NFL Top Free Agent Linebackers

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In today’s NFL, linebacker seems like the forgotten position on defense. It’s all about rushing the passer and locking down an opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver, leaving very little ink for the men who patrol the middle of the field.

Gone are the glory days of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Junior Seau, and Ray Lewis. But that’s more about scheme, and less about talent. A team looking to improve the second level of its defense still has a number of top options available.

Patrick Queen – Off-Ball Linebacker

When the Baltimore Ravens paid big money to Roquan Smith, they opted to decline the fifth-year option for Patrick Queen. With other free agent needs, the Ravens have only so much they can spend at linebacker.

That puts one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL on the free agent market, where he will sign a big contract. Queen is only 25 and he does everything well, and with speed. He had 48 pressures and eight sacks in the last two years, and is excellent against the run and in coverage.

Spotrac.com estimates his market value at five years and $92.6 million.

Frankie Luvu – Off-Ball Linebacker

Last year, Frankie Luvu of the Carolina Panthers had 125 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He played three seasons as a backup with the Jets, but these last two years in Carolina have seen him become one of the best linebackers in football.

He’s an excellent blitzer, one of the top run-stoppers at his position, and his ability to shoot the gap and disrupt plays in the backfield makes up for some of his limitations in pass coverage.

The Arizona Cardinals have been talked about as a good fit for Luvu, and at the moment, Arizona online sportsbooks have the Cardinals at +5000 to win the NFC.

Bobby Wagner – Inside Linebacker

Bobby Wagner is no longer an elite player in coverage, but everything else about his game defies his aging body. Wagner will be 34 when next season begins, but he’s coming off a career-high in combined tackles with 183. He now has 1,706 tackles in his 12-year career, and is looking for one final contract.

Eleven of his 12 seasons have been with the Seattle Seahawks, and that is likely where Wagner will stay to finish out his Hall of Fame career. Washington retail sportsbooks have the Seahawks at +3000 to win the NFC in 2024.

Lavonte David – Off-Ball Linebacker

Another aging star who is associated with a single team is Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a Super Bowl champion with the Bucs in 2020, he is closing in on 1,500 career tackles, and he’s coming off a 4.5-sack season – his best since 2016.

Another Super Bowl isn’t likely to happen in Tampa Bay – NFL online sportsbooks have the Bucs at +7000 to lift the Lombardi Trophy next year. So if he wants to chase another championship, he needs to go elsewhere. Otherwise, look for David to stay in Tampa and close out his career with the team that drafted him in the second-round in 2012.

Azeez Al-Shaair – Inside Linebacker

A former San Francisco 49er that spent all of last season with the Tennessee Titans, Azeez Al-Shaair is a terrific gap attacker. It can leave him a little vulnerable in coverage at times, but he is excellent against the run.

Al-Shaair finished fifth in the NFL this past year with 163 tackles, and his market value heading into free agency is between $11 million-$13 million for the upcoming season. Through five seasons, he’s made a total of $11 million.

Jordyn Brooks – Inside Linebacker

Jordyn Brooks is another excellent inside linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. But at 26, he is significantly younger than his teammate, Bobby Wagner. So if Seattle decides that they can only afford one of the two tackle machines, Brooks might be the choice.

He plays all three downs and has no holes in his game. He lacks a little explosiveness, but he makes up for it in football smarts. Spotrac.com projects his market value at four years and $45.3 million.

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