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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Linebackers in 2022

For most teams, linebackers are the leaders and playmakers of the defense -- needless to say, vital roles to any unit's success. Who among this year's free agents will prove to be the prize of the offseason when all is said and done?
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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Linebackers in 2022

Linebackers, perhaps more than any other position on the field, has become extremely versatile over the years. At linebacker, you have to be able to play in space AND rush the passer. It's become an extremely important position. So, it makes sense that teams would turn to free agency to fill that hole.

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Top 5 Free Agent Linebackers

5. Harold Landry, Tennessee Titans

Slowly but surely, Landry seemingly came out of nowhere to produce a Pro Bowl season in 2021. His 12 sacks marked a new career-high (he had 9 in 2019), while his 22 quarterback hits exceeded his previous season total by 6. Throw in the fact that he had 75 tackles and 14 for loss, and you see why his 63 PFF grade might be selling him and his production a bit short.

At 26, on the upward swing of a pass-rusher's prime, Landry -- as it odd as it may seem -- could command the largest deal of the players at his position. Spotrac projects him to net $17.1 million per year over a three- or four-year deal. Given their $-6 million in projected cap space, the Titans might have to remove themselves from the equation, opening things up for needy teams. The Dolphins will be near the top of the list, as will the Jaguars, Colts and Seahawks, of all of whom boast available money and had an adjusted sack rate under 6% this season -- per Football Outsiders.

4. Haason Reddick, Carolina Panthers

Over the last two seasons, Reddick has made a name for himself among the second or third tier of dangerous edge talents. After posting 12.5 sacks opposite Chandler Jones in Arizona, Reddick moved to Carolina, where in his first and possibly only season there he played his way to 11 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. All of that amounted to a 67.9 grade, according to PFF.

After a cap hit of just $6 million this past year, the former first rounder is in line for $15 million a year over what could be as much as a four-year deal. At 27, a longer deal would only keep him to the end of his prime production years. That will be appealing to a host of clubs, but by scheme Reddick makes a ton of sense for the Dolphins, Steelers and Ravens. The former would be able to offer the biggest deal, while the latter would require a move or two to open up room under the cap.

3. Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

Speaking of one-time Arizona pass-rushers, Jones has proven himself to be an elite guy on the outside over the past seven years. Including this year, Jones has notched at least 10.5 sacks in each year that he played at least 6 games. In 2021, he had five in his very first game, but he added six forced fumbles and a recovery in his 15 appearances. He slowed at points, but still was worthy of a Pro Bowl spot and a proficient 71.7 PFF grade.

Having wrapped up a massive $82.5 million deal, Jones was already a big moneymaker, but he could again eye something between $14 and 16 million for the upcoming year, likely to be a two- or three-year deal as he enters his age-32 season. There is an outside chance, though, that the one-time champion takes a short deal to compete for a title immediately. That could put a team like the Browns in play, which could make for an awesome pairing opposite Myles Garrett.

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2. De'Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers

Campbell really sets himself apart from the other top backers in that he is really the only tackling machine from the inside position. And it's because of that he may well be considered the top guy on this list by some. Either way, you can't argue with the production. An eventual All-Pro first teamer, Campbell earned an 85.8 grade thanks to 111 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions for Green Bay. Let's just say he'll be earning more than $2 million come 2022.

The 28-year-old is coming up on the tail end of his linebacker prime, but that doesn't mean he couldn't at least triple his annual average moving forward. He's looking at a $6 to 10 million deal that might be capped at three years and would invite many suitors in the market. The Packers' cap situation is almost sure to keep them out of the sweepstakes, leading to teams that struggled against the run this past year. The Broncos and Chargers -- both with cap space -- could lure Campbell to the ultra-competitive AFC West.

1. Von Miller, Los Angeles Rams

Miller is a true veteran, and as proven as he is he's a man amongst boys as far as the outside linebackers here go. After all, he's still producing at a high level, having racked up 4.5 sacks with Denver, another 5 with L.A. in the regular season and 2 more in the 3 playoff games that have taken place. He's competing for a Super Bowl, and that alongside his elite 88.7 grade proves that he's still got it at 33.

At that age, it's unlikely Miller gets a big contract spanning multiple years. Spotrac puts his value around $10.6 million. The Rams are due to be $8 million in the hole as far as cap room goes, meaning they'll need to re-work things to bring him back on a low-dollar deal or let him go elsewhere -- the more likely scenario. Everyone that is someone with funds will be in the running for the three-time All-Pro and one-time Super Bowl MVP. He might be a prime suspect to take as much money as he can get and move to the warm weather of Miami.

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Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.

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