2021 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends

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2021 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2021.
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  1. Shaq Barrett, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Buccaneers (4 years, $72 million)

    Shaq Barrett had a ridiculous 19.5 sacks in 2019. There was some regression to the mean in 2020, but he still logged eight sacks. He’s due for a big contract.

  2. J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Texans. Age: 32.
    Signed with Cardinals

    The Texans somehow didn’t obtain any assets for J.J. Watt. This means that three of the four pillars of their franchise – Watt, DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney t go along with Deshaun Watson – were moved for the sum of two second-day picks, decrepit running back David Johnson and Jacob Martin. Unreal. Watt turns 32 in March, so his 20-sack days are clearly behind him, but he was still terrific last year. He’s a great short-term signing because he can help a team get over the top and win the Super Bowl with his talent and leadership.

  3. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Saints. Age: 26.
    Signed with Bengals (4 years, $60 million)

    Trey Hendrickson recorded 13.5 sacks in 2020 despite not being an every-down player. The sky is the limit for Hendrickson, who is only 26 years old.

  4. Carl Lawson, DE, Bengals. Age: 26.
    Signed with Jets (3 years, $45 million)

    Carl Lawson has notched 10.5 sacks over the past couple of seasons, and he was Cincinnati’s sole consistent pass rusher in 2020. Turning 26 this summer, Lawson has plenty of upside.

  5. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Seahawks. Age: 32.
    Re-signed with Seahawks (2 years, $16.6 million)

    The Seahawks acquired Carlos Dunlap prior to Halloween, and he did very well for them, notching six sacks. Dunlap is a talented player, but the Seahawks cut him because they couldn’t afford to pay him $14 million. Also, Dunlap just turned 32, so a decline is coming soon.

  6. Aldon Smith, DE, Seahawks. Age: 31.
    Aldon Smith hadn’t played since 2015, but came back from his long hiatus and performed well. He logged five sacks in 2020.

  7. Deatrich Wise, DE, Patriots. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Patriots

    Deatrich Wise improved last year as a pass rusher. He logged 2.5 sacks, but that’s not indicative of how well he played. Wise should continue to upgrade his game.

  8. Romeo Okwara, DE, Lions. Age: 26.
    Romeo Okwara is a one-trick pony, but he does that trick extremely well. He logged 10 sacks in 2020, a number that would’ve been higher had the Lions maintained more leads. His pass-rushing skills are great, but he struggled as a run defender and as a player in coverage.

  9. Olivier Vernon, DE, Browns. Age: 30.
    Olivier Vernon had a great 2020 campaign, stopping the run well and getting to the quarterback frequently (nine sacks). Unfortunately, he tore his Achilles late in the season, so he may not be 100 percent for the start of 2021.

  10. Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Giants. Age: 27.
    Ifeadi Odenigbo had lots of potential heading into 2020 because he had seven sacks the year before. However, his sack total was sliced in half this past season.

  11. Kerry Hyder, DE, 49ers. Age: 30.
    Signed with Seahawks (3 years, $16.5 million)

    Kerry Hyder played well in relief of the injured elite 49er defensive ends last year, logging 8.5 sacks. I don’t know if that’s sustainable, but Hyder deserves a chance to play significant snaps in 2021.

  12. Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings. Age: 33.
    Signed with Vikings

    Everson Griffen can still get some pressure on the quarterback; he logged six sacks in 2020. He’s no longer the player he once was, and age (33) is becoming a concern.

  13. Takk McKinley, DE, Raiders. Age: 25.
    Signed with Browns (1 year, $4 million)

    Takk McKinley still has some major potential as a former first-round pick, but he’s been a bust thus far.

  14. Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers. Age: 26.
    Signed with Raiders (1 year)

    Solomon Thomas is a bust as a former No. 3 overall pick, but he’s still a solid run defender. If he were a third- or fourth-round pick, his career would be seen as a success.

  15. Denico Autry, DE/DT, Colts. Age: 31.
    Signed with Titans (3 years, $21.5 million)

    Denico Autry is a jack-of-all-trades player who can be used in multiple spots on the defensive line.

  16. Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Vikings. Age: 27.
    Ifeadi Odenigbo turned some heads in 2019 when he notched seven sacks, but he didn’t perform up to that level last year, logging 3.5 sacks. Still, he’s young enough to improve.

  17. Charles Harris, DE, Falcons. Age: 26. — Signed with Lions
  18. Dawuane Smoot, DE, Jaguars. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Jaguars (2 years, $14 million)
  19. Trent Murphy, DE, Bills. Age: 30.
  20. Alex Okafor, DE, Chiefs. Age: 30.
  21. Benson Mayowa, DE, Seahawks. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Seahawks (2 years, $8.8 million)
  22. Mario Edwards, DE, Bears. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Bears (3 years, $11.55 million)
  23. Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Colts. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Colts
  24. Ronald Blair, DE, 49ers. Age: 28. — Signed with Jets
  25. Dion Jordan, DE, 49ers. Age: 31.
  26. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Browns. Age: 33.
  27. Vinny Curry, DE, Eagles. Age: 33. — Signed with Jets (1 year, $1.3 million)
  28. Stephen Weatherly, DE, Panthers. Age: 27. — Signed with Vikings
  29. John Simon, DE, Patriots. Age: 30.
  30. Morgan Fox, DE, Rams. Age: 26. — Signed with Panthers
  31. Arden Key, DE, Raiders. Age: 25. — Signed with 49ers
  32. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, 49ers. Age: 32.
  33. Jack Crawford, DE, Titans. Age: 32. — Signed with Cardinals
  34. Jordan Willis, DE, 49ers. Age: 26.
  35. Damontre Moore, DE, Seahawks. Age: 28.
  36. Noah Spence, DE, Bengals. Age: 27.
  37. Tyrone Crawford, DE, Cowboys. Age: 31.
  38. Steven Means, DE, Falcons. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Falcons
  39. Margus Hunt, DE, Bengals. Age: 34.
  40. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Patriots. Age: 29. — Signed with 49ers
  41. Taco Charlton, DE, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Chiefs (1 year)
  42. Aaron Lynch, DE, Jaguars. Age: 28.
  43. Cassius Marsh, DE, Steelers. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Steelers (1 year)
  44. Allen Bailey, DE, Falcons. Age: 34.
  45. Edmond Robinson, DE, Falcons. Age: 29.
  46. Branden Jackson, DE, Seahawks. Age: 28.

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