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Notable NFL Free Agents Heading Into 2024 (Defense)

I touched on some offensive stars last week who are set to become free agents and now it’s the defense’s turn! There are some big names set to hit free agency after this season. I will discuss some of the most notable and where they could potentially land. In some cases, of course, these players may get tagged and stick around. Let’s go through some potential scenarios!

Notable NFL Free Agents Heading Into 2024 (Defense)

Devin White, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Pro Bowl Linebacker requested a trade this offseason assuming a long-term deal was not on the table. They may have a guy in rookie Yaya Diaby who they got in the 2023 draft. A big question of White’s worth lies in the uncertainty of playing next to someone who is not Lavonte David.

Similar to Roquan Smith’s deal with Baltimore last year (5-year, $100 million), that would serve as a good reference point when teams begin their bidding wars.

Potential Landing Spots:

Los Angeles (Chargers)- White fits nicely in a 3-4 scheme and Chargers’ Kenneth Murray is set to hit the market. White would be an obvious upgrade and worth every penny for this defense ranking in the bottom 5.

Seattle- He has that athleticism the Seahawks love. A few guys who have expiring contracts: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, and Devin Bush. White would fit nicely there, but they would have to perform some salary cap wizardry to be able to make an offer.

Danielle Hunter, EDGE Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Edge Rusher is 29 years old and his play is still advancing. He leads the league in tackles for loss which is a wildly underrated stat. He also ranks 3rd in sacks.

In a league full of parity, tackling is not always a game-changer, but rather the standard. Tackling for loss is where you enter elite territory. Hunter should expect something in line with Montez Sweat’s extension in Chicago (4 years, $98 million).

Potential Landing Spots:

Chicago – I am not wildly confident Chicago would pour their salary cap into another Linebacker despite the thought of a daunting Sweat/Hunter duo. The NFC North has a tendency to be a bit incestuous so I wouldn’t totally rule out this possibility of having a chance to grab from neighbor Minnesota.

Jacksonville – Dan Graziano reported that back in October, Jacksonville and Hunter were ‘on the verge of a deal’; as we know, it did not come to fruition. I would have to guess that they throw their hat in the ring again. Hunter pairing up with Josh Allen (also an FA in 2024-likely tagged) would be solid.

Denver – There has been a lot of talk about Denver being a potential suitor for the defensive star. However, before any Broncos get too excited, they are projected to be over the salary cap in 2024. I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but it seems like other teams with more money will win his talents.

Christian Wilkins, DT Miami Dolphins

Miami is projected to be over the cap by roughly $40 million next year, but if they’re smart, they rework some situations in order to re-sign the Defensive Tackle. Through 13 games, Wilkins accounts for 51 total tackles (9 for loss) and 7.5 sacks.

It is reported that he is valued as a top-ten Defensive Tackle. A.K.A. he’s going to get paid by somebody. A franchise tag would cost somewhere around $20 million. If officially signed, it would be a biggie: somewhere around a 4-year $90-100 million. Keep in mind, that Miami also needs to extend Tua and recently paid Zach Sieler.

Potential Landing Spots:

Seattle – This is a position of need, point blank. Wilkins could really button up this Seahawks D. Shoring up their interior defensive line would get them over a hump as their secondary has been effective.

Las Vegas – The Raiders’ interior line has really been struggling as they are one of the worst teams at stopping the run. Adding a quality big body up front the Raiders figure out an offensive identity could do wonders.

Jaylon Johnson, CB Chicago Bears

This one is no surprise as Chicago is aware of Johnson’s desire to be paid rightfully so. The third-year Cornerback is playing outstanding football and making a case for elite dollars as this season wraps.

While on the smaller size, Johnson thrives at playing the ball in the air in zone schemes, which is what Eberflus and company run the most. The fit certainly works in what Chicago is trying to do on Defense, so I truly believe that the best fit is remaining in the Windy City. Luckily, for GM Ryan Poles, the Bears will be somewhere around $65 million under their cap. Other cuts are to be expected to boost that number.

If the Bears want to keep any momentum rolling into the 2024 season, this defense should really include Jaylon Johnson. A franchise tag would be insanely pricey, so I would expect hefty extension talks to earn something like $95mil + for a 5-year contract. There could be some bidding wars for Johnson around the league.

Where do you see any of the free agents landing in 2024? Let us know @DraftCountdown!

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