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2012 NFL Free Agency: Defensive Ends on the Market

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With Jeremy Mincey, Leger Douzable and Matt Roth all set to hit free agency and Aaron Kampman's time in Jacksonville almost surely done, the defensive end position is certainly one that could be in flex for the Jaguars this offseason. Without a single player with a double digit amount of sacks in five consecutive seasons, perhaps it's about time.

What the Jaguars do in free agency about the defensive end position could also be very telling as to which direction the team will go during the 2012 NFL Draft where it is very possible that they could be staring North Carolina DE Quentin Coples down when they're on the clock at 7th overall. Here's a look at the potential top free agent defensive ends and their current contract situations with their respective teams:

2012 Free Agent Defensive Ends

1<a class= Mario Williams North Carolina State 6-6 283
When the franchise tag is used on a player, by rule, that player must get
a pay raise. Since Williams made roughly $18 million in 2011, the tag
would mean he would be due $22.9 million. That astronomical number is
unrealistic for the Texans and means that they have only weeks left to
come to a long-term deal with Williams before he reaches the open free
agent market.

With 53 career sacks, Williams would be a top commodity on the market
and demand a very high amount from teams that are needy for an elite
pass rusher.
2 Calais Campbell Miami (FL) 6-8 300
Calais Campbell was drafted between Derrick Harvey and Quentin
Groves in the 2008 NFL Draft and has quietly become a dominant force
in the league. He has steadily improved in all facets of his game and
recorded eight sacks in 2011, which is a very impressive number for a
DE in a 3-4 system.

The likelihood of the freakishly talented 25 year old reaching the open
market is slim, though. Said Tyler Nickel of SBNation's Arizona Cardinals
blog, Revenge of the Birds

"While I have full confidence that Campbell will come to a new
agreement with the team, the franchise tag always remains a possibility."
3 Cliff Avril Purdue 6-3 260
A 25 year old Jacksonville-native, Avril has improved steadily over his
four seasons in the NFL and recorded the most forced fumbles from the
DE position (6) in 2011 along with 11 sacks.

Avril told the Detroit Free Press that he's getting "positive vibes" that a
deal will be reached that allows him to stay in Detroit where his
teammates voted him defensive MVP for 2011. The Lions also have no
reason not to use the franchise tag if they can not reach a deal in time,
although Avril has openly expressed his wishes that they don't.
4<a class= Jeremy Mincey Florida 6-3 270
Mincey had a breakout season in 2011 after several frustrating years of
dealing with injury and was a great every downs player for the Jaguars.
While he isn't an elite pass rusher, he did record eight sacks (albeit five
were against the Colts) and he did a good job of pressing the pocket

The key for Mincey's future in Jacksonville will be how much he believes
he is worth and whether or not the Jaguars will be willing to spend a lot
to keep him in teal. He has already said that he will not give the Jaguars
a hometown discount
in contract negotiation.
5 Robert Mathis Alabama A&M 6-2 245
Mathis has put up better and more consistent pass rushing numbers in
his career than arguably every player above him on this list. Despite
being much smaller than the average defensive end he has also played
well enough in run support to make a very good every downs defensive

But with less than four weeks until his 31st birthday and a career that
benefited from having Dwight Freeney across from him, he falls in at 5th
on my list of potential FA defensive ends. The Colts have a lot of
decisions to make and it wouldn't be shocking if they chose to rebuild by
allowing all their 30+ year old free agents to walk.
6 Michael Bennett Texas A&M 6-4 274
Michael Bennett is still very young (26) and not quite a dynamic pass
rusher yet, but in his three years in the league he has quickly become a
very strong run defender and a decent pass rusher with upside still to

With just three years in the league though, Bennett is likely to re-sign
with the Buccaneers or at the very least, get a restricted free agent
tender that would force a team to spend a draft pick to sign Bennett.
7 John Abraham South Carolina 6-4 266
At age 33, Abraham's play hasn't yet tailed off as he has put together an
impressive 112 sack career. But with his 34th birthday coming in May
and a large amount of his 2011 sacks coming against subpar teams (3.5
against the Jaguars in week 15), the end is clearly on its way.

Any team that signs Abraham to more than a one or two year deal is
diving head first into something that is probably not going to benefit them
much at all. However, if he can have another 2011-like year for a team in
2012 Abraham could be worth having for a year or two.
8<a class= Frostee Rucker USC 6-3 280
A former 3rd round selection, Rucker's development has been painfully
slow for Bengals fans, but he has reached the point where he is worth
having in the game as starter for every down.

He's limited as a pass rusher due to his lack of speed, but he's a strong
run defender. Think of him as a better version of Jaguars DE/DT Leger
Douzable, although SBNation Bengals blogger Joe Goodberry says he
expects the Bengals to want to re-sign Rucker.
9<a class= Mark Anderson Alabama 6-4 255
Although a little undersized for a DE with his hand on the ground,
Anderson has had a strong season for the Patriots recording 10 sacks
despite playing in less than half of the offensive snaps for the team. In
the New England hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense, Anderson found himself on the
field for pass rushing downs but did so with his hand on the ground.

As a pass rusher, Anderson could fill the John Chick type of role for a
team on the lookout for a pass rushing specialist or a rotational player.
Maybe they might even get surprised with a player that stops the run
well enough to stay on the field full-time.
10 Matt Roth Iowa 6-4 275
Roth signed with the Jaguars for a one year, $3 million deal in August
and the thought from many was that he would serve a rotational role for
the Jaguars. But with injuries to Aaron Kampman that never allowed him
to return to starting form and a season ending injury to Austen Lane who
may have been able to fill a starting role, Roth became the every down
starter at LDE.

In nine starts before a concussion ended Roth's season he was a strong
run defender, but only a decent pass rusher. If the price is right, the 29
year old is a reliable player that can fill in as a starter.