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2015 Free Agency Outlook: Outside Linebackers

Posted Feb 18, 2015

With free agency set to begin in less than one month, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda previews the 2015 NFL free agent class position by position. Today's focus is on the outside linebackers.

With free agency set to begin in less than one month, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda previews the 2015 NFL free agent class. Today's focus is on the outside linebackers.

Since being selected with the 16th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has appeared in all 64 regular-season games for the Redskins over that span.

But while the Purdue product has been a mainstay in the starting lineup, the player he was expected to be paired with, three-time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, has been sidelined by several injuries over that same timespan.

Most recently, during the 2014 season, Orakpo was placed on Injured Reserve after seven games with a torn right pectoral muscle.

It was the third time in six seasons that the Texas product experienced some sort of injury to that area.

Rookie Trent Murphy took Orakpo’s place in the starting lineup, recording 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Also earning a start in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys was fellow rookie Jackson Jeffcoat.

While Kerrigan, Murphy and Jeffcoat remain under contract for the upcoming season, Orakpo’s future remains unclear.

If the Redskins ultimately decide to not pursue Orakpo or he signs with another team, and they want to add to the outside linebacker corps, here are the players at that position slated to become free agents:  

Outside linebackers

  • John Abraham, Arizona Cardinals
  • Sam Acho, Arizona Cardinals
  • Marcus Benard, Arizona Cardinals
  • Kroy Biermann, Atlanta Falcons
  • Chase Blackburn, Carolina Panthers
  • Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears
  • Bruce Carter, Dallas Cowboys
  • Jonathan Casillas, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Justin Durant, Dallas Cowboys
  • Dwight Freeney, San Diego Chargers
  • Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Geno Hayes, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Colin McCarthy, Tennessee Titans
  • Pernell McPhee, Baltimore Ravens
  • Derrick Morgan, Tennessee Titans
  • Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins
  • Ashlee Palmer, Detroit Lions
  • Spencer Paysinger, New York Giants
  • Brooks Reed, Houston Texans
  • O'Brien Schofield, Seattle Seahawks
  • Lawrence Sidbury, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Dan Skuta, San Francisco 49ers
  • Malcolm Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • J.T. Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Sean Weatherspoon, Atlanta Falcons
  • Jacquian Williams, New York Giants
  • Jason Worilds, Pittsburgh Steelers

Houston ranks as the No. 2 overall free agent in this year’s class according to NFL.com.

Taken with the 70th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Houston has improved his sack total in each of the last four seasons.  

During the 2014 season, his best to date statistically, Houston recorded 69 tackles and 22 sacks – the most by an outside linebacker in the NFL.

Worilds, meanwhile, checks in at No. 12 on NFL.com’s list after recording 59 tackles and 7.5 sacks last season.

For his career, the Virginia Tech product has 204 tackles, 25.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Others like Derrick Morgan, Pernell McPhee and Brandon Graham are coming off career years as well.

While a majority of the players listed have only a handful of years of experience in the NFL, Dwight Freeney and John Abraham enter 2015 with at least 13 seasons and 100 sacks under their belts.

Freeney has spent the last two seasons with the San Diego Chargers, while Abraham is looking to rebound from a year in which he appeared in only one game. 

RELATED LINKS:
-- 2015 Free Agency Outlook: Defensive Ends
-- 2015 Free Agency Outlook: Interior Defensive Lineman  

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