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

1. Sean Weatherspoon, Atlanta Falcons
The Cardinals and Weatherspoon have agreed to a one-year deal that’ll pay him $4 million. Weatherspoon, having played a full 16-game schedule just once (2011) in his career, will kick inside for Arizona. If he stays healthy and proves himself on the field, he could be among the top overall free agents a year from now.

Possible Destination: Arizona
Malcolm Smith
2. Malcolm Smith, Seattle Seahawks
The most valuable players in Super Bowl XLVIII, Smith is versatile enough to play strong side or middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He has good instincts, and turns just 26 in July. He’ll have an intense market. 

Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Oakland, & Seattle

3. Brandon Spikes, Buffalo Bills
What Spikes lacks in pass coverage he makes up for in his run defense. The Bills wanted to sign David Harris, but the Jets inked a deal with him a few days ago. This may have opened the door for Spikes to return to Buffalo.

Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, & Miami

4. Mason Foster, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Foster didn’t transition well to Lovie Smith’s defense, so he’ll look for a fresh start elsewhere. The Dolphins, who are showing a lot of interesting in linebackers, will pursue him.

Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Miami, & N.Y. Jets

5. Nate Irving, Denver Broncos
Irving played and started in eight games last season. He tore his ACL in November, but that won’t slow down his market. He’s a good run defender, and possesses the versatility to play in multiple schemes.

Possible Destinations: Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, N.Y. Jets, & Oakland

6. Curtis Lofton, New Orleans Saints
Lofton hasn’t missed a game in his seven-year career, the last three coming with New Orleans. He’s been a productive player, and will standout to both 3-4 and 4-3 teams.

Possible Destinations: Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, N.Y. Jets, & Oakland

7. Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys
Following a poor stint in Oakland, McClain retired from the NFL twice in 2013. He came back last offseason, signing with the Cowboys who were in need of help at inside linebacker following Sean Lee’s season-ending injury in the summer. He played well, surprising even the Cowboys. Facing a four-game suspension due to violating the substance-abuse policy, McClain’s best play is to return to Dallas.

Possible Destination: Dallas

8. Brooks Reed, Houston Texans
Teams will look at Reed as an inside and outside linebacker. He has played predominately on the edge as a below average pass rusher. It might be time to move him inside where he can better rely on his size (6-foot-3, 255).

Possible Destinations: Cleveland, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, & Philadelphia

9. Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears
Over the last two seasons, Briggs has played in just 17 games. Despite his durability concerns, he’s been very productive, especially as a run defender.

Possible Destinations: Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, & Tampa Bay

10. A.J. Hawk, Green Bay Packers
The Packers released Hawk after yet another underwhelming season. He’s scheme versatile, having started as a 3-4 inside linebacker and 4-3 weak side linebacker.

Possible Destinations: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minnesota & Oakland

Best of the Rest
Bruce Carter, Dallas Cowboys
Jonathan Casillas, New England Patriots
Justin Durant, Dallas Cowboys
Jamari Lattimore, Green Bay Packers
Jacquian Williams, N.Y. Giants

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