- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Those clamoring for news on the NFL free agency front will have to settle for projections until the lockout finally does end.
There's been no shortage of them on ESPN.com regarding Brandon Mebane.
The Seattle Seahawks' defensive tackle would make sense for the St. Louis Rams, in my view. Colleague Pat Yasinskas sees Mebane fitting well with the Carolina Panthers. But those teams could face competition from the Chicago Bears, Kevin Seifert posits.
The Seahawks also remain in play, but Mebane has gone through this offseason feeling as though a departure from Seattle was likely.
"I feel like I wasn’t in their plans," Mebane told Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune two months ago. "And I feel like I have that right to think that because I got a third-round tender. If they really wanted me, they had plenty of time to do what they had to do. Me personally, from my experience, I don’t think I was in their plans. I would love to come back here, but I don’t know what their plans are."
Mebane, 26, has been a starter in each of his four NFL seasons. The next collective bargaining agreement is expected to make him an unrestricted free agent.
The Bears do make for an intriguing potential suitor given their strong connections to him. Former Seahawks president Tim Ruskell, who made Mebane a third-round draft pick in 2007, works for the Bears now. New Bears defensive line coach Mike Phair also worked for the Seahawks.
Other former Seattle assistants have also surfaced around the league. Jerry Gray became the Tennessee Titans' defensive coordinator. Several members of the Titans' front office, including longtime Ruskell associate Ruston Webster, were with Seattle when the Seahawks drafted Mebane. Such connections often come into play when teams identify which free agents to target, although there are no indications Tennessee, amid suggestions that it could incorporate some 3-4 principles, plans on targeting Mebane.
Mebane recently ranked seventh on Matt Williamson's list of top 15 players in the NFC West.
"Mebane isn’t a slouch against the run, but he is much better suited for a 4-3 where he can use his array of abilities, including a quick get-off," Williamson wrote. "Mebane doesn’t get the publicity that he deserves, but he does everything asked of him well. Carolina or Denver would love to have him."
In short, Mebane could make sense for any team running a 4-3 defense and needing help at defensive tackle.