In what some personnel people have assessed as only an average year in free agency, even with the inclusion of four-year veterans in the pool, there figure to be a few healthy positions. And defensive tackle, traditionally a difficult position to fill, might be one of them.
There will be a few big-name tackles, and the group will be bolstered by Kris Jenkins, who has been released by the New York Jets, and Jamal Williams, cut by the Broncos, and the likely availability of Washington's Albert Haynesworth via trade. Teams that deploy in a 3-4 might want to chase San Francisco's Aubrayo Franklin.
DT Anthony Adams
But there will also be a very nice group of what in some years might be adjudged a "middle level" pool of tackles, but which this season figures to draw plenty of attention. At or near the top of that group probably will be Anthony Adams of the Chicago Bears, an unrestricted free agent. Bears officials have noted that re-upping Adams will be a priority for them, and the eight-year veteran recently indicated that his preference is to remain in Chicago, if practicable.
But the Bears got Adams for the relative bargain price of $4.3 million for four years in 2007, and the veteran inside defender, who made a base salary of $900,000 in 2010, probably won't come this time at anything close to that modest price. Adams, 31, started all 16 games in 2010 - only the second time in eight seasons he has started 16 games - and he proved to be a productive performer, with 37 tackles and two sacks.
Adams can play at both of the inside spots in a 4-3 front, although he isn't quite as effective on the nose, and he is going to be in surprisingly solid demand.
There are several other solid tackles available for a change in free agency - Remi Ayodele (New Orleans), Barry Cofield (New York Giants), Derek Landri (Carolina), Brandon Mebane (Seattle) and Daniel Muir (Indianapolis), among them - but Adams might get more play than any of them if he doesn't re-sign with the Bears before testing the market.
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