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Each offseason brings a good deal of veteran movement. The linebacker position is no exception. We asked our staff to offer up the linebacker on a new team they were most interested in.
Here are the names who were mentioned.
And here are all of the reasons.
I feel like every linebacker in the league switched teams this year. It was astounding, and probably a testament to how the position has been devalued by a lot of organizations. It's viewed, by many, as fungible. I almost want to bifurcate this discussion between traditional inside linebackers, traditional 4-3 outside linebackers, and outside backers who are principally edge rushers.
For the sake of the conversation, I'll lead with Denzel Perryman, who left the Chargers for the Panthers. Perryman is easily the best linebacker to switch teams in free agency and has huge shoes to fill stepping into the middle of a Panthers defense that has a long history of elite linebackers.
Perryman is a good one to mention as he is quietly one of the better, more notable free-agent linebacker acquisitions this offseason. Plus Carolina is in need of a strong backer to fill the void left by the uninspiring performance of Tahir Whitehead. Perryman and his power-hitting ways come as an upgrade at the position.
In addition to Perryman, Eric Wilson coming from Minnesota to Philadelphia is one to watch. The undrafted Wilson enjoyed a breakout third year that featured 122 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups - and he played in 96% of the Vikings defensive snaps. He'll fit in nicely in Philadelphia's emerging defense under new defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon.
Finally, while many sites have him as an edge rusher, the Haason Reddick signing in Carolina is one to watch. Remember, Reddick played at Temple during Matt Rhule's time. He brings another bullet in the pass rush gun for Carolina's young gun defensive that includes Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Derrick Brown to name the team's top talent on the front-four. Reddick is coming off a quietly productive season that included 42-tackles, 12.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. Carolina's front seven is coming together with some ferocious talent capable of stripping the ball and causing unrest on opposing quarterbacks. The addition of a lock-down cornerback in Jaycee Horn is arguably the biggest boost to the pass rush because quarterbacks will have to revert to Plan B if coverage is too tight. One more half-second may be all that's need for the onslaught of Carolina's pass rush to make a play on the quarterback.
Wilson is an excellent player to mention. It looks like he and Alex Singleton will be the two primary linebackers for the Eagles, who definitely don't see the position as one that is crucial to pay for through the draft or free agency.
Anthony Walker was playing in the shadow of Darius Leonard, but he's a fine player in his own right and I expect him to emerge from the linebacker group in Cleveland to lead them in tackles.
Keep an eye on Alex Anzalone in Detroit. He knows new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's system. One of him and fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes is likely to be fantasy relevant as this defense is probably going to spend a lot of time on the field.
Keanu Neal has been primarily thought of as a safety, but Dallas plans on getting him some work at weakside linebacker too. That plan could be blown up by the choices of Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox in the draft, but Parsons could also play LEO in Dan Quinn's defense, so we'll have to watch to see how the personnel settles as this team changes defensive scheme.
It feels odd to not bring up Bud Dupree. Tennessee gave Dupree the biggest deal of any linebacker on the move and he has shown the ability to get after the QB in the past. Yes, he's coming off an ACL injury but that is nowhere near the death sentence it once was. Dupree has 19.5 sacks over the last two seasons and this Tennessee defense needs help in that department. Overall, the Titans' defense has enough talent on all levels to allow Dupree to rush the quarterback quite a bit, especially on a team that usually playing from ahead. The reward seems to outweigh the risks for Tennessee.