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Free Agent Pass Rusher Profile: Trent Cole

Former Bearcat Trent Cole was released by the Philadelphia Eagles two days ago. As a productive pass rusher from the right side, he's exactly what the Bengals are looking for. The only problem is the rest of the NFL might want him more.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Next on the list of free agent pass rushers is another player from the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, he actually actually started over the player covered in Wednesday's profile, Brandon Graham. Today, we'll cover Trent Cole, a veteran and productive pass rusher.

Height/weight: 6'3, 270

Previous position: 3-4 right outside linebacker (Philadelphia Eagles)

2014 Pass rush numbers: 7 sacks, 14 hits, 25 hurries in 353 pass rush snaps (96% right side)

Trent Cole is a hometown player. He was raised in Xenia, Ohio, and played football for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. He was drafted by the Eagles in the 5th round of the 2005 draft. In 10 seasons with the Eagles, Cole racked up 85.5 sacks, 2nd in franchise history. His 20 multi-sack games and 19 forced fumbles both ranked 3rd in franchise history.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he missed only four games to injury in his entire career. Now, at 32-years-old, Cole certainly comes with a lot of mileage. But, even with his age, Cole hasn't lost his explosiveness and is still a very good pass rusher.

After a 2011 season where Cole found himself ranked first in the league in pressure percentage among 4-3 defensive ends, Cole was rewarded with a huge back-loaded contract extension. However, his production dipped slightly, and the Eagles cut him yesterday. Cole's cap hit over the next three years averaged about $12.7 million per year.

Cole finished last season ranked 16th out of 47 qualifying 3-4 outside linebackers in pass rush productivity. He is no longer the pass rushing terror that he in a five-year span from 2007 to 2011, but Cole is still a productive starter.

The Money:

Due to Cole's age and slightly declining productivity, he won't be getting a huge contract like some of the other pass rushers in this free agent class.

According to Andre Prerotta, who is well-versed in NFL contracts, Cole's next contract might be a 3 year, $20 million deal. This is just at the edge of the Bengals' budget. It's almost exactly what Brandon Graham might get.

The money situation puts Cole on the fence, but the big issue with Cole is that he is already a highly sought-after free agent. Cole visited the Buccaneers on Thursday, and he's been linked to many other teams as well. The Seahawks, 49ers, Jets, and Giants also have reported interest in signing him.

With such a large bidding war forming for Cole, he might be gone within the first few days of free agency. That means that the Bengals wouldn't be likely candidates to sign Cole. They prefer free agents who fall to the second week of free agency.

Tape Breakdown:

Regardless, let's take a look at a few plays from Cole's most recent season.

On this play, Trent Cole (#58) is standing up at the right outside linebacker spot. He shuffles inside to cover a possible Marshawn Lynch run. The key to this play is that Cole keeps his eyes on the ball and immediately recognizes that Russell Wilson has pulled the ball for a quarterback run. Now, Cole must chase down Wilson in the open field, which isn't an easy thing to do. Cole bursts up-field and shows great closing speed for being 32. If Cole had cheated too far inside to defend the inside run, he wouldn't have sealed the edge and Wilson could have ran around him for a decent gain.

On the next play, Cole shows off a clever pass rush move against a young offensive tackle. Cole lines up in a four-point stance on the right side of the screen. He's working against the 11th overall pick from last year, Taylor Lewan. Cole takes one short step with his left foot, then takes one long stride with his right foot that really throws Lewan's timing off. This clever hesitation step is similar to how ball carriers and return men sometimes juke in the open field. But, to make the move with just two steps and breeze effortlessly by a talented left tackle is incredible. This move showed some creativity and very good spatial awareness.

On this final play (it's actually two different plays), Cole is lined up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 look. Cole abuses the guard with the same move on both plays. Cole essentially predicts when the guard is making his initial punch and swats it away violently with both hands. On both plays, the guard completely whiffs and loses his balance as Cole is already running by his left shoulder.

Cole shows tremendous speed and athleticism for being 32. As a veteran, he has a deep arsenal of savvy pass rush moves. He's not great in run support, but he's not terrible either. His athleticism lets him chase down plays from behind very well. Also, with his short, dense frame, he plays with low pad level and great leverage. He's a very similar player to Brandon Graham but probably a better athlete.

The big point about Trent Cole is that he already has five teams (according to legitimate sources) lining up for his services less than 24 hours after his release. Teams will engage in a bidding war over the productive starter, and he'll probably sign somewhere very quickly after free agency begins on March 14. That makes it very unlikely he becomes a Bengal.