The 2023 NFL free agency period will bring a furious pace that sees top names move quickly. Half the league has a significant amount of money they’re working with, and it’s not an especially deep crop of talent available. That means the stars will cash in since there aren’t viable alternatives to paying the best veterans.
The top linebacker who could be available is Tremaine Edmunds. Turning 25 this spring, Edmunds already has an impressive résumé after five seasons in Buffalo. It’s possible he’ll be franchise tagged by the Bills before hitting the open market, as they’d surely hate to lose an ascending and productive player in the middle of their defense.
However, if the Bills, who enter the new league year $16 million over the cap, find that middle linebacker isn’t a premium position to spend on, then another franchise will be lucky to land Edmunds. Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the Bills will “have to be creative” to make a deal with Edmunds work.
Tremaine Edmunds Free Agency Predictions
Lions Make Statement By Signing Edmunds
The Detroit Lions are done with rebuilding and are actively looking to make the playoffs in 2023. They weren’t far off in 2022 despite their defense ranking dead last in yards allowed and 28th in points. For their playoff hopes to be realized, Detroit must bolster the defense’s talent base.
That includes the linebacker position. With Alex Anzalone hitting free agency and not being a particularly impactful starter, there’s certainly room for improvement at the position. The team recently hired former Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Chicago Bears head coach John Fox as a Senior Defensive Consultant, which could tip their hand as far as which direction they’ll take the unit.
MORE: 100 Top NFL Free Agents 2023
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks characterized Fox’s defensive preference as “capable of blanketing passing games using a variety of coverage concepts,” and he “aims to have a menacing presence between the hashes to discourage quarterbacks from throwing down the middle of the field.” That screams having an athletic middle linebacker who can drop into coverage.
The 6’5″, 240-pound Edmunds proved to be an insane athlete coming out of college and has shown to have great range in Buffalo. Though he’s not an elite run defender, the Bills also failed to put quality run-stuffing tackles in front of him. Detroit may allow Edmunds to reach new heights in his individual game.
Raiders Add Needed Athleticism With Edmunds
It’s hard for me to advocate for the Raiders to push for a new starting middle linebacker just to make a change. Denzel Perryman is a free agent, but he was serviceable as a run-thumper over the last two years with the franchise. However, Edmunds is worth pursuing as an upgrade because he can contribute on all three downs and transform the defense’s capabilities.
Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was able to get the most out of Jerome Baker with the Dolphins as their DC in 2019. Edmunds is a better true middle linebacker than Baker, and Baker produced a career-high 126 tackles that season. Graham can unleash Edmunds in a similarly aggressive form and watch his production skyrocket.
The biggest thing for the Raiders is getting more versatile and athletic compared to years past. Edmunds isn’t a perfect player, but his capabilities unlock what Fred Warner has done for San Francisco, and what Bobby Wagner once did for Seattle.
Edmunds’ value to the Raiders would be immeasurable, considering the franchise’s struggles to land a star linebacker.
DeMeco Ryans Builds Defense Around Edmunds
Speaking of Warner, why not pair his former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans with Edmunds in Houston? The Texans lack a defensive identity and foundational core. Ryans can quickly craft an improved unit around Edmunds and a first-round pass rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Because Houston is only committed to 2022 draft picks Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley Jr., they have the unique ability to build whatever schematic unit they’d like. San Francisco’s defense is one of the best to work toward but also took years of quality drafting and development to achieve. Edmunds is young enough to justify spending on, even though the Texans are bad today.
Tremaine Edmund’s Market Value, Career Stats, and More
It’s incredibly rare to see a player so young but experienced hit the open market. Edmunds was 19 when he was drafted in the first round by the Bills. His age, productivity, and athleticism are why he’s our No. 8 overall free agent.
The linebacker market has exploded in recent years. Roquan Smith, Shaquille Leonard, Warner, and Foyesade Oluokun have all contributed to the financial reset of the position. Smith was the first off-ball linebacker to hit the $20 million-per-year mark with his new deal from Baltimore.
MORE: Highest-Paid Linebackers in the NFL
Spotrac.com valued Edmunds at $11 million per year, but there’s no way he’ll get barely more than his teammate Matt Milano. Oluokun’s $15 million-per-year deal should be the baseline for any Edmunds deal considering his upside and age. It wouldn’t be surprising for Edmunds to get anywhere between $75 and $100 million on a five-year deal.
Those figures would put Edmunds in the top-five linebacker contracts in the league, which makes sense if he hits the open market and gets the premium that extended players usually don’t benefit from.
Tremaine Edmunds Career Stats
- Games Played (Started): 74 (74)
- Total Tackles: 565
- Interceptions: 5
- Passes Defensed: 35
- Sacks: 6.5