clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Best NFL free agent linebackers on the market

New, comments

A look at the top linebackers waiting to find new NFL homes.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After Kevin Minter went down against the Steelers, the linebacker depth took a big hit. Things got worse when Vontaze Burfict had some questionable plays that may have the NFL consider suspending him yet again.

If the Minter injury and/or Burfict incident involve either missing serious time, the Cincinnati Bengals may need to sign a linebacker to replace the depth they had at the position. Here are 10 players the Bengals could consider signing to their active roster.

1. Brandon Bell

From Penn State, Bell signed with Cincinnati as a undrafted free agent this season and signed to the practice squad for Cincinnati. The most likely Bengals move would be him going to the active roster. He’s technically not a free agent, but he would still be an addition to the 53-man roster.

2. Paul Dawson

Paul Dawson was a third-round selection for the Bengals in 2015, but he’s struggled to improve from where he was coming out of college. He spent most of the 2016 season on the practice squad before the Bengals cut him this September. While it could be awkward to bring him back, he is familiar with the Bengals defense.

3. Brandon Spikes

Spikes, one of the top veteran linebackers on the market, has played for New England, and most recently Buffalo. He could play inside taking Minter’s spot and providing breaks for Vinny Rey. The only issue here is that Spikes is 30 and has some real character concerns.

4. Don Cherry

Cherry signed with the Eagles after going undrafted in the 2016 draft. After spending the year on their practice squad, Cherry saw time in the preseason this season and even caught the eye of Cincy Jungle back in September.

5. Sean Porter

Sean Porter is another linebacker who has ties to Cincinnati as the Bengals drafted him in 2013. He has recently seen time with the 49ers in training camp, and he could be a good replacement if the Bengals want someone with some familiarity with the defense.

6. Sio Moore

Sio Moore was a third-round selection for the Raiders, and he has played for five franchises since entering the league, most recently being cut by the Texans on September 1st. He had a hamstring injury at the time, but after a month, he should be ready to play.

7. Audie Cole

Audie Cole played 16 games for the Vikings last season, but he was cut from the Saints after the Jaguars cut Cole in August. A product of a Mike Zimmer defense, Cole could work in Cincinnati with the right coaching.

8. Jelani Jenkins

The former Miami Dolphin linebacker most recently spent time in Oakland for the Raiders, but he had 227 tackles for the Dolphins in 4 seasons. At 25, Jenkins may have some football left in the tank.

9. Kelvin Sheppard

Kelvin Sheppard is another veteran linebacker who could get the call from the Bengals. Sheppard has played for Indianapolis, Miami, New York, and Chicago after being drafted in 2011 by the Bills. He was most recently cut by the Bears.

10. Akeem Dent

The Jaguars cut Akeem Dent in September, as the 30-year-old failed to make the final roster. Dent has spent time in Atlanta, and Houston. He would be another veteran that the Bengals could look to.

What linebackers did we miss that the Bengals should consider with Minter and/or Burfict missing time?