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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
2014 NFL Free Agency Preview: Linebackers
By Matt Horkman

Outside Linebackers

Jo-Lonn Dunbar, St. Louis Rams
A 16-game starter in 2012, the Rams cut Dunbar in early September after the NFL suspended him four games for violating the league‘s PED policy. They re-signed him in October, and he played below average in 10 starts. Dunbar is a marginal starter, but a starter nonetheless. His market won’t pickup until after the first few waves of signings occur.

Possible Destinations: Bills, Cowboys, Rams, & Vikings

Erin Henderson, Minnesota Vikings
Releasing Henderson saved Minnesota $2.1 million in salary cap space. In addition, he has recently had problems with the law, so they likely just wanted to move on from him. Despite his decent production in 2013, his recent legal troubles could limit his market.

Possible Destinations: Bills, Buccaneers, & Cowboys

Mike Neal, Green Bay Packers
The Packers put a lot work into developing Neal and now another team may reap the rewards. A number of injuries have prevented him from reaching his true potential, but at times in 2013, he remained me of former Baltimore linebacker Adalius Thomas. Neal turns 27 in June, so it isn’t unreasonable to think his best football is ahead of him.

Possible Destinations: Cardinals, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, & Saints

Brian Orakpo, Washington
Discounting 2012 when he played just two games because of injury, Orakpo is averaging about 10 sacks per season since entering the league in 2009. Washington had plenty of cap room, so using the franchise tag on him made sense. He’s still free to sign an offer sheet, though, but a team would have to surrender two first-round picks. That won’t happen, so he’s back in Washington for 2014.

Possible Destination: Washington

Shaun Phillips, Denver Broncos
At 32 years of age, Phillips isn’t likely to have a huge market. A return to Denver seems like his best choice.

Possible Destination: Broncos

Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys
Don’t expect Spencer to return to Dallas. The Cowboys don’t have enough cap space to keep him and he doesn’t fit the Tampa 2 defense. Because of a knee injury, Spencer missed all but one game in 2013. In 2012, when Dallas still ran a 3-4 defense, he notched a career-high 11 sacks. He’s a nice alternative for the teams that wanted Orakpo.

Possible Destinations: Cardinals, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, & Titans

Inside Linebackers

Jon Beason, N.Y. Giants
Re-signing Beason is a priority for the Giants, who traded a seventh-round pick to Carolina for him last season. Beason’s injury history will probably scare teams away from him. He should be back in blue next season.

Possible Destination: Giants

Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals want Dansby back and he seems confident he’ll return. Tennessee is also expressing interest, however.

Possible Destinations: Cardinals, Ravens, & Titans

Perry Riley, WashingtonPerry Riley
Coming off back-to-back quality seasons, Riley hasn’t made much progress with Washington on a contract. He turns just 26 in May, so he’ll be a hot commodity for anyone looking to upgrade their linebacker corps.

Possible Destinations: Browns, Titans, Vikings, & Washington

Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Smith rarely came off the field for Baltimore in 2013, so obviously he has value to the franchise. The Ravens are reportedly talking contract with him, so a return to Baltimore is probable.

Possible Destinations: Broncos, Ravens, & Titans

Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots
A return to New England is not likely for Spikes, who is looking for $6 million per year. The Patriots don’t want to pay that much money to somebody who isn’t on the field during passing downs. Spikes will draw interest from 3-4 teams looking for a run-stopping thumper in the middle of their defense.

Possible Destinations: Broncos, Browns, & Titans

Wesley Woodyard, Denver Broncos
Following a strong start to the 2013 season, Woodyard suffered a stinger in week five. The injury kept him out a few weeks and his play significantly fell upon his return. In fact, the Broncos actually benched him late in the season. Despite his lackluster play down the stretch, Woodyard did enough in the first month of the season to earn an opportunity to compete for a starting job.

Possible Destinations: Chiefs, Packers, Titans, & Vikings

Best of the Rest
Parys Haralson, New Orleans Saints
Jameel McClain, Baltimore Ravens
Arthur Moats, Buffalo Bills
Calvin Pace, N.Y. Jets
Darryl Sharpton, Houston Texans

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