, is a strong pass-rusher and is even better at shutting down the run. He’ll only be 27 in June, so he deserves a massive contract.

  6. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings. Age: 32.
    Signed with Bears (4 years, $32 million)

    Jared Allen has been one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers over the past seven years, but he struggled a bit at times this past season. A sign of age, or was this just a fluke? The team that signs him to a big contract will have to worry about Allen declining at 32.

  7. Michael Johnson, DE, Bengals. Age: 27.
    Signed with Buccaneers (5 years, $43.75 million; $24 million guaranteed)

    Michael Johnson has his ups and downs, but when he’s on, he can be very dominant. Johnson is especially strong against the run and can get to the quarterback well at times. He had 11.5 sacks in 2012, but saw that number drop to 3.5 this past season.

  8. Justin Tuck, DE, Giants. Age: 31.
    Signed with Raiders (2 years, $11 million)

    Justin Tuck was always strong against the run, but did nothing in terms of rushing the quarterback in 2013 – until he racked up a whopping four sacks against the Redskins. He put consistent pressure on the quarterback after that.

  9. Anthony Spencer, DE, Cowboys. Age: 30.
    Re-signed with Cowboys (1 year)

    Anthony Spencer collected 11 sacks in 2012, but now he’s a 30-year-old coming off a season-ending knee injury. Spencer has always been inconsistent throughout his career, so a long-term deal could spark some lethargy.

  10. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears. Age: 34.
    Signed with Packers (3 years, $30 million; $7.5 million guaranteed)

    Julius Peppers did not look like the same player in 2013. He recorded 7.5 sacks, which isn’t indicative of how poorly he played. He struggled to put pressure on the quarterback and was pushed around in run support. Peppers, who turned 34 in January, will never be dominant again, but there is some bounce-back potential if he’s motivated enough.

  11. Antonio Smith, DE/DT, Texans. Age: 32.
    Signed with Raiders (2 years, $9 million)

    Antonio Smith will be 33 in October, but he can still get after the quarterback. He can be a 4-3 left end who moves inside on obvious passing situations, but he’s best off staying in the 3-4.

  12. Chris Clemons, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 32.
    Signed with Jaguars (4 years)

    Though he had an awesome Super Bowl performance, Chris Clemons struggled for most of 2013, recording just 4.5 sacks, thanks to a recently torn ACL. Clemons figures to rebound at least a bit in 2014, but it’s worth noting that he’ll turn 33 in October.

  13. Willie Young, DE, Lions. Age: 28.
    Signed with Bears (3 years, $9 million)

    The sack numbers don’t show it, but Willie Young had a solid season both in terms of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. At just 28, he deserves a fairly decent-sized contract.

  14. Jason Worilds, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 26.
    Transition tagged by Steelers (chance to match offer)

    The Steelers didn’t think much of Jason Worilds, so they opted to spend a first-round pick on Jarvis Jones. Instead of Jones playing well, Worilds stepped up with a solid 2013 campaign.

  15. Shaun Phillips, DE, Broncos. Age: 33.
    Signed with Titans (2 years, $6 million)

    So much for being done. Shaun Phillips came off a disappointing season and logged 10 sacks for the Broncos. Unfortunately, he’ll turn 33 in May.

  16. Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings. Age: 26.
    Re-signed with Vikings (5 years)

    Everson Griffen is a quality nickel pass-rusher – he had eight sacks in 2012 – but it remains to be seen if he can be a full-time starter.

  17. Tyson Jackson, DE/DT, Chiefs. Age: 28.
    Signed with Falcons (5 years, $25 million)

    Tyson Jackson has turned his career around with Andy Reid. He still doesn’t offer anything as a pass-rusher, but he put the clamps on the run rather well in 2013.

  18. Jason Babin, DE, Jaguars. Age: 34.
    Signed with Jets

    Jason Babin logged 7.5 sacks in 2013, most of which came in the second half of the season. However, he’ll turn 34 in May, so he could slow down in the near future. He should just be a situational pass-rusher at this point.

  19. Corey Wootton, DE, Bears. Age: 27.
    Signed with Vikings (1 year)

    Corey Wootton happens to be solid in run support, but he’s only average when it comes to rushing the passer. He had seven sacks in 2012, but saw that number cut in half this past season.

  20. Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Cardinals. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Cardinals (2 years)

    Matt Shaughnessy has never been the same since his shoulder injury a couple of years ago, but he showed signs of improvement in 2013. He’s still very stout in run support.

  21. Robert Ayers, DE, Broncos. Age: 28.
    Signed with Giants (2 years)

    Robert Ayers is an inconsistent pass-rusher, but he also happens to be a strong run defender.

  22. Will Smith, DE, Saints. Age: 33.
    Signed with Patriots

    Will Smith was a decent run-defender but a declining pass-rusher in 2012; the last time he had more than 6.5 sacks was 2009. He looked to be a poor fit in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense, but we never found out because he tore his ACL back in August. Smith, 33 in July, doesn’t have much left in the tank and probably won’t even be 100 percent, given that he’s coming off his knee injury.

  23. Mike Neal, DE/DT, Packers. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Packers (2 years)

    Mike Neal is a quality situational pass-rusher on the defensive line, but he took one for the team and played some outside linebacker this year because of injuries. He didn’t fare very well there.

  24. Jeremy Mincey, DE, Broncos. Age: 30.
    Signed with Cowboys (2 years)

    Jeremy Mincey recorded eight sacks in 2011, but hasn’t done much since, registering just five combined sacks the past two seasons. Mincey didn’t fit Gus Bradley’s defense, so he was released this past year. He flashed some potential with Denver down the stretch, but he was just a rotational end.

  25. Israel Idonije, DE, Bears. Age: 33.
    Israel Idonije had a great 2012 campaign, but hasn’t done much in Detroit. He’s been a decent run-stuffer, but he hasn’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

  26. Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Cardinals (2 years)
  27. Jason Hunter, DE, Raiders. Age: 31.
  28. Brett Keisel, DE/DT, Steelers. Age: 35.
  29. Frank Zombo, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Chiefs
  30. Marcus Benard, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year)
  31. Phillip Hunt (RFA), DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 28.
  32. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
  33. Ronald Talley (RFA), DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 28.
  34. Demarcus Dobbs (RFA), DE, 49ers. Age: 26. — Tendered by 49ers
  35. Keyunta Dawson, DE/DT, Saints. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Saints (1 year)
  36. Jermaine Cunningham, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Jets (1 year, $730,000)
  37. Everette Brown, DE, Cowboys. Age: 27.

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