Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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The 2011 Defense Market

Saturday, June 04, 2011

9. Carlos Rogers, cornerback

Scouting Report: Ask any Redskins fan about Rogers, and the first thing out of their mouth will concern dropped interceptions. Rogers has hands of stone, and as a cover corner he's been highly inconsistent. His next team's primary task will be getting Rogers to play to his potential. With an exceptional size-speed combination (6'0/192, 4.44 forty), Rogers has the skill set every defensive backs coach in the league covets. Former Skins secondary boss Jerry Gray got it out of him in spurts, but ultimately the former top-ten pick has been a disappointment.

Availability: Rogers was relatively old coming out of Auburn in 2005 and turns 30 next month. In other words, this isn't quite an ascending young player. The Gray connection could make sense in Tennessee, where he is now defensive coordinator. Ultimately, the most likely team to sign Rogers will be a runner-up in the Asomugha sweepstakes. Rogers needs to go to a club that utilizes man coverage in the secondary, and Dallas fits the bill under new DC Rob Ryan.

Prediction: Cowboys on a four-year, $27.5 million contract.

10. Justin Durant, linebacker

Scouting Report: A poor man's Jon Beason with even better speed, Durant is a thumping 4-3 linebacker with a 4.51 forty time at 6-foot-1, 232. Pro Football Focus rated Durant the second best run-stopping outside linebacker in football last season, and he is only 25 years old. Durant fell out of favor in Jacksonville due to an alcohol-related arrest in 2007 and proneness to injury; the former second-round pick has missed at least two games in each of his first four years including six in 2010. He has experience as a starter at both middle and weak-side 'backer.

Availability: The Jags have cut ties with Durant and Mike Sims-Walker, failing to extend either a restricted free agent tender. He'll be unrestricted once the lockout ends. Current Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams held the same position in Jacksonville in 2008, and could use outside linebacker help. Falcons head coach Mike Smith also has history with Durant.

Prediction: Saints on a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

Other surefire free agent defenders: DE/DT Marcus Spears, CB Fabian Washington, LB Leroy Hill, S Abram Elam, DE Tony McDaniel, LB Thomas Howard, DT Kris Jenkins, S Gerald Sensabaugh, CB Chris Carr, DE/DT Anthony Hargrove, S Brodney Pool, NT Pat Williams, LB Kirk Morrison, S Bernard Pollard, CB Drayton Florence, LB Travis LaBoy, S Reed Doughty, DE Andre Carter, LB Takeo Spikes, DE Raheem Brock, DE Dave Ball, DE Shaun Ellis, LB Keith Bulluck, DT Anthony Adams, LB Ernie Sims, S Atari Bigby, DT Tommie Harris, S Darren Sharper.

Three- to Five-Year Restricted Free Agents

1. Charles Johnson, defensive end

Scouting Report: Johnson went from impressive young sub-package end in '09 to franchise pass rusher in 2010, ranking seventh in the league in sacks despite playing for a 2-14 Panthers team that generated few blitz opportunities. Still just 25 years old, Johnson has played both left and right defensive end, excelling as a rusher and run stopper at each position. Though he lacks ideal height for a pass rusher at 6-foot-2, 275, Johnson is a relentless player who will only get better. He racked up 10 sacks and three forced fumbles off the bench in 2008 and 2009.

Availability: Carolina surprisingly franchise tagged Ryan Kalil instead of Johnson, and the more deserving free agent was slapped with a first- and third-round restricted tender. The tag will likely mean nothing if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, but the Panthers have no intentions of letting Johnson get away as their best player on defense. Johnson may opt for a relatively short-term contract, setting himself up for another crack at free agency at age 29.

Prediction: Panthers on a four-year, $45 million contract.

2. Johnathan Joseph, cornerback

Scouting Report: If Leon Hall is the Bengals' shutdown corner, Joseph is an ideal aggressive, route-jumping bookend. A press cornerback at 5-foot-11, 192, Joseph has a knack for big plays, picking off 14 passes with three pick-sixes over the past four seasons, despite missing 13 games. Though Joseph has overcome chronic early-career foot injuries and a 2007 marijuana arrest, he went back on the shelf for four games last year with a cracked forearm and high ankle sprain. For all his talent, Joseph is not a "clean" player. He's also coming off a disappointing year.

Availability: The Bengals deemed the $14.5 million cornerback franchise tag too rich for Joseph, giving him a potentially worthless first- and third-round restricted tender instead. As a five-year vet, it's very likely that a new CBA would de-restrict Joseph's free agency. Hall is the Bengals' top corner and should be their priority to re-sign for big money. In the likely event Joseph hits the open market, he'll be the No. 2 free agent corner after Nnamdi Asomugha.

Prediction: Lions on a four-year, $32.5 million contract.

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

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