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The 5 O’Clock Club: Playing GM - assessing free agency targets (LB) + DIY profiles

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Free agent profiles

Recently I’ve been focused on free agency and posted a number of free agent profiles in an effort to provide some opportunity for discussion of the important free agency period that precedes the draft.

Last year (2017), the draft discussions on Hogs Haven changed markedly when the Front Office signed two D-linemen, a safety, a linebacker and two wide receivers ahead of the draft.

This off season is likely to unfold similarly; some of the team’s current positions of need will be met in free agency, reducing the pressure to plug specific holes with draft picks, and allowing the team to take more of a BPA approach to the draft.

I think that a discussion of key free agent targets in the 2 months we have between now and 14 March is warranted.

DIY profiles

I also know that regular commenters all have favorite roster-building ideas that they feel are important to communicate.

What I’d like to do is create an opportunity for us to work together.

If you’ve got a free agent prospect that you’d like to tell everyone about, the 5 o’clock club can provide a platform that will raise your voice above the crowd competing with each other in the comments section.

Over the past week or two, I’ve posted a few profiles and other articles focused on free agents for 2018. You can look at them here:

What’s the Ryan Grant plan?

The 5 O’Clock Club: Playing GM - starting to assess free agency targets (TE)

The 5 O’Clock Club: Playing GM - assessing free agency targets (FS)

If you want to put together something similar for a free agent prospect (or several) that you believe in, you can email it to me. I’ll look at it and if it is suitable, I will put it into a 5 O’Clock Club article, where people can debate the merits of your recommendation.

There are a few guidelines:

  1. Sending me something is not a guarantee that it’ll be posted. I will consider each submission for suitability to the 5 o’clock club. If, for some reason, I don’t use it, I’ll let you know so you can put it up as a Fanpost instead.
  2. I may add my own comments, or comments from other sources to what you’ve written if I feel that will enhance the article.
  3. You shouldn’t provide photos with your work; there are guidelines on photos that have to be followed on SB Nation. I will add photos to the article myself.
  4. You don’t have to write a poll question. I’ll do that.
  5. You will get full credit by username in the article for your contribution.
  6. I may choose to combine contributions from two or more people into a single article if it seems like a good idea.
  7. I always have a queue of articles waiting to be published, so the submission window is from today until the end of the month (31 Jan), which allows about 2 weeks for submissions, and gives me time to get your contribution in the queue prior to the start of free agency.

So, if you’ve always wanted to be able to put your ideas up in a front page article — this is your chance.

Send me an email, and (to use one of Jay Gruden’s favorite phrases) we’ll go from there.

Here’s today’s free agent LB profile

Chris in Manassas recently wrote a really solid Fanpost titled 10 Potential (and realistic) Free Agents that discussed... well... 10 potential free agents that the Redskins could target.

I liked his list.

Linebacker

Chris identified Todd Davis as a free agent linebacker that the Redskins should target.

He’s put together a great career this far in Denver, starting as an undrafted free agent, and could either be an alternative to Zach Brown, or Davis could be added alongside Brown. We all love Foster and Compton, but along with Spaight they just aren’t good enough talent-wise. They play really had and have moments — but when you see someone like Zach Brown out there you understand what talent looks like. Todd Davis is like that as well.

New York Giants v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Production

Todd Davis ranked 44th among linebackers in tackles in 2017, and as you can see, he doesn’t really accumulate pass defense stats, and has only one forced fumble in four seasons.

New Report

The Denver Post recently published an article featuring Todd Davis.

[W]hether the Broncos make their own pitch to the team’s winner of the 2017 Ed Block Courage Award will go a long way toward solving their puzzle at inside linebacker in the offseason.

Davis battled through injuries this past season to play in 14 games. He finished second on the team with 82 tackles, behind only fellow inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (106). It was Davis’ consistency in fighting through pain that earned him the Ed Block honor, an annual award given to the player who best exemplifies commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.

So what might it cost the Broncos to keep the 25-year-old Davis? His numbers compare favorably to A.J. Klein, one of last season’s top unrestricted free agents at the position. Klein was drafted by the Panthers in 2013 and was a key member of their 2015 team that reached the Super Bowl. Klein signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Saints last March.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Contract

Todd Davis was paid $2.7m as a restricted free agent in 2017, meaning that the Broncos used a second-round tender on him. This indicates that they wanted to keep him on the team, and feared that he might be poached by another team.

The Denver Post is suggesting that Davis will command a contract of around 3 years, $15m in 2018. A $5m APY would seem very expensive next to the $2.55m contract that Zach Brown signed in 2017.

Let’s see what the linebacker market looks like:

Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans, NFL Week 7 Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Will Todd Davis be available in 2018?

The Mile High Report predicts that Todd Davis will never get to free agency this off-season.

Though he may not get the attention or spotlight that fellow linebackers Von Miller, Shane Ray or Brandon Marshall do, Davis actually led the linebacker positon in tackles in 2016.

With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, David will become an unrestricted free agent, which means he will have the opportunity to test the free agent market if he chooses to.

As with most free agents, the Broncos will need to consider Davis’ value if he receives interest from other teams.

For reference, fellow starting linebacker Brandon Marshall signed a 4-year $32 million contract, which included $15 million guaranteed at the time of signing.

One of the reasons Marshall received a lucrative contract extension was because of his proven ability to play against the run and in pass coverage.

Spending $8 million a year may be a little more than team general manager John Elway would like to pay for Davis’ services, if the team views Davis only as a run-stopping linebacker.

Davis is one of the younger players the Broncos have on the roster and will still be only 25 years of age when the season comes to an end.

It’s clear that the Broncos have enough faith in Davis to be a part of the team’s future. From letting former starter Danny Trevathan walk in free agency to not addressing the inside linebacker position, Davis appears to be a part of the Broncos’ long-term plans.

This Mile HIgh Report article was actually written prior to the 2017 season, before Broncos fans knew that they didn’t have a quarterback.

At this point, the Broncos are heavily invested in their defense, and will probably need to clear the decks to be able to sign a veteran free agent quarterback.

I doubt whether the Broncos will be able to afford a $5m cap hit to hold onto the linebacker, though they could try to get creative with the contract structure in order to keep him. The Broncos are probably going to have to cut Aquib Talib this off-season in their quest to sign a quarterback. I think they may be forced to let Todd Davis go to another team and draft his replacement.

Denver Broncos v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Is Todd Davis a good fit for the Redksins?

Todd Davis in 2018 looks a lot like Zach Brown in 2017 — a good run stopper who isn’t really a ‘cover linebacker’.

While Davis might be a potential replacement for Zach Brown if the Redskins don’t re-sign the linebacker, I don’t think that Davis would be a good partner for Brown. The Redskins need someone in the middle of the field who can help defend the pass; a pairing of Zach Brown and Todd Davis wouldn’t accomplish that. If the Redskins re-sign Brown, then their need would be for a Brandon Marshall-type linebacker.

Poll

Grade Todd Davis as a free agent Linebacker target for the Redskins in 2018

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (18 votes)
  • 32%
    B
    (85 votes)
  • 43%
    C
    (114 votes)
  • 13%
    D
    (36 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (12 votes)
265 votes total Vote Now
Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images