Not to sound like Chicken Little and announce the sky is falling but where are our OLB’s going to come from this year. Currently under contract we have James L. pegged for starting MLB with Josh Hull for depth. The "only" other linebacker under contract is Justin Cole who we picked up last year from KC’s practice squad.
Now, unless we plan on starting two unproven players on the outside (Cole, some draftee or undrafted free agent) we still need to find at least one (if not two) OLB’s from the free agent pool (or make a trade soon). We have already lost out on Chris Chamberlain (not great but apparently current staff was talking to him prior to free agency), Erin Henderson & Manny Lawson as they have already been signed.
So what is left in the FA pool? Listed below in alphabetical order appear to be the remaining OLB free agents according to NFL.com (this list is compiled from those listed as OLB which could include 3-4 OLB’s though I have tried to weed out some of those. I have also included a couple of ILB and/or MLB that may work outside and omitted some of the older FA’s):
Bobby Carpenter-Spags had him in here for training camp in 2010 via the Alex Barron trade and cut him. Wonder if Fisher likes this guy better?
Jo-Lunn Dunbar-in for a visit without a contract. Could also suffer a suspension via "Bountygate" participation.
Omar Gaither-fairly decent for Eagles but not too effective last year in Carolina (knee issue?)
Quinton Groves-minimal productivity over last 4 years with Oakland and Jacksonville
Clark Haggans-probably too long in the tooth for a youth movement
David Hawthorne-very production as MLB, can he move outside?
Geno Hayes-erratic production but does have potential
Leroy Hill-likes his weed, potential off-field issue to cause suspensions
Brandon Johnson-very little production at for Bengals. Appears to be for depth.
Brian Kehl-we know him, does the Fish?
Rocky McIntosh-did not do well in Redskin’s 3-4, was production as OLB in 4-3.
Marvin Mitchell-even less experience than Chris Chamberlain. Mostly used as Special teams and fill in OLB
Mike Peterson-as per Clark Haggans, too long in the tooth
Brady Poppinga-see Brian Kehl
Joey Porter-also too long in the tooth
Jordan Senn-pretty short at 5-11 for OLB but appears to have just began to up his production based on 2011 stats at Carolina
Ernie Sims-good 1st three years with Detroit but production has tailed off drastically since then.
Phillip Wheeler-probably the best of the bunch to fill SLB position. Visiting Raiders as I write this.
As you can see from the list above, the pickings are slim and we do have a while before we need to add any bodies in this position but if we want any potential quality here, we should be getting someone soon.
For the right price, I would like to see us get 1 or 2 of the following:
Phillip Wheeler, Geno Hayes, David Hawthorne, Jordan Senn or Rocky McIntosh.
I believe any one of these would end up starting for us. I do understand we might get a 2nd/3rd round OLB in the draft but will they need seasoning to play in the NFL in 2012?
Thanks for reading.