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2011 NFL Free Agent Linebackers

By: Roshan Bhagat

Stephen Tulloch (TEN) – Tulloch’s coming off a terrific season as the thumper in the middle of the Titans defense. The front office has conveyed that they’re interested in working a long-term deal with Tulloch, but on the open market, he’ll have plenty of interest. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Titans, the Lions could be a strong favorite with former Titans defensive coordinator captaining the ship.

Paul Posluszny (BUF) – Posluszny has difficulties playing the entire season, but when he’s healthy, he’s a very smart, instinctual linebacker in the middle of the defense. Given the holes on the Bills’ roster, it would make sense for them to keep their building pieces when they hit free agency. Posluszny is interested in returning to Buffalo, but the need for middle linebackers around the league may drive up his price a notch.

James Anderson (CAR) – The breakout of strongside linebacker James Anderson was been one of the bright spot for the Panthers. He fully filled the stat sheet in 2010 showing his playmaking capability and proved to be every bit as productive and consistent as he appeared on paper. Anderson has shown strong interest in using the upcoming days to strike a long-term deal with the Panthers.

Rocky McIntosh (WAS) – The Redskins have a number of free agents this offseason and Rocky McIntosh appears to be one of those that won’t be re-signed. He struggled to adapt to the Redskins schematic switch to the 3-4 defense, which is in Washington to stay. The divorce appears imminent.

Thomas Davis (CAR) – Davis is ready to return fully healthy after tearing his ACL in back-to-back seasons. There’s a strong enough relationship between Thomas Davis and the front office to assume that a deal will be reached between the two sides. Though it’s hard to say how effective he’ll be after coming back from his second serious injury, but if he returns to full strength, the Panthers will sport one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL

Barrett Ruud (TB) – Ruud is coming off one of his worst season in a couple years, giving the Bucs a tougher choice. On one hand, the team’s transition back to the Tampa 2 defense may suggest Ruud isn’t the best fit inside. On the other hand, his personality, character, and leadership is invaluable to a young Buccaneers team that has struggled a bit with arrests this offseason. The bottom line is that Ruud is a respected veteran in his locker room and it’s often tougher to allow those players to leave than to re-sign then.

Takeo Spikes (SF) – Takeo Spikes has played well at 34 years of age and no one knows this better than Patrick Willis, who has “urged” his team to bring Spikes back this season. With the combination of Spikes and Willis in the middle playing behind Aubrayo Franklin, the 49ers had one of the best run defenses between the guards. Spikes’ toughness and leadership won’t be discredited when the Niners make the easy decision to bring him back.

Other Notable Free Agents:
Stephen Nicholas (ATL)
Mike Peterson (ATL)
Tavares Gooden (BAL)
Keith Ellison (BUF)
Jamar Williams (CAR)
Pisa Tinoisamoa (CHI)
Nick Roach (CHI)
Dhani Jones (CIN)
Brandon Johnson (CIN)
D’Qwell Jackson (CLE)
Chris Gocong (CLE)
Matt Roth (CLE)
Jason Trusnik (CLE)
Landon Johnson (DET)
Zach Diles (HOU)
Kevin Bentley (HOU)
Clint Session (IND)
Justin Durant (JAC)
Kirk Morrison (JAC)
Mike Vrabel (KC)
Quentin Moses (MIA)
Ben Leber (MIN)
Erin Henderson (MIN)
Tracy White (NE)
Danny Clark (NO)
Scott Shanle (NO)
Chase Blackburn (NYG)
Keith Bulluck (NYG)
Thomas Howard (OAK)
Kamerion Wimbley (OAK)
Stewart Bradley (PHI)
Ernie Sims (PHI)
Omar Gaither (PHI)
Antwan Barnes (SD)
Kevin Burnett (SD)
Stephen Cooper (SD)
Brandon Siler (SD)
Travis LaBoy (SF)
Manny Lawson (SF)
Will Herring (SEA)
Leroy Hill (SEA)
Matt McCoy (SEA)
David Vobora (STL)
Quincy Black (TB)
David Thornton (TEN)

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