2016 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends

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2016 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2016.
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  1. Derek Wolfe, DE/DT, Broncos. Age: 26.
    Re-signed with Broncos (4 years, $36 million)

    Derek Wolfe missed the first four weeks of the season because of a suspension. He bolstered the defense in his return; he’s an elite run-defender who generates solid pressure on the quarterback. At just 26, Wolfe has plenty of room for growth.

  2. Olivier Vernon, DE, Dolphins. Age: 25.
    Signed with Giants (5 years, $85 million; $40 million guaranteed)

    Olivier Vernon’s stats didn’t show it, as he didn’t even notch double-digit sacks, but he had a fantastic 2015 campaign, both in terms of rushing the passer and helping out against the run. Just 26 in October, Vernon has a bright future ahead of him.

  3. Robert Ayers, DE, Giants. Age: 30.
    Signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $21 million)

    Robert Ayers is coming off his best season yet, notching nine sacks in just 12 games and being very forceful in run support. He would be a four-star player if it weren’t for his age – 31 on Sept. 6 – but he should still have two strong years remaining in the tank.

  4. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Giants (1 year)

    Jason Pierre-Paul managed just one sack in the eight games he played in 2015. Those who didn’t watch him will believe that he was ineffective, but that’s not true at all. Pierre-Paul put lots of pressure on opposing passers. His hand issue played a part in his deficiency in run support, but Pierre-Paul will continue to serve as a dynamic pass-rusher.

  5. Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. Age: 30.
    Re-signed with Panthers (1 year, $3 million)

    Charles Johnson being cut would’ve been shocking news a year ago. However, he’s coming off a lost season in which he collected just one sack. That wasn’t the real Johnson though, as he missed half the year with a hamstring injury and was never the same once he returned. Johnson, who turns 30 in July, could have a couple more dominant seasons left in the tank. He’s a tremendous player when healthy.

  6. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 32.
    Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years)

    Tamba Hali is still one of the top edge rushers in the NFL, but he just turned 32. He should still have a strong season or two remaining, but he’s going to be slowing down soon.

  7. Justin Tuck, DE, Raiders. Age: 33.
    Announced retirement

    Oakland’s defense went off a cliff when Justin Tuck sustained a torn pectoral in October. He was solid in all regards, but happens to be a 33-year-old coming off an injury, so he could decline in 2016.

  8. William Hayes, DE, Rams. Age: 31.
    Re-signed with Rams (3 years, $17.5 million)

    Everyone knows about Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Chris Long, but William Hayes has been a solid player on St. Louis’ defensive front as well. Hayes gets solid pressure on opposing quarterbacks and even happens to be better in run support. Unfortunately, he turns 31 in May, so he doesn’t have many strong seasons remaining.

  9. Vinny Curry, DE/DT, Eagles. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Eagles (5 years, $47.25 million; $23 million guaranteed)

    Vinny Curry notched nine sacks in 2014. He didn’t quite get there this past season – he logged 3.5 sacks – but he still put great pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He struggled in run support, which is why he was just a rotational player, but Curry could be better in a 4-3 as a left end.

  10. Mario Williams, DE, Bills. Age: 31.
    Signed with Dolphins (2 years)

    Mario Williams was terrible in 2015, but to be fair, he was a terrible fit in Rex Ryan’s scheme. Williams, however, stopped trying after a while and was horrible for the locker room. He’s only 31, so he might have a couple of solid years left in the tank.

  11. Chris Long, DE, Rams. Age: 31.
    Signed with Patriots (1 year)

    Chris Long used to be a great defensive end, but he has fallen off recently. He played in just six games in 2014, and then a knee injury rendered him ineffective this past season. Perhaps he’ll be able to rebound, but at 31 (in March), his best days are long gone.

  12. Jason Jones, DE, Lions. Age: 30.
    Signed with Dolphins

    Jason Jones has never been the same since tearing his patellar tendon a couple of years ago, but he was decent in 2015. He didn’t really show any weaknesses in his game, though he wasn’t overly forceful.

  13. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Falcons. Age: 28.
    Signed with Falcons (2 years, $9 million)

    Adrian Clayborn signed a 1-year “prove it” contract after playing just one game in 2014 after tearing his biceps. He showed well, putting a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback, though his stats don’t show it.

  14. Greg Hardy, DE, Cowboys. Age: 28.
    This was a difficult one to rate. Greg Hardy is one of the most talented pass-rushers in the NFL. Based on skill alone, he’d be a 4.5-star player. However, he’s an absolute scumbag and a horrible teammate. He’s bad for any locker room, so any team that signs him needs to be sure that the other 52 players can handle his crap.

  15. Derrick Shelby, DE, Dolphins. Age: 27.
    Signed with Falcons (4 years, $18 million)

    Derrick Shelby took over as the full-time starter once Cameron Wake went down with an injury. He handled himself well and showed no weaknesses in his game. He was at his best when stopping the run.

  16. Quinton Coples, DE, Dolphins. Age: 26.
    Signed with Rams (2 years)

    Quinton Coples has been a colossal bust thus far whose lethargy has ruined his career. However, he’s very talented and could develop into a solid player if he gets his act together.

  17. Wallace Gilberry, DE, Bengals. Age: 31.
    Signed with Lions

    Age may have caught up to Wallace Gilberry, whose sack total dropped from 7.5 in 2013 to two this past year. However, he’s still a capable situational pass-rusher.

  18. George Selvie, DE, Giants. Age: 29.
    George Selvie racked up seven sacks in 2013. He managed just one this past season, but did a good job of containing the run.

  19. Jeremy Mincey, DE, Cowboys. Age: 32.
    Announced retirement

    Jeremy Mincey has been a solid defensive end for the Cowboys, especially in terms of run support, but he just turned 32, so his best years are behind him.

  20. Eugene Sims, DE, Rams. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Rams (3 years)
  21. Calvin Pace, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 35.
  22. Darryl Tapp, DE, Lions. Age: 31.
  23. Ryan Davis (RFA), DE, Jaguars. Age: 27. — Signed with Cowboys
  24. Andre Branch, DE, Jaguars. Age: 27. — Signed with Jaguars (1 year, $3 million)
  25. Chris Clemons, DE, Jaguars. Age: 34. — Signed with Seahawks
  26. David Bass (RFA), DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 25.
  27. Corey Wootton, DE, Lions. Age: 29. — Announced retirement
  28. Frank Alexander, DE, Panthers. Age: 26.
  29. Larry English, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 30.

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