Free Agent Wish List: LB


lancebriggs.jpgListen to the talking heads.  What do you hear them saying?  They’re saying that the Panthers have several areas of need and after letting Dan Morgan go one of those needs has been underlined in red ink – linebacker.  That need is an appreciable one since the team will lack depth.

Lucky for the Carolina Panthers there will be several linebackers, though with varying degrees of talent, available in free agency.

OLB, Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears :  Maybe it was the franchise tag that was placed on him last year that prevented him from being a free agent.  Maybe it was the drama that played out after being locked into Chciago.  Maybe it was the fact that Briggs is best suited to play in the middle but was used on the outside.  Whatever it was, it had a major impact on Briggs’ production in ’07.  (102 tackles – 83 solo, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)  Brian Urlacher made it clear last year when he offered to take a pay cut that he wants Briggs in a Bears’ uniform.  The odds are that he has played his final game in the Windy City.  He will be the most sought after linebacker this offseason.  The team that lands him may get the ’07 version or the ’06 version that made the Pro Bowl.  Either way, someone will land one of the most prized free agents in this year’s bidding war.

ILB, Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots :  It would be hard to imagine Bruschi wearing any jersey other than a Patriots’ jersey.  Sure, it’s safe to say that you either love New England or you hate them.  But it’s hard not to respect a player who came back from a stroke to have a season with 92 tackles (64 solo) and 2 sacks playing in the middle.  There are two questions that need to be answered – do the Pats want him back and does he want to come back for another season.  He’s most valuable to New England but could be considered a good veteran mentor for another team should he choose to play one more year.

OLB, Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals :  Listing Dansby here could be a moot point since the team is expected to make him their franchise player.  But just in case…Dansby had a solid season in ’07 with 97 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.  At only 26 years old he would be a major target for teams looking to fill a need at linebacker but the Cards will probably lock him up.

OLB, Demorrio Williams, Atlanta Falcons :  There are big changes coming in A-Town with a new coaching staff and “GM.”  This could spell the end of Williams’ short four-year stay with the Falcons.  His production has been declining and there could be concern over injury issues especially given his lack of prototypical size (6’0″ 226 lbs.).  But he is still only 27 years old and would likely have some interest among the other 31 teams if he leaves Atlanta.

OLB, Boss Bailey, Detroit Lions :  Bailey is another player who has missed playing time due to injuries but was able to remain relatively healthy last season.  His numbers aren’t terribly impressive (51 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble) but he does have some fairly solid football instinct.  With only 5 seasons under his belt and at 28 years old Bailey may test the free agency waters.

OLB, Danny Clark, Houston Texans :  Clark has a lot of airline tags on his luggage.  He’s been with Oakland, New Orleans and Houston in three seasons.  In ’05 he tallied some good numbers but his production and playing time suffered in the Big Easy in ’06.  Last season in Houston he appeared in 13 games while managing 51 tackles, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.  He could be a target of teams looking to add quality depth.

For a complete list of available players see our Free Agent Page.

When the Panthers released Dan Morgan they allowed a lot of experience to walk out the door with him.  His injury problems and subsequent lack of playing time simply didn’t warrant re-signing him.  Still, the team will probably have to make a move or two to add some depth and even potentially a starter to their group of linebackers.  Will this happen in free agency or the draft?  Time will tell but I’m guessing they make an effort to bring in a veteran if the price is right at least to provide depth.

We’ll be looking at the free agent defensive backs tomorrow.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Free Agency Karlos Dansby Lance Briggs Tedy Bruschi

  • jaybird

    Do you have a proof that the panthers need a Lb. That does not add up to me. They might need a some backups, but as for the starting group, no way. We just signed Diggs back and we already have Davis,Beason.

  • John White

    The starters are solid.  That’s definitely true.  I really like Beason and both Davis and Diggs are solid starters.  But with Morgan’s departure, the team has lost depth at the position.  And one thing that really stands out is the lack from production from the fron seven last season.  Much of that can be blamed on the inability of the defensive line to get a lot of push.  But I still think that the team will look to fill at least one spot at linebacker this offseason if for no other reason than to add depth.

  • jaybird

    I can go with that!I thought you ment a starter!This is a cool site and some really good info,keep up the good work. I try to do a little research myself, and your site makes it a little easier for me. I think you have been right on the money on just just about all of your posts.thanks for the reply!We already have Jenkins,Peppers,Lewis so I guess DE will be the spot we upgrade on the d-line. I have been looking at the free agent pool and DE’s are slim. I think there is a few out there,but most will sign with their own teams. Justin Smith might be a option,but I think round 1,2  is the way we should go.What is your take on upgrading at DE and do you think it will come threw the free agent pool or the draft. I like Rucker,but hope he is not the answer!

  • John White

    I agree that the team needs to make a move at DE.  If Rucker comes back he probably isn’t the answer at his spot either.  He’s probably a backup instead.  I would expect the team to go after a good DE in free agency.  They’re talking like this will be an active offseason so if a push is made to get a guy there my hope it that it’s either Allen, Smith or even Kelly.  I’d be happy with any of them but Allen is the guy I’d prefer.  He could be re-signed and if he’s not his money demands might price the Panthers out of the negotiations.

  • jaybird

    That would make my year if we got Allen. That would put us back in the old days when we had  a great D-line. Allen would be my first too, and I hope we do get a DE in the free agent pool, because that will create more options in the draft.

  • http://biasedfan.wordpress.com UtesFan89

    The only problem with your list is that you seem to list starters. While someone like Briggs would be nice, the team has Beason in the middle. And while Diggs might not be All-Pro material, he’s a fine starter. No point in going out and adding another starter unless there is little confidence in Diggs (in which case he wouldn’t have been resigned). Just my thoughts though.

  • John White

    The list was meant more as an FYI but some of the players listed are most likely backups if they sign elsewhere.  I think the Panthers have their guy in the middle with Beason for a long time.  Diggs is fairly solid and Davis is a decent starter too.  If any of them was to be considered for replacement, it would be Davis and that might be a stretch unless the team signs one of the big name OLB’s.

  • http://biasedfan.wordpress.com UtesFan89

    Yeah. I was just thinking that Briggs and Dansby are guaranteed starters, Bruschi is better in the 3-4 (I wonder if the Panthers would consider going to that…)… yeah.Oh, and your LB FA  page still has Na’il Diggs on it, just FYI.  Good list to look at though, I’ll have to look at it when I try to figure out what exactly I want the Panthers to do.