Monday, March 4, 2013
Keeping open all options in DE search
By Mike Sando
Miles from Seattle asks whether John Abraham, recently released by the Atlanta Falcons, could fit with the Seahawks as a free-agent addition better than Dwight Freeney might fit with them.
"He's 34, but he is still productive with 10 sacks last year," Miles writes. "It was suggested that Freeney would be willing to play for a discount with incentives in order to play for a contender. At 34, could the Seahawks land Abraham with such an offer?"
Sando: The Seahawks do have a need at defensive end, most likely, while starter Chris Clemons recovers from ACL surgery. A veteran free agent could work well as a one-year stopgap for the Seahawks, but I don't know whether Freeney or Abraham would come to Seattle at a discount. The market probably needs to play out beginning March 12.
Let's also remember how Seattle acquired Clemons in the first place: by trade. The Seahawks have 11 draft choices at present, second most in the league behind San Francisco. Perhaps their pro scouting department can identify the next Clemons -- a player miscast elsewhere and ready to break through if used properly.
Scheme changes can lead to personnel turnover when existing players no longer fit as well. Philadelphia, New Orleans, Buffalo and Cleveland are switching to 3-4 schemes in 2013. Might any players from those teams carry more value elsewhere as a result? I don't know.
The Eagles' Brandon Graham was highly drafted. After a slow start, he had a career-high 5.5 sacks last season and could be headed for a position change from defensive end to outside linebacker. What's his long-term fit with the Eagles? He's relatively cheap and could be ascending. Philadelphia has ample salary-cap room. There would be no obvious reason for the Eagles to move him.
At 268 pounds and with a 40-yard time in the 4.7-second range, Graham might not fit the Clemons mold closely enough, anyway. His name was merely one that came to mind when looking through rosters for potential trade candidates.
Gus Bradley, the former Seattle defensive coordinator and new head coach in Jacksonville, described the prototype during an interview at the NFL scouting combine.
"It needs to be somebody who has good speed, a guy like Chris Clemons," he said. "Not to talk about another team's personnel, but that type of individual who is maybe 6-3, 250 pounds and can run a 4.5, 4.6. Some teams may consider that a linebacker-type."
The free-agent market for defensive ends of any kind is poorer after Cincinnati named defensive end Michael Johnson its franchise player. Houston's Connor Barwin had 11.5 sacks in 2011 before falling to 3.0 last season. He's 26 years old, listed at 268 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.66 seconds and may or may not fit. Seattle might be better off drafting for the position than overpaying at a spot where Clemons is already well compensated and expected to return at some point.