2018 NFL Free Agents: Inside Linebackers

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2018 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2018.
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  1. NaVorro Bowman, ILB, Raiders. Age: 30.
    NaVorro Bowman has a very checkered injury history, and he’d be a risky, long-term signing for that reason. However, he’s an impactful player when healthy. Oakland’s run defense improved by leaps and bounds after Bowman signed in mid-October.

  2. Mason Foster, ILB, Redskins. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Redskins (2 years, $7 million)

    Mason Foster was excellent in 2016, but saw a decline in play this past season because he was playing through a torn labrum. The Redskins finally sat him down at the end of October. Foster should be able to bounce back next season.

  3. Avery Williamson, ILB, Titans. Age: 26.
    Signed with Jets

    Avery Williamson was a fifth-round pick in 2014, but he has evolved into a capable inside linebacker. He can stand to improve in coverage, but he’s a dominant run-stuffer.

  4. Demario Davis, ILB, Jets. Age: 29.
    Signed with Saints (3 years, $24 million)

    Demario Davis had struggled for most of his career heading into 2017, so it was considered laughable when the Jets opted to start him at one of the linebacker spots. Davis had the last laugh, however, playing extremely well last year. Was this a fluke, or a sign of things to come? Perhaps Davis will have to sign a 1-year “prove it” deal so his next team can find out.

  5. Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Bears. Age: 32.
    Announced retirement

    Jerrell Freeman has been popped for 14 combined games for PEDs over the past couple of seasons. In fact, he’ll have to serve the final two games of his sentence in 2018. Still, Freeman is a talented linebacker, and he could provide a team with some short-term help at the position.

  6. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Raiders. Age: 35.
    Derrick Johnson turns 36 around Thanksgiving, but he still played well this past season despite coming off one of his many injuries. Johnson is decent in coverage, so he could still start for a team for maybe another year or two.

  7. Todd Davis, ILB, Broncos. Age: 26.
    Re-signed with Broncos

    Todd Davis is a young linebacker who has been a big part of Denver’s outstanding run defense. Unfortunately, he’s been routinely abused in coverage.

  8. Jon Bostic, ILB, Colts. Age: 27.
    Signed with Steelers

    Jon Bostic was a disappointment as a second-round pick in 2013, but he finally performed somewhat well this past season, handling the run well. He was still a liability in coverage, however.

  9. Kevin Minter, ILB, Jets. Age: 27.
    Signed with Buccaneers

    Kevin Minter had been a disappointment as a former second-round pick, until 2016 when he played well. Minter signed with the Bengals, but struggled mightily. Perhaps he can rebound, but his outlook is dubious.

  10. Gerald Hodges, ILB, Saints. Age: 27.
    Signed with Cardinals

    A former fourth-round pick of the Vikings, Gerald Hodges carved out a role for himself in San Francisco’s defense prior to 2017. Hodges played the run well and hasn’t been a liability in coverage. He didn’t see much action this past season for some reason.

  11. Brian Cushing, ILB, Texans. Age: 31.
    Brian Cushing should probably have a 1.5-star rating, but he’s a former prominent player, so I’ll give him a write-up. Cushing used to be a terrific linebacker, but has struggled in coverage the past three years. Injuries haven’t helped, as he’s missed 38 games in the past six seasons. With Zach Cunningham and Benadrick McKinney thriving, Cushing was very expendable.

  12. Korey Toomer, ILB, Chargers. Age: 29.
  13. Karlos Dansby, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 36.
  14. Preston Brown, ILB, Bills. Age: 25. — Signed with Bengals
  15. Will Compton, ILB, Redskins. Age: 28. — Signed with Titans
  16. Ramik Wilson (RFA), ILB, Chiefs. Age: 26. — Signed with Rams
  17. Nick Bellore, ILB, Lions. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Lions
  18. Kevin Pierre-Louis, ILB, Chiefs. Age: 26. — Signed with Jets (2 years)
  19. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 32.
  20. Zaire Anderson (RFA), ILB, Broncos. Age: 26.
  21. Christian Jones, ILB, Bears. Age: 27. — Signed with Lions
  22. LaRoy Reynolds, ILB, Falcons. Age: 27.
  23. John Timu (RFA), ILB, Bears. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Bears

  24. Corey Nelson, ILB, Eagles. Age: 26. — Signed with Falcons
  25. Brock Coyle, ILB, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers (3 years)
  26. Marquis Flowers, ILB, Patriots. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Patriots (1 year)
  27. Dannell Ellerbe, ILB, Eagles. Age: 32.
  28. Tank Carder, ILB, Browns. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Browns
  29. Joe Thomas (RFA), ILB, Packers. Age: 27. — Signed with Cowboys
  30. Julian Stanford, ILB, Jets. Age: 27.
  31. Steven Johnson, ILB, Ravens. Age: 30.
  32. Spencer Paysinger, ILB, Panthers. Age: 30.
  33. Brian Peters (RFA), ILB, Texans. Age: 29.
  34. Justin March-Lillard (RFA), ILB, Cowboys. Age: 25.
  35. Nick Dzubnar (RFA), ILB, Chargers. Age: 27.
  36. Sean Weatherspoon, ILB, Falcons. Age: 30.

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