2018 NFL Free Agency: Lots of rotational players available at defensive tackle
This year's defensive tackle group is low on high-wattage stars but somewhat deep on useful players
The Super Bowl is over. That means free agency is coming right down the pike. In about a month, each of the NFL's 32 teams will attempt to remake their rosters so that one of them (the Eagles) can defend their championship and the other 31 can try to take it away from them. Last week and this week, we've been running free agency preview posts for every position group in the league. Below, we'll work through the defensive tackles. (List of free agents via Spotrac.)
Unrestricted Free Agents (33)
|Ricky Jean Francois||31||NE|
This is an interesting group.
Beau Allen has been a rotational player for the Eagles for years, but the 2017 season marked both his highest usage and his best performance to date. He set a career high with 28 pressures, per Pro Football Focus, one fewer than he had during his previous three NFL seasons combined. He's still only 26 years old and can be a valuable rotational player on the interior over the course of a long-term deal, whether in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
Bennie Logan left Philadelphia for Kansas City last offseason, signing a one-year contract to play for the Eagles' (but not Logan's) former coach, Andy Reid. The 2017 campaign was not his strongest, but Logan is still a capable run defender than should have value on the open market. He's not much of a pass-rusher, though, so his potential salary could be limited.
The man Logan replaced in Kansas City, Dontari Poe, fared far better in his one-year audition with a different squad. Poe once again held up as one of the NFL's strongest interior run defenders during his year with the Atlanta Falcons, but he also had the best year of his career getting after the quarterback. Only 27 years old, Poe should get a longer-term deal somewhere this offseason.
Haloti Ngata is a big name and an even bigger man, but he's coming off a season during which he played only five games before suffering a torn biceps. He turned 34 years old last month and probably doesn't have too many years left, but he showed early this past season that he's got something left in the tank.
Ho-hum. Another strong season up the middle for Kyle Williams, who has been one of the most consistent interior defenders in football for a while now. He's never played anywhere other than Buffalo and given that he'll turn 35 this offseason and is surely closing in on the end of his career, there's no telling whether he even wants to play elsewhere, but he can clearly still get after it.
Sheldon Richardson wasn't quite the all-world dominating force with the Seahawks that he was during the early part of his career with the Jets, but he made the transition work and fit in nicely. He's well-suited to a role as a versatile interior rusher in a 4-3, and if the Seahawks can get him to take an affordable deal, they'll surely try to bring him back. If they decide he's too expensive, somebody else will be getting a very good player.
Star Lotulelei was drafted 30 picks ahead of teammate Kawann Short and got off to a better start to his career, but their respective fortunes have gone in opposite directions over the years. Short got an $80.5 million deal last offseason, but Lotulelei is likely looking at a much smaller payday -- and potentially somewhere other than Carolina.
Nick Fairley is technically a free agent, but his career is likely over due to the effects of his lingering heart condition. Tom Johnson, Tyrunn Walker, Jay Bromley, Justin Ellis, and Abry Jones are all quality interior options as well.
Restricted Free Agents (10)
The prize talent here is David Irving, who had an absolutely monster of a season for the Cowboys after his return from a suspension. Irving recorded seven sacks and 30 pressures in just eight games, working both inside and on the edge with equal aplomb. He's only heading into his age-25 season and he is an extremely high-upside player. There are rumblings that the Cowboys aren't thrilled with his attitude so they may only place a second-round tender on him this offseason, and some team would be wise to test whether they'd actually accept that pick rather than matching a long-term deal for Irving. He's really good, and about to hit his prime.
Xavier Williams played a career-high number of snaps for the Cardinals this season and made a nice little impact. He had only half a sack, but he was one of the more consistently effective run defenders Arizona had when he was on the field, and he got a decent amount of pressure as well. A smart team might be able to steal him and use him as a rotational player over the next few seasons.
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