2015 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends

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2015 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2015.
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  1. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 26.
    Franchised by Giants

    Jason Pierre-Paul has been inconsistent throughout his career, but when he’s on, he’s nearly unstoppable. He registered 12.5 sacks in 2014, and he was playing some of his best football down the stretch. He’s only 26, so there’s time for him to get better and more consistent.

  2. Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, Bills. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Bills (5 years, $45 million; $22 million guaranteed)

    There was some question about whether Jerry Hughes would work in the 4-3 defense Buffalo was installing this season. Hughes silenced the critics, matching his sack total (9.5) from 2013 and also playing well against the run. Hughes is far from the draft bust he looked like when he was with the Colts.

  3. Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
    Signed with Titans (4 years, $32 million)

    Brian Orakpo is one of the most talented pass-rushers in the NFL. The problem is that he’s injury-prone, having missed 24 games over the past three seasons. He tore his pectoral in October.

  4. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Eagles (4 years, $26 million; $14 million guaranteed)

    Despite being miscast as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Brandon Graham put lots of pressure on the quarterback and held up well against the run in 2014. He’ll be even better in a more natural 4-3 scheme.

  5. Greg Hardy, DE, Panthers. Age: 27.
    Signed with Cowboys (1 year, $11.3 million)

    It’s difficult to rank Greg Hardy. He’d have a 4.5-star rating under normal circumstances, given that he’s one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL. His domestic-abuse issue looms large, however. I’ll bump him down a star.

  6. Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 26.
    Signed with Bears (5 years, $40 million)

    Playing behind Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, Pernell McPhee put great pressure on the quarterback, racking up 7.5 sacks despite being on the field for limited snaps. He also handled the run well.

  7. Trent Cole, DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 32.
    Signed with Colts

    Trent Cole can still generate a strong pass rush, and he’s also solid in run support. The problem is that he’ll turn 33 in October, but he’s still a quality starting edge rusher who can play in either the 4-3 or 3-4.

  8. Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Browns. Age: 26.
    Signed with Patriots (2 years, $11 million)

    An adequate pass-rusher who is very forceful in run support, Jabaal Sheard played well last year until a foot injury, which was believed to be season-ending, hindered him in late November and December. Sheard should be better next year once his foot is repaired. He’ll be just 26 in May.

  9. Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 26.
    Signed with Titans (4 years, $30 million)

    Derrick Morgan is weak in run support, but he happens to be a consistent pass-rusher. He also proved that he can play in the 3-4, so all teams that need an edge rusher should be interested in him. He won’t be 27 until after the 2015 season.

  10. Michael Johnson, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
    Signed with Bengals (4 years, $24 million)

    Michael Johnson recorded 11.5 sacks in 2012. He saw a dip in that number the following season, but still played well. He ended up signing a 5-year, $45 million deal on the first day of free agency last March, but was absolutely dreadful, much like most free agents who take the money and run to inferior situations. Johnson, who just turned 28, might be able to rebound.

  11. Kroy Biermann, DE/OLB, Falcons. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Falcons

    Kroy Biermann registered six sacks this past season, but that number is a bit misleading, given that half of them came in one game against the incompetent Buccaneers. Biermann was inconsistent in terms of getting to the quarterback, but he held up well against the run. He’ll turn 30 in the middle of September.

  12. Anthony Spencer, DE, Cowboys. Age: 31.
    Signed with Saints (1 year)

    Anthony Spencer used to be a terrific, albeit inconsistent pass-rusher until a knee injury caused him to miss all of 2013. He was limited this past year. Perhaps he can regain his former status after being two seasons removed from microfracture surgery. He just turned 31, however.

  13. Dwight Freeney, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 35.
    Dwight Freeney put a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback, as his sack total wasn’t indicative of how well he played in that regard. Unfortunately, he’s 35 as of February.

  14. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
    Signed with Falcons (1 year, $4.5 million)

    Adrian Clayborn registered six sacks in 2013, but missed all but one game this season with a torn bicep.

  15. George Johnson, DE, Lions. Age: 27.
    Tendered by Lions

    George Johnson didn’t get to play much, being behind Ezekiel Ansah and Jason Jones, but he made the most of his limited snaps, racking up six sacks. Johnson didn’t hold up against the run very well, however.

  16. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
    Da’Quan Bowers has been a major bust in the NFL, but he came into the league with loads of talent. He probably won’t ever play well, but there’s a chance he could find a home and live up to expectations if he’s coached up extremely well.

  17. John Abraham, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 37.
    John Abraham registered 11.5 sacks in 2013, but missed all but one game this past season with a concussion. Abraham said he’s coming back for 2015, but he’s 37 in May and has an extensive concussion history.

  18. Karl Klug, DE/DT, Titans. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Titans (2 years)
  19. Corey Wootton, DE, Vikings. Age: 28.
  20. George Selvie, DE, Cowboys. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants (1 year, $1.4 million)
  21. Tim Jamison, DE/DT, Texans. Age: 29.
  22. Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 26. — Signed with Bears
  23. LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 30. — Signed with Cardinals
  24. Jarius Wynn, DE, Bills. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Bills (2 years, $2.2 million)
  25. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Giants. Age: 32.
  26. Shaun Phillips, DE/OLB, Colts. Age: 34.
  27. Derrick Shelby (RFA), DE, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Dolphins
  28. Osi Umenyiora, DE, Falcons. Age: 33.
  29. Robert Geathers, DE, Bengals. Age: 32.
  30. Jermaine Cunningham, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 27.
  31. Trevor Scott, DE, Bears. Age: 31.
  32. Cliff Matthews, DE/DT, Falcons. Age: 26.
  33. Lawrence Sidbury, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Buccaneers
  34. Austen Lane, DE, Bears. Age: 27.
  35. Demarcus Dobbs, DE, Seahawks. Age: 27.
  36. Justin Trattou (RFA), DE, Vikings. Age: 27.

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