clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Finding value at defensive end in 2016 NFL free agency

New, comments

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

In free agency, every NFL team wants to find pass-rushers. The top pass rushers probably won't hit the market, or if they do they'll be paid heaping cartloads of money. If a team wants to find value, like the Tampa bay Buccaneers always say they do, they'll have to look at players other than Von Miller and Olivier Vernon. The value pass rushers come in a few flavors: limited production but big potential, old age, character questions, and injuries creating uncertainty.

So let's go through a few of the potential value signings for the Bucs, and other NFL teams, to upgrade their pass rush.

Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG

Pierre-Paul has had a bit of an inconsistent career, and that wasn't helped by losing a couple of fingers and missing the first half of the season for the New York Giants. He ended the year with just one sack after putting up 12.5 in 2014, but Pro Football Focus had him at 41 pressures over the second half of 2015. His injury will likely limit the kind of contract he can get, which could make him him great value on the open market.

Robert Ayers, NYG

At 30 years old and just 26 sacks in his career, Ayers isn't a power-house pass-rusher. But he notched nine sacks last season while playing about half of the defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus ranks him as one of the most productive pass-rushers on a per-snap basis over the past couple of years, and he could be a cheap, short-term solution for a team in need of a pass-rush specialist.

William Hayes, STL

The St. Louis Rams have so many pass rushers you may never have even heard of William Hayes, but the 30-year-old put up five sacks and over 40 pressures in a part-time role this past year, according to Pro Football Focus. Like Ayers, you're not getting a long-term solution or a dominant defensive end, but a useful pass-rush specialist for the next couple of years. That can be great value.

The character wild cards

These are the guys who've been very productive in the past, but who most teams will pass on because of their character. That's Aldon Smith, who's always a productive pass rusher but can't stay away from DUIs and is serving a one-year suspension until the middle of next year. That's Greg Hardy, who seemingly can't stop hitting women and was a locker-room disaster in Dallas last year. It's also Junior Galette, who was filmed hitting a woman with a belt, suspended for two games and cut by the New Orleans Saints despite being owed millions in guaranteed money. He missed all of last year with an injury.

The Bucs weren't averse to going after guys like that under Lovie Smith, but that may or may not change under Dirk Koetter. We'll have to see about that.