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Penn Staters In The NFL: Free Agency Edition

The NFL’s official league year began at 4:00 p.m. eastern time on March 9. With that, free agents were officially able to sign new contracts with their respective teams. Penn State’s football team has seen many of its former standout players move on to play in the NFL — some of whom either found new homes or remained with their old teams.

OL Stefen Wisniewski — Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, who played for the Nittany Lions from 2008-2011, re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for three more years. After being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2011, Wisniewski spent four seasons in Oakland before moving on to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015 and the Eagles in 2016.

The signing of Wisniewski will likely fly under the radar for the Eagles — the team made headlines early in free agency with the signings of star receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith — but Wisniewski, according to ESPN, started six games at guard for the Eagles last year. The former Penn Stater should bring experience and depth back to the Eagles’ offensive line.

LB Mike Hull — Miami Dolphins

Another under-the-radar signing that should be noted is Mike Hull coming back to the Miami Dolphins’ linebacker room. The former Penn State standout was added to Miami’s roster as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and carved out a role as a star on special teams. Hull saw an uptick in defensive reps in 2016 as he recorded 33 total tackles — flashing some prowess as a run-stuffer. He snagged his first career interception against Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4 to go along with eight total tackles in the contest — a career mark for Hull.

Expect Hull to see even more work as a defensive reserve and situational tackler as he continues to impress Miami brass with his hustle and production.

Others Still Unsigned

Among the list Nittany Lions still available includes linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, quarterback Matt McGloin, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, and defensive linemen Jared Odrick and Devon Still. According to Pro Football Talk, Hodges is scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs, where fellow Penn State alumnus Tamba Hali has made a name for himself as one of the NFL’s best outside linebackers.

Hodges spent the 2016 season in San Francisco, where he had a career year for the 49ers starting 12 games and appearing in 15 of 16 of the team’s contests. He recorded three sacks and picked off two passes in 2016; when NaVorro Bowman, a legend under Joe Paterno during his days in Happy Valley, missed time due to injury last season, Hodges admirably stepped in as the 49ers’ starting inside linebacker and performed well on an otherwise awful team.

Mauti, McGloin, Norwood, Odrick and Still have not drawn much public interest from teams yet; all of those players served as backups for the Saints, Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars, and Texans, respectively. Norwood also returned punts for the Broncos in addition to serving as a backup wide receiver. He set a Super Bowl record during Super Bowl 50 with a 62-yard punt return.

McGloin started at quarterback for the Raiders in place of regular starter Derek Carr, who was injured towards the end of last season. He was injured in the regular season finale against Denver — rendering him unable to start in Oakland’s wildcard loss to the Houston Texans. 

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. He likes to play golf, but he isn't very good at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail/death threats to [email protected]


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