2008 Free Agents: Defensive Ends

The names are many and the talent varied when it comes to the defensive ends that are scheduled for free agency in March. We list the restricted and unrestricted ones who could find themselves on the market.

The Vikings haven't had a defensive end with more than six sacks since Lance Johnstone in 2005, and they haven't a double-digit sacker since defensive tackle Kevin Williams and Johnstone both did it in 2004. Getting pressure from the defensive end position is said to be of primary importance in the Vikings' Tampa-2 defensive scheme, so they could well be in the market to find a pass-rusher when free agency begins in March.

They lost Darrion Scott to a fractured foot in the fourth game of 2007 and Erasmus James spent the first half of the season trying to come back for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2006 before getting his first start of the season in the 12th game of 2007. That was the same game that James tore the ligament again, prematurely ending his 2007 campaign. While James had surgery with renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews this time and expects to be ready by training camp in 2008, the Vikings have many questions at the position.

Will James really be ready for camp, and will he ever regain the explosiveness that made him a first-round pick before tearing knee ligaments in consecutive seasons? Should they re-sign Scott, who led the team with 5.5 sacks in 2006? Has Ray Edwards, who was a starter until James returned, learned his lesson after being suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances? Was the first half of Brian Robison's rookie season, when he had 3.5 sacks, more indicative of what they can expect or the second half, when he was used more often but registered only one more sack?

These are all questions the Vikings will have to ponder before they dive head-first into free agency, and here are the options scheduled to be available on the free-agent market in March (with their years of NFL experience in parentheses):


Bo Schobel, Arizona Cardinals (4)
Joe Tafoya, Arizona Cardinals (6)
Tony Hargrove, Buffalo Bills (4)
Al Wallace, Buffalo Bills (8)
Mike Rucker, Carolina Panthers (9)
Bryan Robinson, Cincinnati Bengals (11)
Justin Smith, Cincinnati Bengals (7)
Ebenezer Ekuban, Denver Broncos (9)
Corey Smith, Detroit Lions (5)
Ndukwe Kalu, Houston Texans (11)
Josh Thomas, Indianapolis Colts (4)
Bobby McCray, Jacksonville Jaguars (4)
Jared Allen, Kansas City Chiefs (4)
Jimmy Wilkerson, Kansas City Chiefs (5)
Renaldo Wynn, New Orleans Saints (11)
Darrion Scott, Minnesota Vikings (4)
Chris Clemons, Oakland Raiders (5)
Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders (4)
Nick Eason, Pittsburgh Steelers (5)
Travis Kirschke, Pittsburgh Steelers (11)
Marques Douglas, San Francisco 49ers (7)
Bryant Young, San Francisco 49ers (14)
Travis LaBoy, Tennessee Titans (4)
Antwan Odom, Tennessee Titans (4)


Antonio Smith, Arizona Cardinals (3)
Chauncey Davis, Atlanta Falcons (3)
Jonathan Fanene, Cincinnati Bengals (3)
Simon Fraser, Cleveland Browns (3)
Mike Wright, New England Patriots (3)
Adrian Awasom, New York Giants (3)
Trevor Johnson, St. Louis Rams (3)

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