2012 Offseason Movement: Defensive Lineman
By Aaron Rudnicki
July 18th, 2012

The offseason movement feature makes yet another appearance. It's one of the few staples of football that you know isn't going anywhere since there will always be players changing teams. Some will end up in better situations, some in worse ones. It's up to us to tell you which ones look good or bad from a preliminary look below. And it's up to you to continue to return to our website over the summer to see how some of these guys look to be panning out with their new teams. If nothing else, this will provide you with a refresher course or keep you informed on something you may have missed in April.

We wish we had a crystal ball to tell you exactly what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and how much turnover there will be statistically. But the truth is, it's very early in the offseason. The key directive we can give you right now is to stay informed. Players change teams almost daily during the summer months, and a seemingly insignificant move in late August can have a huge impact on both the real NFL and your fantasy league.

We all want to know how Player X will fit in with Team Y. We all want to know how a superstar will react to the first major move of his career, or which journeyman on their last legs will resurrect their stat lines with a move elsewhere. And we can help you with that over time. For now, though, educate yourself on what you see below. Get a good base for how the moves should impact each team, and we'll continue to let you know how they are impacting each team. In the meantime, you can be assured that you won't be that guy at the bar saying something like, "I like Sidney Rice but just don't trust Tarvaris Jackson." while your friends give you blank stares and wonder where you were all offseason.

Defensive Linemen by Aaron Rudnicki

  1. DE Mario Williams - Buffalo (from Houston)
    • What happened: The Bills shocked the league by signing the best available free agent to the richest contract for a defensive player in league history - $100 million over six years, including $50 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: Williams hasn't fully lived up to expectations over the past few years and missed most of 2011 with an injury. The Texans decided that they could not afford to use the franchise tag on him, which created a unique situation where one of the league's elite pass rushers hit the open market in the prime of his career. The Bills were very aggressive in their pursuit of Williams once free agency opened, and believe that he is exactly the type of player they needed to help turn the franchise around. He will provide an instant upgrade to the pass rush, improve the play of the secondary, and also help take some attention away from the strong interior tandem of Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Look for this line to be among the league's best and for Williams to lead the way.

  2. DE Frostee Rucker - Cleveland (from Cincinnati)
    • What happened: The former Bengal backup signed with a division rival for $20.5 million over five years with $8 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: Rucker is a solid two-way end who has spent the bulk of his five-year career as a backup in Cincinnati, but there's little doubt he's going to start in Cleveland based on the size of this contract. He's expected to take over the RDE spot opposite Jabaal Sheard, but will also likely slide inside in nickel situations to make him a three-down player. Coming off a breakout season that saw him post 32 solo tackles and four sacks, Rucker has a good chance to build on those numbers with the additional playing time he'll get in 2012.

  3. DE Mark Anderson - Buffalo (from New England)
    • What happened: The Bills fortified their pass rush and weakened a divisional opponent by signing Anderson to a contract worth $19.5 million over four years with $7.9 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: It has been an up and down career for Anderson since he broke out with 12.5 sacks as a rookie backup in 2006 with the Bears. Unfortunately, he didn't collect as many as five sacks in any of the next four years. So, not many people noticed when he signed with the Patriots last offseason, but he managed to find his game again and posted double digit sacks along the way. Given Anderson's struggles against the run, look for the Bills to stick with veteran Chris Kelsay on run downs and employ Anderson primarily as a pass rush specialist.

  4. DE Dave Tollefson - Oakland (from NY Giants)
    • What happened: Backup with the World Champions could become a starter with the Raiders after signing a two-year, $2.4 million contract.

    • What it means: Tollefson hasn't gotten much attention given the incredible talent and depth of pass rushers on the Giants roster. He still found a way to post five sacks with limited snaps last year though, and he should be in line for a lot more playing time with the Raiders. While he can struggle against the run, Tollefson has good speed and never gives up on a play. He'll most likely contribute as a pass-rushing defensive end and be a backup-quality player for fantasy purposes.

  5. DT Kendall Langford - St. Louis (from Miami)
    • What happened: Unhappy with the play of their defensive tackles last year, Jeff Fisher and the Rams went out and signed Kendall Langford to a $24 million contract over four years with $12 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: The Rams already had a couple of first round picks lining up at defensive end in Chris Long (2008) and Robert Quinn (2011), but they badly needed some help inside. They hope that issue will be fixed by the signing of Langford and the drafting of Michael Brockers 14th overall. Langford has played primarily as a 3-4 defensive end during his time in Miami, but his quickness should allow him to make a smooth transition inside. His career-high to this point is just three sacks in a season, but he'll be surrounded by talented players and should not have too much trouble surpassing that total and could produce like a lower-end DT1.

Other notable defensive linemen that changed teams:

  • DE Jamaal Anderson - Cincinnati (from Indianapolis)

  • DT Brodrick Bunkley – New Orleans (from Denver)

  • DE Jonathan Fanene – New England (from Cincinnati)

  • DE Derrick Harvey – Cincinnati (from Denver)

  • DE William Hayes – St. Louis (from Tennessee)

  • DT Jason Jones – Seattle (from Tennessee)

  • DT Amobi Okoye – Tampa Bay (from Chicago)

  • DE Juqua Parker – Cleveland (from Philadelphia)

  • DT Cory Redding – Indianapolis (from Baltimore)

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