Penn Staters In The NFL: Free Agency Recap
Free agency is one of the busiest times of the year in NFL circles, and gives fans across the nation an excuse to talk about football in March. While there have been numerous trades and signings league-wide, not much has happened in regards to former Penn Staters playing in the NFL. However, moves have been made, and we’re here to fill you in on them. Besides, we need something to discuss before the draft.
DT Jared Odrick
Former Miami Dolphins first round draft choice Jared Odrick is receiving a sizable payday from the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, where he signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal– with $22.5 million guaranteed. Odrick, who specializes in stopping the run, will team up with fellow defensive lineman Tyson Alualu to form a formidable run stopping duo for a Jaguars team in need of added help on the defensive side of the ball. Odrick was relatively productive during his time in Miami, where he developed a knack for getting to the quarterback while paired with another former Penn State standout in defensive end Cameron Wake.
Odrick posted a career high six sacks in 2011, and manned the trenches against the run, serving as a space-eating defender with a high motor. The signing of Odrick puts the Jaguars in a nice spot. Jacksonville adds a proven defender, giving them the luxury of further bolstering their defensive front via the NFL Draft, where they hold the No. 3 overall pick. The Jaguars are most likely to select either former Nebraska edge-rusher Randy Gregory, or former Florida end Dante Fowler Jr. Both players possess the versatility to play at end or linebacker, while giving the team a potentially dominant edge rusher to compliment Odrick’s run stopping abilities.
OLB Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali isn’t going anywhere. Instead, he’s showing just how dedicated he is to the Chiefs by taking a pay cut so the team has a bit more breathing room financially as they pursue big name free agents. Kansas City’s front office already knew the team would be strapped for cash after applying the franchise tag on linebacker Justin Houston, who just posted a 22-sack season, worth $13.1 million. Hali’s contractual situation made things a bit tougher, as he was set to count $12 million against the cap, meaning the team’s top two pass rushers would cost them $25.1 million — quite the hefty sum.
Amid talks that Hali would become a cap casualty, he instead opted to restructure his deal, which expires after this season, to both give the team some financial stability while being able to remain with the team that selected him No. 20 overall in 2006. While the specifics are not known of his restructuring, there is no doubt that Hali’s selflessness played a big role in Kansas City’s ability to sign free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last week.
Other Notable Free Agents
C Stefen Wisniewski
Wisniewski hits the market as one of the top centers available, given his aggressiveness in run blocking and gritty mentality. Early reports say that Super Bowl runner-up Seattle has interest in signing Wisniewski. The former Raider would make a perfect replacement at center for former starter Max Unger, who was traded to New Orleans in the Jimmy Graham blockbuster.
G/C Rich Ohrnberger
Former Charger Rich Ohrnberger will be looking for a new home after his former team opted not to resign the 29-year old guard. Ohrnberger was forced into the starting lineup due to numerous injuries along San Diego’s line. Ohrnberger is a versatile player, but was hindered by a nagging back issue that ultimately landed him on the season-ending injured-reserve list in 2014.
Follow along as we update any new developments in Penn Staters in free agency as we continue through the first few weeks of the new league year.