Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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The 2011 Defense Market

Saturday, June 4, 2011

3. Mathias Kiwanuka, defensive end

Scouting Report: A versatile, dynamic pass rusher, Kiwanuka has racked up 23.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles through five seasons despite shuffling between end and outside linebacker. Kiwi is a long-armed, athletic pass rusher at 6-foot-5, 265. In his lone full season as a starter, he notched eight sacks and two forced fumbles at right defensive end. He was headed for a breakout year in 2010 with four sacks through three games before a herniated disc in his neck ended his season. Kiwanuka did not require surgery, and he was medically cleared in February.

Availability: The Giants tendered Kiwi at the second-round level, but he's likely to be an unrestricted free agent with five accrued years. There has been speculation that the Patriots could have interest. Kiwanuka is 28, so he's no longer a spring chicken. Coming off a career-threatening injury, he may have to settle for a one-year "prove-it" deal to rehab his value for 2012.

Prediction: Patriots on a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

4. Ray Edwards, defensive end

Scouting Report: A productive young pass rusher at age 26, Edwards has preyed on single teams playing alongside The Williams Wall and Jared Allen in Minnesota. He has back-to-back eight-plus sack seasons and, according to Pro Football Focus, ranked in the top four in the league in QB pressures in both years. Edwards is listed at 6-foot-5, 268. He's been a left end in the Vikings' Cover 2-style system, which places an emphasis on pass rush from the front four. Edwards is quick off the snap and gets up the field in a hurry.

Availability: The Vikes gave Edwards a first-round tender, but he has five accrued seasons. Rather than extend Edwards' deal, they gave backup Brian Robison a three-year, $14.1 million contract, indicating that Edwards is replaceable. Atlanta has been Edwards' most often rumored destination, and the club is clearly in win-now mode after surrendering much of its 2011 draft and a 2012 first-round pick in the Julio Jones trade. John Abraham is aging, so Edwards could be his eventual replacement with Kroy Biermann rejoining the starting lineup in 2012.

Prediction: Falcons on a four-year, $42.5 million contract.

5. Antonio Cromartie, cornerback

Scouting Report: Cromartie is a long-armed corner with freakish size and speed at 6-foot-2, 210. He ran 4.36 at FSU's 2006 Pro Day, and poses obvious matchup problems for big receivers. Cromartie has picked off 18 passes with two pick-sixes over the past four seasons and flashed shutdown ability in coverage. Lacking a high football IQ, however, Cromartie can be taken off his game when frustrated, and has shown a proneness to penalties. He shies from contact, particularly in run support, and must play in a man-coverage scheme. Cromartie struggles in zone. Opposing QBs completed just 43.9 percent of their passes thrown at Cromartie last season.

Availability: Cromartie has five accrued years, so he'll be an unrestricted free agent once a new CBA is struck. Multiple winter and spring reports indicate that Cromartie is likely to leave New York this offseason, and he signed with mega-agents Tom Condon and Ben Dogra in anticipation of hitting the market. Cromartie just turned 27. Teams in pursuit would be smart to offer shorter-term and/or frontloaded contracts to protect themselves against Cromartie's fragility.

Prediction: Texans on a three-year, $23.5 million contract.

Other three- to five-year restricteds: DT Brandon Mebane, DE Cliff Avril, S Eric Weddle, S Michael Huff, NT Barry Cofield, LB Manny Lawson, CB Brandon Carr, S Dashon Goldson, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Josh Wilson, CB Brent Grimes, LB Clint Session, S Danieal Manning, CB Chris Houston, S Donte Whitner, S Roman Harper, LB Stephen Tulloch, CB Richard Marshall, LB Quincy Black, S Melvin Bullitt, DE Wallace Gilberry, DE Jacob Ford, LB Stewart Bradley, S Dawan Landry, CB Eric Wright, LB James Anderson, LB Stephen Nicholas, DE Jason Hatcher.

Trade Candidates

1. Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle - Contract is manageable, conduct isn't.
2. Aaron Ross, cornerback - Became expendable with Prince Amukamara pick.
3. Brodrick Bunkley, defensive tackle - Has lost his starting job to Antonio Dixon.
4. Leodis McKelvin, cornerback - Bills used 34th overall pick on Aaron Williams.
5. Aaron Maybin, linebacker - Might fetch a seventh-round pick at final cut downs.
6. Amobi Okoye, defensive tackle - He doesn't fit the Texans' new 3-4 defense.
7. Derrick Harvey, defensive end - Couldn't beat out Jeremy Mincey, Austen Lane.
8. Greg Toler, cornerback - Rumors he'll be involved in Kevin Kolb-to-Cards deal.
9. Darius Butler, cornerback - The Ras-I Dowling pick put Butler on the bubble.
10. Darcel McBath, safety - Denver drafted two complementary safeties in April.
11. Phillip Merling, defensive end - Expendable with Jared Odrick's healthy return.
12. Tyrell Johnson, safety - Has fallen behind Husain Abdullah, Jamarca Sanford.
13. Jordon Dizon, linebacker - More likely to be released after blowing out knee.
14. Craig Steltz, safety - Steltz is barely even a productive special teams player.
15. Marcus Harrison, defensive tackle - Not a favorite of DL coach Rod Marinelli.

Release Candidates

1. Aqib Talib, cornerback - Felony gun charge could seal his fate in Tampa Bay.
2. Nick Barnett, linebacker - Due $6.25 million, too much for a projected backup.
3. Nate Clements, cornerback - Due $15 million, but may return at reduced rate.
4. Antwan Odom, defensive end - Cincy insiders would be surprised if he's back.
5. Tony Brown, defensive tackle - Has bad knees and a $4 million base salary.
6. Terence Newman, cornerback - Going on 33 and fell off the cliff last season.
7. Kelly Gregg, nose tackle - Still stuffs the run, but Terrence Cody is the future.
8. Aaron Smith, defensive end - Pricey, and Ziggy Hood ready for full-time role.
9. Domonique Foxworth, cornerback - Coming off torn ACL and due $4.4 million.
10. Madieu Williams, safety - Clearly overpaid, but lockout may save his spot.
11. Alex Brown, defensive end - Cameron Jordan was drafted to replace Brown.
12. Joey Porter, linebacker - No way the Cardinals pay his $5.75 million salary.
13. Brian Dawkins, safety - Offers nothing more than leadership at this stage.
14. Keith Brooking, linebacker - See Dawkins; Sean Lee ready to replace him.
15. Gerald Hayes, linebacker - Hayes has been replaced by Daryl Washington.

Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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