2017 NFL Free Agents: Outside Linebackers

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2017 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2017.
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  1. Jamie Collins, OLB, Browns. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Browns (4 years, $50 million)

    Jamie Collins is an extremely talented linebacker with no physical liabilities. He excels the most in coverage, but can also blitz effectively and stop the run. The Patriots traded him because he clashed with the coaching staff, which is a concern, but Collins’ overall talent makes up for that.

  2. Lorenzo Alexander, DE/OLB, Bills. Age: 34.
    Re-signed with Bills

    What should we make of Lorenzo Alexander? The edge rusher had always been a marginal player throughout his career, never recording more than 2.5 sacks in any season. Lo and behold, Alexander notched double-digit sacks in 2016. He’s a late bloomer, but turns 34 in May. He’ll need to be signed to a 1-, or 2-year prove-it contract.

  3. Elvis Dumervil, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 33.
    Signed with 49ers

    Elvis Dumervil was once one of the NFL’s top edge rushers, racking up 17 sacks in a season twice in his career. He hit 17 sacks back in 2014, but has regressed lately. He had just six sacks in 2015, and played only eight games this past season because of a foot injury. Dumervil just turned 33, so he’ll never be the same player, but he could be an effective pass-rusher for a team as long as his snap count is reduced.

  4. James Harrison, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 39.
    James Harrison is a freak of nature. How does he continue to dominate despite being in his late 30s? Harrison recorded five sacks in 2016, but that number is misleading because Harrison played about half the team’s defensive snaps. This was done to keep him fresh, and it worked out, as Harrison was very effective when on the field.

  5. DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions. Age: 30.
    DeAndre Levy is one of the top linebackers in the NFL when healthy. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field very often. Levy has played just six games the past two years because of knee injuries. He’ll be worth taking a shot on for a 1-year “prove it” contract.

  6. John Simon, DE/OLB, Texans. Age: 26.
    Signed with Colts (3 years, $13.5 million)

    John Simon has been a solid third edge rusher for the Texans, registering 8.5 sacks over the past couple of seasons. Unfortunately for Simon, he missed the second half of his 2016 campaign with a chest injury.

  7. Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Bills. Age: 25.
    Signed with Texans

    Jelani Jenkins was awful this past year, but I think that may have had to do with a knee injury that nearly caused him to miss Week 1. Jenkins ultimately played in only nine games. He was a solid player beforehand, and he’s only 25 in March, so he should be able to rebound.

  8. Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 27.
    Signed with Cardinals

    Jarvis Jones is one of countless busts from the 2013 NFL Draft. However, he hasn’t been nearly as bad as some of the other players from that class. Jones hasn’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he’s been solid in run support at least.

  9. Josh Bynes, OLB, Lions. Age: 28.
    Josh Bynes was siting in free agency after the Lions released him back in September. They re-signed him in October and must have been surprised when he showed well as a two-down defender.

  10. Michael Morgan, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Seahawks

    Michael Morgan hasn’t been able to see much playing time because of K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, but he’s been a solid, two-down run-defender.

  11. Karlos Dansby, OLB, Bengals. Age: 35.
    Signed with Cardinals

    Karlos Dansby has been an outstanding linebacker for many years, but he regressed this past season. He wasn’t horrible, but he definitely declined in pass coverage. He turns 36 in November, so he could be done.

  12. Erik Walden, DE/OLB, Colts. Age: 32.
    Signed with Titans

    Erik Walden is probably a 1.5-star player, but I’m going to give him a write-up because he accumulated 11 sacks in 2016. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen a player be so lucky in his life. Walden lucked into most of his sacks, as he seldom put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Walden is a mediocre backup at best, and he turns 32 in August, so he’ll continue to regress.

  13. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, Patriots. Age: 26.
    Signed with Colts (1 year, $2.5 million)

    Barkevious Mingo was the sixth-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, so because of his potential, I’ll give him two stars even though he deserves 1.5. Mingo handles the run well, but he’s been a major bust as a pass-rusher.

  14. Ahmad Brooks, OLB, 49ers. Age: 33.
    Signed with Packers

    Ahmad Brooks was once a very talented linebacker for the 49ers, but his effectiveness has dropped off a cliff in recent years. Giving him two stars is probably very generous, but perhaps he can help a team as a two-down player adn a leader in the locker room. Some teams that make sense for him are the Redskins, Packers, Seahawks, Colts and Raiders.

  15. Chad Greenway, OLB, Vikings. Age: 34.
    Announced retirement

    Chad Greenway should be a 1.5-star player, but I’m doing a write-up for him because he has been a long-time great linebacker for the Vikings. Unfortunately, his career is coming to an end, as he’s no longer an effective defender.

  16. Daryl Smith, OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 35.
  17. Bryan Braman, OLB/ST, Eagles. Age: 30.
  18. Jayrone Elliott (RFA), DE/OLB, Packers. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Packers
  19. Dan Skuta, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 31. — Signed with Bears
  20. Justin Durant, OLB, Cowboys. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Cowboys
  21. Andrew Gachkar, OLB, Cowboys. Age: 28.
  22. Malcolm Smith, OLB, Raiders. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers
  23. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Falcons. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Falcons
  24. Spencer Paysinger, OLB/ST, Dolphins. Age: 29. — Signed with Jets
  25. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 25. — Signed with Seahawks
  26. Akeem Ayers, OLB, Colts. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
  27. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Falcons. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Falcons
  28. Najee Goode, OLB, Eagles. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Eagles
  29. Audie Cole, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
  30. Mike Neal, OLB, Packers. Age: 30.
  31. Darren Bates, OLB/ST, Raiders. Age: 26. — Signed with Titans
  32. Adarius Glanton (RFA), OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
  33. Lerentee McCray, OLB, Bills. Age: 27. — Signed with Jaguars
  34. Kroy Biermann, DE/OLB, Falcons. Age: 31.
  35. LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 32.
  36. Josh Martin, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Jets
  37. Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Browns. Age: 25.
  38. Sean Porter, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 26.
  39. Chris Carter, DE/OLB, Colts. Age: 28. — Signed with Redskins
  40. Dekoda Watson, OLB, Broncos. Age: 29. — Signed with 49ers
  41. Mark Herzlich, OLB, Giants. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Giants
  42. Eric Pinkins, OLB, Giants. Age: 26.
  43. Philip Wheeler, OLB, Cardinals. Age: 32.

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