The linebacker free agent class in 2019 is very strong, let’s take a look at the top five linebackers who could be available this offseason.
The 2019 free agent pool is an odd mix of older vets, and younger stars who could look for a fresh start somewhere else. The obvious headliner is Le’Veon Bell, but aside from him, the offensive talent in the free agent pool is less than stellar. On defense however, there are numerous stars who could represent a new franchise in 2019.
Specifically looking at the linebacker position, there are some key players that have been dominant over the last couple of seasons. There is a variety of linebackers available this offseason. In this year’s class there are some 3-4 outside linebackers that have shown pass rushing prowess and several middle linebackers that have made their living tracking down running backs from sideline to sideline.
The list must be pretty good if Jordan Hicks, Kwon Alexander, Za’Darius Smith, and K.J. Wright are the notable omissions. Let’s kick this ranking off with Washington’s Preston Smith.
5. Preston Smith
Although considered by some to be more of a defensive end, Smith is listed as an outside linebacker. A second round pick out of Mississippi State in the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith has become one of the most underrated outside linebackers in the league. Since joining the Redskins, Smith has yet to miss a game, playing in all 64 regular season games.
In his four seasons, Smith has recorded 24.5 sacks and 164 tackles. In his lone playoff appearance, Smith recorded a sack for a safety although it came in a losing effort. He is coming off of a relatively down year with only four sacks, but not much went right for the Redskins as a franchise this season. Should he not agree to an extension with Washington, he will have multiple suitors vying for his service.
Teams in need of an athletic and versatile outside linebacker should be keeping tabs on Smith. His skill set is best used as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but in pass rushing sets, Smith is capable of lining up as a defensive end. Being only 26-years-old, Smith still has some of his best football ahead of him as well, making him that much more valuable in free agency.