Which Defensive Stars Will be on the Move?
By: Eric Sojash (Twitter: @SojashSports)
Von Miller, the eight-time Pro Bowl edge rusher for the Denver Broncos has had a forgettable year to say the least. With high hopes coming into the season of building on a Hall of fame career, Miller suffered a season ending ankle injury in early September. There were talks mid-season of a possible return, but with the Broncos out of playoff contention and struggling with injuries in multiple key positions the decision to remain shut down held firm.
Following the season Miller found himself as the subject of a criminal investigation by the Parker Police Department. He has not been charged and at this time details remain unclear. The 32-year-old is under contract for the 2021 season and is set to earn $17.5 million in base salary. With a large salary cap hit, coming off a lost season t to injury and potential off the field issues this could be the time we see Denver and Miller part ways.
Although Bronco fans may not be ready to see the face of their franchise move to an opponent, here are some teams that could and should make this reality.
- Cleveland Browns ”“ After a successful season and just coming up short to the Superbowl champs, the Browns appear one Stud defensive player away from a Championship run.
- Arizona Cardinals ”“ Pairing Miller with the emergence of Hassan Reddick could be just what the Dr. Ordered to get the Cardinals and Kyler Murray into the playoffs in 2021.
- Baltimore Ravens ”“ Ravens have been a regular season dominate force that just has not quite put it together for a deep playoff run”¦. Von Miller sounds like a deep playoff run kind of guy.
Sticking with the Broncos, Safety Justin Simmons who is set to be a Free Agent could find himself a new team in 2021. The Pro Bowl and All Pro safety who played every defensive snap over the past 3 seasons has emerge as an Elite safety in the NFL after another stellar season.
Simmons, who was Denver’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award, now finds himself without certainty on his future heading into the off season. Along with his Pro bowl play, age, durability and work in the community, Simmons is an attractive piece for any team.
The Broncos most likely will do whatever they can to bring him back, but at this time a deal has not been done leaving the door open for Simmons to test Free Agency. Here are some teams that top the list of need and fit.
- Philadelphia Eagles ”“ After unsuccessfully replacing Malcolm Jenkins and with an aging, bad secondary adding Simmons would be a huge upgrade in a place of need.
- Cleveland Browns ”“ Yes There is a trend here, but if you watched this team all year one thing that could help Denzel Ward is an elite safety.
- Dallas Cowboys ”“ This Defense was setting records in the wrong way early in the season. Adding Simmons could help every level of this defense that desperately needs it.
Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl Veteran Corner is set to be a Free Agent for the first time in his illustrious career. The Cardinals selected Peterson with the 5th overall pick in 2011 draft and followed that up a few years later giving him a 5-year $70 million dollar extension. This is the final year of that extension and at age 30 Peterson could find himself in a new home coming into next season.
The Cardinals as a hole had a up and down season just narrowly missing the playoffs in an incredibly competitive NFC West division. For Peterson personally this was the first time he had missed a pro bowl in his career that he was eligible for (he was suspended for PEDs in 2019 and thus was not eligible).
At this stage of his career Peterson is playing for a championship and if another team offers a better opportunity, he should take it. Here are a few teams that will most likely be making such an offer.
- New England Patriots ”“ If the Guru Coach Belechick can get this team back in Superbowl contention, then pairing Stephon Gilmore with Pat P could be scary good.
- Tennessee Titans ”“ Vrabel has this team rolling, particularly on offense. An upgrade to the secondary and Malcom Butler should be a priority.
- Green Bay Packers ”“ This is a Superbowl team already that could lose a star on offense this off season. Suring up the defensive even more could mean back-to-back Superbowl runs.
Trey Hendrickson, the 26-year-old Defensive End broke onto the scene in 2020 in a big way notching 13.5 sacks and finishing tied for second in the league with All Pro Aaron Donald. After a season like Trey’s, it is likely the Saints will not be able to resign him thus leaving the pass rusher with large pay day coming his way from a new team.
Hendrickson spent the past few seasons on a dominant Saints defense with Superbowl aspirations that has benefited him greatly. Learning from the likes of Cameron Jordan has not hurt and with the stats he put up this season Trey finds himself as a top 15 Free Agent going into the 2021 off season. Here are some teams with the cap space to offer Trey a new home next season.
- New York Jets ”“ After hitting the reset button the Jets and new Head Coach Saleh have a slew of picks and cap space to work with. Adding a young premier pass rusher is always a good start.
- Buffalo Bills ”“ Current pass rushers on the roster are aging. Hendrickson would be a great young replacement plus this is a team that is prime to be competing for AFC titles for the next few years.
- Tennessee Titans ”“ They took a shot a Vic Beasley and star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney and for multiple reasons it did not work out. Hendrickson could be the answer they were looking for.
Leonard Williams, drafted by the New York Jets and traded to the New York Giants in the middle of 2019 is currently ranked as a top 5 Free Agent heading into the 2021 off season. He is coming off a career season for the underwhelming Giants where he racked up 11.5 sacks and was a force both in the run game and the pass game.
Williams played the 2020 season under the franchise tag earning himself $16.1 million and will look to get long term stability this offseason. The 26-year-old set personal records this season however it was not enough to earn him his first Pro Bowl nod. With that said his play did take notice from the league and he will have a lot of suitors coming his way, here are a few to look at.
- Las Vegas Raiders ”“ Gruden and the Raiders have the cap space, and apparently the desire to land Williams. Pairing him with Crosby would be scary for the rest of the AFC West.
- Seattle Seahawks ”“ After a disappointing playoff loss, the Seattle will look to rebound in 2021 and picturing Williams with Wagner and Adams”¦. You will have 3 levels of defensive excellence Seahawk fans.
- Miami Dolphins ”“ This is a franchise on the rise and with the consistency of the defense, adding a star player like Williams can only fortify this already solid unit.