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What's Left In Free Agency: Defense

Posted Mar 23, 2014

The initial wave of free agency has come and gone. Even most of the second-tier players are off the market. There are still plenty of players who hope to land a deal before the NFL Draft. Some of them are veterans in search of one final contract. There are also players who have some upside if they can land in the right situation. On Saturday, we looked at the best offensive players who are still available in free agency.

Here is a look at the top defensive players, as ranked by Rotoworld. Since the Eagles run a 3-4 scheme, some of the rankings were altered to give a better projection of how these players would fit with the team ...

Edge Rusher

1. Jared Allen - Allen is arguably the top overall free agent left on the market, period. Allen will be 32 years old this upcoming season and he's strictly played 4-3 defensive end in his career. However, Allen has started all 16 games in each of the past six seasons. He has posted double-digit sacks in seven straight seasons. Ridiculous. He's had two visits with Seattle and is reportedly close to choosing a team for 2014.

2. Robert Ayers - The former first-round pick has experience playing in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. As a right defensive end in a 4-3, Ayers was a reserve who came on the field in pass rush situations and had a career-high 5.5 sacks in 2013. Ayers visited the Bengals, who look to add depth after losing Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay.

3. Anthony Spencer - Spencer has thrived as a strongside outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Just two years ago, Spencer had 11 sacks and earned his first-career Pro Bowl nod. Last year, Spencer transitioned to the 4-3, but suffered an ACL injury which required microfracture surgery. That combined with his age (30 years old) has limited his market, although he did visit with NFC East rivals New York and Washington.

Defensive Ends

1. Alex Carrington - Versatile with experience in both the 4-3 and 3-4, Carrington played end when the Bills employed a 3-4. Carrington missed most of 2013 with a torn quad, but at 26 years old he has still drawn plenty of interest this offseason for his ability to penetrate from the interior. He's visited Cleveland, where his former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is now the head coach, Oakland and Pittsburgh.

2. Brett Keisel - The 35-year-old Keisel has been a stalwart for the Steelers, the only team he's played for since he was a seventh-round pick in 2002. A Pro Bowl selection in 2010, Keisel had 4.0 sacks in 12 starts last season. The Steelers have reportedly moved on, but Keisel has expressed interest in still playing.

3. Ricardo Mathews - Mathews has played in all 32 games in the past two seasons as a defensive end for the Colts in their 3-4 scheme with six starts. Mathews brings versatility along the defensive line at 6-foot-3, 294 pounds and is only 26 years old.

Defensive Tackles

1. Ryan Pickett - The 34-year-old Pickett started all 16 games last season for the Packers, but is a two-down run stuffer at this point. Green Bay has expressed interest in bringing back Pickett.

2. Terrence Cody - Mount Cody has been a reserve nose tackle for most of his career since he was a second-round pick of the Ravens in 2010. He did start all 16 games in 2011, but has just five starts over the past two seasons. The Ravens have second-year nose tackle Brandon Williams, who is expected to have a much expanded role in 2014 making Cody expendable.

3. Colin Cole - After two years as Seattle's nose tackle, Cole was out of football in 2012. He battled ankle injuries, but was healthy. As a last resort, he called Carolina last year inquiring if they needed a nose tackle. Cole was one of the veterans Carolina brought in on a one-year deal last season to strengthen that unit. The space-eater played in 15 games this past season and hopes to continue his career. He will be 34 years old in June.

Outside Linebacker

1. Shaun Phillips - The longtime San Diego Charger had 10 sacks last season for the AFC Champion Denver Broncos and 19.5 over the past two seasons. Phillips posted 11 more in 2010. Phillips was expected to re-sign with the Broncos, but has also drawn interest from the Titans.

2. O'Brien Schofield - Schofield had a deal in place with the Giants in the first week of free agency before failing a physical reportedly from a knee injury in 2010. That deal is dead and there's been no news regarding Schofield since. Schofield played for the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks last season after being waived by the Cardinals.

3. James Harrison - A five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro selection with the Steelers, Harrison spent last season with the Bengals. The 35-year-old Harrison is open to a return to Pittsburgh and the Steelers are reportedly interested as well.

Inside Linebackers

1. Arthur Moats - Moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker last year, the 26-year-old Moats started 12 games for the Bills. Moats was a sixth-round pick in 2010 out of James Madison where was a defensive end. The Browns, who have Pettine, have shown interest after losing D'Qwell Jackson to the Colts.

2. Pat Angerer - When D'Qwell Jackson signed with Indianapolis, Angerer was out. The 27-year-old Angerer finished last season on Injured Reserve with a lingering knee injury which required surgery. The former second-round pick was known as a tackling machine, but has been bothered by injuries throughout his career.

3. Stewart Bradley - Former Eagle has made just one start since the 2010 season. Missed all of last season with a wrist injury. Was in the mix for a starting job in Denver before the injury. Bradley spent the previous two seasons in Arizona, where he got a big-money free agent deal, before signing last year with the Broncos.

Cornerback

1. Terrell Thomas - The former Giant returned in 2013 after missing all of 2011 and '12 with ACL injuries. He had one interception in 588 snaps last year. The 29-year-old Thomas has drawn interest from Oakland and Carolina. The Giants moved on when they signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

2. Carlos Rogers - The 32-year-old Rogers was released by the 49ers in salary cap move. While his production is in decline, the former first-round pick of Washington in 2005 started all 48 games in his three seasons in San Francisco and was a Pro Bowl pick in 2011. Washington showed interest in a reunion with Rogers as a slot corner, but added Tracy Porter instead.

3. Dimitri Patterson - Patterson launched his career with the Eagles as a tall, physical corner who could chip in on special teams. He spent the past two seasons with Miami, but was released this offseason in a salary cap move after missing 10 games due to a groin injury in 2013 that landed him on Injured Reserve. He'll be 31 in June, but Miami might consider bringing him back after losing Nolan Carroll to the Eagles.

Safety

1. Chris Clemons - Clemons started all 16 games for Miami last season and recorded an interception, but have decided to try and upgrade the position. He'll be 29 in September. More of a cover safety, but still not much of a playmaker, Clemons has drawn interest from the Jets and Lions.

2. Major Wright - After showing promise in his first three seasons (nine interceptions, three forced fumbles), Wright struggled last season. Was it the defense overall or was Wright exposed? He's only 25 years old, so the 6-foot, 204-pound Wright could have a chance to rebound.

3. Steve Gregory - Released by New England in a salary cap move, Gregory started 11 games last season. Just two years ago, Gregory had three interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. The 31-year-old was a rookie free agent signing of San Diego in 2006 and spent his first six seasons with the Chargers.

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