Free Agency Diary

2016’s Top Outside Linebacker Free Agents

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The period to franchise tag players has come and gone.

With that in mind, as we continue our free agency diary series, it’s time to look at guys who are set to hit the open market.

Here are the Top 10 outside linebackers currently available in free agency:

1. Mark Barron, S/OLB, Los Angeles Rams – Just four years ago, Mark Barron was selected as the seventh overall pick. During his two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay, Barron didn’t live up to expectations, which resulted in him being traded to the formally known St. Louis Rams. This past season was the best of his young career, as he totaled 116 tackles, five passes defended and forced three fumbles. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints.

2. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Kansas City Chiefs – While Justin Houston receives all of the headlines, veteran Tamba Hali is still a force to be reckoned with on the edge. For any team in need of an instant pass-rush, Hali would be a great pickup. The 32-year-old has 86 career sacks. Best fits: New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams.

3. Vincent Rey, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals – Rey has truly shown great improvement over the years. During his first few seasons in the league, he had a hard time getting on the field. Now, Rey has garnered over 200 tackles the past two seasons. At 28-years-old, Rey can bring a team good versatility against the run and pass. Best fits: Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers.

4. Bruce Irvin, OLB, Seattle Seahawks – Over the past few years, the Seattle Seahawks have been one of the most feared defenses in the world. The ‘Legion of Boom’ gets tons of credit, but don’t overlook Bruce Irvin. The five-year linebacker has totaled 12 sacks the past two seasons. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys.

5. Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers – When Perry was selected in the first round from USC, Green Bay thought he was going to be a great compliment to Clay Matthews. However, things haven’t worked out as they expected, but Perry came along this postseason. In the two playoff games, Perry totaled 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Best fits: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans.

6. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Baltimore Ravens – While he isn’t the guy he was projected to be out of college, Upshaw has developed into a nice player at this level. He’s only 26, so a team could still be hopeful Upshaw takes his game to the next level. Best fits: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers.

7. Dwight Freeney, OLB, Arizona Cardinals – The old man still has a little bit left in the tank or maybe he just found a fountain of youth in the desert. In just 11 games played in the regular season, Freeney totaled eight sacks. If the 36-year-old decides to play another season, there will be suitors interested. Best fits: Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts.

8. Aldon Smith, OLB, Oakland Raiders – If not for his off-the-field issues and suspension, Smith would be much higher on this list. He’s a freak of nature on the edge at 6-foot-2, 265 pounds. Considering the troubles he’s endured, a team will be able to get him for a decent price. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks.

9. Chad Greenway, OLB, Minnesota Vikings – Greenway has spent all 11 seasons in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. He’s not the Pro Bowl caliber player he once was, however, given the right situation, he could still be a quality player. Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos.

10. Mike Neal, OLB, Green Bay Packers – Whoever Neal signs with, their respective fan base won’t be going crazy on Twitter. At the same time, Neal made an impact during the playoffs, as he recorded two sacks to go along with a forced fumble. Best fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Detroit Lions.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.