The NFL free agent class for 2016 has some standout defensive players hitting the market, including names like Josh Norman, Muhammad Wilkerson, Mario Williams, Greg Hardy, Eric Berry, Bruce Irvin, Jason Pierre-Paul and Von Miller.
Other names include Eric Weddle, Haloti Ngata, Prince Amukamara, Malik Jackson, Janoris Jenkins, Danny Trevathan and Derrick Johnson, while Mario Williams could also hit the market if he is released by the Buffalo Bills. Josh Norman is coming off of a career season and should have plenty of suitors on the market, although the Panthers likely will try really hard to keep the cornerback.
Norman has a strong case for defensive player of the year for this season and that only will bump up his price tag. Norman has often had to lineup against the top receiver for the opposing team and he has done a great job at shutting down players, including what he did to Odell Beckham against the Giants. Norman now has a chance to showcase himself even more in the playoffs and that also could give him a boost if he plays well and the Panthers advance.
Von Miller could be the most talented player available on defense in free agency, as the linebacker has been one of the best defensive players in the league over the past couple years. The Broncos likely will not let Miller even get to the open market, but if that happens, expect a number of teams to go after the linebacker. Miller showed this season why he is one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the league and he has helped the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The Broncos have some major players hitting the market on defense, with Miller as well as Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan. The team will need to work hard to keep all three players along with Brock Osweiler this offseason and that could force the Broncos to make some tough decisions. The Chiefs also have some tough decisions to make, as Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry are both hitting the market. Johnson is getting up there in age, but he remains a solid linebacker for Kansas City, while Berry should be a main target for teams in need at safety.
The Giants would like to keep Prince Amukamara on a new deal, but the cornerback has dealt with injury issues and inconsistency in his time with the team. Depending on how his market develops, the Giants may let Amukamara go. Janoris Jenkins has been solid for the Rams since being drafted and he could be a target for teams who don't go after Norman or Amukamara. Eric Weddle is a free agent and is not likely returning to the Chargers after not being able to agree on a new contract extension last year.
The pass rushers and linemen on the market should get some attention, including players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Haloti Ngata, Muhammad Wilkerson and potentially Mario Williams. JPP has his hand issue, but he showed this season that he still can be a top-level pass-rusher and his hand should improve after having more surgery this offseason. Williams is potentially going to be available, as he has a huge cap hit for the Bills and could get released.
Greg Hardy is a free agent after playing in Dallas and if he doesn't return to the Cowboys, some teams could overlook his past issues to add him as a pass rusher. Wilkerson broke his leg in Week 17 for the Jets, but he should still get attention on the market.