Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who should the Bengals target in Free Agency? A look at the Linebackers

Here are some key names that pop out to me that I WISH the Bengals would target from the linebacker position. This is assuming these players don't re-sign with their respective teams prior to the start of free agency:


Terrell Suggs, UFA, Baltimore Ravens
Being a linebacker that also works at defensive end has helped Suggs become an end that can track the ball above average. In his first six NFL seasons, Suggs has made 368 total tackles and earned 53 sacks. Suggs may not be as rewarded as Peppers or Haynesworth will be in free agency, but he will certainly be pursued by a number of teams who want to save a little money and still come away with a quality defensive end. Baltimore is constantly pumping out quality defensive players, so they may not be willing to match a big offer if one comes along, but they will miss Suggs if they lose him.

Karlos Dansby, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
Dansby is becoming a consistent linebacker in the NFL. In his last four full seasons, he has tackle totals of 89, 82, 99, and 119 this season. He has also tallied at least three sacks in each of his five seasons as a pro. His three interceptions last season tied a career high and he added two more this season. In ’08, he was an important part of a defense that helped the Cardinals advance in the playoffs. He isn’t in the same class as some of the linebackers on this list, but he may eventually be pretty close. Dansby will appeal to several teams because of his age, size, and potential.

Mike Peterson, UFA, Jacksonville Jaguars
Peterson had played in just 15 games over the course of the last two seasons, but he played in all but one game this season. When healthy, he is one of the better middle linebackers around. He has six seasons in triple-digit tackles and the four seasons he failed to reach that mark were seasons in which he was unable to play in all sixteen games. In ’05, his most recent full season, he had six sacks and three interceptions. His health concerns will scare some teams away, but Peterson may still have some quality seasons left in him. He had a single sack this season, along with 84 tackles, and is on the downturn of his career.

Jonathan Vilma, UFA, New Orleans Saints
Vilma returned from a serious injury and made a good impression with the Saints in New Orleans. He tallied 132 tackles, had an interception, a sack, and forced two fumbles. Prior to his shortened ’07 season, Vilma had registered 108 tackles or more in three straight seasons, including 173 in ’05; he also now has seven interceptions in his five seasons of work. Vilma is quick to the ball and consistently makes the right play. At 26 years of age, he will be a point of interest for several teams when he hits the market.

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