2015 NFL Free Agency Preview: Top 5 Defensive Ends

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Oct 26, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) yells at NFL referee Walt Anderson (66) after being flagged for roughing the passer during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

4. Trent Cole

Pros: Trent Cole is a proven quantity, one of the league’s best pass-rushers who has done it year in and year out for a decade. He has a wide variety of pass rush moves and still plays with decent speed and athleticism, and he can get to the quarterback: he’s done it 85 times in his career, second only to Reggie White in Eagles history. He also can set the edge and keep contain as a run defender, and is a productive tackler in that regard.

Cons: Cole is 32 now and will turn 33 during the 2015 season. He’s been a great player in this league, but his production and athletic ability are beginning to slip, and he’s only recorded 17.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He doesn’t quite have the speed that he once had, and is now at the age where athletic ability begins to decline massively.

Scheme Fit: Cole is naturally a 4-3 rush end who has been used as a 3-4 rush linebacker for the Eagles over the past couple years, like Brandon Graham. Cole did some of his best work operating as a wide-9 rush end, and at 270 pounds is probably still best suited for a hand-in-the-ground role. He is however still athletic enough to operate as a stand-up player, and can be used in multiple fronts, though he’s not a good fit for a 5-tech.

Market Value: Cole is one of the league’s great pass rushers of all time, but he’s going to be 33 years old. He will probably look to receive a two-year deal with very little guaranteed in the second year, for a decent salary. Look for him to sign something in the neighborhood of two years, $10M-$12M.

Would he sign with the Raiders: no. In 2014 he may have been a Reggie McKenzie target, to be sure, he fits the profile – good player in his twilight, comes cheap, can be cut after a year with no dead money. But McKenzie is likely not targeting the geriatrics of free agency for 2014, and Cole won’t fit. Cole also wants to win a Super Bowl before he retires, and while we in the Nation believe in our team, realistically the Raiders don’t appear to be a Super Bowl contender in the next two years.

Next: 2015 Free Agent DE Rankings: #5 Pernell McPhee