In the estimation of Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), the quality and depth of this year’s collegiate class of pass rushers could negatively impact their professional counterparts seeking new contracts. Some of the most notable names in that latter category include the Cardinals‘ Chandler Jones and the Rams‘ Von Miller.
Rapoport believes that Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill genuinely wants to retain Jones (as we heard last month), but the franchise tag value for the four-time Pro Bowler would be roughly $25MM, so that option is not feasible for the Cards. As such, Jones will hit the open market, and given that there has been something of a strained relationship between player and team for several years, he could be playing elsewhere in 2022.
Meanwhile, Rapoport expects the Rams to do everything they can to retain Miller, who is, like Jones, prepared to test the open market. Of course, the reigning Super Bowl champs also have new contracts for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald on their radar, so GM Les Snead will have his work cut out for him when trying to re-up his prized trade acquisition.
A less heralded (but much younger) option for clubs in need of pass rush help could be Chargers OLB Uchenna Nwosu. As Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports, the Bolts and Nwosu have mutual interest in a new contract, but despite Nwosu’s desire to remain with his hometown team, the money will need to be right. Wilson suggests that the 25-year-old is targeting a contract with an average annual value between $10MM-$13MM, which would seem to be a fair price for an ascending player who put together a strong 2021 campaign — five sacks, eight TFL, 17 QB hits, and an interception — despite playing through a serious labrum injury.
The Colts, Packers, Bills, and Jets are all teams that could have interest in Nwosu, per Wilson. There is a good chance that Green Bay releases Za’Darius Smith, so Nwosu could serve as a Smith replacement in Wisconsin. In a separate piece, Wilson reports that the Jets, like the Chiefs, would be in on Smith should he indeed become a Packers cap casualty.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman is certainly monitoring both collegiate pass rushers as well as the free agent market. When discussing how he is prioritizing his team’s pass rush, Roseman recently said, “I’d be surprised if we didn’t do something there” (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com). Zach Berman and Bo Wulf of The Athletic (subscription required) believe there is a good chance Philadelphia grabs an edge rusher with at least one of its three first-round picks, especially since they expect Roseman to let DE Derek Barnett depart in free agency.
ESPN.com’s Jordan Reid, Matt Miller, and Todd McShay provide a detailed breakdown of the strong performance put on by the 2022 draft class of front seven players at this year’s scouting combine (subscription required).