After hitting on a few essential items and players in our NFL Free Agency IDP Target Tutorial edition. We’re going thru all 308 listed NFL IDP Free Agents by position one by one over the next month.
And starting with 95 linebacker designations and there’s a lot to cover. So let’s get right to it and gauge just who might be an interesting addition. Or even by subtraction heading into the early off-season this year in many standard formats.
These are early assumptions and projections based on team scenarios and cap situations. If 2022 had any sign, there’s something to take advantage of this 2023 NFL free-agency period.
Early NFL IDP Free Agency Linebacker Targets
2023 Waiver Wire Darlings
Let’s start this 2023 NFL free agency period off with a hot take. Straight to our favorite sleeping waiver wire target, Azeez Al-Shaair. He’s been playing the 49er’s third fiddle in San Fransisco for some years now.
Sitting behind the talented starters Dre Greenlaw and Fred Waner. Well, it hasn’t exactly put him on anyone’s radar this past season prior to the playoffs. As long as the two starters stay healthy, he likely isn’t.
Over his career with the team, Al-Shaair has been a constant when called on. Anytime injuries mounted, he was there and always played up to par.
PFF agrees, with a nice mid-60 (par) grade for the last two seasons. So let’s not forget, in 2021, he played 13 games. Recording 102 combined, nine tackles for a loss, and a couple of sacks before landing on IR.
The motto for the 49ers defense is SWARM (Special Work ethic & Relentless Mindset)
I can’t think of a better way to show that relentless mindset than the way that all of the linebackers rallied to the football to make this tackle
Look at how much ground Azeez Al-Shaair covered pic.twitter.com/TxZdK5Owxv
— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 22, 2022
If IDP managers were playing this game back then, remember. Al-Shaair was praised for coming in for Dre Greenlaw and was making plays just as often as Pro Bowler Fred Warner for a stretch. Ring a bell a little?
We’re sure someone out there in the NFL noticed too. So look for a prove-it contract and one that’ll lead to an opportunity for a full-time gig. It could be that just might carry LB1 market value when it’s all said and done.
Oh, and of course. If he resigns with the 49ers, and as long as we know, the guys in front of him are healthy. We know, unfortunately, Al-Shaair falls back to the waiver wire, and we see where he is this time in January 2024.
At least until the injury bug hits the 49ers again, but we got to figure Al-Shaair has to be hungry. In this deep class, we’ve set our odds, he will be 2023’s linebacker offseason waiver wire darling. As long as we get to see him ink a contract worth more than the 4 million he made on a one-year contract in 2022.
Short and sweet. Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss broke out this past season playing in place of Pete Werner. Werner may not be going anywhere soon, but the aging Demario Davis and his contract moving on aren’t that far-fetched.
The Saints might want to find a way to lock this kid down soon as possible. They’ll have him and Werner as their starters sooner rather than later. If not, someone noticed and this undercover breakout is going to get his shot somewhere. With his history in the league, that market value is so low it’s going to be forgotten about.
However, that’s only if the Saints aren’t making plans right now to lock down Elliss for us. With great odds on the potential to be a sleeper, we already trust and that has proven to produce on cue.
Upper Tiered Fantasy Market
Looking for Bobby Okereke, Deion Jones, or Germaine Pratt? They were mentioned in our first edition and certainly make this upper-tier and solid list. It’s not a long read, so we suggest checking them out at some point, and we don’t turn this article into a novel. My NFL IDP free agency resource is Spotrac.
Their positional designations might not match your fantasy league venue. But there will be more, so if you had an outside linebacker designated as a defensive end, it’s coming soon.
The following are our surest market value bets. Wherever they might land with an on-par or better 2022 performance. They also shouldn’t have any problems translating to another defensive scheme.
With some form of history of already proving they are capable of doing so. If any of their positions are vacated because they’ve moved on, we’re 100% interested in who the new guy might be.
Updated 1/11/23, Ravens signed LB Roquan Smith to a five-year, $100 million extension with $45 million in guarantees. Baltimore now has sealed the deal, and as we all knew, was coming somewhere. Smith has now confirmed the same top upper tier forecast of top 5 ILB production any given season.
Only 2 players in #NFL history have 100+ tackles, 2+ sacks, and 1+ INT in each of their first 5 seasons.
— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) January 10, 2023
With a potential move if the money isn’t there. It won’t matter where longtime Buccaneer Lavonte David lands. Despite his age, he’ll be good to go in the dynasty for a couple more years. In redrafts, he’s well worth the investment, when he probably retires in Tampa Bay when he agrees to stay home anyhow.
Our thinking, the Bills have a lot to consider if they are to keep the foundation of this roster together, unfortunately for his Buffalo fans. We don’t think we see a long-term contract situation allowing a window to resign Tremaine Edmunds.
At least at his current NFL market value. Also, keep essential NFL dynasty pieces intact for Josh Allan at the same time.
But don’t worry if he’s not. He’s LB1 redraft, and dynasty value won’t take a hit. Who knows, maybe it’ll slip up and offer better opportunities to make big splash plays. Like sacks, tackles for loss, or something to that effect. Which is all he’d need to break into and stay in the very upper LB1 tier.
If you ask this guy this question this time last year. If T.J. Edwards could perform like he was at the time anywhere else but in Philadelphia. I’d said, I doubt it very much. I now stand corrected.
Because even now, according to PFF, if you take stock of those grades. Edwards broke up to another level this season with a big bang. He never looked back this past regular season.
At least according to what the Eagles have been known to spend since Jordan Hicks manned the middle a few years ago. Minus pass rusher Hassan Reddick, which plays an outlier type strong-side linebacker in this defensive scheme.
So carry on with Edward’s redraft and dynasty stock. The results might not get too much better than this at his market price. At least amongst all the upper-tiered and overall IDP targets.
.@PFF released its All-Pro teams today. First-team includes two Eagles:
•RT Lane Johnson (zero sacks/QB hits allowed)
•LB T.J. Edwards (159 tackles, 76.4 passer rating)
And three Eagles listed on PFF’s All-Pro second-team:
•C Jason Kelce
•WR A.J. Brown
•CB James Bradberry
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) January 10, 2023
There is no denying that before, it looked like Alex Singleton was productive by default on film. The critics agreed at the time for the most part when he played for Philadelphia. But that all changed last season with the Broncos. Now his elite grade and film perfectly match his LB1 production.
One would assume in Denver or whoever pays the man. That same outlier production will continue following him. And Singleton will continue to be that upper-tier-one linebacker option.
This is giving him the benefit of the doubt; even a decent drop in performance won’t hurt a thing if it happens. Because he prove before as an Eagle that just under par works just fine for IDP when Singleton is on deck
David Long is surprisingly better than one might think. The Titans have never quite had what they needed in terms of health leading to consistency. But on paper. Long plays well above par and should be considered a great NFL Free Agency ILB prospect.
That’s also if he lands anywhere else, but in a different scheme, it likely won’t be a top 5 option. Because we don’t see him as a run-stopper as much as a guy that might be best used as a coverage linebacker.
Our last full-time and on-par or above-average linebacker. Drue Tranquill likely won’t be leaving the Chargers in our opinion. His market value is likely within reason for the Chargers, we won’t dismiss another team at least trying for his services.
With just the one-year sample of full production, they have to gauge things. We could see a hometown one-year prove-it deal coming. But feel confident that if he’s brought in by another organization. Tranquill is ready to do it as an assumed LB1 starter. Because the odds will be if he was signed elsewhere at this point.
Landing Spot Dependency
The “Depends on where they land” one-liner option. Most of them are hoping they’ll resign with their former teams for maximum and safer values. Likely our best-case scenario of not dropping in market value if they do.
But still do have their upside elsewhere. We think need the exact same kind of defensive scheme. Plus a near-perfect personal scenario to manage a 2022 repeat or better if signed by another team.
We’re only highlighting the notable with hot takes and naming names as a group in this one. It’s a general description unless marked otherwise. These players have all the upside in the world in any defensive scheme. But that’s if they are signed to the right team and strong IDP scenario this NFL free-agency period.
In doubt a little more now he’ll resign after his former mentor and 2022 defensive coordinator Dean Pees recently retired. But if Rashaan Evans resigns with Atlanta again, we’re right where we ended last season as a nice LB1.
But because of his history in Tennessee. We’ll go LB2 anywhere else, as the grade is more of a 2-down run-stopping option. And yes, Evans was borderline upper-tier, if you were wondering.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) January 5, 2023
If he stays in Chicago, Nicholas Morrow has LB1 with an upside production playing next to the rookie Jack Sanborn next season. Elsewhere, we might be surprised, but we’ll stick to the LB2 tier mark value to be safe about it.
We’ll see for sure that this past season wasn’t just another productive default performance with a player that just had all kinds of upside because of how the Bears wrecked their season early.
If he stays in Detriot in 2023, we’re buying it that Alex Anzalone remains an LB1 option. But considering the emergence of the 2022 rookie Malcolm Rodriguez, That’s not a lock either, and a safer course of action might be thinking upper-tier LB2 instead.
But with Anzalone, if he plays anywhere else, he got really lucky for his chance at this gig. We aren’t so sure he’d qualify as any team’s option as a starter with an under-par performance on film in 2022. And this past season was the best football we’ve ever seen him play.
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) January 9, 2023
Surprised to see him here among the solid options? It’s because of his history of injuries he struggles early on in his career. An original two-down-run-stopping profile. Jamin Davis is finally showing signs of solid development. Cole Holcomb might have just hit a wall missing all of 2022 with a lingering injury.
Injured LB Cole Holcomb (right foot) on free agency: "I love this organization. I love the guys in the locker room. I'd love to get something done. But I also understand the business side of this league. Whatever happens, I'll deal with what I got to deal with."
— John Keim (@john_keim) January 9, 2023
Semi-Solid Linebacker Options
The “Everything must go right” list of players that need the NFL free agency to go perfectly. And fall into the grey area that sits idle until we see what happens. And the kind of scenario we’re talking if they’ve been lured away or rejoined their 2022 teams or not.
Hence, we suggest this is those deeper solid guys if there are no others listed that might come into play for you. And you’re eyeing to fill a roster spot as NFL free agency heads into the draft season. After we see what the results were and where they will play in 2023.
The Rest Of The Linebacker Class
Unless we overlooked someone. This list rounds out the rest of the 95 NFL free-agency linebackers according to our resource. And we do not see a real window Pre-NFL free agency that points to anything noteworthy. And it’ll take signing somewhere for us to backtrack and just see what, where, and how to approach it.
Andrew Van Ginkel
Anthony Walker Jr.
Kyle Van Noy
Thanks for catching this early NFL IDP Free Agency Linebacker edition. And we’ll look forward to seeing you again when the next IDP Free Agency article hits. But until then, have a great 2023.