2017 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends

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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. Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Cardinals (5 years, $83 million)

    The Cardinals stole Chandler Jones away from the Patriots, and they’ll be the clear winners of the trade if they manage to re-sign him. Jones is a stellar pass-rusher who routinely records double-digit sacks each year. He’s only 27 in February, so he still has at least four seasons of high play remaining in the tank, so he deserves a huge contract.

  2. Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 28.
    Franchised by Chargers

    Melvin Ingram is a terrific edge rusher. He’s collected close to 20 sacks over the past couple of years, and he’s also a force against the run. He has about three more years of high-level play, so he’s definitely deserving of a huge contract.

  3. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Giants (4 years)

    Jason Pierre-Paul should be handed lots of praise for performing on a very high level despite his fireworks accident two summers ago. Pierre-Paul logged seven sacks in 12 games, but missed the end of the season when he needed hernia surgery. Pierre-Paul was great in every aspect, and he just turned 28, so he has a few years of high-level play remaining and should receive a contract worth quite a few digits.

  4. Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. Age: 31.
    Re-signed with Panthers (2 years, $9.5 million)

    Charles Johnson was re-signed to a 1-year deal last offseason, as there were some injury concerns with him. Johnson didn’t appear to be the same, dominant force in 2016, as he lost some of his pass-rushing burst, recording only four sacks. Johnson was very good versus the run, but given the numerous maladies he’s suffered over the years, Johnson may never be the same player again, especially given that he’ll be 31 in July.

  5. Nick Perry, DE/OLB, Packers. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Packers (5 years)

    With Julius Peppers declining a bit at the end of the year, and Clay Matthews hobbled with an injury throughout the season, Nick Perry was Green Bay’s best edge rusher in 2016. It’s a concern that Perry had struggled prior to his contract year, but he’s a former first-round pick and obviously has lots of talent.

  6. Mario Addison, DE, Panthers. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Panthers (3 years)

    Mario Addison had always been a decent rotational player, but never a key starter. That changed this past season, as he approached double-digit sacks. Addison is a late bloomer, but the problem is that he’ll turn 30 during the first week of September.

  7. Connor Barwin, DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 30.
    Signed with Rams (1 year)

    Connor Barwin collected 14.5 sacks in 2014, and he tallied seven sacks the year after. His production fell off a cliff this past season, however, as he was miscast as a 4-3 defensive end. That, and the near-$8 million cap savings are the two reasons Barwin was released. Barwin can still play though, and he would be wise to sign with a 3-4 team.

  8. Datone Jones, DE, 49ers. Age: 27.
    Datone Jones was drafted to be a five-technique, but was moved to outside linebacker. He did well there in 2015, but regressed a bit in 2016. He still has a ton of talent as a former first-round pick, however, and perhaps he’ll improve once his role becomes fully defined.

  9. Jacquies Smith, DE, Lions. Age: 27.
    Jacquies Smith collected 13.5 combined sacks in 2014 and 2015, but missed all but one snap this past season because of a torn ACL. Given that the injury happened in Week 1, Smith should be at full strength by the start of the 2017 campaign.

  10. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Patriots. Age: 28.
    Signed with Colts (3 years, $25.5 million)

    Jabaal Sheard had an up-and-down season, but he was ultimately New England’s top pass-rusher outside of Trey Flowers. He was also decent in run support.

  11. DeMarcus Ware, DE/OLB, Broncos. Age: 35.
    Announced retirement

    DeMarcus Ware will be in the Hall of Fame one day, but he struggled this past season. An ailing back forced him to miss six games, and he accumulated just four sacks. Perhaps he’ll rebound a bit in 2017, but he turns 35 in July, so it’s not looking very good.

  12. Julius Peppers, DE, Packers. Age: 37.
    Signed with Panthers

    Julius Peppers was great to start the 2016 season, but he declined a bit down the stretch and told the media that he was contemplating retirement.

  13. Karl Klug, DE/DT, Titans. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Titans

    Karl Klug is a very solid, jack-of-all-trades defensive lineman. Unfortunately, he tore his Achilles in December and may not be ready for the start of the season.

  14. Kony Ealy, DE, Patriots. Age: 25.
    Signed with Jets

    It’s crazy how one of the best players on the field in Super Bowl 50 can’t stick on an NFL roster now. The Patriots are in desperate need of edge-rushing help, so it’s telling that they cut Kony Ealy. They traded down eight picks to acquire Ealy, so dumping him isn’t any sort of big deal, outside of the lost possibility of him contributing. Some teams that make sense for Ealy include the Cowboys, Lions, Vikings, Jaguars, Raiders.

  15. Trent Cole, DE/OLB, Colts. Age: 34.
    Trent Cole dealt with a bothersome back injury this past season, limiting him to seven games. He wasn’t bad when on the field, but he clearly wasn’t the same player as he once was. Turning 35 in October, Cole doesn’t have much time remaining in the league.

  16. Paul Kruger, DE/OLB, Saints. Age: 31.
    Paul Kruger has steadily declined over the past couple of years. He logged 11 sacks in 2014, but hasn’t really been the same since, thanks in part to a back injury he suffered this past season.

  17. Devin Taylor, DE, Giants. Age: 27.
    I’m not sure what happened to Devin Taylor. He’s had some quality seasons – he recorded seven sacks in 2015, for instance – but he was awful this past year.

  18. Chris Long, DE, Patriots. Age: 32.
    Signed with Eagles (2 years)

    Chris Long was still an effective player for the Patriots this past season, but he’s clearly not the dominant defender he used to be. Long turns 32 in March, and he probably has one more year as a somewhat decent starter remaining.

  19. Dwight Freeney, DE, Seahawks. Age: 37.
    Claimed by Lions

    Dwight Freeney played about half of Atlanta’s defensive snaps in 2016, serving as a situational pass-rusher. He did a good job in his reduced role, collecting three sacks. Freeney told the media that he’s not considering retirement quite yet.

  20. Mario Williams, DE, Dolphins. Age: 32.
    Mario Williams was terrible in 2015, and he wasn’t any better this past season. He notchd just 1.5 sacks, and he was ultimately a healthy scratch at the end of the year. Williams has lost all of his pass-rushing ability, but still happens to be decent versus the run. If he can stomach signing a deal for the minimum and being a two-down run specialist, that might be the only way he can continue his career.

  21. William Gholston, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Buccaneers
  22. Andre Branch, DE, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Dolphins
  23. Margus Hunt, DE, Bengals. Age: 30. — Signed with Colts
  24. Jason Jones, DE, Saints. Age: 31.
  25. Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 26. — Signed with Saints
  26. Wes Horton, DE, Panthers. Age: 27.
  27. Armonty Bryant, DE, Lions. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Lions
  28. Tourek Williams, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 26.
  29. Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Bears. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Bears
  30. Damontre Moore, DE, Seahawks. Age: 24. — Signed with Cowboys
  31. Kerry Wynn (RFA), DE, Giants. Age: 26. — Tendered by Giants (original)
  32. Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals. Age: 33. — Re-signed with Cardinals
  33. David Bass, DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 26.
  34. Jack Crawford, DE/DT, Cowboys. Age: 28. — Signed with Falcons (3 years, $10.3 million)
  35. Eugene Sims, DE, Rams. Age: 31.

  36. Justin Trattou, DE, Vikings. Age: 29.
  37. LaVar Edwards, DE, Colts. Age: 27.
  38. Wallace Gilberry, DE, Bengals. Age: 32. — Re-signed with Bengals
  39. Frank Alexander, DE, Panthers. Age: 27.

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