Tag:Phillip Merling
Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:08 pm
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2012 NFL Free Agency: Defensive End Rankings

It sounds like Houston isn't remotely interested in letting Williams test free agency. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the defensive ends.

Most of the categories in our 2012 free agent rankings are fairly straightforward. Running backs are running backs. Tight ends are tight ends. Quarterbacks are quarterbacks. But when it comes to the defensive line, the category gets a little blurry.

Some defensive ends also play defensive tackle. Defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme oftentimes line up as an outside linebacker. That makes ranking them in a single list a bit more complicated. Though some of the following players won’t always line up as a defensive end, the idea that each of these players will be asked to rush the passer remains the same. So, we list them as defensive ends.

1. Mario Williams

Breakdown: Williams quickly caught on to Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme where he played as more of an end/linebacker hybrid and recorded five sacks in the only five games in which he participated last year. Williams likely will return to terrorizing tackles and quarterbacks on nearly every snap if he leaves Houston and signs with a team that uses the 4-3. True, Williams is coming off a pectoral muscle injury that sent him to the IR list, but he says he’s healthy and the former No. 1 overall pick is going to be expensive. That said, Texans general manager Rick Smith continues to say that re-signing Williams is one of the teams’ top offseason priorities, though there’s a real question whether Houston has the cap room to do so. Even though Williams has failed to reach double-digits in sacks for the past three years, he still could win the richest defensive player contract of all time if he leaves Houston.

Possible Landing Spots:Texans, Jaguars, Seahawks, Titans
Avril made a name for himself in 2011. (Getty Images)

2. Cliff Avril


Breakdown: Although he’s not as well-known as teammates Ndamukong Suh or (probably) Nick Fairley, Avril emerged as one of the nastiest ends in the league this year. His 11 sacks were a career high, and he even managed his first career interception. The problem on Avril’s end is that there’s almost no chance Detroit will let him get anywhere near free agency. The Lions and Avril are working on a long-term deal. General manager Martin Mayhew said that while he doesn’t want to franchise-tag Avril, he’s also not willing to lose him. If that occurs, Avril -- who has hinted at holding out -- will have to decide if he wants to be on time for training camp.

Possible Landing Spots: Lions

3. Calais Campbell


Breakdowns: The past three seasons, Campbell has been consistent, and he has consistently improved, increasing his tackle totals every season and notching a career-high eight sacks in 2011 for the Cardinals. But like Avril, he’s got very little chance to test himself on the free agent market, because it sounds like if Arizona can’t come to terms on a long-term contract, the Cardinals will tag him. But unlike Avril, Campbell said he’s OK with that scenario. Besides, if he is tagged and makes close to $11 million for 2012 and puts forth another career-best performance, he’ll have the chance to set himself up with a huge contract.
 
Possible Landing Spots: Cardinals

4. Robert Mathis


Breakdown: Since he’s spent his entire nine-year career in Indianapolis, it’s hard to imagine Mathis in a non-Colts uniform -- almost as tough, I suppose, as imagining Peyton Manning in something other than blue and white. The potential problem, though, is new coach Chuck Pagano seems intent on installing the 3-4 scheme, and that will be a transition for somebody who’s always been a 4-3 end (it’s worth noting that CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco doesn’t seem concerned with the Colts turning Mathis into a pass-rushing linebacker). The Colts have said they want to keep Mathis in Indianapolis, but Dwight Freeney will cost $19 million against the salary cap. Another possibility for Mathis is the Colts placing the franchise tag on him, but considering Mathis is 31, the delaying of a long-term contract isn’t necessarily a great option for him.

Possible Landing Spots: Titans, Falcons, Colts

5. John Abraham

Abraham believes he's worth $12 million a year, even though he'll turn 34 before next season. (US Presswire)

Breakdown: Although Abraham will turn 34 before the start of the 2012 season, he still should draw plenty of interest throughout the league, simply because he continues to be one of the elite ends around. He’s durable, playing at least 15 games per season in the last five years, and he continues to churn out double-digit sack totals on a near-annual basis (his 9.5 sacks in 2011 just missed the cutoff). Can he command a long-term contract? Probably not, because of his age. Is he still a top-10 defensive end? Probably, yes. But is he worth $12 million? According to Abraham, the answer is: absolutely. “Check out the five top ends,” Abraham told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Everybody is getting 12-plus. I made $8 million last year. Everybody is saying, ‘Oh, he’s so greedy.’ How am I greedy when I’m just trying to get paid the same thing they are getting paid?” The chances of Abraham getting $12 million? Slim to none.

Possible Landing Spots: Giants, Buccaneers, Patriots

6. Cory Redding

Breakdown: He had a rough year in 2009 in his only season with the Lions, but since moving to Baltimore and playing with the Ravens for the past two seasons, Redding has returned to being a solid end who can stop the run and who occasionally can muster a sack (he’s got 7.5  combined in the past two seasons). But Redding will turn 32 next season, and he had injuries at the end of last year that slowed him a bit (even though it was one of the best seasons of his career). He’s probably not a great long-term value for most teams in the league, but the Ravens are a fan of him, particularly since he took on a leadership role when linebacker Ray Lewis missed four games. Redding just seems to fit in well with Baltimore’s defense. But remember, Pagano lurks to the west in Indianapolis.

Possible Landing Spots:Colts, Ravens

7. Jeremy Mincey


Breakdown: Mincey certainly picked the best time to have a career year. In his contract year, he recorded 57 tackles, eight sacks and an interception. Considering he didn’t combine for those numbers during the first five seasons of his career, that should tell you about Mincey’s mindset entering 2011. Or, it should tell you that last season was simply an anomaly (or, I suppose, you could say that it just took Mincey a long time to develop). Either way, Mincey is looking to get paid -- he’s on record saying he won’t give Jacksonville a hometown discount -- and though it appears the Jaguars would like to keep him, they’ll have to figure out where he fits in with the team’s finances (it should be noted that Jacksonville has plenty of room under the salary cap).

Possible Landing Spots: Jaguars, Bills

8. Israel Idonije


Breakdown: He obviously doesn’t get the love that’s reserved for teammate Julius Peppers, but Idonije notched a career-high 52 tackles last season (along with five sacks). Even better for Chicago, Idonije seems intent on returning to the Bears. “I want to be here,” Idonije said earlier this month. “I have an incredible relationship with the coaching staff, and I understand the system. So my No. 1 focus is to stay.” He even intimated he would give Chicago a hometown discount. He probably won’t command an expensive long-term deal, and he’ll probably be worth it for the Bears.

Possible Landing Spots: Bears

9.  Mark Anderson


Breakdown: Anderson is a strange case, because as ESPN Boston pointed out, he only played 47.6 percent of the Patriots snaps last year. Yet, he still managed 10 sacks. Also, he played all but one snap in the team’s final two games after Andre Carter suffered a quad injury.  Carter also is an unrestricted free agent, but reportedly, Anderson is a better bet to be re-signed by New England.

Possible Landing Spot: Patriots, Dolphins

10. Honorable Mentions


Unrestricted: Kendall Langford, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, Andre Carter

Restricted: Phillip Merling, Michael Bennett

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Posted on: January 22, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Dolphins extend GM Ireland's contract

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Dolphins announced earlier today that general manager Jeff Ireland had signed a multi-year contract extension, and it must come as a relief, though not necessarily a big surprise, to Ireland (and, I suppose, to those who want stability in the organization).

While Ireland certainly has garnered some positive accomplishments since taking over his role after the 2007 season, he had to wonder – at least, slightly – about his job security now that Bill Parcells is basically out of the picture.

Ireland was one of Parcell’s guys – Parcells hired Ireland when he took over the team’s football operations after they worked together in Dallas – but after Parcells stepped away to become a team consultant, one had to wonder if owner Stephen Ross really thought Ireland was the horse he could ride.

Apparently, that is the case.

“The decision to extend Jeff’s contract as our General Manager was an easy one," said Ross in a statement. "The young talent that Jeff has assembled during his three years with the Dolphins has made a profound impact on our franchise’s recovery from the 1-15 season of 2007. Jeff has my full support moving forward as we pursue our goals to build the best and brightest front office in the National Football League and ultimately to win a Super Bowl championship for all of South Florida and Dolphin fans around the world.”

Since taking over, Ireland has drafted talented players like OT Jake Long, CB Vontae Davis, LB Koa Misi and WR Brian Hartline while procuring the services of WR Brandon Marshall and TE Sal Anthony Fasano .

But he’s also missed out on big picks – 2008 second-round pick Phillip Merling and 2009 second-round pick Pat White come to mind – while the jury is still out on QB Chad Henne (2008 second-round pick).

Plus, there was that incident when he, in a pre-Draft interview, asked former Oklahoma State and current Cowboys WR Dez Bryant about the rumors that his mother was a prostitute. Ireland later apologized for the misstep.

But Ross, unlike his latest dealings with coach Tony Sparano, made this transaction rather clean, because so far, Ireland has done enough to impress.

"He's an excellent judge of talent," CBS’ own analyst Charlie Casserly told the Palm Beach Post earlier this month. "He has a clear vision of what he wants the team to look like on the field, and he wants to have a physical team up front on both lines. Any time you have that, you have a chance to win."

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Posted on: December 1, 2010 10:10 am
 

Surprise! Dolphins get Phillip Merling back

Posted by Andy Benoit

It’s not quite like Tom Hanks’ return to society at the end of Castaway, but it’s startling to see that the Dolphins suddenly have Phillip Merling back. Five months ago, the defensive end was thought to be lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

However, Merling was never placed on Injured Reserve. This week, Miami activated him from the non-football injury list. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey was cut in order to make room for the former Clemson star.

Merling, 25, has not taken an NFL field since August, but he could boost the Dolphins’ front line right away. He had a slow start to his promising career but played into his size down the stretch last season. Merling will give the Dolphins more physicality on the edges than starter Kendall Langford, but expect him to initially come off the bench (he didn’t even have a completely firm grasp on a starting job before the injury).

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Posted on: July 23, 2010 5:24 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 6:09 pm
 

Phillip Merling done for season; Fins are fine

The status of Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling has been cloudy due to his legal issues (he’s accused of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend). Well, a torn Achilles has made Merling’s immediate status much clearer. The third-year pro is out for the season.

Merling tore the Achilles while working out. However, he was not working out at Dolphin facilities. Thus, the Dolphins can put him on the non-football injury list and withhold $600,000 of his 2010 salary. (You can bet the Player’s Union will take a close look at the situation in this case.)

Replacing Merling won’t be overly difficult. Third-year pro Kendall Langford is an agile run defender (for a 3-4 end), and there are high hopes for first-round rookie end Jared Odrick.

UPDATE: The New York Daily News reports that the Dolphins have signed defensive end Marques Douglas to a two-year, $2.5 million contract. Douglas has played in a 3-4 scheme as a member of the Ravens, 49ers and Jets. He will likely come off the bench behind Langford.


--Andy Benoit 

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Posted on: July 20, 2010 2:14 pm
 

Future could be cloudy for Phillip Merling

Yesterday was a bad day for Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling. The Palm Beach Post Reports:
P. Merling
The state attorney’s office in Broward County officially filed felony charges against Merling on Friday for aggravated battery on a victim he should have known was pregnant. No court date has been set (it will likely be set within a week), but prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy found enough evidence that Merling, 25, battered his pregnant girlfriend to move forward with the case.

Merling’s attorney already entered a plea of not guilty and requested a trial by jury, the state attorney’s office confirmed.


Merling was a second-round pick in 2008 but has not consistently fulfilled expectations. He was expected to start this season, though his legal issues could throw a wrench into those plans. The Dolphins drafted another end in the first-round, Jared Odrick, plus Merling’s fellow third-year end, Kendall Langford, is a very solid run-defender with starting experience. In other words, Miami can certainly use Merling, but they don’t direly need him.

-- Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.
Posted on: June 23, 2010 3:56 pm
 

Examining the Dolphins Defensive Line

It was a surprise that the Dolphins spent a first-round pick on defensive end Jared Odrick. Miami already had three quality ends to plug into their three-man front: good run-defending third-year pros Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford and quasi-Pro Bowler Randy Starks. Plus, Odrick played a one-gap scheme at Penn State; in Miami, he’ll play a five technique, which calls for him to be a stout edge anchor rather than a penetrator.

With Starks moving to nose tackle (where, at 305 pounds, he may not be a great fit…only time will tell), Odrick is expected to start right away. Coaches apparently want to push Merling and Langford. However, in an “around the team” article by the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, one Fins player notes that Odrick shows potential but is making a lot of mental mistakes at this point. Given the rookie’s adjustment (new team, new system), that’s to be expected.

At least the Dolphins have depth. Jackson runs through the rest of the Dolphins front line options:

“Until Jason Ferguson returns in Week 9, there's likely room for two more backup linemen among tackles Paul Soliai (a front-runner, but coaches want more consistency), Ryan Baker (making a strong push) and Travis Ivey (one player said he had a hard time), and ends Lionel Dotson and Ikaika Alama-Francis.”

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com