Julius Peppers, UFA, Carolina Panthers
A freakish athlete, Peppers struggled in ’07, but has come back strong in ’08. Teams will be lining up to try and lure him away from Carolina with a huge contract offer. The 6’7” end has nine sacks and five forced fumbles through ten games. He could be the top free agent player as teams look to add an end that has had double-digit sack totals four times in six seasons, including 13 in ’06. He also has four career interceptions and has been making quarterback’s lives miserable since he entered the league. Peppers probably shouldn’t be able to do some of the things that he can and many teams would prefer to have those things happening for them rather than against them.Albert Haynesworth, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Haynesworth has had his share of controversy surrounding him, but lately he’s turned things around and has focused on simply playing the game. He has improved upon his ’07 season when he made six sacks and 40 tackles in 13 games. Through week eleven he has 39 tackles, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. The Titans look like a different team on defense depending on whether or not Haynesworth is on the field; with him on the field they are one of the best defenses in the league because of the pressure he took off of others. Expect Tennessee to work hard to keep him in hopes that he continues to bolster their defensive play as a whole.
Terrell Suggs, UFA, Baltimore Ravens
Being a converted linebacker has helped Suggs become a defensive end that can track the ball above average. In his first five seasons, Suggs had 299 tackles and 45 sacks to his credit. Through eleven weeks of the current season he is putting together another strong showing with 47 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions. Suggs may not be as rewarded as Peppers or Haynesworth will be in free agency, but he will certainly be pursued by a number of teams who want to save a little money and still come away with a quality defensive end. Baltimore is constantly pumping out quality defensive players, so they may not be willing to match a big offer if one comes along, but they will miss Suggs if they lose him.
Bertrand Berry, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
Berry has four sacks and two forced fumbles for the Cardinals in eight games of action. He may not be the most coveted potential free agent at his position, but he’s definitely effective when he’s healthy and playing his best. He’ll be looked at as a role player on the market and there’s a decent chance that the Cardinals will move on.
Other Defensive Linemen
Jonathan Babineaux, UFA, Atlanta Falcons
Rocky Bernard, Seattle Seahawks
Kevin Carter, UFA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Canty, UFA, Dallas Cowboys
Shaun Cody, UFA, Detroit Lions
Jovan Haye, UFA, Tampa Bay Bucs
Tank Johnson, UFA, Dallas Cowboys
John Thornton, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals
Marcus Tubbs, UFA, Seattle Seahawks