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2005 Offseason Player Movement - Defensive Lineman

  1. DE Reggie Hayward, 26, Jacksonville (from Denver): 5 years/$25 million, $10 million bonus
    Many questioned the Jaguars decision to draft a WR with their top pick in last year's draft instead of a defensive end. After releasing Hugh Douglas and Kevin Hardy during the preseason last year, they had to turn to Greg Favors (a converted LB) as their primary pass rusher. Heading into this offseason, upgrading the talent at defensive end was the team's biggest need and they moved very quickly to sign the top free agent available. He spent his first 2 years as a little used backup with the Broncos, but emerged in 2003 with an 8.5 sack season. The Broncos lost their leading pass rusher from the 2003 season when Bert Berry signed with the Cardinals, which left Hayward as their only true threat. In 2004, he led the team with 10.5 sacks while nobody else on the Broncos had more than 3, and 7 of his sacks came against AFC South teams. When he first entered the league, he was more of a situational speed rusher, but he has developed into a solid all-around DE who should be a great fit in Jacksonville. With John Henderson and Marcus Stroud tying up blockers in the middle, it will be difficult for teams to double team Hayward, making him a very strong candidate to reach double digit sacks every year.


  2. DE Chike Okeafor, 29, Arizona (from Seattle): 5 years/$25 million, $5 million bonus
    The Cardinals significantly upgraded the talent on their defensive line last year with the free agent signing of Bert Berry, who wound up leading the team with 14.5 sacks and made his first trip to the Pro Bowl. The signing of Okeafor should further upgrade a pass rush that finished near the middle of the league. Okeafor is a bit undersized to play the LDE spot, but he holds up reasonable well against the run and has great speed around the edge. He spent the first 3 years of his career as a backup with the 49ers, and finished with 6 sacks in his first year as a starter. The Seahawks signed him to an inexpensive free agent contract in 2003, and he wound up leading the team in sacks for each of the past 2 seasons. First round draft pick Antrel Rolle should significantly improve the coverage in the secondary, and continued improvement from young players like Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett could make things miserable for opposing QBs. The Cardinals are starting to put together the pieces of what could be a very fast and aggressive defense, and Okeafor should be a great fit.


  3. DE Derrick Burgess, 27, Oakland (from Philadelphia): 5 years/$17 million, $6 million bonus
    The Raiders defense struggled last year as new defensive coordinator attempted to implement a 3-4 defense despite not having the proper personnel for it. This year, the Raiders are planning to use more 4-3 fronts, which should be a better fit. Apart from the trade for Randy Moss and the signing of Lamont Jordan, Burgess was the biggest acquisition made by the Raiders this season. Since entering the league in 2001, Burgess has had a very hard time staying healthy. A former 3rd round pick of the Eagles, his career got off to a promising start in 2001 with 6 sacks as a rookie. But, he wound up missing the entire 2002 season with a foot injury and the 2003 season with a torn Achilles tendon. In 2004, he was healthy enough to make 11 starts during the regular season, but only produced 2.5 sacks. After missing the final 4 games of the season to injury, he showed signs of his potential in the postseason with 10 solo tackles and 3 sacks in the final two games of the year. Those performances are likely what sold the Raiders on him, and if he can stay healthy, he should be a very solid addition to their defense. He's not very strong against the run, but with the Raiders expected to have one of the league's best offenses in 2005, he should get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer.


  4. DE Bryce Fisher, 28, Seattle (from St Louis): 4 years/$10 million
    The Seahawks signed Seattle native Bryce Fisher after missing out on re-signing Okeafor and Burgess, but he came at a much cheaper cost. Fisher had played well as a backup in limited opportunities early in his career, but got his first chance to start in 2004 and responded well with 8.5 sacks. He finished the year strong with 23 solo tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in his last 6 games, including 2 in the playoffs. In Seattle, he'll be reunited with Grant Wistrom, who he backed up in St. Louis for 2 years. The Seahawks suffered some major losses on defense this offseason, but Fisher and newly signed LB Jamie Sharper should be quality additions.


  5. DE Marques Douglas, 28, San Francisco (Baltimore): 3 years/$4.5 million
    Marques Douglas barely played at all during his first 3 years in the league, but emerged as a quality starter over the past 2 seasons. He was often overshadowed by all the star Ravens defenders like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, but Douglas has been their most productive defensive lineman. New 49ers head coach Mike Nolan spent the past couple seasons as the Ravens defensive coordinator, so he's very familiar with Douglas. Douglas is a tough defender with good size, who is versatile enough to play DE in a 3-4 or 4-3 formation. He's one of the leading tacklers in the league from the DE position over the past 2 years, and should continue to be a solid fantasy option.


  6. DT Jason Ferguson, 30, Dallas (from NY Jets): 5 years/$21.5 million, $9 million bonus
    Ferguson has been an anchor of the Jets defensive line since being drafted by Bill Parcells in the 7th round of the 1997 draft. He will now rejoin the coach that drafted him down in Dallas, and will be a key component of the Cowboys plan to use more 3-4 fronts this season. Incumbent DT La'roi Glover is excellent at gaining penetration and rushing the passer, but Ferguson is the big run plugger that the Cowboys have lacked for some time. He's been one of the most productive DTs in the league in recent years, including a top-15 finish in 2003 when he compiled 52 solo tackles and 4.5 sacks. The Cowboys have added a lot of talent to play on the edges this year, but Ferguson will shoulder the load of stopping the run and protecting undersized ILB Dat Nguyen.


  7. DT Pat Williams, 32, Minnesota (from Buffalo): 3 years/$13 million, $6 million bonus
    Like Ferguson, Pat Williams has been one of the most productive DTs in the league. He is very big and strong and racks up a ton of tackles despite having to face constant double teaming. In Minnesota, he should benefit from playing alongside stud DT Kevin Williams, who will draw most of the defensive attention. Although Williams has never put up big sack numbers in the past, he does have a very quick first step and can create pressure behind the line of scrimmage. The Vikings boast one of the most talented secondaries in the league so that could create even more chances for coverage sacks from Williams and the guys up front. The Bills would have definitely liked to keep Williams around, but were worried about paying that much money to a 32 year old player. He should be a great addition in Minnesota and could be the piece to finally help turn that defense around.


  8. DT Kevin Carter, 32, Miami (from Tennessee): 5 years/$30 million, $8 million bonus
    The Dolphins were active players in free agency this year and Carter was one of their biggest signings. He's a versatile player who has demonstrated the ability to play both DE and DT. With the Dolphins likely switching to more of a 3-4 defense this year under Nick Saban, Carter will be an ideal fit at one of the DE spots. Although his best days are clearly behind him at this point, he's been remarkably durable and has never missed a game during his 10 year career.


Others

  • DE Vonnie Holliday, 29, Miami (from Kansas City): 2 years/$2 million


  • DE Courtney Brown, 27, Denver (from Cleveland): terms undisclosed


  • DE Ebenezer Ekuban, 29, Denver (from Cleveland): trade


  • DE Carlos Hall, 26, Kansas City (from Tennessee): trade


  • DE Marcellus Wiley, 30, Jacksonville (from Dallas): 1 year


  • DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, 26, Tennessee (from Arizona): 1 year/$565,000


  • DT Bryan Robinson, 31, Cincinnati (from Miami): 3 years


  • DT Keith Traylor, 36, Miami (from New England): 2 years


  • DT Gerard Warren, 27, Denver (from Cleveland): traded


  • DT Chris Hovan, 27, Tampa (from Minnesota): terms undisclosed


  • DT Brandon Mitchell, Age, Atlanta (Seattle): 1 year


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