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NFL free agency 2017: Defensive tackles will be in demand

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Big contracts for big players

Washington Redskins v Baltimore Ravens

Bennie Logan is scheduled to hit free agency when the new league year starts on March 9th. The Eagles should re-sign him, but given that they haven’t workout a contract extension after giving out ones to Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Darren Sproles, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos and Chris Maragos over the course of last year, the chances they get one done over the next two weeks are extremely slim.

The Giants defensive turnaround in part due to the addition of Damon Harrison could make run stuffing DTs in vogue this year. If so, Logan could do very well in free agency, along with a few other players. The Eagles will need one, as it was clear in Logan’s absence that he was as valuable starter.

Today we’ll look at the DT market, from bonafide starters to players who can keep the seat warm until a solution in the draft, whether it be a 2017 pick in need of development or punting until 2018 on a higher pick. The slam dunk players will cost too much, the affordable ones have their warts. Welcome to free agency.

Bennie Logan

The easiest solution to filling the starting line up hole of impending free agent Bennie Logan is to re-sign Bennie Logan. Duh. His worth on the market might be surpressed a little after a good but not breakout season in the 4-3 and missing five games in the last two seasons. But his proven versatility in the 3-4 and 4-3 makes him an option for any team needing a run stopper. He’ll have plenty of suitors.

Chris Baker

The thought of Chris Baker, who was unapologetic about starting a melee with the Eagles and has spent the past three seasons being an extra member of the Redskins PR staff signing with the Eagles is pretty funny. He’d probably have a lot of good stories about his time in Washington. Coming off a career high in snaps played at age 29, buyer beware of a drop off in play in 2017.

Alan Branch

At 32, Branch would obviously be a short term signing, but he could very well bridge a gap between Logan and a draft pick, whenever that pick is. If he hits free agency. It’s hard to see him leaving New England unless it’s for a big payday.

Calais Campbell

Though he’ll be 31 when the season starts, Campbell will be in demand. He’s excelled as a 3-4 DE and a 4-3 DT in Arizona, and in eight years as a starter has missed just 6 games total and had at least 5 sacks a season. He’ll have his pick of where he wants to go, it’s tough seeing that being the Eagles.

Stefan Charles

Charles got the most playing time of his career under Jim Schwartz in Buffalo as a rotational player. But he was a free agent last year and the Eagles instead signed Mike Martin, though for half the price. If they didn’t want him last year, it’s unlikely they’ll want him now.

Johnathan Hankins

After spending so much on defense last year, the Giants might have priced themselves out of re-signing Hankins. The Giants gave Damon Harrison one of the bigger contracts for a DT and then they played him less than Hankins. That also probably prices a number of teams out, including the Eagles.

Nick Fairley

Fairley signed a quirky three-year deal with no salary in 2017 or 2018 that voids those last two years on the 22nd if an extension can not be worked out. If it voids, he’ll be on his fourth team in as many years. A reunion with Jim Schwartz as a seat warmer makes sense if he’s available.

Terrell McClain

The Cowboys are going to have to let some starters walk, and McClain could be one of them. After five years as a journeyman and then backup and missing nearly the entire 2015 season to injury, McClain established himself as a starter in 2016 and was a key part in the Cowboys significant improvement in run defense. With all the roster turnover the Cowboys have had on their defensive line, poaching one of their better players would further complicate things in Dallas, but that’s a poor reason to sign anyone from Dallas.

Stacy McGee

After three seasons as a backup, McGee was having a strong season to start 2016, then suffered ankle and groin injuries that limited his effectiveness and playing time, costing him seven games. The resurgent Raiders need help on defense, and while McGee likely won’t cost much, the Raiders could easily move on and replace a departing starter in free agency.

Earl Mitchell

Released by the Dolphins last week as a salary cap casualty, Mitchell has already scheduled visits with teams. The Eagles aren’t one of them.

Domata Peko

At 32, Peko would be nothing more than a bridge to a draft pick, and with 156 starts he’s got a lot of wear on his tires. If the Eagles want a low cost short term signing, they should look elsewhere.

Dontari Poe

Think back to 2012, when visions of the Eagles drafting Fletcher Cox or Dontari Poe were dancing in people’s heads. Poe went 11th to the Chiefs, then the Eagles traded up to 12th and took Cox. Five years later, they might be able to have both if they’re willing to pay for it. The Chiefs have salary cap issues and may not be able to retain him.

Kawann Short

The Panthers are likely to franchise tag him.

Brandon Williams

A three year starter with the Ravens, there’s obviously a connection with Joe Douglas. The stout run defender is likely to get a big payday if free agency once again has run defenders cashing in, but he’s one to keep an eye on.