Free Agency 2019! Defensive Ends Hitting Free Agency and Teams in Need

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Many defensive ends will find new homes during free agency in 2019. Some will make an immediate impact while others will find themselves fighting for a roster spot. Which defensive end needy teams will make a splash and upgrade their pass rush? Who is worth breaking the bank for? These questions and more will be discussed as @itsmickyd breaks down the top available players and the teams most likely to make moves this offseason.


A quality pass rush can not always be bought. Sometimes however, the missing piece of a defensive line presents himself and an NFL team with a need at the position must pounce at this opportunity. As Jon Gruden can attest, a single player can indeed make a difference for a defense.

In a 4-3 defense, the defensive end is the primary pass rusher. A 3-4 defense has a different primary roll for the defensive end, but a critical one all the same as a run stopper. The following teams have a hole to fill on their defensive line followed by a group of this year’s top free agent defensive ends.

Teams in Need

Detroit Lions

The Lions are free of the oft-injured superstar potential Ezekiel Ansah, but along with this newfound freedom comes a gaping hole on their defensive line. Snacks Harrison was an invaluable pick up for the Lions interior defensive line in 2018 and I expect Detroit to both sign as well as draft quality defensive ends to give Coach Matt Patricia a strong defensive front to build around. Salary cap space isn’t as much of an issue for the Lions with their $33 million so look for them to make a run to bring a big name to Motor City.

Indianapolis Colts

Indy has tons of money to shovel out this off-season, but if recent history gives us any clues as to their plans, it is more likely that they extend current talent with this abundance of cash flow rather than throwing it at the big name free agents. Now this doesn’t mean I expect them to lay down and let someone get away who can help them reach the next level. Jabaal Sheard has started the last 32 games for the Colts and there is something to be said for that kind of availability in this league. Second year man, Tyquan Lewis will look to build on his 8 game 2018 campaign if the Colts are unable to secure a starting asset for his defensive end spot.

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Oakland Raiders

The Jon Gruden experience has started off with some top talent being shipped out of Oakland. When Gruden is quoted as commenting that “A quality pass rush is hard to find” after trading away arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL, Khalil Mack, it’s pretty hard to imagine Oakland not making a splash during free agency in the defensive end department. With Arden Key as the only notable defensive end currently under contract for the 2019 season, I expect the Raiders’ offseason plans to focus on this position.

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Tennessee Titans

Tennessee is losing Bennie Logan to free agency so they will be in the market for a replacement 3-4 defensive end this offseason. Jurrell Casey is still playing at a high level in the middle of that defensive line and DaQuan Jones will start opposite of the new member of this defensive line. Fantasy wise, I will be avoiding Jones, but I’d be willing to plug Casey in as needed. Depending on the play-making ability of the new member, he may be worth an add, but I’m more interested in the linebacker core of a 3-4 defense.

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Available Free Agents

Ezekiel Ansah

Ziggy Ansah is a force to be reckoned with when he can stay on the field. 2015 was his last 16 game season and he was able to hit the quarterback thirty-four times. My initial guesstimate had him donning the silver and black in 2019, but with both Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark receiving the franchise tag, more teams will be in the mix to land the top play-maker defensive ends. If he’s available and you have a roster spot burning a hole in your pocket, you could do worse than adding Ansah while we wait for his landing spot.

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Trey Flowers

{Editor Note: Flowers was signed by the Detroit Lions after the writing of this article} Trey Flowers is in a unique position that few players find themselves in. Rather than earning all of the accolades and in need of a championship ring, he has the rings and will probably be looking for a payday. I expect him to sign with whoever offers the largest number, perhaps in a tax friendly state such as Texas or Florida to maximize his monetary benefit in 2019. He has the youth to demand a long term contract, so it will be interesting to see who pulls the trigger on this pass rushing defensive end.

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Dante Fowler

{Editor’s note: the Rams re-signed Fowler after the writing of this article} Fowler is yet to live up to his number three overall pick in the 2015 draft, but he has the skill set to be an absolute monster edge rusher. Dante benefited greatly from Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald absorbing a large portion of the double teams and offensive line attention. I’m buying Fowler where I can, but without overspending as I am still buying his potential rather than my preferred method of buying results.

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Sheldon Richardson

{Editor’s note: Richardson has been reported to be signing with the Browns after the writing of this article} It was surprising to see Sheldon leave New York after having success with Muhammad Wilkerson, but such is the life of a NFL player. Now with two experimental seasons with the Seahawks and Vikings out of the way, I expect Richardson to settle down with a contender and try for a championship run. The Titans aren’t exactly a contender, but their need of a 3-4 defensive end could push the envelope and make for a pretty juicy offer.

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